Tesla on autopilot crashes into Florida state police car
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A Tesla driving on autopilot crashed into a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser on a freeway near downtown Orlando and narrowly missed its driver, who had stopped to assist a broken down vehicle.
Earlier this month, the U.S. government launched a formal investigation into Tesla’s partially automated Autopilot driving system after a series of similar collisions with parked emergency vehicles.
The soldier whose cruiser was hit shortly before 5 a.m. on Saturday had activated his hazard lights and was heading towards the broken down vehicle when the Tesla struck the left side of the cruiser and then collided with the other vehicle, Highway Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Kim Montes told Orlando. Sentinel.
The report says the 27-year-old man in the Tesla and the driver of the broken down vehicle sustained minor injuries and the soldier is unharmed.
Tesla did not immediately respond to an email sent to his press address.
The autopilot has often been misused by Tesla drivers, who have been caught driving drunk or even rolling in the back seat as a car rolled down a California highway.
The electric vehicle maker uses a camera-based system, a lot of computing power, and sometimes radar to spot obstacles, figure out what they are, and then decide what the vehicles should do. But researchers say he’s had problems with parked emergency vehicles and trucks perpendicular to his path.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened the Tesla probe after counting 11 crashes since 2018 in which Teslas on autopilot or cruise control struck vehicles where first responders used flashing lights, flares, an array of Illuminated arrows or cones warning of dangers.
In those crashes, 17 people were injured and one was killed, NHTSA said. An investigation could lead to a recall or other enforcement action.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which also investigated Tesla’s crashes, recommended that NHTSA and Tesla limit the use of autopilot to areas where it can be operated safely. He also recommended that Tesla be required to improve its system to ensure that drivers pay attention.
Last year, the NTSB blamed Tesla, drivers and lax NHTSA regulations for two crashes in which Teslas crashed under semi-trailers.
The emergency vehicle collisions cited by NHTSA began on January 22, 2018 in Culver City, Calif., Near Los Angeles, when a Tesla using autopilot struck a parked fire truck with flashing lights. No one was injured in the accident.