Tesla On Autopilot Hits Police Motorcycle In Phoenix

Tesla and fallend motorcycle 1 photo
Photo: Tesla/edited by Gabriel Brindusescu
As a daily rider, I’m glad to hear that most automakers are pushing towards automated cars. On the other hand, seeing this technology deployed on the streets without being perfect or getting misused makes me a bit nervous. The latest case comes from Phoenix, where a Tesla reportedly hit a motorcycle police officer while it was in “autopilot” mode.
According to azcentral, Phoenix police confirmed this week that the incident occurred when a Tesla driver and an on-duty officer exited the Black Canyon Freeway onto Utopia Road on the afternoon of March 21.

The police officer was in front of the Tesla Model X and stopped for a redlight. The car did the same, but after stopping briefly, it began moving forward, forcing the officer to jump off his motorcycle and move away.

The motorcycle fell and the car struck it, yet no damage was reported to either vehicle. The policeman estimated the impact took place at about three miles per hour (4.8 km/h).

Because it was such a minor collision, without any damage to either parts, there will be no further investigation from the police. The well-known electric car company said it did not receive any report of such an incident.

If you ask us, we’d say this unfortunate event happened due to driver error. The Tesla autopilot isn’t designed to be an all-round personal electronic driver. Its purpose, for now, is to spare a human driver the torture of driving a car on a boring highway.

Even so, you are supposed to pay attention and be ready to intervene in case the artificial intelligence screws up. Also, when you reach your exit, the car will depart the highway, slow down and move the control over to the driver.

With the crash taking place in the conditions described above, I tend to believe that the Tesla gave the control back to the guy behind the wheel, but he wasn’t paying attention, causing the car to move forward and hit the bike.

Maybe Tesla will program its cars to make a more obvious sound to notify the driver when they get out of auto-driving mode.
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