The first crash happened last week in Detroit when a Tesla Model Y crashed to semi truck. A Tesla T-boned a semi earlier this week in Detroit while driving through an intersection. Two people were injured in this crash. This is similar to a crash that happened with a Tesla Model 3 and a Semi in Florida where the car also T-Boned a Semi. This crash is currently undergoing a federal investigation. Some sources are saying that the Tesla in this crash was in autopilot mode. The police department expressed that they thought the Tesla was not in autopilot mode at the time of the crash. However, this is a matter that is still under investigation. The answer can be found by trying to extract data from the Tesla.
Tesla Crashes into police car in Lansing
This is the most recent of the two crashes. On Wednesday morning the driver of another Tesla crashed into a state trooper’s car. This Tesla is also believed to have been on autopilot at the time of the crash. The police ended up citing this driver for failing to move over for an emergency vehicle.
How Autopilot could have factored into the Detroit crash
The autopilot could have played a part in the following way. Autopilot likely has issues seeing certain types of Semis and trailers. Tesla should come out and reiterate that drivers must stay alert at all times but It’s not clear how much that would solve. It is no secret that the autopilot system on the Tesla is capable of doing a lot to make driving easier, but that doesn’t mean the system is perfect.
I think that the bevy of Autopilot crashes may erode faith in Tesla.
How Autopilot could have factored into the Lansing crash
The reality here could be that autopilot didn’t factor in much and that it was the driver who needed to move over and pass the emergency vehicle. In recent updates of autopilot, the system has shown itself to be able to drive on unmarked roads. The one thing autopilot would struggle with in those situations is knowing how much to move over for an oncoming car on say a dirt road. Autopilot was not able to move over and pass the state trooper parked on the road in this situation. Therefore, it is this driver who must be held accountable. This driver was also driving with a suspended license, so Tesla’s autopilot system doesn’t deserve too much heat for this particular crash.
The investigation and possible fallout
NHTSA is investigating these crashes and is seeing what they can come up with. Recently, the NTSB has been hammering NHTSA about regulating Tesla with more vigor. The NTSB was talking about crashes that occurred years ago on previous iterations of autopilot with inattentive drivers present in many cases. The drivers in both these recent crashes also were described as being inattentive.
This is the last thing Tesla needed
Tesla did not need the headache of dealing with the fallout of even more crashes due to drivers who are zoned out along with autopilot not working as it should in certain situations. It is no secret that the autopilot system needs to improve. There are almost 40,000 deaths each year as a result of automotive accidents. More than the vast majority of these crashes are a result of human error. The waters seem to be getting murkier because now the car is doing the driving in a lot of situations. Therefore, the manufacture who makes the car can become liable. The NTSB has already been after Tesla and this just adds more fuel to their fire.
Tesla is in a position now where they are a target. Volkswagen wants to “overtake” them, which is what was said in a statement by their chairmen Robert Diess.
Will Tesla be able to rally after this news? How do you see the NTSB and NHTSA regulating Tesla going forward? Let us know in the comments.
Daniel Cappo reports Tesla developments at Torque News. He has had a passion for cars ever since age five when his grandparents let him drive their old golf cart around their property in Upstate NY. He has attended numerous auto shows, and even got the chance to drive a Ferrari California on the track. Ever since Tesla opened up a dealership at his local mall, he's been an avid follower of their cars and technology. Dan has a B.S. in Public Communication from U Vermont. Follow Daniel on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily Tesla News.
Image source: Michigan Police Department