Tesla in Autopilot mode crashes into parked police cruiser

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LOS ANGELES — The latest crash involving a Tesla in Autopilot mode didn’t turn tragic, as some past ones have, but it certainly was embarrassing.

A Tesla Model S veered into a parked police cruiser Tuesday, severely damaging both vehicles in Laguna Beach, Calif., a coastal community south of Los Angeles.

The driver, a 65-year-old from Laguna Niguel, Calif., told officers that he had engaged the car’s partial self-driving system, called Autopilot. “He told us in his own statement he was in driver-assisted mode,” police Sgt. Jim Cota said. 

The driver suffered minor injuries, Cota said. The parked cruiser was unoccupied, the officer standing about 100 feet away off Laguna Canyon Road as he responded to a call.

Cota said the luxury electric car crashed in almost the same place as another Tesla about a year ago. The driver, he said, also pointed to the Autopilot system as being engaged.

More: Warning, drivers: Your car can cruise on its own, but you’re still responsible

More: Tesla, Uber crashes spotlight automatic emergency braking. Here’s what it won’t do.

Also: After a Tesla crash, more doubts drivers can be trusted with driver-assist tech such as AutoPilot

The crash comes as Tesla has been facing scrutiny involving Autopilot. Since March, a driver died when his Model X SUV hit a safety barrier in Mountain View, Calif., while in Autopilot mode. And another driver in Salt Lake City was injured in a crash when her car hit a parked fire truck. 

Regarding the latest crash, Tesla issued a statement, saying: “When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times.”

The statement also said that Tesla “has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents, and before a driver can use Autopilot, they must accept a dialogue box which states that ‘Autopilot is designed for use on highways that have a center divider and clear lane markings.’ “

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