Tesla argued that human error caused the crash.
Tesla on Tuesday was cleared by a court in the 2019 fatal Model 3 crash that took place in Los Angeles, US, involving its advanced driver-assistance system, Autopilot. The case was filed by two passengers who accused the company of knowing Autopilot was defective when it sold the car. Tesla, on the other hand, argued that human error caused the crash. The court too found that the vehicle did not have a manufacturing defect. Now, Tesla chief Elon Musk also reacted to the news and expressed his belief that if Autopilot had been activated, the driver would likely have been saved.
"The irony is that if Autopilot had been turned on here, it would almost certainly have saved the driver," Mr Musk wrote in on X (formerly Twitter).
Micah Lee was killed in 2019 after their Model 3 veered off a highway, hit a tree, and caught fire. While Mr Lee was killed in the incident, his two passengers were injured. The two passengers then approached the court alleging that Autopilot caused the accident and demanded over $400 million in punitive damages. This trial was the first in the United States that alleged that Tesla's autopilot feature led to death.
Tesla, however, denied liability alleging that Mr Lee had consumed alcohol and that it was unclear if Autopilot was engaged during the crash. The Jury in Riverside County Superior Court also voted in favour of Mr Musk's company, saying that the vehicle did not have a manufacturing defect.
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This is a major victory for Tesla as it faces several other similar lawsuits across the country. But the automaker continues to test and roll out its Autopilot and more advanced Full Self-Driving (FSD) system, which Mr Musk has touted as crucial to his company's future.
Notably, the latest verdict represents Tesla's second big win this year. The automaker won an earlier trial in Los Angeles in April with a strategy of saying that it tells drivers that its technology requires human monitoring, despite the "Autopilot" and "Full Self-Driving" names. The case was about an accident where a Model S swerved into the curb and injured its driver.