A Tesla Model S, reportedly using the Autopilot feature, smashed into the back of a parked fire truck on a freeway accident scene in southern California. The driver reports the vehicle was on autopilot. Although the Tesla was traveling at 65 miles per hour, "Amazingly there were no injuries!" the fire fighters said in a tweet.
Tesla plans for its autopilot system to one day be truly autonomous - meaning drivers can expect their Tesla to be fully self-driving, like a chauffeur. If this was a case of the driver sticking on Autopilot, and forgetting their responsibility to watch the road ahead it wouldn't be the first time.
Moreover, the Autopilot system is not developed to be used with crossing traffic on roads.
The company has designed the Autopilot system in a way that if a driver repeatedly pay no attention to such warnings, the system would stop functioning and would not restart again during the trip.
The driver says, he was not driving. If the driver never responds, the auto will gradually slow down until it stops and the flashing hazard lights will come on.
Sadly, not all owners learned that lesson, as a wreck earlier this week ended up being bad enough to catch the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board. The takeaway here is that the driver of the Tesla was clearly inattentive during the accident. At the time, the NTSB criticised Tesla amongst other auto makers for measuring driver awareness by tracking steering wheel movement.
Authorities have not identified the driver of the Tesla that crashed into the firetruck on the Bay Bridge. In that case, the Autopilot system, which has since been updated, apparently did not recognize the white truck trailer against the bright sky.
Tesla has the ability to analyse data gathered by its vehicles' on-board computers to determine the cause of crashes, and has shared information with the press about previous high-profile accidents.