Autopilot-related crash in Laguna Beach results in injuries for
Tesla Model S allegedly being driven on Autopilot crashed into a
parked police vehicle in the city of Laguna Beach, California,
earlier this week. The driver of the Tesla suffered minor injuries,
and fortunately no one was in the police car at the time. Both
vehicles suffered extensive damage, and photos of the crash scene
posted on social media by the Laguna Beach Police Department showed
that most, if not all, airbags inside the Model S had deployed. The
driver told the responding officers on the scene that the Model S
was in Autopilot mode at the time.
from the scene indicate that the Model S delivered a glancing impact
to the rear left quarter and side of the police car with its front
right fender, causing damage to the sides of both vehicles.
apparent Autopilot-involved crash adds to a string of incidents in
which Teslas operated on Autopilot have crashed into the backs of
emergency vehicles parked on the shoulder or stopped in a traffic
this year, a Model S in California, also apparently in Autopilot
mode, drove into the back of a firetruck that was parked in the left
lane of a highway and was responding to another crash. The driver of
that vehicle was not injured. Just two weeks ago another Tesla Model
S drove into the back of a firetruck in Utah, causing serious damage
to the front of the Model S. The 28-year-old driver told police that
Autopilot was engaged at the time and that she had been looking at
crashes into stationary vehicles and other objects positioned in
front of them, some of them resulting in fatalities, have raised
fresh questions about the inherent capabilities and blind spots of
the Autopilot semi-autonomous driver assist system. Autopilot uses a
combination of video cameras and radar to monitor traffic around the
car, but almost every month a story emerges of a Tesla rear-ending
something large and otherwise obvious in its path while the driver
claims that Autopilot was engaged.
this spring another suspected Autopilot glitch was linked to a fatal
head-on collision of a Tesla Model X with a highway crash barrier.
In that incident, the Tesla driver, who had earlier complained about
Autopilot following the wrong set of painted highway lane markings,
drove into a crash attenuator that divides a multilane highway
split. The Model X is suspected to have followed confusing highway
lane markings and had driven into the already-damaged crash
attenuator at full speed, setting the vehicle on fire and damaging
two other vehicles. Several other Tesla owners had reported similar
Autopilot behavior in the same location, as well as similar
locations, suggesting that the sensors that monitor lane markings
could become confused. Tesla's response to this crash, in which it
largely blamed the driver and the state of the highway attenuator,
prompted a public spat with the NTSB, which criticized Tesla for
releasing data on the incident to the public before the
investigation was complete.
aside the issue of lane markings, one recurrent theme in a growing
number of Autopilot crashes is that the vehicle's forward sensors
have not reacted to large solid objects, like firetrucks, directly
in their path, or reacted too late to achieve complete braking.
Cruise Control cannot detect all objects and may not
brake/decelerate for stationary vehicles or objects, especially in
situations when you are driving over 50 mph (80 km/h) and in
situations where a vehicle you are following moves out of your
driving path and a stationary vehicle or object is in front of you,"
a Tesla manual notes.
of Autopilot-related accidents provoked a sharp response from Tesla
boss Elon Musk, who took to Twitter last week to criticize reporters
and news outlets for reporting Autopilot-related crashes and
promised to launch a Verrit-style website named "Pravda" to rank the
credibility of news outlets and individual reporters. The rolling,
week-long series of Musk's Twitter skirmishes with journalists
ultimately ended in an ugly manner and failed to paint a picture of
stability among Tesla leadership.