Tesla Model S on Autopilot crashes into van parked on highway

It seems like some Tesla owners still aren't paying enough attention.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
2 min read

Within a week of Tesla releasing Autopilot to the masses last fall, we started seeing some generally scary videos of people putting a little too much trust in the system. Well, we're continuing to see them, and in the latest video we sadly have a proper collision.

As spotted on Tech Insider and Electrek, a European Tesla owner was driving their Model S on the highway in Switzerland last week with Tesla's Adaptive Cruise Control engaged. Tesla's ACC and Autopilot systems use a camera and a series of sensors to monitor surrounding traffic and dynamically adjust speed, even coming to a complete stop.

The car ahead changed lanes to avoid a stopped van, which was blocking half the lane. The Model S seems to have recognized the car leaving the lane ahead but did not spot the stopped van. The result was the Model S actually accelerating slightly into the van, causing a collision that looked low-speed. But according to the driver's comments in the video, "the whole front of the car needs to be replaced, including a parking sensor and a steel beam."

The driver blames the car, both for not spotting the van and for the automatic braking system failing to trigger. However, as YouTube commenter Shaimach points out, the Model S manual calls out this exact situation as something drivers need to be aware of:

Warning: Traffic-aware cruise control may not brake/decelerate for stationary vehicles, especially in situations when you are driving over 50 mph (80 km/h) and a vehicle you are following moves out of your driving path and a stationary vehicle or object is in front of you instead. Always pay attention to the road ahead and stay prepared to take immediate corrective action. Depending on TrafficAware Cruise Control to avoid a collision can result in serious injury or death.

The driver concedes: "Yes, I could have reacted sooner, but when the car slows down correctly 1,000 times, you trust it to do it the next time to. My bad." As I discovered after spending a week with a Model X, its automation systems are really, really good -- but far from perfect. So, stay vigilant, Tesla owners.

Update 5:15pm ET: The video, which lived here, has been made private. We have also removed the name of the driver of the Model S from this post at their request.