A new case of a Tesla Model S crash has come up, and this time, the car rammed into a California parked police vehicle. The driver of the Model S, who suffered minor injuries, has put the onus on the Autopilot. The crash happened at 11:07 a.m. at 20652 Laguna Canyon Road.
Laguna Beach Sergeant Jim Cota posted photos of the Tesla Model S crash showing noticeable damage to the front of the Tesla car and the rear of the California parked police vehicle. There was no officer in the California parked police vehicle at the time of the crash. According to Cota, a similar collision happened in the same area as well involving a Tesla, which rammed into a semi-truck.
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
After the crash, the company released a statement saying, “Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents.” However, the automaker could not confirm the allegations by the driver that the Model S was in Autopilot mode.
Previously there has been several Tesla Model S crashes involving the Autopilot system. Such incidents have been a constant concern for the company, which otherwise does not shy away from claiming the vehicle to be among the safest in the industry. A few weeks back, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that they were sending a team to investigate the Tesla Model S crash in South Jordan, Utah.
In the crash, the Model S, which was cruising at 60 miles per hour, rammed into a fire truck waiting at a signal, according to the police. Citing the data, the police noted that the Autopilot was activated about a minute and 22 seconds before the crash. Further, the data suggested that the driver took her hands off the steering wheel “within two seconds” of activating the system, and then did not touch it for the next 80 seconds until the crash.
Another crash – also being investigated by the NHTSA – was reported in March, wherein a Model X, in the Autopilot mode, hit the highway divider. In another crash reported in January, a Tesla vehicle engaged in Autopilot mode rammed into a parked fire truck. Both the incidents were reported from California.
Whether or not Tesla Autopilot is safe has been a matter of constant debate. Experts believe that Autopilot, which allows the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel but keep an eye on the road to take control if Autopilot mode blunders, must not be trusted, as human beings cannot exhibit the kind of reflexes this mode wants them to.
Elon Musk, who is an avid supporter of the autonomous vehicles, slammed such views for showing the technology in a bad light. “It’s really incredibly irresponsible of any journalist with integrity to write an article that would lead people to believe that autonomy is less safe,” Musk said during the earnings call.
Musk and Tesla have repeatedly been saying that the feature can bring down crashes by 40%. However, the real numbers tell a different story, and to arrive at some definite conclusion will need more data. Experts like David Zuby, who heads the vehicle research at the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, also feels that there is a huge data gap making it difficult to conclude anything for or against the Autopilot system, according to Wired.
Recently, The Wall Street Journal’s Tim Higgins claimed something interesting when he stated that Tesla ignored one of the most critical features in the Autopilot system – the driver monitoring system. However, Musk responded to the story stating that the information is misleading, and that the eyetracking feature was rejected for being ineffective and not for the cost. “WSJ fails to mention that Tesla is safest car on road, which would make article ridiculous,” Musk tweeted.
Well, in the wake of recent crashes involving Tesla cars, Musk’s claims do not seem to be justified. Also, Cadillac Supercruise, the only other system that can be compared to the Tesla Autopilot, comes with an unmatched driver monitoring system, notes The Drive. Ideally, the driver would get the warning bells before a dangerous issue arrives. However, there is no dearth of evidence that such alerts might not be enough.
On Tuesday, Tesla shares closed up 1.76% at $283.76.