The feature has been blamed for fatal collisions in the past, but the company says that it is only meant to help out rather than take over from drivers

A Tesla using its autopilot mode collided with a bus on the German motorway, according to police.

It is the latest problem to hit Tesla’s self-driving mode, which the company says is meant to help out drivers rather than take over from them. Incidents are also relatively rare – but because of the fear about autonomous vehicles, and the grand claims made about them, each gains considerable publicity.

In the new crash, the Tesla car ran into a Danish coach that was trying to get into its lane when the collision happened, according to local media. The bus had overtaken a lorry and was on its way back into its previous lane.

But as it did so, a Tesla – belonging to a 50-year-old man from Brandenburg – collided with the back of the bus. Initial reports suggested that the autopilot feature wasn't at fault, since the coach was moving back into a lane that was already occupied by the Tesla.

Nobody was injured in the collision but the damage will cost tens of thousands of euros.

The man said that autopilot was being used during the crash. But it appears that it wasn’t actually responsible for the crash happening.

Tesla said that it had "spoken to our customer, who confirmed that autopilot was functioning properly and that his use of autopilot was unrelated to the accident. We're glad that he's safe."

Tesla cars send data to the company as they move along, meaning that it can tell whether autopilot was being used, how it was engaged and whether it might have played a role in the crash.

The first fatal accident involving a Tesla vehicle happened earlier this year, in Florida. A man’s car collided with a lorry coming out of a junction because the Tesla’s systems couldn’t pick it out against the bright white sky, Tesla said, and the crash killed the electric vehicle’s driver.

The company says that anyone using the autopilot system should keep their hands on the wheel and be ready to take over from it if there is a problem. But consumer groups have said that the company should make cars check whether people are still in control of the car, and only allow autopilot to be turned on if they are.