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Another Tesla Car Involved In Crash Amid Autopilot Controversy

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A Tesla Model 3 crashed into a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser, which was assisting a disabled vehicle. With no serious injuries to report, the Autopilot-related accident adds up to a string of incidents involving Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s cars with emergency vehicles, currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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According to CNN, the Tesla car hit the cruiser and ricocheted into the disabled Mercedes vehicle. “The driver stated that [the Tesla] was in Autopilot mode, said the report from the Florida Highway Patrol.”

“No one was seriously injured in the crash, though the Tesla did narrowly miss hitting a state trooper as he left his car to assist another driver who had broken down on the highway.”

The police have reported the incident to both the NHTSA and the car manufacturer, and also warned Tesla drivers that they should remain alert and do not over-rely on the vehicle’s Autopilot feature.

The agency stated that “Every available vehicle requires a human driver to be in control at all times, and all state laws hold human drivers responsible for operation of their vehicles.”

Ever since the introduction of its Autopilot feature, Tesla has reiterated that self-driving vehicles are involved in fewer accidents when compared to those driven by humans, while not warning that the feature does not make their cars fully autonomous.

Mounting Pressure

While Tesla undergoes the NHTSA probe, Senate democrats Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward Markey of Massachusetts prompted the Federal Trade Commission to initiate an investigation on the whole string of accidents, arguing Tesla’s “misleading Autopilot feature claims.”

Sam Abuelmasid, a self-driving vehicles expert told CNN about Tesla’s Autopilot feature: “When it works, which can be most of the time, it can be very good … But it can easily be confused by things that humans would have no problem with.”

“Machine visions are not as adaptive as humans'. And the problem is that all machine systems sometimes make silly errors.”

The expert asserts that autonomous vehicles are designed to disregard immobile objects when roving above 40 mph, so “they don't slam on the brakes when approaching overpasses or other objects on the side of the road.”

Tesla founder Elon Musk admitted that the most recent software update for the self-driving function was “not that good,” as the company prepares the launch of its FSD (Full-Self-Driving) Beta update this month.

Tesla is are part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders’ families.