Tesla is leading the world in terms of autonomous vehicle technology and its CEO Elon Musk hopes to soon have completely self-driven cars. But the company’s self-driving artificial intelligence (AI) technology may not yet be fully capable of navigating live roads on its own. A Tesla car, that allegedly was driving under its autopilot system, crashed into five police officers in February, who are now suing the company.
The Texas police officers were hit by a Tesla car driving at 110 kmph when they had pulled over another car and were conducting a drug search.
The five officers are suing Tesla "for the severe injuries and permanent disabilities they suffered as a result of the crash" and were seeking $1-20 million, which includes punitive damages as the crash was "reasonably foreseeable and could have been avoided, but for the defects in Tesla's safety features, including autopilot," read the lawsuit.
The injured officers also want the automotive maker "to publicly acknowledge and immediately correct the known defects inherent in its autopilot and collision avoidance systems, particularly as that impact the ongoing safety of the nation's first responders."
Not the first time
This is not the first such incident of its kind either. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in August identified and began investigating 11 crashes since 2018 in which Tesla’s own autopilot or Traffic-Aware Cruise Control have hit vehicles at scenes where first responders have used flashing lights, flares and an illuminated arrow board or cones warning of hazards.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had previously asked the NHTSA to limit Tesla’s autonomous driving to areas where the AI is capable of safely navigating without any risk to others.
In August this year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has admitted that their self-driving AI is not yet at the level that the company wants it to be.
Autonomous vehicles are divided across six levels depending on the extent of human intervention needed. Level 0 vehicles are fully ‘manual’ in terms of control while level 2 vehicles are equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that enable the control of the steering and the acceleration.
The driver only needs to monitor the environment. Level 5 vehicles require no human input and may not even possess traditional controls like steering wheels and pedals, being fully capable of driving autonomously in every situation.
Tesla owners need to pay up to $10,000 to enjoy what the company claims to be "short and long-distance trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat."
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)
First Published: IST