Tesla in Autopilot mode hits parked police SUV

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A Tesla vehicle with its Autopilot system activated crashed into an unoccupied, parked police SUV in California, according to reports.

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The Tesla Model S collided with the Laguna Beach Police Department vehicle at 11:07 a.m. on Tuesday local time, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Laguna police Sgt. Jim Cota told the newspaper that an officer was not in the cruiser when the crash occurred. The police vehicle was a total loss, and the Tesla driver suffered minor injuries.

Sgt. Cota said there was another collision in the same area last year, when a Tesla crashed into a semi-truck.

“Why do these vehicles keep doing that?” Cota said. “We’re just lucky that people aren’t getting injured.”

A Tesla spokesperson said owners are “continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times” when driving in Autopilot mode.

“Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents, and before a driver can use Autopilot, they must accept a dialogue box which states that ‘Autopilot is designed for use on highways that have a center divider and clear lane markings,’” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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Tesla’s Autopilot is a semi-autonomous system that enables vehicles to drive themselves in certain conditions. The system will warn drivers when they need to retake control of the vehicle.

Autopilot has been put under a microscope after other incidents involving the technology. In early May, a Tesla driver in Utah told police she was using Autopilot and looking at her phone when her vehicle crashed into a fire department truck.

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The National Transportation Safety Board opened an investigation into a fatal accident in March in which a Tesla Model X had Autopilot engaged when it crashed into a concrete highway divider in California.

After probing a fatal crash in 2016, the NTSB said “system safeguards were lacking” and Autopilot allowed the driver to misuse the technology. Tesla updated Autopilot following that accident.

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