TRUTH PUKE’S TAKE: In a recent ruling, a California judge has ordered Tesla CEO Elon Musk to be interviewed under oath about statements he made regarding the safety and capabilities of the company’s Autopilot features. The ruling was made in a lawsuit filed by the family of Walter Huang, an Apple engineer who died in a car crash in 2018. The family argues that Tesla’s partially automated driving software failed, while the carmaker contends that Huang was playing a videogame on his phone and disregarded vehicle warnings.
Plaintiff attorneys sought to depose Musk regarding recorded statements that tout the capabilities of Autopilot, including a 2016 statement in which he allegedly said that a Model S and Model X can drive autonomously with greater safety than a person. Tesla opposed the request, arguing that Musk cannot recall the details about the statements, and that he is often the subject of “deepfake” videos and audio recordings that purport to show him saying and doing things he never actually said or did.
The judge tentatively ordered a limited, three-hour deposition where Musk could be asked whether he actually made the statements on the recordings, and called Tesla’s arguments “deeply troubling.” The ruling could add to growing legal and regulatory scrutiny over Tesla’s Autopilot system, which has faced criticism over safety concerns. However, a California state court jury recently found that Tesla’s Autopilot feature did not fail in what appeared to be the first trial related to a crash involving the partially automated driving software.
It remains to be seen how Musk’s deposition will affect the outcome of the lawsuit and the public perception of Tesla’s Autopilot system, as the case heads to trial in July and the scrutiny over the safety of the technology continues to grow.
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