Chinese man sues Tesla over Autopilot vehicle crash

Tesla Model S Autopilot

Another grim milestone on the road to vehicle autonomy has been reached – the first autonomy-related lawsuit against an automaker. Ironically, it happened not in the litigation-obsessed US, but in China.

Gao Jubin’s 23-year-old son, Gao Yaning, died in January after crashing his Model S into the back of a road-sweeping vehicle on a highway in the northeastern province of Hebei.

The family believes that the Autopilot feature was responsible for the accident, and has filed a lawsuit against Tesla and the Beijing auto dealer that sold the car.

The suit alleges that “the Autopilot program’s slow response failed to accurately gauge the road conditions ahead and provide instructions,” according to lawsuit documents seen by Reuters.

Tesla said it is investigating the cause of the crash, but has “no way of knowing” if Autopilot was engaged at the time of the accident. “Because of the damage caused by the collision, the car was physically incapable of transmitting log data to our servers.”

The Gaos’ lawyer has been in contact with Tesla, but no agreement has been reached. Tesla says it has tried to work with the plaintiffs to determine the cause of the crash, but the family “has not provided us with any additional information that would allow us to do so.”

The lawyer disagrees: “The car is still there, and the data can still be extracted. A consumer can’t read the data, but Tesla could read the data,” he said.

By US standards, the amount of money at stake is laughably small: Gao wants Tesla to pay him 10,000 yuan (about $1,468) plus legal costs, and for the company and its authorized dealer to admit responsibility.


Source: Reuters

  • Michael Walsh

    Hmmm Just speculating, but at 23 years old in a TESLA, he was probably going 120MPH

  • Kevin Douglass

    Not enough information in this article to make any kind of assumption.
    Has Tesla gone to China to download the data. If not, they should.

    • kristian handberg

      Good observation

  • Ramon A. Cardona

    Worth repeating: stopping distances are a function of many factors and it is impossible to quantify. Tire and surface condition, temperature, gradient, total weight, detection distance and many more. Over a million deaths a year due to car crashes could be categorized but that is about it. Most drivers are not properly trained and not aware of the dangers of speeding. Very sorry for the young man’s death.RIP.

  • Jeff Anthony S Enad

    Autopilot is not driverless system like Google do and its not perfect. Tesla always advice there customer when engaging the autopilot be always hold the steering wheel at anytime or better not to engage the autopilot if the environment like fog or heavy rain.

    Be careful and not think that the systen is the same as driverless system of Google.

  • ——-

    This is the footage of the crash.

  • Eugene Coutee

    Just an observation but the collision approach vector was the same as another autopilot failure earlier this year. I want to say that it was in May.

  • Xu
  • Collin Burnell

    Why would a road maintenance vehicle be stopped in, what I presume is, the fast lane with no cones, markers, etc.? Although, it is a big, strange looking, orange object that AutoPilot should have detected. Phew! Sad.