Police Motorcycle Struck By Tesla Model X While Reportedly On Autopilot

4 months ago by Steven Loveday 11

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

Reportedly, a Tesla Model X, with Autopilot engaged, hit a police motorcycle recently in Phoenix. The incident has Arizona residents in a stir, since just a few days later, a self-driving Uber vehicle crashed in Tempe.

Tesla Autopilot

Both the Tesla Model X and the on-duty police motorcyle were exiting the Black Canyon Freeway when the incident occurred. Both vehicles stopped upon exiting, but the Model X then moved forward abruptly. The officer jumped off his motorcycle just before the Tesla hit it at about 3 mph.

The Tesla driver reported that the SUV was in Autopilot mode, but there are no official reports substantiating that claim. Sergeant Alan Pfohl, a Phoenix police officer said:

“It was pretty much a tap. It wasn’t even a reportable collision. If it wasn’t involving an officer, we would not have even investigated it.”

Tesla didn’t comment on the accident. However, it is not likely that the electric automaker would be found at fault. According to Tesla’s website:

“When you reach your exit, your Tesla will depart the freeway, slow down and transition control back to you.”

Arizona is one of a few states that is leading the charge toward self-driving technology. The state does not require any special paperwork, permits, or licenses for testing autonomous vehicles. Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, is allowing Uber to test a fleet of cars in the state, shortly after California banned the company’s efforts. Waymo (formerly Google self-driving) is also testing in Arizona.

University of Arizona professor of systems and industrial engineering, and director of the transportation institute, K. Larry Head, is still cautious. He admitted that cars are not yet at Level 5 autonomy, and the driver must still take responsibility:

“I’m pretty sure the position of (police) would be, ‘You’re the driver, you’re responsible.'”

“We have cars that are level 2 and 3; cars somewhat automated, under certain conditions. So if (an accident) happened, I’m sure Tesla would want to look into which mode it was in.”

Source: USA Today

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11 responses to "Police Motorcycle Struck By Tesla Model X While Reportedly On Autopilot"

  1. Driver says:

    Not autopilot, they should call it drivning aid, you can not 100% rely on on it and should not leave your eyes on the road.

  2. Mister G says:

    Driver is at fault not auto pilot or Tesla lol

    1. SJC says:

      The driver engaged the pilot, it IS their fault.

  3. Brian says:

    Both vehicles stopped upon exiting, but the Model X then moved forward abruptly.

    After reading this I can pretty much guess what happened.

  4. CLIVE says:

    A love tap is all it was.

    1. Steven says:

      Do you ride a motorcycle?

      I’m guessing not.

      1. CLIVE says:

        Seriously?

        Zero SR !!

  5. William says:

    I wonder if Tesla will try and repeat the situation with similar circumstances. If their AP system is glitchy around law enforcement, this won’t build confidence at traffic stops, or almost stops!

  6. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Hmmm? Why is this news?

    Let’s not confuse Autopilot with AutoSteer. Tesla “Autopilot” is a suite of driver assist features with several different applications. Certainly some Autopilot features would be operating at any time in any Tesla car equipped with it, but — correct me if I’m wrong — Autopilot doesn’t attempt to engage ABS (Automatic Braking System), and disables AutoSteer, below 18 MPH. Or at least, I find a post from March 2016 on the Tesla Motors Club forum giving that as the lower cutoff speed for AutoSteer; it may be outdated by now.

    If the collision occurred at 3 MPH, and if my understanding is correct, the car would have already transferred control to the human driver. If that’s true, then to say the car was “on Autopilot” is meaningless. The question is whether or not Autopilot was controlling the movement of the car. If my understanding is correct, then it wasn’t.

    1. Martin Winlow says:

      No, Autosteer still works down to zero velocity… and TACC does too, advancing as the car in front advances. In fact, this is a bit too ‘copycat’ for my looking as, if the car driver in front does the silly thing of roaring off… for 15 feet… and then slamming its brakes on again, the Tesla follows suit. I’d much prefer it to have a setting to control max acceleration for this scenario (and others). Having Ap working in these tedious stop-go scenarios is one of the beast things about it.

      Sounds to me like the driver forgot Ap had disengaged and allowed the creep (which I detest and always have switched off) to do the deed.

  7. SolarStorm says:

    I haven’t tested it against s motorcycle, but with cars, once AP detects a car in front of you, you can engage AP at sny speed and it controls the cars movement.

    Quite often, once I encounter stop and go traffic, I engage AP (at near zero speed) and leave it engaged.

    The 18 mile speed limit is still valid for other cases, when you wish to engage AP without a car detected in front of you.

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