Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Deadly Massachusetts Apple Store crash caused by faulty AI, says defense

Source: AP Photo/Steven Senne

The trial over the Massachusetts Apple Store crash is well underway, and the defense is claiming that bad AI was the culprit, not the driver.

Driver Bradley Rein drove the car into the Apple Derby Street store in November 2022 at about 60 miles per hour, with the vehicle only stopping when it hit the back wall. The incident killed one person and injured 22.

Rein originally claimed it was an accident. That story has now changed.

The defense team filed a motion in court on Tuesday, according to WCVB 5, that claimed that AI software installed in the car caused the unintentional acceleration.

The charges filed in court were upgraded in 2023 from previous charges of reckless homicide by a motor vehicle to second-degree murder, 18 counts of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and motor vehicle homicide by reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

In April 2023, Rein pled not guilty to the charges, and remained free on a $100,000 bail.

In Massachusetts, there is a strong precedent for drivers being held responsible for crashes involving AI. Should the motion be granted, the charges would likely have to be changed, though, to reflect the nature of the incident.

It's not clear what "AI software" was installed in the 4Runner that could cause forced acceleration and prevent the driver from hitting the brakes. It appears that the 2022 and earlier 4runner models lack factory self driving technology, beyond lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.

The driver previously claimed to police on the scene that his foot was stuck on the gas pedal — which would obviously not be AI-related. Observers on the scene didn't see any deceleration, and there was no evidence found during the investigation that the driver tried to brake.

The prosecution has asked for more time to review the claim. Toyota told WCVB that it was not a party to the litigation, and has no comment.

Apple is also being sued over the crash. The suit alleges that Apple didn't do enough to prevent the incident.

"Our experts tell us that this catastrophe was 100% preventable," Sheff & Cook lawyer Doug Shef said at the time. "They simply needed to place a few barriers or bollards between the parking lot traffic, which was busy holiday traffic, and the public."

It's not clear how the suit against Apple is going.