GM, not surprisingly, disagreed with the interpretation in a statement. It pointed to the San Francisco Police Department’s collision report, which didn’t lay blame but said that Nilsson merged into the Bolt’s lane “before it was safe to do so.”

There have certainly been disputes over the involvement of self-driving technology in crashes — just ask Tesla. Those incidents involved semi-autonomous cars where the human driver was always expected to share some responsibility, though, rather than fully autonomous vehicles where a human only serves as backup. And that makes cases like this problematic. If GM bears any responsibility at all, was it the fault of the developers (for not developing smart-enough collision avoidance), or the backup driver for not spotting the abrupt move? The lawsuit won’t completely settle the question, but it may lay the groundwork for future suits.



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