Elon Musk on witness list in trial to determine if Tesla's Autopilot system led to fatal crash, report

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
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  • Elon Musk is being sought as a witness for a trial involving Tesla's Autopilot, Bloomberg reported.
  • Jeremy Banner died in a car crash in 2019 while driving his Tesla Model 3.
  • Court filings said the trial is expected to take place in January, as per Bloomberg.
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Lawyers have listed Tesla CEO Elon Musk as a potential witness in a trial to determine whether the firm's Autopilot system was responsible for a deadly crash in 2019, Bloomberg first reported.

Jeremy Beren Banner, 50, died in March 2019 when his Tesla Model 3 crashed into a tractor-trailer at 109km/h. According to a subsequent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report, Banner had engaged Autopilot roughly 10 seconds before the collision. Banner's family sued the electric car company, alleging wrongful death.

Autopilot is a feature which allows Tesla vehicles to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically. It doesn't make them fully autonomous.

Lawyers representing Banner's family included Musk in the trial's witness list filed on October 28, seen by Insider.

The trial is expected to take place in January, court filings show, reported Bloomberg.

Tesla attorneys could reject Musk appearing as a witness in the trial, Bloomberg reported.

Previously, the company's attorneys persuaded the judge in charge of the trial to deny the Banner family's request to depose Musk while evidence was being collected pre-trial, as per Bloomberg.

Neither Tesla nor lawyers representing the Banner family immediately replied to Insider's requests for comment.

The NTSB report into the collision found that at the time Banner's car hit the tractor-trailer, "the vehicle did not detect the driver's hands on the steering wheel." Following the report's findings, Tesla said that after activating Autopilot, Banner "immediately removed his hands from the wheel," which it said goes against the instructions it gives drivers.

At least another two drivers have died while using Tesla's Autopilot, including an Apple engineer, Walter Huang, in 2018, and Joshua Brown in 2016.

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