The family of the deceased model X customer Walter Huang has sued Tesla and the State of California in state law, announced the family's lawyers on Wednesday.
"Mrs. Huang lost her husband and two children lost their father because Tesla is beta testing the autopilot software on live drivers," said family lawyer Mark Fong. He says the family will make sure other drivers do not suffer Huang's fate. [1
At this point NTSB says, the car discovered that there was no longer a vehicle in front of it. tea it to accelerate and crash into the lanes of 70 miles per hour. NTSB says it was "no presrash braking or elusive steering motion detected."
Family says Autopilot is "unreasonably dangerous"
Tesla refused to comment on this story, but previously the company has blamed Huang for his own death. "The only way for this accident to have happened is that Mr. Huang wasn't aware of the road, despite the car giving more warnings to do so," the company said last year.
According to NTSB, Huang's hands were discovered for 34 seconds out of the last minute of the trip but not in the last six seconds.
On the other hand, Huang's lawyers claim that Tesla still bears responsibility for producing a product that allegedly ruled directly into lane divider. The lawsuit argues that model X "was in a defective state" and "was unreasonably dangerous." The lawsuit claims that Tesla knew about Autopilot's errors, but failed to adequately warn customers about them.
The lawsuit compares Tesla's Autopilot with emergency brake products manufactured by other automakers – Subaru, Mazda, Chrysler, Mitsubishi and Honda – which sold cars With automatic emergency braking systems, Huang purchased its model X from Tesla. (All the latest Tesla vehicles, including Huangs, come with automatic emergency braking.)
The case seems to mean that these other systems would stop a car going towards a concrete lane divider, but the lawsuit does not really provide evidence for this. And there is reason to doubt it.
As we explained in detail last year, most driver assistance systems on the market today are explicitly not designed to prevent high-speed collisions with stationary objects. At highway speeds, these systems generally ignore stationary objects and focus on maintaining a safe distance from other moving vehicles.
Many emergency brake systems on the market today are just not sophisticated enough to distinguish an object from the path of an object near the road. If they tried to stop for every object that seemed to be in the way, they would have many false positives. And at highway speeds, slamming on the brakes can unnecessarily be a cause of accidents in their own right.
Nevertheless, the lawsuit claims that Walter Huang's model X failed not only to prevent a crash with the lane divider actively steering the vehicle into the barrier. It can put this accident in another category from situations where an emergency brake system just doesn't impede an impending crash.
Tesla has argued that the use of Autopilot makes Tesla's cars safer, but clear evidence that this is difficult to find. Tesla has released statistics showing that cars crash less frequently when Autopilot is engaged, but it can simply reflect that Autopilot is primarily used on shared highways, which tend to have lower crash rates everywhere.
Huang's defendant also state of California
Lane dividers often come with a collapse damper-an accordion-like device that helps absorb the power of the car's impact. Unfortunately, the crash attenuator for this particular lane divider was damaged in another crash at the same location last week. California's transportation department had not yet replaced it when Huang crashed.
So the Huang family also called the state of California as sued in the case. The family claims that the highway had more than enough time to repair the damper, and that it didn't, created a dangerous roadway, causing the Golden State to be partly responsible for Huang's death.