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Miami, FL and New York, NY
Miami, FL and New York, NY

A driver in New Jersey says the autopilot in his self-driving Tesla car spiraled out of control and caused him to crash on the highway. “The driver was shaken. He was panicked by the accident,” North Brunswick Police Captain Brian Hoiberg told CBS New York. “Just the feeling of not having any control.”

The 32-year-old driver, who has not been identified, told police he believes his Tesla Model X got “confused” on a highway in New Brunswick. He said the car’s autopilot sensor apparently mistook diagonal white lines on the road for a new lane. It drove off an exit ramp, jumped a curb and hit signs before stopping in a grass area. The driver said he was unable to course-correct because the steering wheel was locked in place. 

No one was injured in the accident. The driver said he hoped accidents like this would help Tesla improve its self-driving cars.

Tesla said in a statement to CBS News: “Since we launched Autopilot in 2015, we are not aware of a single instance in which Autopilot refused to disengage.” The company also noted that drivers can override the autopilot, and bypass it with brakes. Tesla did not say whether it had spoken to the driver in New Jersey or planned to investigate the accident. 

Tesla’s autopilot cars take care of all aspects of driving, although passengers are still expected to monitor the car during a ride. Tesla said it recorded one accident for every 2.91 million miles driven in autopilot during the last quarter of 2018. 

At least two people have died in accidents while riding in self-driving Tesla cars since 2016. A prototype for a self-driving Uber car struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona in 2018. Uber said the crash was caused by a feature of the autopilot that ignores objects in the car’s path that are not considered to be an obstacle for driving. 

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