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Tesla: No Legal Duty to Make 'Failsafe' Car

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

One inevitable outcome to manufacturing driverless cars is that there will nonetheless be lawsuits if and when those cars get into accidents. And if there's no "driver" to sue, those lawsuits will be undoubtedly be aimed at the manufacturer.

One driverless car manufacturer is trying to avoid liability for several accidents, essentially arguing "to err is human." Tesla says that no manufacturer has been expected to build a perfectly accident-free automobile, especially in the face of human error, nor should it be expected to design a car, even a driverless one, that can overcome those human errors. You can see their full legal filing below:

Man v. Machine

Manufacturers can design and build cars that don't need human drivers. But if there is a person behind the wheel, should the car obey the person's orders, even if it means getting into an accident? Several purchasers of Tesla's Model S sedan and Model X sports utility vehicle claim the cars are defective in their design, liable to suddenly accelerate, and that the car's software should stop the car if that happens. And, to hear Tesla tell it, the buyers also want the software to stop the car if the driver is about to get into an accident as well (emphasis in original):

Plaintiffs are purchasers of both models. They allege that all Model S and Model X vehicles are susceptible to sudden unintended acceleration ("SUA"), either because one or more vehicle systems are defectively designed or because Tesla did not do what no manufacturer has ever done -- "develop and implement computer algorithms that would eliminate the danger of full throttle acceleration into fixed objects" even if it is caused by human error. Tesla's data demonstrates that each of the SUA incidents alleged in the [lawsuit] resulted from human error, and Tesla disputes that there is a legal duty to design a failsafe car.

Tesla is attempting to get the legal claims against it dismissed, based on the fact that no car manufacturer can prevent all accidents, nor have they ever been expected to. Then again, by Tesla's own admission and advertisement, no car has ever been able to do what Tesla's can.

You can read their full Motion to Dismiss below:

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, et al. v. Federal Trade Commission by FindLaw on Scribd

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