‘The family of a man killed after his Tesla crashed is suing the electric vehicle maker, alleging wrongful death and negligence stemming from failures and false promises of its Autopilot driver-assistance system.
Walter Huang, a 38-year-old Apple engineer, was driving his Tesla Model X SUV along US route 101 in California on Autopilot mode in March 2018 when it sped up to 71 mph. The car crashed into a safety barrier, killing Mr Huang.
In a statement on Wednesday, the family alleged that Autopilot was at fault.
Tesla has been gradually increasing the sophistication of the driver-assistance system-and has promised “full self-driving” capabilities for its vehicles by the end of the year, but some critics say the Autopilot software gives drivers a false sense of security.
“Mrs Huang lost her husband, and two children lost their father because Tesla is beta-testing its Autopilot software on live drivers,” B Mark Fong, a partner at Minami Tamaki LLP, one of the firms representing the family, said in a statement.
“The Huang family wants to help prevent this tragedy from happening to other drivers using Tesla vehicles or any semi-autonomous vehicles.”
Autopilot is an advanced driver-assistance system with features such as traffic-aware cruise control and lane keeping assistance that are meant to keep the car at speed, maintain a safe distance from traffic and follow road markings.
But the family alleged Tesla’s marketing of Autopilot left Mr Huang with an inflated impression of the technology’s capabilities.
Mr Huang “believed the 2017 Tesla Model X vehicle was safer than a human-operated vehicle”, the complaint filed in court said. The suit accuses Tesla of defective product design, intentional and negligent misrepresentation and false advertising, among other allegations.
“The navigation system of Huang’s Tesla misread the lane lines on the roadway, failed to detect the concrete median, and failed to brake the car, but instead accelerated the car into the median,” the statement from the family’s lawyers said.’