Automation Complacency

A first of its kind criminal case was just filed in the crash of a car on autopilot.  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Kevin Riad was driving his Tesla Model S on autopilot when the car ran a red light and crashed into another vehicle, killing the two people in the other car.  Prosecutors have just charged Mr. Riad with vehicular manslaughter, the first felony charge ever brought based on what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls “automation complacency”.  That’s when a human driver assumes that the car’s automated features will work exactly as they’re supposed to and as a result, disengages from his responsibility in driving the vehicle.

Mr. Riad has pled not guilty but regardless of the verdict in this case, it is a warning to owners of cars with self-driving features that the driver can face serious criminal charges if he just assumes the car will drive as it should and he takes his eyes off the road.

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