Big boost for Tesla: Autopilot car crash not EV fault, rules US state court jury
In a big shot in the arm for Tesla and its AutoPilot technology, a California state court jury recently ruled in favour of the electric vehicle (EV) giant in a case pertaining to a car crash in which the vehicle's driving technology was put into the spotlight. Tesla had been served a lawsuit by Justine Hsu, a Los Angeles resident, in 2020 after his Tesla Model S had reportedly crashed when its AutoPilot functionality was switched on.
AutoPilot - also called Full Self-Driving - refers to a technology by which Tesla cars claim to drive on their own. Tesla, however, has urged drivers to always pay attention and says drivers should be “prepared to take over at any moment." This is what jurors in the said case also observed while awarding zero damages to Hsu who had received serious injuries in the incident.
News agency Reuters spoke to members of the jury and many reportedly highlighted that Tesla has never claimed its AutoPilot technology to be Self-Pilot. This basically underlines that autonomous vehicles from the company still require human attention at all times. And while the jurors claimed that they felt sympathy for the plantiff, it was not proper to blame AutoPilot technology for her unfortunate experience. They blamed ‘driver distraction’ for the accident in which the EV reportedly swerved and hit a curb.
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Tesla had previously denied liability for the accident. In a court filing, the company had said that Hsu had deployed AutoPilot within city limits even when a user manual had warned against doing so. But in the larger scheme of things, the case has added fuel to the proverbial fire raging around autonomous vehicles and where and on whom to pin the blame in case such vehicles are involved in an accident. Tesla, for one, has not been able to get sweeping regulatory approvals even in the US to deploy the technology in its cars. And even if it urges its customers to not engage AutoPilot within city limits, it can potentially make for a risky drives on highways too.