After the verdict was announced on Friday, the jury in what appears to be the first trial involving a crash involving a Tesla Autopilot feature told Reuters that Tesla had made it abundantly clear that the partially automated driving software was not a self-piloted system and that driver distraction was to blame.
An automaker’s Autopilot technology did not perform unsafely, according to a jury in a California state court on Friday, and plaintiff Justine Hsu received no damages as a result.
The opinions of the jurors are crucial because Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has argued that semi-automated driving systems are safer than human drivers and that a flurry of other trials using them will begin this year.
Although the results of this trial are not legally enforceable in those other instances, they are used as a guide by Tesla and other plaintiffs’ attorneys to fine-tune their methods, according to experts.
Los Angeles resident Hsu filed a lawsuit against the EV manufacturer in 2020, claiming that when her Tesla Model S hit a curb while in Autopilot, the airbag was deployed “so violently that it fractured Plaintiff’s jaw, knocked out teeth, and caused nerve damage to Plaintiff’s face.”
Tesla denied being at fault for the collision in 2019.
Juror Mitchell Vasseur, 63, told Reuters that while he and his fellow jurors felt awful for Hsu after the decision was announced on Friday, they eventually decided that Autopilot was not to blame.
The Autopilot technology alerts drivers when they are not sufficiently taking charge, according to jury foreperson Olivia Apsher, 31.
It’s your car, she declared. There are both visual and aural cautions for the driver, suggesting that it is up to them.
The technology is something that is assisting you, and we want that message to be obvious, she said, adding that she would want to have Autopilot functions in her own car. Before using those capabilities to take over the steering from behind, drivers should be aware of that.
Hsu’s attorney, Donald Slavik, stated that although he accepts the jury’s conclusion that his client was inattentive, she only got a warning to place her hands on the wheel less than a second before hitting the curb.
Vasseur claimed that if Hsu had been paying closer attention, her accident would not have happened, which he claimed was a mistake anybody could make.
“I personally would never use autopilot,” he declared. “I don’t even use the cruise control.”