The family of Walter Huang aka Wei Lun Huang who died on Highway 101 in Mountain View when his Tesla Model X hit a median is suing Tesla. Why? Because the car’s Autopilot assist was active at the time of the accident. Walter Huang’s family has filed a lawsuit against Tesla and the State of California as well. The family is claiming that Tesla’s auto assist system was ‘defective’.
The family blames the State of California as well for not making the repairs that were required on the safety barrier within the mandated amount of time. The crash took place last Spring. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, had responded to the new of Walter Huang’s death with a blog post that said that Huang had ‘received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision.’
In the same blog post, Musk had said that the Autopilot ‘unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists.’ He had also stated that Tesla would work in collaboration with the crash investigators for helping to understand the conditions that caused the crash.
On the other hand, Huang’s family has said that Huang had previously complained about the Autopilot feature malfunctioning and that it would cause the car to swerve towards the barrier during his daily commute. The family also said that Huang had reported the issue to the Tesla dealership. The crash’s investigation was carried out by the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) that released a preliminary report of their findings last year; however, the final report has yet to be released.
According to the preliminary findings, the crash was exacerbated because the crash attenuator was missing from the barrier. Furthermore, the car accelerated seconds before crashing into the barrier at 70 mph. Tesla’s battery was breached as a result of the accident and the car caught on fire. Tesla has updated the Autopilot software since the crash of Huang. They have also been careful to stress upon the fact that drivers should remain attentive even when the system is on.
A video that used to show a driver not touching the steering wheel at all has also been removed from the company’s Autopilot website. Let’s see how the lawsuit unfolds and what further details are made public after the investigation is completed.