Tesla in autopilot mode crashes into parked police cruiser in California

Mae Love
May 30, 2018

A Tesla Model S with the Autopilot driver assist engaged crashed into a stationary police vehicle in Laguna Beach, California, earlier today according to the local police department.

Laguna Beach Sergeant Jim Cota said on Twitter that the cop auto was unmanned at the time of the impact, while the Tesla driver sustained minor injuries. He says the Tesla driver suffered minor injuries. The report said she took her hands off the steering wheel "within two seconds" of engaging the system and then did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds, until the crash happened.

A Tesla spokesperson said owners are "continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times" when driving in Autopilot mode. "Why do these vehicles keep doing that?"

Tesla's Autopilot is a semi-autonomous system that enables vehicles to drive themselves in certain conditions. "We're just lucky that people aren't getting injured".

Tesla's autopilot feature has attracted heavy scrutiny after a number of crashes. It also insists the accidents are primarily the result of human error, not the autopilot feature itself.

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Despite Tesla's instructions to drivers before they start using Autopilot, the automaker's critics have called on the company to disable the feature until it can be made safer.

Tesla's Model S owner's manual warns some Autopilot functions "cannot detect all objects and may not brake/decelerate for stationary vehicles or objects especially when traveling over 50 miles per hour (80 kph)" and when a vehicle ahead of the driver "moves out of your driving path and a stationary vehicle or object is in front of you".

In Utah, a Model S in autopilot crashed into a fire truck stopped at a red light in May.

Launched in late 2015, Tesla's Autopilot feature is meant to "relieve drivers of the most tedious and potentially risky aspects of road travel" and includes standard safety features like automatic emergency braking and collision warnings, but it is not meant to replace navigation by a human driver.

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