Tesla 'On Autopilot' Hits Michigan Police Car As Officers Investigate Another Crash

A Tesla driver reportedly using autopilot features collided with a Michigan State Police patrol car in the early hours of Wednesday.

Law enforcement said a 22-year-old man from the city of Lansing was issued citations for failure to move over and driving with a suspended license after crashing into the left rear of a car used by officers who were investigating a separate incident.

A Michigan State Police Twitter account shared images from the scene on Wednesday, showing the Tesla vehicle with severe damage to its right side.

Authorities noted that troopers from the Lansing division were in the area shortly after 1 a.m. responding to a "car vs. deer traffic crash" on I-96 in Eaton County when a "Tesla on autopilot" struck the patrol car, which had emergency lights on at the time.

There were no injuries to the MPS troopers or the Tesla driver, who was not identified by name in the media release. The exact model or year of the Tesla was unclear.

No injuries to troopers or anyone involved. Driver of the Tesla, a 22 year old man from Lansing was issued citations for failure to move over and DWLS. pic.twitter.com/zTSJOhuJMP

— MSP First District (@MSPFirstDist) March 17, 2021

The electric car company, spearheaded by billionaire tech CEO Elon Musk, says on its website that although autopilot can assist on journeys, the person driving is responsible for staying alert and keeping their hands on the wheel at all times.

"Many of our Autopilot features, like Autosteer, Navigate on Autopilot and Summon, are disabled by default. To enable them, you must go to the Autopilot Controls menu within the settings tab and turn them on," the company explains.

"Before enabling Autopilot, the driver first needs to agree to 'keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times' and to always 'maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle.' Subsequently, every time the driver engages Autopilot, they are shown a visual reminder to 'keep your hands on the wheel,'" Tesla guidelines continue.

From April 2019, all new Tesla vehicles are made with autopilot as standard, including the two modes known as Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer.

While Tesla's technology is cutting-edge—using cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar to judge the environment around a vehicle—the company says it's an assistance system that doesn't turn a vehicle into a self-driving car or make it autonomous.

In Detroit last Thursday, a Tesla driver and a passenger were hospitalized after their car crashed into the side of a tractor-trailer at around 3:20 a.m., police said. An image from the scene showed the front end of the Tesla wedged under the large trailer.

Detroit Police Assistant Chief David LeValley said in a briefing on Tuesday that the car did not appear to have the assistance features enabled at the time, although a probe alongside The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was ongoing.

"All indications that we have at this point was that the vehicle was not in autopilot mode, that the driver was in control at the time of the crash," LeValley said.

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Police said the determination was made based on statements from the driver and video footage that showed some evasive movements just before the crash.

According to LeValley, the Tesla passenger remained hospitalized in a critical condition, and the driver will be charged with reckless driving causing serious injury. He said the driver did not appear impaired, and that speed appeared to be a "major factor."

Tesla has been contacted for comment by Newsweek.

Michigan State Police
An image from the scene of the collision was uploaded to Twitter by the Michigan State Police (MPS) First District account on March 17, 2021. MSP First District/Twitter