Driver who stuffed Tesla Model S into a fire truck at 65 mph blames Autopilot

Tesla Autopilot crash
An accident in the Los Angeles area is fanning the flames of the debate surrounding Tesla’s Autopilot suite of electronic driving aids. The California Highway Patrol reported a black Tesla Model S rear-ended a fire truck parked on the interstate, and the owner claims he had Autopilot engaged at the time of the impact.

The accident happened in Culver City on Interstate 405. The fire truck was stopped in the left emergency and carpool lanes to block off an earlier accident, according to San Jose-based Mercury News. The Model S — whose driver hasn’t been identified yet — slammed into the back of the truck at about 65 mph. Its low front end slid under the truck, crumpling the hood. The passenger compartment looks virtually intact and, astoundingly, there were no injuries. The driver refused medical attention.

“It was a pretty big hit,” Culver City Fire Department battalion chief Ken Powell reported. He added there was a CHP vehicle parked behind the truck and another one right next to it. Both had their emergency lights flashing so the driver should have seen them — and, presumably, the truck — well before the crash, which happened at 8:30 a.m. on a sunny day. Autopilot should have detected the vehicles, too, and either slowed the car down or asked the driver to take over. It may not be the computer’s fault, though.

Autopilot is “intended for use only with a fully attentive driver,” Tesla pointed out in a statement sent to Bloomberg. It again stressed that, despite its name, the technology does not make the Model S fully autonomous and the driver needs to remain alert at all times. As of writing, the CHP hasn’t been able to verify whether the vehicle was indeed traveling on Autopilot at the time of the accident. We expect Tesla will examine the vehicle’s data logs in the coming days to shed light into precisely what happened.

The crash inevitably caught the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), according to Bloomberg. It’s currently gathering information about the circumstances of the accident. NTSB spokesman Chris O’Neil said the agency will open a formal investigation as it did in 2016 when a Model S, also on Autopilot, drove right under a semi trailer it didn’t detect, killing the driver.

Cars

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.
News

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.
Cars

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.
Cars

2020 XT6 three-row crossover is a Cadillac for families

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the 2020 Cadillac XT6 crossover launches General Motors' luxury brand into territory already dominated by the likes of Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus.
Cars

Lexus LC convertible concept teases a new open-air flagship

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Lexus LC convertible concept adds open-air motoring to the sleek LC's resume. But Lexus won't commit to a production version of the car just yet.
Cars

Fast and Furious fans get revved up: Toyota’s Supra sports car is back

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.
Cars

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Cars

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Cars

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.
Cars

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.