Tesla prevails in legal case where Autopilot was accused of causing a car accident

Tesla has won the first lawsuit against its Autopilot driver assist software. A jury found that the software was not at fault in a 2019 crash on a city street where the car turned into a median while Autopilot was engaged.

Plaintiff Justine Hsu was awarded no damages. Although the result is not legally binding in other cases, it could prove important for Tesla as it faces scrutiny over its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) driver assistance features, which require drivers to be engaged.

Last year, it emerged that the US Department of Justice was investigating the company’s self-driving claims. In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a probe into Autopilot after multiple crashes with parked emergency vehicles.

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles also accused Tesla of making false claims about its Autopilot and FSD capabilities. Despite this, Tesla has continued to develop driver assistance technologies, making the FSD beta available to US customers in November.

Following the NHTSA’s assessment that the technology posed a “crash risk”, Tesla recalled almost 363,000 vehicles with FSD. The company intends to release an over-the-air software update to rectify the identified problems.

Potential future lawsuits loom over Tesla for its Autopilot technology, making the outcome of this trial of great importance. Scrutiny persists over the company’s assertions of autonomous driving capabilities, while it’s worth noting that the technology still necessitates driver engagement.

As Tesla continues to forge ahead with the progress of its driver assistance technologies, regulatory bodies will maintain a watchful eye on the safety of both Autopilot and FSD features.

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