We live in a digital age, in which new technological inventions seem to be announced every single day. One of the most discussed technological inventions of 2016 and something that is sure to stay in the spotlight during 2017 is driverless cars. These machines offer consumers the convenience of a personal vehicle with the added bonus of not needing to pilot the car, leaving passengers free to read, catch up on work, or engage in other activities.
Recently, however, a federal class action lawsuit alleges that one of Tesla’s self-driving vehicles has logged 62 times more “sudden unintended acceleration” events than the average nationwide. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit alleges that his Tesla vehicle, a Model X SUV, crashed through a wall in his garage as a result of one of these unintended acceleration events.
Tesla considers itself a software company, and its founder, Elon Musk, has described its vehicles as “computers on wheels.” The driverless function of the vehicle is intended to make all the decisions for the driver. Computer engineers who design the software are responsible for anticipating the many different scenarios that a vehicle may encounter and to program the computer to make the appropriate decisions necessary to navigate each scenario safely. In December 2015, Musk reported that the computer software was so advanced that the vehicle could not only track the car in front of it but also the two vehicles in front of it. He also stated that the vehicle could see through rain, snow, dust, and fog. He projected that by 2017, all Tesla vehicles will have full self-driving abilities.