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Tesla driver issued citation after crash involving 'autopilot' technology
17 May 2018, 04:59 | Justin Tyler
Tesla confirms Utah driver engaged autopilot functions before slamming into firetruck
The driver of the Tesla Model S told police the vehicle was in Autopilot, a semi-autonomous mode, and that she was staring at her phone when the sedan plowed into the back of a Utah fire department truck stopped at a red light. For the next 80 seconds, the Tesla continued at her preselected speed of 60 miles per hour, her hands still off the wheel. The driver finally touched the brake pedal "a second prior to the crash".
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is dispatching a team to investigate a recent crash in South Jordan in which the driver of a Tesla vehicle reported she had placed the auto on autopilot mode at the time of the crash, Reuters reports.
Vehicle company owner, Elon Musk said in a tweet Tuesday, "It's super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in United States auto accidents alone in past year get nearly no coverage". The driver of the fire truck suffered minor whiplash.
A 28-year-old Lehi woman was issued a citation after her Tesla slammed into the back of truck. "Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn't make the vehicle impervious to all accidents". She took her hands off the wheel more than a dozen times, twice for more than a minute each. South Jordan police reiterated that drivers of semi-autonomous vehicles must remain alert and in control of the vehicle at all times.
Tesla's Autopilot relies on a system of radar, cameras with 360-degree visibility and sensors to detect nearby objects and perform basic functions such as parking, steering and emergency braking, which Tesla advertises as being able to "detect objects and automatically apply brakes to help avoid or lessen impact". The vehicle plowed into a fire department vehicle in Utah while the Autopilot, its semi-autonomous driving system, was turned on. "Based upon witness information, the driver of the Tesla did not brake or take any action to avoid the collision", a statement from South Jordan Police said.
This is the most recent investigation by federal regulators into the latest accidents that involve Tesla-made vehicles.
The SCI also collects relevant data like vehicle, occupants, injury mechanisms, roadway, and safety systems, which are all obtained from 100 crashes that they will study annually, according to the NHTSA.
In January, a Model S hit a parked fire truck on a Southern California freeway, with the firefighters' union saying the driver said Autopilot had been on at the time of the crash.
Also in March, an Arizona pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber auto with a backup driver behind the wheel.
Also, the Autopilot technology that monitors whether a driver has their hands on the steering wheel isn't a good way to tell if the driver is paying attention, the NTSB said.
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