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Can Tesla handle any more bad press? This year, things have been far from perfect for Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla, Inc. Tesla has already established itself as one of the world’s leaders in all-electric drivetrain vehicles, yet the company is also pushing hard to become an innovator in self-driving systems. For years, Tesla has sold vehicles with a built-in “Autopilot” system, yet a majority of the features still don’t work. That hasn’t stopped several drivers from using their Autopilot systems on public roads – with occasionally disastrous results. Case in point: another Tesla has crashed while on Autopilot, and this time it collided with one of the worst things a driver could possibly hit: a parked police cruiser.
Well, I suppose a parked cruiser is better than a cruiser in motion with a pissed off police officer at the end of her shift inside. Still, hitting a police cruiser is never a good idea no matter who you are. The incident occurred around 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 29 in Laguna Beach, California. According to police reports, a Ford SUV operated by the Laguna Beach Police Department was parked alongside Laguna Canyon Road when a grey Tesla Model S struck the vehicle’s rear driver’s side quarter panel. The police cruiser was totaled in the accident, but fortunately, the officer was not in the vehicle at the time. The driver of the Tesla suffered minor injuries.
The Tesla driver told police that the Model S was operating on Autopilot at the time. Despite Tesla’s frequent warnings that the system is not yet ready for fully autonomous driving, many Tesla drivers ignore those warnings and take their hands off of the steering wheel. As of now, Autopilot is intended only to assist human drivers, as Tesla’s website clearly states that “until truly driverless cars are developed and approved by regulators, the driver is responsible for and must remain in control of their car at all times.”
Should Tesla disable all Autopilot functions until the bugs are worked out? How many more lives is it going to take?