On Saturday morning, a Tesla Model 3 crashed into a parked Florida Highway Patrol car and a Mercedes SUV.
Tesla’s Autopilot system—which has been in the controversial light for the past few months, is again involved in an accident. Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced an inquiry into Tesla’s autopilot system after a series of crashes with parked emergency vehicles. CEO Elon Musk also acknowledged faults with the self-driving software amid the investigation.
Recently, a Tesla Model 3 with Autopilot set off hit two parked cars on the side of a highway near downtown Orlando. According to a statement from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), a highway patrol officer had stopped to assist a driver whose 2012 Mercedes GLK 350 was disabled at the time of the incident. The officer had already stepped out of his parked police vehicle by the time the Tesla Model 3 ran into it. The front right of the Tesla hit the left side of the police car and then hit the Mercedes.
Fortunately, there were no serious injuries or deaths reported at the incident. However, the 27-year-old Tesla driver and the driver of the Mercedes had mild damages. The officer, on the other hand, was completely unharmed, according to the AP.
The causes of the crash are still being investigated. According to CNBC, it has not yet been concluded whether Tesla’s Autopilot contributed to the accident.
The current accident with Tesla’s Autopilot being the obvious suspect came roughly two weeks after investigating the company’s self-driving system. The inquiry focuses on 11 accidents starting from 2018 with Tesla models manufactured between 2014 and 2021, including the Tesla Model Y, Model X, Model S, and Model 3. The incidents reported have caused 17 injuries and one death in total.
In addition to the emergency vehicles, Tesla’s Autopilot system has also been involved in various incidents where drivers have left their cars unattended or have been drunk driving or fallen asleep at the wheel.
Right after the NHTSA revealed its investigation, Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey asked Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan to observe the company’s “potentially deceptive and unfair” marketing and advertising methods for its driving automation systems.
“Understanding these limitations is essential, for when drivers’ expectations exceed their vehicle’s capabilities, serious and fatal accidents can and do result,” Blumenthal and Markey wrote.