A Tesla working in the vehicle's driver assistance system called autopilot hit a police car in Michigan on March 17, 2021, officials said in a tweet.
Michigan State Police
DETROIT – A Tesla Model Y, working with an autopilot turned on, hit a police car in Michigan early Wednesday morning, according to official reports. Autopilot is Tesla's driver assistance system that is standard on all newer models.
The Tesla hit an officer's blue Dodge Charger sedan when soldiers were investigating an accident between a deer and another vehicle at 1:12 a.m., according to a Michigan State Police post on Twitter. The police car was parked and partly crashed into the right lane of a motorway with the emergency lights on, Lt. Brian Oleksyk in an email to CNBC.
The crash is the latest in a series of accidents involving Tesla all-electric cars criticized by vehicle safety advocates and probes for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA]. This was also the second collision with a Tesla vehicle in Michigan in the past week.
Officials said the officers or the nameless 22-year-old driver of the Tesla, who were quoted as saying about failing to get out and drive with a driver's license, were not injured. The driver informed the police that, according to Oleksyk, the vehicle was being operated on autopilot.
NHTSA officials declined to comment on the accident at the time. Tesla didn't immediately respond to a comment.
NHTSA previously opened probes for more than a dozen accidents believed to have involved Tesla's advanced driver assistance systems such as autopilot. The last one was a "violent" crash of a Tesla sedan and trailer truck in Detroit last week. This investigation is still ongoing.
Tesla's systems include a standard autopilot package. A more advanced option, marketed as fully self-driving, is selling for $ 10,000 today. The company's autopilot and fully self-driving technology make Tesla vehicles inoperable without a driver at the wheel. Some customers who purchase the full self-drive option also get access to a "beta" version to test out the latest features that are added to the system before all bugs are fixed.
The systems can control many aspects of the car, but "active driver monitoring" is required, according to Tesla's website.
Officials said the officers or the nameless 22-year-old driver of the Tesla, who were quoted as saying about failing to get out and drive with a driver's license, were not injured.
Michigan State Police
Investigators have yet to say whether Tesla's autopilot, FSD, or FSD Beta may have contributed to last week's Detroit crash. However, Tesla autopilot vehicles have collided with stationary objects and large vehicles, including tractor units and fire trucks, on multiple occasions.
A 50-year-old Jeremy Beren Banner of Lake Worth, Florida died when his Model 3 on autopilot hit the side of a semi-trailer in Florida on March 1, 2019, causing the roof of his car to shear off as it went underneath past.
While Tesla's autopilot system has changed significantly over the years, it has been under regulatory scrutiny since 2016 when an owner named Joshua Brown died while driving his Tesla Model S on autopilot near Gainesville, Florida . The vehicle also collided with a tractor-trailer.
Another federal vehicle safety watchdog that makes NHTSA recommendations, the National Transportation Safety Board, recently called for clear and strict rules for automated driving systems at the federal level. The board pointed to Tesla's approach to automated driving systems as a reason why stricter safety requirements and clear regulations are needed.