- A man in North Carolina was watching a movie while driving his Tesla Model S on Autopilot and careened into a police car early last Wednesday, authorities told CBS 17 in Raleigh.
- The man was charged with not moving over for the police and with watching TV while driving.
- There have been several incidents of drivers putting too much faith in Tesla’s driver-assistance software, Autopilot, whose name has been criticised.
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A Tesla Model S slammed into a North Carolina deputy’s cruiser last Wednesday as its driver watched a movie on his phone, authorities told CBS 17 in Raleigh.
The crash occurred at about midnight on a rural stretch of a divided four-lane highway. A Highway Patrol trooper was assisting a Nash County deputy in responding to a separate crash on the side of the road when the Tesla, which was on Autopilot, plowed into the cars, Highway Patrol authorities told the news outlet.
The driver, identified by the police as Devainder Goli, a doctor from Raleigh, was charged with violating a state law that says motorists must move over for stopped emergency responders and with watching television while operating a vehicle. He could not be reached for comment.
No one was injured, the Highway Patrol said.
“We were doing a simple lane closure last night, and then death’s there at our footsteps,” Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone told CBS 17.
“It shows that automation is never going to take the place of our motoring public paying attention – not texting, not being on the phone, but focused on what you’re doing, driving,” Stone added.
It’s not the first time a Tesla has careened off the road or into another vehicle while operating on Autopilot, the company’s name for its driver-assistance software that is not yet fully autonomous. Tesla’s instructions for using Autopilot say drivers must remain alert and keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times; it offers alerts if a driver’s hands leave the wheel for more than a few seconds.
“The people who misuse Autopilot, it’s not because they’re new to it and don’t understand it,” Musk told Automotive News earlier this month.
“The people who first use Autopilot are extremely paranoid about it. It’s not like, ‘If you just introduced a different name, I would have really treated it differently.’ If something goes wrong with Autopilot, it’s because someone is misusing it and using it directly contrary to how we’ve said it should be used.”
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