Newly Unearthed Dashcam Footage Shows A Tesla On Autopilot Crashing Into A Police Car

Newly obtained dashcam footage by The Wall Street Journal has brought to light a distressing incident involving a Tesla Model X equipped with Autopilot crashing into a stationary police vehicle. The exclusive footage underscores the alarming limitations of Tesla’s driver assistance software and raises concerns about the false sense of security it might provide to drivers.

Rewind to 2021, deep in Texas in the early hours of the day. Imagine a driver, reportedly under the booze’s influence and zig-zagging within their lane; this person decides it’s okay to use Tesla’s Autopilot feature whilst clocking around 64 mph. Now picture that over this next half-hour-long journey that ensued, almost shockingly but with eerie regularity—some150 times or thereabout—the Autopilot system kept nudging insistently at our driver: ‘hands on wheel please’, a must for its operation.

True, the Autopilot system could perceive and engage with moving cars on the expressway. And yet, alarmingly, it overlooked a motionless police cruiser in its path— flashing lights notwithstanding. A peek at the vehicle’s logs showed that there had been fleeting contact with the steering wheel – all to verify driver alertness. But then came disaster; mere seconds later, our Tesla rammed into this law enforcement automobile slap bang at 55 mph causing an incredibly debilitating crash.

Five police officers were hurt in the collision, and as a result, they sued Tesla, claiming that the Autopilot technology was to blame for the mishap. However, Tesla has refuted these accusations. Although the company’s driver assistance capabilities go by names like “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving,” they still demand constant driver attention and preparedness to take over.

Regulators have been closely monitoring these instances because they are worried about drivers’ laziness. After many accidents involving parked emergency vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started an inquiry in 2021. After more injuries and fatalities in 2022, the scope of this probe was later increased.

In September 2021, Tesla made an attempt to allay these worries by releasing an over-the-air software upgrade. However, the crashes under examination continued to happen even after the upgrade was put in place, casting doubt on the efficacy of the actions taken.

Tesla’s response to these problems, according to critics, has been insufficient. It has been known for the driver-facing camera to be covered up or weighted in order to trick the Autopilot system into thinking the driver is paying attention.

The event that is depicted in the recently discovered dashcam video serves as a sharp reminder of the difficulties and risks posed by autonomous driving technology. It is unclear how authorities, the automobile industry, and technology firms like Tesla will work together to handle the challenges of integrating automation while preserving road safety while investigations continue.

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