Tesla settles with family of Apple engineer who says Autopilot caused fatal crash


Walter Huang died after crashing his Tesla Model X into a concrete barrier.

New York

Tesla has settled a high-profile lawsuit set to put the electric car company and its controversial self-driving system on trial starting Monday.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Jury selection begins Monday in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of a former Apple engineer who died after his Tesla Model X crashed while on Autopilot. The trial could have lasted several weeks, but the parties settled on Monday.

Walter Huang was killed The Tesla hit a concrete highway median March 23, 2018 in Silicon Valley. The National Transportation Safety Board, in its investigation, found that Autopilot was engaged for approximately 19 minutes before the car veered off the highway at 71 mph and crashed.

Immigration Marks another important moment Entangled company It has lost popularity and a third of its market value this year. CEO Elon Musk and the company say its Autopilot and fully self-driving technologies are ahead of the competition and a big reason why Tesla has become the world's largest electric vehicle maker — Just ahead of Chinese rival BYD. But Huang's family said Tesla oversold the capabilities of its Autopilot technology and that it was not as safe to use as advertised.

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

Tesla has come under intense scrutiny for its Autopilot technology in the six years since Huang's crash. After a A two-year trial In a study of more than 1,000 Tesla crashes in which the vehicles were on Autopilot, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the Autopilot system could give drivers a false sense of security. When Autopilot can't navigate safely on the road, it can easily be misused in certain dangerous situations, NHTSA found in December 2023.

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NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating crashes involving Tesla vehicles using various driver assistance features. Collisions with emergency vehicles At the scene of other accidents.

Tesla recalled all 2 million cars in the U.S. following a December NHTSA report that gave drivers more warnings when Autopilot was engaged and they weren't paying attention to the road or putting their hands on the wheel.

However, the company maintains that the technology is safe to use and reduces deaths when used correctly. Autopilot requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and users of Tesla's self-driving technology to keep their eyes on the road.

Tesla says that did not happen in the case of Huang's accident. On March 30, 2018, Blog, Tesla said Huang's hands were not detected on the steering wheel of his car for six seconds before the crash. The agency said it believed Huang was responsible for the crash because investigators found he was driving. He is playing a video game on his phone When the autopilot is engaged. Huang did not brake or attempt to steer his car away from the concrete barrier before the crash.

While Huang's family acknowledged that he was distracted while driving, they argued that Tesla was at fault because it mismarketed Autopilot as self-driving software. They alleged that Tesla knew Autopilot was not ready for prime time and had flaws that could make its use unsafe.

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 was beta testing its Autopilot software on live drivers,” said attorney B. Mark Fang, who filed the lawsuit in California state court in a May 2019 complaint.

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Had a jury found in Huang's family's favor, Tesla could have been forced to pay damages, and they could have added quickly. Wrongful death lawsuits involving large corporations have sometimes resulted in awards north of $1 billion.

The promise of Autopilot has helped make Tesla's stock the world's most valuable automaker in recent years — even if its stock is one of the worst-performing companies in 2024. Musk said on a call with analysts in October 2023 that autonomous driving “is there. It has the potential to make Tesla the most valuable company in the world.

Tesla's stock (D.S.L.AMonday rose 5%.

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