A Tesla confirmation has added the deadly fire truck incident to the list of situations during which the electric car’s driver-assist functions like Autopilot may have been active at the time of the crash. The nighttimе incident resulted in the death of the Model S driver and first responders had to cut the EV to take it away from underneath the damaged fire truck.
Back in February, a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District ladder truck was parked on the northbound highway lanes according to all instructions to shield the first responders from incoming traffic while working on accidents. The fire truck was parked diagonally, using the engine as a safety barrier to protect the firefighters, as there are often incidents with cars that don’t register the big trucks despite all of their flashing lights.
At around 4 AM, a speeding Tesla Model S slammed into it and lodged underneath the fire truck, killing its driver and critically injuring the passenger. The Tesla had to be cut to withdraw it from underneath the fire truck, which was then towed for repairs while the firefighters were treated for minor injuries.
At the time, the NHTSA dispatched investigators to check whether they should add the incident to a growing list of crashes where driver-assist features like Tesla’s Autopilot may have been active at the time of the collision. According to Bloomberg’s sources, Tesla has now reported an active driver-assist software during February’s fire truck crash indeed, increasing the number of such incidents to 17 since 2021 when the NHTSA started the probe.
Some of those include first responder vehicles parked on the highway or in the emergency lanes that Teslas couldn’t properly avoid despite all the signage and warning lights. Facing a driver-assist software recall, Tesla recently updated the description language of such features to stress more firmly that the software requires the driver’s attention at all times and will stay at Level 2 on the autonomous driving scale for the foreseeable future.
This irked some owners on the paid Full Self-Driving Beta option who were left with the impression that Tesla may soon achieve higher levels of autonomy, according to Elon Musk’s promises, but the NHTSA probe and federal regulations compliance may have forced Tesla’s hand when it comes to the legalese.
Daniel Zlatev – Tech Writer – 689 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2021
Wooed by tech since the industrial espionage of Apple computers and the times of pixelized Nintendos, Daniel went and opened a gaming club when personal computers and consoles were still an expensive rarity. Nowadays, fascination is not with specs and speed but rather the lifestyle that computers in our pocket, house, and car have shoehorned us in, from the infinite scroll and the privacy hazards to authenticating every bit and move of our existence.
Daniel Zlatev, 2023-04-18 (Update: 2023-04-18)