In March 2018, a Tesla Model X sped up to 71 mph and crashed into a concrete highway divider while on Autopilot Mode.
The crash took the life of Walter Huang, who was the vehicle’s driver. Over a year later, the Huang family is now suing Tesla. According to the lawsuit, Tesla’s vehicle did not include safety features already being provided by its competitors. Furthermore, the company marketed the Model X as a “state-of-the-art” vehicle. The lawsuit also claims that Tesla’s “claimed technical superiority” led Mr. Huang to believe the autopilot technology provided more security than it actually did.
“Mrs. Huang lost her husband, and two children lost their father because Tesla is beta testing its Autopilot software on live drivers,” said a partner at one of the firms representing the family 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.”
The National Transportation Safety Board released a report in June 2019 reconstructing the final seconds before the crash. Seven seconds before the crash, the Model X “began a left steering movement”, moving into the gap between diverging lanes. The vehicle, which was on its autonomous mode, confused this for a travel lane. This caused the self-driving car to crash into the divider without any “pre crash braking or evasive movement.”
“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,” said a statement from the family’s attorneys. A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.