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Tesla Settles Lawsuit Over Fatal Crash Involving Autopilot| GuyWhoKnowsThings


Tesla on Monday settled a lawsuit that blamed the automaker's driver-assist software for the death of a California man in 2018avoiding a test that would have focused attention on the company's technology several months before it plans to introduce a self-driving taxi.

The trial stemming from the death of Wei Lun Huang, an Apple software engineer known as Walter, was due to begin Monday with jury selection. The case was one of the most high-profile cases involving Tesla's Autopilot software, attracting significant public attention and prompting an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The terms of the settlement with Mr. Huang's children and other members of his family were not disclosed, and Tesla filed court papers to prevent them from becoming public.

Testimony at the trial would have put Tesla's self-driving software under close scrutiny, further fueling a debate over whether the technology makes cars safer or exposes drivers and others to serious injury or death.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the company's self-driving software will generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. Investors have used his claims to justify the company's high stock valuation. Tesla is worth more than any other automaker even though its shares have plummeted in recent months.

Musk said on X last week that Tesla would unveil a self-driving taxi, Robotaxi, in August. If Tesla has indeed perfected a vehicle that can carry passengers without a driver (which many analysts doubt), the development will help answer criticism that the company has been slow to complement its Model 3 sedan and Model Y sport utility vehicle with new products.

Huang died after his Tesla Model In the lawsuit, Mr. Huang's family blamed defects in Autopilot, which he said lacked the technology to prevent a crash. The lawsuit also sought damages from California, arguing that the barrier had been damaged and failed to absorb the impact of the car as it was supposed to.

Lawyers for Huang and Tesla did not respond to requests for comment Monday evening. In legal filings, Tesla said it had reached a settlement “to end years of litigation.” The company had indicated in court documents that it planned to offer testimony that Mr. Huang had been playing a video game on his phone when the accident occurred. The family's lawyers denied that was the case.

While Tesla calls this software Autopilot and a more advanced version Full Self-Driving, neither system makes a car completely autonomous. The systems can accelerate, brake, keep cars in their lanes and perform other functions to varying degrees, but drivers must remain engaged and be ready to intervene at a moment's notice.

In December, Tesla remembered more than two million vehicles for a software update under pressure from US regulators who said the automaker had not done enough to ensure drivers remained attentive when using the systems.

He National Transportation Safety Board Investigation in the 2018 accident he blamed both Tesla and Mr. Huang. The agency said Autopilot failed to keep the vehicle in its lane and its collision avoidance software failed to detect a barrier in the road. The board also said that Mr. Huang had probably become distracted.


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