A Tesla, using its partially automated driving technology, crashed into a Florida Highway Patrol Cruiser Saturday on Interstate near Orlando. It narrowly missed its driver who had stopped to help a disabled vehicle.
After a series similar collisions with emergency vehicles parked nearby, the U.S. government launched an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot driver system.
The trooper who was killed in the collision with the Tesla on Saturday morning had activated his emergency lights. He was heading to the disabled vehicle when the Tesla struck the left side of the cruiser. The Tesla then collided with the other vehicle. Lt. Kim Montes, a highway patrol spokesperson, told The Orlando Sentinel.
According to the report, the Tesla driver and the Tesla’s disabled passenger suffered minor injuries. The trooper was not hurt.
An email to Tesla’s press address was not returned by Tesla immediately.
Tesla drivers have often misused Autopilot, including driving drunk and riding in the backseat while their car rolls down California highways.
The maker of electric vehicles uses a camera-based system, lots of computing power and radar to spot obstacles and determine their location. Researchers say the vehicle has encountered problems with emergency vehicles and perpendicular trucks.
After a total of 11 accidents in which Teslas using autopilot or cruise control collided with vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a Tesla probe. First responders used flares, flashing lights, or illuminated arrow boards to warn of dangers.
According to the NHTSA, there were 17 injuries and one death in those crashes. An investigation could result in a recall or another enforcement action.
The National Transportation Safety Board has also investigated Tesla accidents and recommended that Tesla and NHTSA limit the use of the autopilot to areas where it is safe to operate. The board also recommended that Tesla improve its monitoring system in order to make sure drivers pay attention.
The NTSB attributed two collisions last year in which Teslas collided with tractor-trailers under crossing Teslas to drivers and NHTSA’s lax regulation.
NHTSA cited the following crashes into emergency vehicles. They began in Culver city, California on January 22, 2018. A Tesla with autopilot collided with a parked firetruck flashing its lights. In that accident, no one was hurt.