The Tesla sedan was driving outbound when it struck a parked Laguna Beach police auto, the Laguna Beach police department said Tuesday. The Tesla picked up speed for 3.5 seconds before the impact, and the driver manually hit the brakes a fraction of a second before impact. Autosteer is only supposed to be engaged on highways or limited-access roads, according to Tesla, and drivers are supposed to remain aware the whole time behind the wheel. In Utah this month, a Tesla Model S was in autopilot when it slammed into the back of a fire department vehicle that was stopped at a red light. In an April interview, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Autopilot will never be ideal and drivers need to remain alert while driving. The officer wasn't in the vehicle at the time of the incident, according to a tweet by the department.
A Tesla spokesperson said owners are "continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times" when driving in Autopilot mode. The driver, Walter Huang, died after being taken to the hospital. The agency is also probing the January crash of a Tesla vehicle apparently traveling in Autopilot that struck a parked fire truck.
In March, a Model X crashed into a highway barrier in California.
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Autopilot is a semi-autonomous technology that the company says is a form of advanced cruise control.
Tesla founder Elon Musk complained about the press coverage Tesla crashes are receiving earlier this month.
Whether an Autopilot feature was engaged when a Model S collided with the rear of a stopped fire truck in the USA state of Utah on May 11 remained to be confirmed.
The crash has similarities to other incidents, including a fatal crash in Florida where the driver's "over-reliance on vehicle automation" was determined as a probable cause.