It was reported in multiple news outlets that an owner of Tesla Model X, crashed into a concrete barrier and died last month in Mountain View, California. The vehicle was in autopilot at the time of the accident. According to reports, the vehicle had the choice to veer right or left, did not break, and the autopilot sensors did not detect the concrete block, causing the fatal accident.
The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident. Tesla, release the following statement regarding this fatal car crash:
“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla wrote. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”
Essentially, Tesla is attempting to put the blame back on the driver.
Another Tesla Model X owner recreated the accident himself and recorded the test on his phone. You can watch the video here.
I think it is fair for us to conclude that this is not a true “autopilot.” The driver still needs to be aware as what is going on and be on alert as to any warnings that may come. Further, I don’t believe Tesla’s software still has flaws as do other self-driving vehicles, or we wouldn’t continue to see these fatal traffic accidents.
The litigation that is coming our way with these car accidents is going to be very expensive. There is no doubt in my mind that this will all be very expensive litigation, in part, due to the expert testimony that will be required to try to prove that Tesla’s software systems are faulty . Second, there will be lawsuits and cross-claims between parties as none of the parties involved or their insurers are going to want to take responsibility for the fatalities. This will be on top of the normal lawsuits against the individual driver, who most likely holds an individual auto policy. This is going to lead to a lot of finger pointing and litigation. I will be interested to see what the NTSB concludes, and will be following this closely.
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