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New Tesla Fatal Crash in Florida Raises Doubts – Was Autopilot Involved?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is still investigating Tesla crashes against emergency vehicles on Autopilot. More than the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), the question is why automatic emergency braking (AEB) does not prevent these wrecks. A new incident will bring even more doubts about both Tesla systems after two people died in Gainesville, Florida.
2015 Tesla Model S crashed against the rear of a tractor-trailer: was Autopilot involved? 12 photos
Tesla Crashes Against Emergency Vehicle in Laguna Beach, CaliforniaTesla Crashes Against Emergency Vehicle in Laguna Beach, CaliforniaTesla Crashes Against Emergency Vehicle in Laguna Beach, CaliforniaTesla Crashes Against Emergency Vehicle in Laguna Beach, CaliforniaTesla Model 3 on Autopilot Crashes Against FHP Patrol CarTesla Model 3 on Autopilot Crashes Against FHP Patrol CarTesla Model 3 on Autopilot Crashes Against FHP Patrol CarTesla Model 3 on Autopilot Crashes Against FHP Patrol CarTesla Model 3 on Autopilot Crashes Against FHP Patrol CarTesla Model 3 on Autopilot Crashes Against FHP Patrol Car2015 Tesla Model S crashed against the rear of a tractor-trailer: was Autopilot involved?
According to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), the 2015 Model S in which a couple was traveling just exited to the Paynes Prairie Rest Area on I-75 at 1:58 PM on July 6. For reasons no one is able to explain so far, the EV drove toward a parked Walmart Freightliner Tractor Trailer and struck its rear. The EV entered underneath the tractor-trailer until its B-column, ripping off the roof. The 66-year-old woman that was behind the steering wheel and the 67-year-old front passenger “were pronounced deceased on scene.” Their identities have not been revealed until now.

Checking the maps of the location below, the Model S had to drive to the right to enter the rest area, to the left to enter the truck parking zone, and again to the left to hit the tractor-trailer rear. Considering the damages to the vehicle, it does not seem to have reduced its speed. The picture released by FHP shows no signs of braking before the crash.

In most crashes involving Autopilot, the system only failed to detect obstacles ahead and kept on driving as if they were not there. Although Autopilot can steer, brake, and accelerate the car, this would be the first incident in which it actively steered the vehicle until the wreck stopped it. Full Self-Driving (FSD) can also perform these tasks.

Tesla has not said so far if any of its ADAS systems were engaged in the vehicle. In fact, it has to disclose if it was engaged at all in the trip after NHTSA said that "Autopilot aborted vehicle control less than one second prior to the first impact" in crashes against emergency vehicles. If Autopilot were not involved, the driver would have driven into the rest area and hit the tractor-trailer on purpose, which does not make much sense if she could have done the same on the highway with any other tractor-trailer that was around.

There is no word about who is investigating the crash. The possibility that Autopilot is involved may put NHTSA on board. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has also been following weird crashes involving Tesla with attention, so it may also want to verify what caused this incident. With the EV maker’s ADAS under scrutiny, ruling out their involvement is mandatory.





Editor's note: The gallery contains images of crashes in which Autopilot was active and the single image FHP disclosed of this new crash, which still did not have any confirmation about that.

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