What to Know
- A man told police his Tesla, on autopilot, suddenly veered off a New Jersey highway Sunday, hitting a car and then some signs
- No one was hurt, but the car suffered heavy damage
- Tesla said its autopilot doesn't make a car autonomous but is an “advanced driver assistance system” that requires a fully attentive driver
A man involved in a messy crash off a New Jersey highway over the weekend told the cops his Tesla made him do it.
The driver, Eric Carter, told cops he had his car on autopilot as he moved along Route 1 in North Brunswick around dinnertime Sunday, North Brunswick Police Capt. Brian Hoiberg told News 4.
Hoiberg said he meant to continue moving on Route 1, but his Tesla pulled hard to the right at the intersection near Adams Lane; it struck a curb, several signs, and came to rest on a grassy area to the side of the road, police say.
No one was hurt, though Carter's Tesla suffered heavy damage. Carter was the only witness, police say, adding they have no reason to "disbelieve that that's what happened," according to Hoiberg.
In a statement, Tesla said safety is top priority, and since launching autopilot in 2015, "we are not aware of a single instance in which Autopilot refused to disengage."
Autopilot is intended for use only "with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time... it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle, and it does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility."
Tesla added, "We also ask our customers to exercise safe behavior when using our vehicles, including following the car’s instructions for remaining alert and present when using Autopilot and to be prepared to take control at all times. A driver can easily override Autopilot by lightly touching the steering wheel or brakes.
"Moreover, the brakes have an independent bypass circuit that cuts power to the motor no matter what the Autopilot computer requests. And the steering wheel has enough leverage for a person to overpower the electric steering assist at all times."