Tesla Autopilot Under Investigation Again Following Fire Engine Freeway Crash

Tesla Model S Autopilot crash 4 photos
Photo: YouTube screenshot
Tesla Model S Autopilot crashTesla Model S Autopilot crashTesla Model S Autopilot crash
Tesla's decision to advertise its advanced cruise control system as "it's not autonomous, but it kind of is" is coming back to haunt the EV maker as the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has just launched a new investigation against it.
It's only been months since the NTSB had concluded its analysis into the Joshua Brown incident from back in 2016, and even though the federal organization couldn't place the blame on the Autopilot, it did state it had "played a role" in the crash and its regretful consequences.

Just three days ago, another Model S cruising on the freeway plowed at a reported speed of 65 mph (105 km/h) straight into the backside of a stationary fire engine that was involved in dealing with another incident. Luckily, everyone involved came out OK, but the NTSB still took notice as the driver claimed the Autopilot was active during the crash.

Tesla highlighted the fact that no matter how precise and safe Autopilot might seem, the drivers are required to remain aware of their surroundings at all times and be ready to resume control if needed. Considering they failed to spot a fire engine, it's safe to assume the driver was either busy doing something else, or they just assumed the car had things under control and would brake or steer clear of the obstacle.

Unfortunately, Tesla's semi-autonomous feature is notorious for its poor performance against stationary vehicles and, if it does turn out the Autopilot was indeed in use, this crash should only strengthen that idea. Of course, that doesn't mean we won't probably see dozens of others over the coming months until Tesla finally solves the issue.

In the meantime, the NTSB has launched its investigation which should be considerably shorter than the one in Joshua Brown's case. The surprising fact so far is that Tesla has remained silent about the crash, neither denying or confirming the Autopilot was activated, something it could have checked immediately with 100 percent accuracy.

Whatever the NTSB's findings, this should serve as an additional reminder that, no matter how tempting it might be to switch off during the boring highway driving and entrust the car's system with your life, you really shouldn't.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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