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Tesla settles with Apple engineer’s family who said Autopilot caused his fatal crash

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Walter Huang died when his Tesla Model X crashed into a concrete barrier.


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CNN

Tesla has settled a high-profile case that was expected to bring the electric car maker and its controversial automated driving system to court starting Monday.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Jury selection was set to begin Monday in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a former Apple engineer who died after his Tesla Model X crashed while the Autopilot feature was engaged. The trial could have lasted several weeks, but the parties reached an agreement on Monday.

Walter Huang was killed when his Tesla hit a concrete highway median in Silicon Valley on March 23, 2018. The National Transportation Safety Board, in its investigation, found that Autopilot was engaged for nearly 19 minutes before the fatal crash, when the car, traveling at 71 mph, left the highway.

The rule marks another crucial moment for a struggling company that has lost popularity and a third of its market value this year. CEO Elon Musk and the company say its Autopilot and fully autonomous driving technologies are ahead of the competition and a key reason Tesla has become the world’s largest electric vehicle maker, just ahead of its Chinese rival BYD. But Huang’s family said Tesla oversold the capabilities of its autopilot technology and that its use was not as safe as advertised.

Representatives for Huang’s family and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tesla has faced scrutiny for its autopilot technology in the six years since Huang’s fatal crash. After a two-year investigation that analyzed 1,000 Tesla crashes while Autopilot was activated, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the Autopilot system can give drivers a false sense of security. It can be easily misused in certain dangerous situations when autopilot may not be able to safely navigate the road, NHTSA found in December 2023.

NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board have also investigated crashes involving Tesla vehicles using the various driver assistance features, including a series of crashes involving emergency vehicles at the scene of other crashes.

Immediately after the December NHTSA report, Tesla recalled its 2 million cars in the United States, giving drivers more warning when Autopilot is engaged and they are not paying attention to the road or not don’t put their hands on the steering wheel.

Still, the company maintains the technology is safe to use when used correctly and reduces deaths. Autopilot requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, and Tesla says people using automated driving technology should keep their eyes on the road.

That did not happen in the case of Huang’s accident, Tesla said. In a March 30, 2018 blog post, Tesla said Huang’s hands were not detected on the steering wheel of his car for six seconds before the crash. The company said it believed Huang was responsible for the crash because investigators discovered he was playing a video game on his phone while autopilot was engaged. Huang did not brake or attempt to move his car away from the concrete barrier before it crashed.

Although Huang’s family acknowledges that he was distracted while the car was driving, they argued that Tesla was at fault because it falsely marketed Autopilot as self-driving software. They alleged that Tesla knew Autopilot wasn’t ready for prime time and had flaws that could make it unsafe to use.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations.

“Ms. Huang lost her husband and two children lost their father because Tesla is beta testing its Autopilot software on real drivers,” said B. Mark Fong, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit filed in in California state court in a complaint filed in May 2019.

Had a jury found in favor of Huang’s family, Tesla could have been forced to pay damages, and the amount could have quickly been added up. Wrongful lawsuits involving large companies have sometimes resulted in settlements exceeding $1 billion.

The promise of Autopilot has also helped strengthen Tesla’s stock in recent years to make it the world’s most valuable automaker – even though its shares are among the worst performing in 2024. Musk in October 2023 on a call with analysts for self-driving assistance “has the potential to make Tesla the most valuable company in the world, by far.”

Tesla (TSLA) stock rose 5% on Monday.

News Source : amp.cnn.com
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Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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