A Tesla has copped the ultimate misdemeanour.
One of the hi-tech EVs in the United States has crashed into a stationary police car – flashing lights and all – while the driver was apparently using the controversial Autopilot function.
The Tesla Model Y slammed into the back of the police car in Michigan early in the morning, causing extensive damage to the left rear of the Dodge Charger.
To make matters worse, police tweeted that the stopped cop car had its emergency lights flashing because it was attending a crash on the freeway.
After the crash police tweeted: “On 3/17 at 1:12am, troopers from the Lansing Post investigating a car vs deer traffic crash on I-96 near Waverly Rd in Eaton County. While investigating that crash with their emergency lights on, a Tesla on autopilot strikes the patrol car.”
There were no injuries but the 22-year-old driver was issued fines for failing to move over and driving while suspended.
The high profile crash will reignite debate about Autopilot, which some believe is misleading.
In 2016 a German court requested Tesla rename its Autopilot feature to save confusion, something that prompted outspoken Tesla chief Elon Musk to suggest Germany should rename its autobahn network.
In selling its Autopilot feature Tesla claims it “enables your car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically for other vehicles and pedestrians within its lane” but elsewhere on the Tesla website the company warns “current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous”.
In short, Autopilot enables level 2 driver assist technology on a scale that tops out at 5, a level at which the driver is not required.
Not that it has stopped owners showing off the semi autonomous systems, some even reverting to the back seat as the car takes control.
The latest high profile Autopilot crash comes as Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” system was revealed to do a lot less than Tesla suggests on its website.
The circa-$14,000 option is sold as the ultimate self-driving addition – albeit one already running years later than promised – but in compliance documents sent to Californian authorities it was claimed to do little more than existing driver assistance systems.