Tesla driving on Autopilot smashes into fire truck

Culver City Firefighters posted an image of Tesla Model S that had smashed into one of their fire trucks on Monday. The fire truck was already on the scene of another accident on Interstate 405 when the Model S came plowing into their fire truck. The firefighters union posted on Twitter “While working a freeway accident this morning, Engine 42 was struck by a #Tesla traveling at 65 mph.” The Model S driver claims that the vehicle’s Autopilot was engaged when it crashed. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent two investigators to examine the crash.

This is the second time the NTSB has investigated a crash of a Tesla involving the Autopilot feature. Last September the NTSB chairman claimed “operational limitations” played a big role in a May 2016 crash of a Tesla Model S using the semi-autonomous system that killed the driver. The NTSB has requested that automakers take steps to ensure that these semi-autonomous features aren’t misused. As we have seen in previous news GM wants to avoid taking responsibility if one of their self-driving autonomous vehicle encounters a crash or a technological failure. Tesla has said “Autopilot is not a fully self-driving technology and drivers need to remain attentive at all times.”

The Autopilot system has limits since its unable to properly track the driver’s attention even if the car is traveling at high speeds. The semi-autonomous Autopilot feature allows the driver to take their hands off the wheel for extended periods of time. However, if the Autopilot did not detect hands on the steering wheel every once and while, a warning chime would sound. The warning chimes then become more continuous if the driver does not place their hands on the wheel to let the car know that the driver is still alert. If the driver fails to resume manual control the Autopilot will disengage itself while at the same time turning on the warning flashers and slowing the car down to a stop.
Image credits: Culver City Firefighters
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