A Tesla Model S car driving on autopilot struck a parked police car in Southern California earlier today, marking at least the third time since January that a Tesla has crashed while on autopilot.
Turns out, the autopilot feature is not a true autopilot feature as Tesla confirmed to reporters after the crash.
“When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times. Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents.”
Nobody was sitting inside the Laguna Beach police car when it was struck by the Tesla, but the 65-year-old man sitting in the Tesla's driver's seat suffered minor injuries.
Sgt Jim Cota, the public information officer for the Laguna Beach police department, tweeted photos of the accident, which was reported at 11.07am on Tuesday. The driver of the Tesla, who suffered minor lacerations to the face from his glasses, told police officers the Tesla was in the semi-autonomous mode, although further investigation is needed to confirm this.
Cota told the Guardian that the Tesla sedan’s front end was “pretty beat up” and that the police SUV was a “complete total loss”.
“It was mangled up pretty good. It took out the whole back end and halfway through the centre part of the vehicle. There’s axle damage. It wouldn’t be worth repairing,” he said.
If confirmed, the incident will mark at least the third time a Tesla in autopilot has crashed into a stationary emergency vehicle since January. This month, a Tesla Model S crashed into a stopped firetruck in Utah, echoing a similar incident in January, when the same model collided with a stopped firetruck on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles County.