In a Californian court, the first trial on robotic technology's potential threat to human lives is currently underway. The case is about Tesla's Autopilot, which was responsible for an accident that occurred on a city street in 2019.
According to Reuters the plaintiff is Los Angeles resident Justine Hu. She first sued Tesla 2020 when her Model S swerved in a restraint while in semi-autonomous driving mode. In court documents, she claims that the airbag activated so violently that it "knocked her teeth out and caused nerve damage in her face." It also broke her jaw. Hsu says the Autopilot and the entire airbag system that Tesla introduced in 2015 had flaws. She is seeking damages of more than $3,000,000.
The electric car manufacturer has denied all wrongdoing. The company defends itself by pointing out Hsu activated Autopilot in a city street despite the manual's warning. Tesla insists that their cars aren't fully autonomous and that drivers must be prepared to "take over at any time."
Michael Carey, an attorney for Tesla, claims that Hsu could have slowed down the vehicle but still drove into a barrier. He said that the evidence of distraction was pretty clear.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tesla vehicles using the Autopilot software caused 273 accidents in 2021. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tesla vehicles accounted for nearly 70% of all 392 accidents involving advanced driver assistance systems in 2021.
Tesla CEO Elon Mots has always marketed Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD), selling it for $15,000 as an add-on option to its vehicles. Automation is an important part of Tesla's plans to grow revenue in the future. Investors and shareholders will likely be closely monitoring the outcome of this trial. When the incident was reported, shares of the company dropped by 8%.
The San Francisco case is a crucial point for the future design of robotic car software. It will also set a precedent.