Multi-Car Collision Being Blamed on Tesla “Full Self-Driving” Software

By B.N. Frank

Experts and research have warned and continue to warn that all autonomous aka self-driving features are problematic (see 1, 2, 3, 4) – not just the ones in Tesla vehicles.  In fact, at least two U.S. companies have decided to stop funding AV tech development. Nevertheless, some drivers are still using self-driving features and then blaming accidents on them.

From Ars Technica:

Eight-car Thanksgiving pileup blamed on Tesla “Full Self-Driving” software

California Highway Patrol say only Tesla knows if the system was active.

Jonathan M. Gitlin

Tesla’s camera-only approach to driver assistance keeps landing it in trouble.

An eight-car collision on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) is now being blamed on Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) assistance system. The crash took place in the Bay Area in California on I-80 and left one person hospitalized and eight others with minor injuries.

According to Reuters, a California Highway Patrol report on the incident says that a Tesla Model S traveling on I-80 at 55 mph crossed several lanes of traffic and then slowed abruptly to just 20 mph, at which point it triggered the crash as other cars still traveling at highway speed had no chance to avoid the slow-moving electric vehicle.

Reuters says that the driver blamed the crash on the controversial “Full Self-Driving” system, which he claimed “malfunctioned but police were unable to determine if the software was in operation or if his statement was accurate.”

In fact, it seems that the police may not be able to clear that up. CNN spoke with a CHP spokesperson who told the outlet that “it would not determine if ‘Full Self-Driving’ was active, and Tesla would have that information.”

As Tesla expanded its beta program for FSD, the system has been implicated in more and more crashes, and in late 2021 the automaker had to issue a recall for cars running firmware linked to so-called “phantom braking” events, where bad software inappropriately triggered the cars’ automatic emergency braking systems.

That’s just one of a litany of problems associated with Tesla’s assistance systems—which have spawned at least 38 NHTSA investigations by this summer, according to Electrek. Ire directed towards FSD and Tesla’s attitude towards deploying the system on public roads even led to a senate candidacy this year.

FSD is an important revenue stream for Tesla. Earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk told investors that it “will become the most important source of profitability for Tesla,” and the company has repeatedly increased the price of the software package, which now costs $15,000.

Originally, access to the beta software was by invitation only, and using it depended upon maintaining a high score in a driver-monitoring system. But Tesla opened the beta up to any car with the right hardware on the same day as the eight-car crash.

Jonathan is the automotive editor at Ars Technica, covering all things car-related. Jonathan lives and works in Washington, D.C.  Email @drgitlin

Obviously AV enthusiasts and proponents have not yet given up on their self-driving dreams.  Last month the state of Virginia announced it would soon be opening the first AV roadway.  Additionally, there are still NO federal laws that regulate driver-assisted technology.  D’oh!

Activist Post reports regularly about AVs and other unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives.

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