Yet another inattentive driver has crashed their Model S while using Tesla’s Autopilot feature.
The crash happened at Laguna Beach, California on Tuesday when the owner of a Tesla Model S engaged his Autopilot and slammed into the back of a parked police cruiser.
According to Laguna Beach Public Information Officer Jim Cota, the driver only suffered minor injuries. Luckily the parked police SUV was not occupied when the accident occurred. The driver told investigators following the crash that he was driving on “autopilot” at the time.
You can see that even at low speeds, the Model S did quite a number on the police cruiser, smashing in its rear axle while the Model S caved in its front bumper and spilled coolant all over the asphalt.
This morning a Tesla sedan driving outbound Laguna Canyon Road in “autopilot” collides with a parked @LagunaBeachPD unit. Officer was not in the unit at the time of the crash and minor injuries were sustained to the Tesla driver. #lagunabeach #police #tesla pic.twitter.com/7sAs8VgVQ3— Laguna Beach PD PIO (@LBPD_PIO_45) May 29, 2018
Crashes due to drivers incorrectly using the Autopilot semi-autonomous driving mode is a constant headache for Tesla. Soon after the accident, a Tesla spokesperson said, "Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn't make the car impervious to all accidents."
Tesla’s owner manuals inform drivers that the Autopilot feature does not detect all possible objects, and the driver will have to remain vigilant with both hands on the wheels even while the system is in operation.
San Francisco-based SafeSelfDrive, a legal consulting firm that deals with self-driving cars, noted on their Twitter feed the likely reason for the accident. The median line seems to swerve into the parking zone at the stretch of road where the accident occurred, which meant the Autopilot feature likely followed the line into the parked police cruiser.
Look from above how right lane widens to the parking lane. All but invites the AP to follow the right line into the back of the first parked car: the Police SUV. pic.twitter.com/XeCEikQYKO— Autonomous Law (@SafeSelfDrive) May 29, 2018
However, city planning may also be to blame. That same lane that allows for parked cars also turns into a right-hand turning lane a little further up the road, but still allows cars to park almost up until the second street. The legal fallout from this accident will likely be more complicated than it seems.
This is hardly the first accident that can be blamed on Tesla’s Autopilot this year. Earlier this month, a Model S driver slammed into the back of a fire truck stopped at a red light in Utah, while in March a Model X driver fatally slammed into the median divider on a California highway. Both incidents involved the driver leaving the car in the hands of Autopilot and not their own.