Tesla Model S: Is It The Safest Autonomous Option For The LAPD?

Tesla Model S: Is It The Safest Autonomous Option For The LAPD?
Tesla is working together with the law to chase a few bad guys. That is, the LAPD is ordering Model S units and having them fitted as pursuit vehicles, if all things go well. Photo : John Moore/Getty Images

Tesla units have always been some of the more popular options in terms of autonomous vehicles, despite the growing market and more established competition. So much so that the Los Angeles Police Department, after some testing, has chosen the Model S as its future car. Tesla will reportedly work hand in hand with the LAPD in order to get the vehicle specifically suited for the department's needs.

As reported by Fox News, the LAPD evaluated the Model S in a community outreach role, which resulted in choosing the Model S P85D as its future pursuit vehicles. There are multiple reasons for this, from the power of Tesla to its speed and its range. However, what is arguably the biggest priority is department's promise to decrease the gas emissions.

Both LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, as reported by NBC Los Angeles, have pledged to decrease their consumption of fossil fuels. As such, the LAPD has taken a liking to electric cars. After all, it will one day produce savings in terms of operational expenses.

In the coming months, Tesla will work closely with the LAPD to fit the Model S to the department's specific needs. This includes physical changes, such as a custody cage and a shotgun rack. However, it might also include possible changes in the technology, such as the inclusion of a radio and a computer.

As the publication notes, 100 electric cars have been deployed by the NYPD over the past few months. These include a number of BMW i3 electric cars, which are doing well in the market. Vartan Yegiyan, assistant commander of the Administrative Services Bureau and therefore oversees the use of the electric vehicles, has confirmed that the deployment of the i3s has "gone well."

The BMW vehicles are mostly used as administrative vehicles, but some have been used for more crime-involved cases. But if this is so, why has the LAPD chosen to outfit the Model S instead? The answer is relatively simple, but it does pose its own questions as well.

The Model S from Tesla is the quickest autonomous option there, as it can g from 0 to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds, with a top speed of 155mph. In addition, its battery is the most powerful one in the market and can therefore last longer than all other options, until about 300 miles on a single full charge. And as mentioned earlier, it will produce savings for the department, which are estimated to reach around 15 percent.

Of course, the vehicle will be well tested before the custom Model S will actually be used on a chase - but even then, how safe is the vehicle? Relatively, autonomous driving is an infant industry and the technology is arguably not as developed as it should be. At least, not enough to trust that it can keep the good guys safe and at par when chasing down possibly armed men.

Furthermore, Tesla has a history with accidents while used by owners. While the company has always been able to reason out these incidents, the fact is that they still exist and therefore pose a security problem. However, it will take an estimated 5 years before the LAPD will see a full line of electric cars. As such, there is no overwhelming rush to release the technology soon and the proper steps can be taken.

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