Politics

Tesla Settles Lawsuit Over a Fatal Crash Involving Autopilot

Tesla on Monday settled a lawsuit that blamed the automaker’s driver-assistance software for the death of a California man in 2018, averting a trial that would have focused attention on the company’s technology several months before it plans to unveil a self-driving taxi.

The trial stemming from the death of Wei Lun Huang, an Apple software engineer who went by Walter, was scheduled to start Monday with jury selection. The case was one of the most prominent involving Tesla’s Autopilot software, attracting significant public attention and prompting an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Terms of the settlement with Mr. Huang’s children and other members of his family were not disclosed, and Tesla filed court documents seeking to prevent them from being made public.

Testimony in the trial would have put Tesla’s autonomous driving software under close scrutiny, further fueling a debate about whether the technology makes cars safer or exposes drivers and others to serious injury or death.

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, has said the company’s self-driving software will generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. Investors have used his claims to justify the company’s lofty stock market valuation. Tesla is worth more than any other carmaker even though its shares have plunged in recent months.

Mr. Musk said on X last week that Tesla would introduce a self-driving taxi, Robotaxi, in August. If Tesla has in fact perfected a vehicle that can ferry passengers without a driver — which many analysts doubt — the development will help answer criticism that the company has been slow to follow up its Model 3 sedan and Model Y sport utility vehicle with new products.

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