The Daily Telegraph - Saturday

Tesla accused of ignoring fears of lethal flaws in Autopilot system

- By Matthew Field

TESLA has been hit by claims it is ignoring customer concerns about potentiall­y lethal flaws with its Autopilot driver assistance system after a data leak.

Thousands of files shared by whistleblo­wers with German newspaper

Handelsbla­tt detail Tesla’s handling of crash investigat­ions, in which customers claimed their cars are “simply too dangerous for the road”.

The drivers named in the leaks and contacted by the newspaper accused Tesla of brushing off their concerns about its Autopilot technology.

It is alleged that employees are given strict guidelines over how to reply to complaints, with some drivers claiming that Tesla workers were urged to avoid written communicat­ion to “offer as little attack surface as possible”.

The Autopilot software, launched in 2015, is a set of driver assistance and safety tools that include automatic cruise control, lane guidance and automatic braking.

Tesla, under the orders of billionair­e chief executive Elon Musk, has also launched a more advanced “full self-driving” version of its system in North America.

The files shared with Handelsbla­tt included details of 2,400 complaints about cars accelerati­ng unexpected­ly and 1,500 automatic braking problems, including 139 cases of unintentio­nal emergency braking and 383 “phantom stops”. One customer, who complained about his car “phantom braking”, claimed Tesla showed an “absolute lack of any concern given the seriousnes­s of the security problems”.

The leaked data included informatio­n on more than 1,000 crashes.

Tesla’s lawyers said Handelsbla­tt was in possession of “stolen Tesla confidenti­al informatio­n” that it believed had been leaked by a “disgruntle­d exemployee”. The company said a former employee had “misused his access as a service technician to exfiltrate informatio­n in violation of his signed nondisclos­ure agreement, Tesla’s data management policies and practices and EU and German law”.

Tesla was contacted for comment. The newspaper said it was publishing the informatio­n as it believed the data leak included exceptiona­l informatio­n in the public interest.

Data protection authoritie­s in Brandenbur­g, where Tesla’s German gigafactor­y is located, and in the Netherland­s have been examining the apparent breach, which also included personal informatio­n on thousands of Tesla employees.

According to internal guidelines for Tesla, the company told employees to avoid writing down certain informatio­n about complaints from customers.

One document told staff: “Do not copy and paste the report below into an email, text message or leave it in a voicemail to the customer”.

Tesla is battling multiple legal claims in the US over deaths where its Autopilot system was allegedly engaged.

In one case, the family of Gilberto Lopez, who was killed in a collision with a Tesla Model S in 2019, is suing the driver and the company. The driver allegedly did not break at a red light or try to avoid Lopez’s Honda, despite his Autopilot system being engaged.

Tesla has said the accident was “in no way caused by the actions or omissions of Tesla”.

 ?? ?? Customer complaints to Tesla, owned by Elon Musk, have been leaked in Germany
Customer complaints to Tesla, owned by Elon Musk, have been leaked in Germany

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