Tesla driver issued citation after crash involving 'autopilot' technology

Tesla crash

Tesla crash

Driver repeatedly took hands off the wheel.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Wednesday that it was sending a team to investigate the crash of a Tesla Inc vehicle last week in Utah that occurred while the auto was in Autopilot mode. "Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn't make the vehicle impervious to all accidents".

The Tesla driver suffered a broken right foot and Unified Fire truck driver was checked for whiplash, but not taken to a hospital, according to police. She subsequently told authorities that she was driving in Autopilot mode. Police said the Tesla driver, a 28-year-old Lehi woman, admitted to using the autopilot feature at the time of the crash.

AEB is "designed to automatically engage the brakes to reduce the impact of an unavoidable frontal collision with another vehicle" and therefore, drivers should never rely on it to always save them from a crash.

The NHTSA has opened an investigation on the accident on Wednesday as well.

Last week, the NTSB began investigating an accident involving a Model S that killed two teenagers in Florida after it crashed into a wall.

Prosecutors in the southern Swiss region of Ticino are investigating last week's death of a German driver whose Tesla caught fire on the highway after what the company said appeared to be a high-speed crash.

While Teslas may use no gasoline, they draw power from lithium-ion batteries that use chemistry that can ignite if they are damaged.

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California.

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The Tesla report also noted that instructions provided to drivers about their vehicle's automation features expressly instruct that they maintain attention, and hands on the wheel, at all times.

The police said the Tesla Model S during that day's trip registered more than a dozen instances of the driver's hands being off the steering wheel.

During the driver's trip, she reportedly toggled Autopilot and active cruise control on and off on multiple occasions, and modified the vehicle's cruise speed at varying points.

According to the release, 82 seconds prior to the crash, she again activated Autopilot and adaptive cruise control, and removed her hands from the wheel within two seconds of activation.

The Autopilot system has generated a significant amount of controversy since it was introduced in late 2015.

Also in March, an Arizona pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber auto with a backup driver behind the wheel. He argued that the media reports disproportionately stress the dangers by Tesla owners, though later conceding that the system still could be improved. One even was shown climbing into the back seat.

Tesla's Autopilot technology is not yet a fully developed replacement for a human driver-but humans behind the wheel sometimes have trouble understanding that fact. The company now makes it clear a motorist needs to remain attentive and ready to grab control back quickly in the event of a potential problem. In a later tweet, however, Musk stated that Autopilot does need to get better.

"It's really incredibly irresponsible for any journalist with integrity to write an article that would lead people to believe that autonomy is less safe - which might lead people to turn it off and then die", Musk declared. That includes an Uber SUV that struck and killed a pedestrian near Phoenix in March.

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