The American electric car maker Tesla’s most important feature has always been its Autopilot feature. It is a very advanced system that uses a myriad of cameras and radars to enable the car to practically drive itself relying on the navigation system without any inputs from the driver, but since the legislation in many countries do not allow full autonomy, the driver has to provide some steering inputs. This system is a great boon on long journeys but it is not without its faults, there are many reports that have been all over the news where the system failed and has caused both minor and severe accidents.
Tesla on ‘Autopilot’ hits police vehicle which hits ambulance
The Arizona Crash
The most recent one is an accident that happened in the US state of Arizona, this time it was an accident that resulted in a multi-vehicle collision, a police sergeant was working a collision scene on EB I-10 near Benson, this was when a passing Tesla crashed into the rear of the sergeant’s police vehicle, the impact was such that police car flung forward and rear-ended an ambulance that was also present at the scene, talk about hitting two emergency response vehicles with one Tesla.
? Reminder: Please #SlowDown & #MoveOver when you see flashing lights & vehicles stopped on the side of the road! Today, a Tesla rear-ended a patrol vehicle at the scene of an earlier crash on I-10 EB near Benson. Luckily, our sergeant wasn’t in the vehicle & wasn't hurt. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/WZhUQ10StL
— Dept. of Public Safety (@Arizona_DPS) July 14, 2020
Fortunately, the sergeant was not present inside his vehicle and was thus unharmed. However, due to severity of the crash, the driver of Tesla sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to a hospital. The Arizona Department of Public Safety had explained this incident on their public Facebook page, they further confirmed that the Tesla Driver told the police officers that the car was driving on Autopilot at the time of the accident. The car in question looks like Tesla’s flagship sedan the Model S.
Tesla’s autopilot sure does seem to have a grudge against Emergency response vehicles as this is not the first time a Tesla had an accident with the same, prior to this in January a Tesla crashed into a stationary Firetruck which resulted in a fatality, even this unfortunate happened in Arizona. Another instance was in December of last year when a Tesla Model 3 smashed into a police car that was parked on the side of a highway when the police officer stopped to help a stranded motorist. Other times when Tesla decided to pick a bone with ER vehicles were back in August 2018 and January 2018 where yet again it was collisions with firetrucks and in May 2018 when a Model S hit a parked police cruiser. The other objects that the “Autopilot” loves to crash into are tractor-trailers and the concrete barriers in the middle of highways, it seems no man, vehicle or object is safe from this devilish side of Tesla’s autopilot.
There hasn’t been any official report from Tesla on why such failures keep happening, it is hard to confirm whether these accidents occur due to driver error or a faulty Autopilot system.
Limitations of Autopilot
These crashes seems to be the reason why governments don’t really trust self-driving technology. The limitations of the system have been exposed due to these accidents, although since Tesla cars receive over the air updates these issues can be identified and fixed swiftly, but until the motoring safety authorities feel that this system has become foolproof full autonomy will not be allowed. This surely seems like a distant feat, in the past careless accidents often occurred due to driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances, but as times have changed so have the causes for accidents. Autopilot feature seems to be the new drunk driving. It is advised that even though the autopilot is enabled the driver must focus on the road and always place their hands on the steering wheel at all times.