Tesla argues in court Autopilot not connected to fatal crash

Tesla has argued that its Autopilot system was not responsible for the fatal crash in which it is facing its first trial on its autonomous driving offering. Instead, Tesla’s legal team says the accident was caused by “classic human error.”

The court case in Riverside County involved a driver, Micah Lee, in California, who died in a Tesla in 2019. The Model 3 activated Autopilot before it suddenly swung off the road, hit a tree, and exploded in flames. The 37-year-old driver was killed, while two other passengers were injured.

Addressing the jurors, Tesla’s attorney, Michael Carey, said, “This case is not about Autopilot. But you’re going to hear in the case that there’s a lot of evidence that Autopilot actually makes the roads safer and it’s a good thing.” (viaBloomberg)

Carey added that Lee was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.05% on the day of the accident, leading investigating officers to conclude the crash was caused by driving under the influence. However, California’s legal limit is usually 0.008%, but drivers with levels similar to Lee’s can be arrested if their driving skills prove to be impaired.

Carey referred to Lindsay Molander, one of the injured passengers, who stated that Lee had a drink at a dinner earlier in the evening.

However, Molander’s attorney, Jonathan Michaels, argued that Tesla’s Autopilot is an over-hyped product, which the defendant hoped would give it an edge over the competition.

The trial continues, but another one involving Autopilot commences in Florida in about a week.

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