Police probe whether Autopilot feature was on in Tesla crash

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Police are investigating whether a Tesla sedan’s semi-autonomous Autopilot feature was engaged when it rear-ended a fire department truck in Utah.

The Tesla Model S crashed into the truck at 60 mph (97 kph) apparently without braking before impact, according to police in South Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City. The fire department mechanic truck had been stopped at a red light.

The crash 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 Sgt. Samuel Winkler said. The Tesla’s driver suffered a broken right ankle, and the driver of the Unified Fire Authority mechanic truck did not 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 would not 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.

“Tesla has not yet received any data from the car and thus does not know the facts of what occurred, including whether Autopilot was engaged,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday.

News of the crash came as a top Tesla official who had been the main technical contact with U.S. safety investigators left the company to join rival Waymo.

Waymo, Google’s self-driving car spinoff, confirmed that Matthew Schwall had joined the company.

Schwall had been Tesla’s director of field performance engineering, according to his LinkedIn page, which said he served as Tesla’s primary technical contact with safety regulatory agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

There was no immediate comment from Tesla about Schwall.

Police said they had been in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board about the crash. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said he did not know whether the agency would get involved.

The NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating at least two other crashes involving Tesla vehicles. In March, a Tesla Model X SUV crashed on a California highway, killing the driver, and investigators are looking into the performance of the semi-autonomous driving system in that crash.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

Get your guilty pleasures: Westerner Days food

Traditional sugary treats were served up by the plate, bowl and bucket… Continue reading

Centrefest brings feats of daring to Red Deer’s downtown

Fundraising was a tough slog, but it came together in the end

Count shows slight decrease in Red Deer’s homeless

In two years, the number of homeless in Red Deer has decreased… Continue reading

Redoing hip surgeries are costly, says new study

Redoing hip and knee replacements costs Canada’s health system $130 million a… Continue reading

WATCH: Cirque ZUMA ZUMA puts on a show at Westerner Days

ZUMA ZUMA performs three times a day during Westerner Days

Jones’ punt return TD rallies Riders to road victory over Ticats

Roughriders 31 Tiger-Cats 20 HAMILTON — Brandon Bridge kept Dave Watford on… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer’s Iron Buffalo rocks Westerner Days

Iron Buffalo opened for Helix and Lee Aaron Thursday at the ENMAX Centrium

Zuckerberg’s Holocaust comment puts Facebook on the spot

NEW YORK — Denying the Holocaust happened is probably OK on Facebook.… Continue reading

Brazilian police arrest ‘Dr. Bumbum’ after patient dies

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police have arrested celebrated plastic surgeon Denis… Continue reading

Canadian marijuana company Tilray has first US pot IPO

SEATTLE — A Canadian company is the first marijuana business to complete… Continue reading

Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem… Continue reading

Soy “milk” makers may need to find alternative description

NEW YORK — Soy and almond drinks that bill themselves as “milk”… Continue reading

Calgary woman convicted in son’s strep death granted day parole

CALGARY — A woman whose son died after she failed to take… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month