Tesla in autopilot mode crashes in California

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But this Autopilot mode seems to be not much help for a driver in California, as a Tesla Model S driver smashed into the back of a parked fire truck on Monday, according to California fire officials.

A Tesla sedan slammed into a fire truck on Los Angeles' heavily trafficked 405 freeway, on Monday. The driver reports the Tesla was on autopilot and he was not paying attention.

Culver City Fire Department said there had been no injuries.

While Tesla cars come with technology to enhance its "autopilot" system-a mix of cameras and radar-they aren't autonomous vehicles.

According to Tesla's owner's manual, drivers need to pay attention to the road while using the semi-autonomous Autopilot system. Additionally, the Autopilot system is not created to be used on roads with crossing traffic.

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Despite accidents that get national news coverage, AAA says its latest survey of drivers shows a growing acceptance of technology that takes over the driving chores. The driver reports the vehicle was on autopilot. Those vehicles both had their lights flashing.

"Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver", Tesla told The Register in a statement today. At the time, the NTSB criticised Tesla amongst other vehicle makers for measuring driver awareness by tracking steering wheel movement.

The driver had a blood alcohol content almost double the legal limit and a tenuous relationship with consciousness when his vehicle slammed into the back of a parked firetruck on Interstate 405 in Culver City. In September the company said, "Autopilot significantly increases safety", citing an earlier government study that suggested the system reduced the incidence of crashes.

The company now classifies the Autopilot feature as a "driver assistance system", making it still reliant upon the human driver. The Model S had been set on autopilot and neither the vehicle nor the driver recognized that a tractor-trailer hauling blueberries had turned onto the divided highway.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Tesla's Autopilot failed during a road test.