Police probe whether Autopilot feature was on in Tesla crash

Witnesses say the Tesla Model S didn’t brake prior to crashing into a fire truck at high speed.A Tesla sedan with a semi-autonomous autopilot feature has rear-ended a US fire department truck at nealy 100km/h apparently without braking before impact, but police say it’s unknown if the autopilot feature was engaged.
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The cause of the Friday evening crash, involving a Tesla Model S and a fire department mechanic truck stopped at a red light, was under investigation, said police in South Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City.

The crash, in which the Tesla driver was injured, comes as federal safety agencies investigate the performance of Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system.

The Tesla’s air bags were activated in the crash, South Jordan police Sergeant Samuel Winkler said on Saturday. The Tesla’s driver suffered a broken right ankle, and the driver of the Unified Fire Authority mechanic truck didn’t require treatment, Winkler said.

There was no indication the Tesla’s driver was under the influence of any substance, and information on what the driver may have told investigators about the circumstances of the crash likely wouldn’t be available before Monday, Winkler said by telephone.

There was light rain falling and roads were wet when the crash occurred, police said in a statement.

“Witnesses indicated the Tesla Model S did not brake prior to impact,” the statement said.

Tesla’s Autopilot system uses cameras, radar and computers to keep speed, change lanes and automatically stop vehicles. The company, which is based in Palo Alto, California, and has a huge battery factory in the Reno, Nevada, area, tells drivers the system requires them to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel so they can take control to avoid accidents.

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