(Eric Lieberman, The Daily Caller News Foundation) – A Tesla vehicle that was reportedly employing its autopilot technology hit a Phoenix police officer riding on his motorcycle on March 21.
The accident is the second car with autonomous functionality to crash into another vehicle in Arizona, after one of Uber’s self-driving cars ended up flipped upside down following a crash.
The Tesla incident, though, appears far less dangerous than Uber’s.
“It was pretty much a tap,” Phoenix police spokesperson Sgt. Alan Pfohl said, according to The Arizona Republic. “It wasn’t even a reportable collision. If it wasn’t involving an officer, we would not have even investigated it.”
But while damage was negligible, if not absent, the significance lies in the fact that Tesla’s autopilot technology is supposed to be designed to automatically avoid any contact with all other vehicles on the road.
Tesla’s autopilot technology has been in the limelight before, after a crash in early May killed a driver while the feature was in use.
Eyewitness reports indicate the driver was watching a “Harry Potter” movie at the time of the accident.
The company CEO Elon Musk has stressed before that autopilot mode is not intended to be fully automated driving, and that the operator should remain engaged and alert. Tesla says it is currently developing the technology to eventually make the vehicles fully autonomous.
The feature is also only in full effect when the car is continuing on a certain route.
“Once on the freeway, your Tesla will determine which lane you need to be in and when. In addition to ensuring you reach your intended exit, Autopilot will watch for opportunities to move to a faster lane when you’re caught behind slower traffic,” the company’s website reads. “When you reach your exit, your Tesla will depart the freeway, slow down and transition control back to you.”
Germany forbade Tesla from using the term “autopilot” in October because officials in the country say its a “misleading term.”
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