Tesla car crash in Los Angeles is the first kind to have Autopilot operation being used during a crash. It was partly a self-driving car and experts discuss human Vs. machine to identify the cause of the accident. The trial is set to begin on November 15. It comes as a civil case, after which there will be a trial next year over the accidents with the Tesla Autopilot.
The scenes add scrutiny to the statement given by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk that the automaker almost reached fully autonomous driving. Critics say Tesla’s claims and Autopilot have contributed to accidents and deaths by making drivers inattentive. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Tesla itself should face criminal charges over its self-driving claims.
The Los Angeles trial could shape public and future jury perceptions of Tesla and could be a test case for whether the technology has advanced faster than legal standards, legal experts say. “Who’s at fault, man or machine?” Edward Walters, an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University law school who specializes in the law governing self-driving cars. “The state will have a hard time proving the guilt of the human driver because some parts of the task are being handled by Tesla.”
After midnight on Dec. 29, 2019, Kevin George Aziz Riad, now 28, exited a freeway in Gardena, California, in a Tesla Model S, ran a red light, and crashed into a Honda Civic, police say. The driver and passenger in the Civic, Gilberto Lopez and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez, died at the scene. They were on their first date, relatives told the Orange County Register. The car’s Autopilot system, which can control speed, braking, and steering, was engaged at the time of the crash. Tesla does not face charges in the case, and legal experts say the bar for a criminal case against a company is high.
Tesla did not respond to Reuters’ request for comments. Tesla says on its website that its driver assistance systems “require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” The family of Gilberto Lopez is suing Tesla with a trial scheduled for July. “I can’t say that the driver was not at fault, but the Tesla system, Autopilot, and Tesla spokespeople encourage drivers to be less attentive,” Donald Slavik, an attorney whose firm is representing Lopez’s family in a lawsuit against Tesla. Slavik said Tesla understood the risks of its system but failed to manage those. “Tesla knows people are going to use Autopilot and use it in dangerous situations,” he said.