The law firm representing the family of a man killed in collision involving a Tesla Model X last month, is questioning if the Autopilot feature may have contributed to the fatal Tesla crash. CBC San Francisco photo.
Tesla crash claimed the life of Walter Huang in Mountain View, California on March 27
The family of 38-year-old Wei (Walter) Huang of San Mateo, California who was killed in a collision involving a Tesla Model X in late March has hired a law firm to explore its legal options.
According to Reuters, the law firm Minami Tamaki LLP says it is focussing on the Autopilot feature of the electric vehicle. The firm alleges the Tesla Autopilot feature is the likely cause of the fatal collision.
Following the crash, Tesla said Huang’s car had activated Autopilot, which is now raising concerns about the semi-autonomous system. Tesla says vehicle logs from the Model X show no action had been taken by Huang prior to the collision and that he had not received any warnings to put his hands on the wheel.
A preliminary review by the law firm suggests the Autopilot feature was defective. Lawyers have also discovered complaints from other Tesla drivers about navigational errors by the system.
“(Our) preliminary review indicates that the navigation system of the Tesla may have misread the lane lines on the roadway, failed to detect the concrete median, failed to brake the car, and drove the car into the median,” Minami told Reuters.
Tesla says it sympathizes with the man’s family, however, the automaker argues that Huang was well aware that Autopilot is imperfect. As well, Tesla says the driver also knew Autopilot was not reliable in that specific location, but he engaged the feature nonetheless.
According to Tesla, the system reminds drivers to be alert and have hands on the wheel and, several times on the day of the crash, had warned Huang to do so.
The crash happened on a clear day with several hundred feet of visibility ahead, which means that the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, despite the car providing multiple warnings to do so,” a Tesla spokesperson told Reuters.
“The false impression that Autopilot is unsafe will cause harm to others on the road. NHTSA found that even the early version of Tesla Autopilot resulted in 40 per cent fewer crashes and it has improved substantially since then.”