The use of semi-autonomous technology in vehicles has been a topic of debate in recent years. As more and more cars come equipped with features such as Tesla’s Autopilot, questions are arising as to the level of responsibility that drivers should take when operating these vehicles.
This issue is being brought to the forefront in Australia, as a Tesla owner faces trial over a serious accident involving Autopilot.
Sakshi Agrawal, a 24-year-old Tesla owner, will stand trial in the Victorian County Court on four charges stemming from a crash in Melbourne in March of last year. Agrawal had previously claimed that the Tesla Model 3 was operating on Autopilot mode at the time of the crash, which left a young nurse with critical injuries, as reported by ACS.
The impending case will now potentially hinge on whether Autopilot was activated and, if so, how much responsibility a driver has when they are operating a vehicle in semi-autonomous mode. This will be a landmark case for Australia, as it is the first time that the culpability of drivers using semi-autonomous technology will be tested in the country’s courts.
The use of Autopilot in Tesla vehicles has come under scrutiny in recent years, with some arguing that the feature gives drivers a false sense of security. While Autopilot allows the car to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically within its lane, drivers are still required to actively monitor their surroundings and keep their hands on the steering wheel. In Australia, just like in all markets around the world, drivers are required to remain in control of the vehicle, even when Autopilot is activated.
The outcome of this trial will be watched closely by many, as it could set a precedent for future cases involving semi-autonomous technology.