Autopilot’ed Tesla Crashes . . . Again

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Well, at least there was no fire this time.

The driver of a Tesla Model S crashed into an unoccupied, parked police vehicle in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Tuesday.  The “driver” – really, a meatsack –  told investigators the Tesla was in Autopilot mode at the time, according to news reports.

Photos of the crash scene show extensive damage to the front end of the Tesla and the rear side of the police vehicle; the “driver” suffered minor injuries.

No burns.

Tesla corporate was quick to issue a release denouncing the meatsack behind the wheel:

“Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents,” which is fine except for the fact that Autopilot encourages the “driver” to not-drive. It is, as Dr. Strangelove said of the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, the point of the whole thing, you see. If you have to pay attention to the road – to be prepared to drive when the Autopilot is about to drive you into the wall, a pedestrian – whatever it is – then it’s like a lawnmower you can’t use to cut the grass with.

Several crashes and fire incidents involving Tesla vehicles this year have been near constant challenges for CEO Elon Musk, who boasts that the company’s vehicles are among the safest in the industry.

Except when they mistake a concrete barrier for an exit – which in a way, it kind of is. For the people inside. A final exit.

This month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was sending a team to investigate the crash of a Tesla vehicle in South Jordan, Utah. The driver was traveling at 60 mph when the Model S smashed into a firetruck stopped at a red light.

Police in Utah said data from Tesla showed that the driver enabled Autopilot about 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash. The report said she took her hands off the steering wheel “within two seconds” of engaging the system and then did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds, until the crash happened.

NHTSA is also investigating a fatal crash in March that involved a Tesla Model X using Autopilot that struck a highway divider. The agency is also probing the January crash of a Tesla vehicle apparently traveling in Autopilot that struck a parked firetruck. Both of those incidents were also in California.

The National Transportation Safety Board is also probing four Tesla crashes that have occurred since last year, including three under review by NHTSA.

Tesla’s Model S owner’s manual warns some Autopilot functions “cannot detect all objects and may not brake/decelerate for stationary vehicles or objects especially when traveling over 50 mph (80 kph)” and when a vehicle ahead of the driver “moves out of your driving path and a stationary vehicle or object is in front of you.”

Remember: It’s all for your saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety!

. . .

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  1. Looks like the second one turned good – and wanted to take out a cop car when it went….. Maybe there’s hope yet….


    Classic Bob Newhart skit (with Dean Martin in this case), The Driving Instructor. Link starts at the relevant point. I say the adaptive cruise control on my Cherokee drives like a teenager. I guess the Tesla drives like a 70 YO woman from the 1960s.

    BTW speaking of Chrysler cruise control, did anyone else catch the recall story?

  3. I swear, if there was ever a convincing argument that aliens had infiltrated human society, the population of Kalifornia would be it!

    • Hi Graves,

      Kalifornia was surely a fine place 40 or 50 years ago. I think what ruined it is what ruins every place, eventually: Too got-damned many people. Once density arrives at a certain point, the ratio of Clovers achieves critical mass and it is all Over.

      • Lately when I travel to Denver I think about the phrase “The last snowflake didn’t cause the avalanche.”

      • Compared to the rest of the nation or at least the warm part, Ca. had wages 2-3 times as high. I know people way back to not all that long ago that lived in other states who worked half a year or maybe a bit more in Ca. and went back to some depressed economy for the rest of the year.
        Two guys from Alabama stopped at my cousins shop for a repair to an old station wagon they hauled their stuff in. They showed up every year about the same time to have something fixed on that old beater They were a lively pair. I stopped in once when they were there and fell right into a bs session. My pickup was outside and right behind their car inside. One noticed Ace, our white headed hoodoo. They asked if I minded their looking at him. Friendliest dog we ever had….unless you count dogs he thought might be worthy rivals, just blowing off little turd dogs. They came back in laughing like hell and said That dog’s from Missouri. How can you tell I ask. He’s got one blue eye and one brown and it was funny as hell. I repeated that story to a woman from Missouri and she didn’t even laugh. They must have another genetic anomaly, no sense of humor. I had cause to be in Joplin during Xmas holidays on year and the weather was real nasty. It appeared everybody needed to go to Wally when I was there. That was an education.

      • The WRONG kind of “people” have infested “Kal-Lee-Forn-Ya!”. It’s become a libtard hell hole and has driven the law-abiding and productive out.

        • Hi Doug,

          CA was probably a paradise 50 years ago; even 30 years ago, it was probable pretty nice. But I can’t imagine living there today, as my sister does. They – she and her young daughter – have been accosted by some species of Beach Cop (armed, of course) for picking up seashells in the sand. They pay something like $12,000 annually in property tax on a 900 square foot house built in the ’40s….

  4. I have a stupid question…….if the Tesla is all-electric drivetrain…….what is all the fluid spill from the front end of this woman’s car? Does it carry 5 gallons of washer fluid, or did she just piss herself that bad??

    • Batteries produce a lot of heat when charged and discharged. Thus many if not all modern electric cars have cooling systems. Yes, just like in the gas engine cars using the same old stuff too. Keeps the battery cells from thermal runaway and fire.

      • And of course, the batteries have to run the fans and coolant pump, too…….brilliant!
        Apparently it hasn’t worked too well for the ones that caught fire without any collision or outside influence; maybe they should consider a donkey engine for the little ass, lol!

      • Thanks Brent, the first thing I noticed was the liquid leak. I wondered how a meatsack could hold that much.

    • Hi Graves,

      What Brent said. And, of course, once the coolant leaks the battery is even more prone to fire. A standard car does not suffer from this design defect. In a crash, if the radiator is punctured and the coolant leaks away, it does not increase the chances of an engine fire. The engine is likely off. But in an EV, the battery is always on. If the coolant leaks, thermal runaway becomes a very real worry. Isn’t that a saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety issue?

      • The control systems will first put the car into limp to reduce current demand and then shut it off if loses coolant. It will also refuse to charge.

        They put more thought into that system than the automatic pilot for whatever reason.

  5. I am in awe of your talents for coming up with perfect insult: Meatsack!

    You’re not a “driver”…Hell, you’re not even a human being. A container holding some meat is all you are.

    Eric, that one deserves an award!


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