A Model S driver in Laguna Beach has crashed into a parked (and thankfully unoccupied) police SUV while her EV's Autopilot was reportedly engaged, sustaining minor injuries in the process. It's not yet known what the driver was doing at the time of the collision, but the incident is once again raising questions about Tesla's role in educating drivers about its semi-autonomous feature.
For its part, Tesla reiterated that it "continuously" reminds Autopilot users that they need to keep their hands on the steering wheel. The technology "doesn't make the car impervious to all accidents," it said. In fact, you don't have much of a choice. Let go of the wheel for roughly a minute and you'll lose Autopilot privileges for the rest of the drive. Persist and the vehicle will even pull to a stop as a safety measure. In theory, drivers should see warnings well before they get into dangerous situations.
With that said, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that these alerts might not be enough. There have been multiple instances of drivers either taking their hands off the wheel or otherwise failing to pay attention. And in at least one case, one Model S owner left the driver's seat in mid-commute. Whether or not Autopilot is as dangerous as claimed in lawsuits, it's not clear that drivers fully understand the responsibilities they have while Autopilot is active.
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