In February, the first lawsuit against Tesla for a crash involving its driver-assistance system, Autopilot, will go to trial. The slew of trials set to follow will be a costly fight that the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, has vowed to take on in court. When Tesla released its Autopilot feature in October 2015, Musk touted the feature as “probably better” than a human driver. The reality, however, has proved different: On average, there is at least one Autopilot-related crash in the United States every day.
While several of these accidents will feature in the upcoming trials, another camp of Tesla users who have fallen victim to Autopilot crashes are unwilling to take a negative stance because of their love for the brand. Or because they believe that accidents are a necessary evil in the process of perfecting the Autopilot software.
Dave Key, whose 2015 Tesla Model S drifted out of its lane and slammed into the back of a parked police S.U.V., is of the latter camp.
“As a society,” Key argued, “we choose the path to save the most lives.”
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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Tanya Pérez, Marion Lozano, Naomi Noury, Krish Seenivasan, Corey Schreppel, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.