Tesla Model 3 Allegedly on Autopilot Causes Patrol Car and Ambulance Chain Crash

Tesla Model 3 crash near Benson, Arizona 1 photo
Photo: Department of Public Safety via Twitter
Tesla owners and fans get really upset when crashes involving EVs made by the company and their much-talked-about Autopilot driver aid suite (or Full Self Driving suite, as Tesla would have it) get media coverage, but the fact is they are largely the only ones where technologies like these are involved.
It's not that other carmakers can't offer similar features on their vehicles, it's just that they prefer to roll them out once they are thoroughly tested and the appropriate legislation is in place. Tesla, on the other hand, has gone down a different route, one that's given it a significant headway by having a huge test fleet gathering miles on the road from people who not only aren't on Tesla's payroll but have actually paid themselves for the chance to test the system.

Countless videos have shown that while the Autopilot can cover miles and miles on end without even a glitch, there are still situations where it fails to make the right decision. Sadly, this has already led to two fatal crashes with just as many casualties, and there's no guarantee there won't be any more in the future.

Yesterday, a Tesla Model 3 slammed into the back of a patrol vehicle that was stopped on the side of the road after responding to a previous crash. The driver, a 23-year-old from Irvine, California, was later confirmed to be driving under the influence. He also admitted to having had the Autopilot switched on before the crash occurred.

At this point, his claim has not been confirmed by Tesla, but the Autopilot is notorious for failing to pick up vehicles stopped on the road. There were a few instances in China and Germany where the system made no attempt to reduce the speed despite heading straight toward the rear of a vehicle that occupied the entire width of the lane.

Here, the system would have had to cross a solid line on the asphalt as well, something it's not supposed to do under normal circumstances but bright sunlight can sometimes trick the system's cameras, so it's not at all impossible. On the other hand, it's entirely possible that the driver used the Autopilot excuse in an attempt to get off the hook, even though the person behind the wheel is responsible for everything that happens regardless of the state of the driving aid system.

The good news is that there were no serious casualties with only the man in the Tesla sustaining non-life-threatening injuries. The Tesla slid underneath the police car, but not before launching the SUV into the back of the ambulance stopped in front of it. The ambulance crew was unharmed, as was the state trooper who wasn't near the vehicle at the time of the crash. The incident that took place on the I-10 EB near Benson, Arizona is still under investigation.
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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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