With driverless vehicles already on the roads, more and more cars, trucks, and SUVs are integrating driver assist and autopilot functions. These systems are intended to make a vehicle safer and address common driver distractions or sudden safety hazards. However, these systems can have a number of problems that increase the risk of an accident, especially when they malfunction or fail to detect real hazards.
When drivers report problems with driver assist and autopilot problems to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the NHTSA may investigate these issues to identify problems that could put drivers and passengers at risk of an accident. However, the manufacturer may already be aware of these problems and fail to notify consumers. If your vehicle has defective driver assist or autopilot systems, the California Lemon Lawyer may be able to help you get compensation, a replacement vehicle, or vehicle repairs.
Driver Assist in Motor Vehicles
Driver assist can involve a number of vehicle operations that are used to warn drivers of the risk of a crash or take action to avoid a crash, like taking control of the brakes or wheel. Some driver assistance functions may include:
- Blindspot detection,
- Forward collision warning,
- Automatic emergency braking,
- Pedestrian automatic emergency braking,
- Adaptive lighting,
- Rear automatic braking,
- Backup cameras,
- Rear cross traffic alerts,
- Lane departure warning,
- Lane keeping assist,
- Lane centering assist,
- Traffic jam assist,
- Highway pilot, and
- Adaptive cruise control.
Problems with the driver assist usually involves failure to detect a problem or take action, or alternatively, prematurely activating or taking action where there is no safety hazard. Generally, driver assist problems are related to software bugs, electrical problems, or design defects.
Vehicle Autopilot Systems
Automated Driving Systems (ADS) and autopilot functions are still relatively new. Full automation will involve a vehicle performing all driving functions with driver involvement being optional. Most autopilot systems or ADS still involves partial or conditional automation. One of the most well-known autopilot functions is in the Tesla.
Tesla's driver assistance system is called Autopilot but it is not supposed to be used as a fully automated system. Many drivers are confused by the labeling of this function and treat the system as fully automated. Over-reliance on Autopilot can lead to crashes when the system fails to detect a safety hazard and the driver is not able to take control of the vehicle in time to avoid a crash.
The NHTSA opened an investigation into the Tesla autopilot system after the death of a driver who was using the autopilot function at the time of the crash. After software updates, Tesla's autopilot system required the drivers to keep their hands on the wheel for a period of time otherwise the autopilot system would be locked out.
Another company developed the Autopilot Buddy to bypass the hands-on safety measure, which the NHTSA issued a cease and desist letter to stop selling the product.
Mercedes-Benz recently issued a recall related to vehicles which showed no deactivation of the Active Steering Assist function after the driver took hands off the steering wheel prematurely. An investigation determined the steering boot had been improperly installed and there was incorrect steering control software parameters. These issues could cause a safety issue with the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash.
California Lemon Lawyer for Driver Assist and Autopilot Problems
California's Lemon Law provides protection for vehicle owners with software and hardware defects involving driver assist and autopilot functions. Contact The Lemon Lawyer today to help you understand your rights and options, including getting a refund, returning a faulty vehicle, free repairs or replacement, or other compensation for a defective car, truck, or SUV.