Tesla driver blames full-self-driving software for eight-car Thanksgiving Day pile up
US investigators probe Bay Bridge multi-car smash
A serious accident on San Francisco's Bay Bridge has been blamed on Tesla's "full-self-driving" software by the driver, and the US government is investigating.
The smash-up occurred around lunchtime on Thanksgiving Day on the Bay Area's second most famous bridge when the Tesla Model S reportedly slowed suddenly from the regulation 55mph to just 20 mph, causing multiple shunts involving seven other cars. The incident occurred at 1240 in the Yerba Buena Tunnel - the largest-bore tunnel in the world.
"He just made a sudden stop," one observer told local media. "At that point there was nowhere to go."
Nine people were injured, one of whom needed a trip to hospital. Video footage of the aftermath can be seen below.
A California Highway Patrol report seen by CNN said the driver reported the car was in "full-self-driving" mode at the time of the crash. Police and investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are investigating the incident, which blocked two lanes of the bridge for hours and required four ambulances to ferry away victims.
Police are investigating if the controversial so-called "full-self-driving" software was enabled and possibly the cause of the crash. Tesla will have full records of course, although its CEO seemingly has his mind on other things at the moment. Nevertheless, Tesla has promised a full internal investigation.
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The timing of the accident was not ideal for Tesla, as it came less than a day after CEO Elon Musk pledged to make the beta of its full self-driving software available to any driver with a Tesla capable of running it. Previously, use of the software had been restricted to select customers with good driving records.
"Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta is now available to anyone in North America who requests it from the car screen, assuming you have bought this option," Twitter's new owner said. "Congrats to Tesla Autopilot/AI team on achieving a major milestone!"
Tesla is reportedly under investigation by the US Department of Justice for allegedly misleading drivers about the efficacy of its self-driving software. Data from the NHTSA claims Tesla vehicles account for over 70 percent of the crashes involving advanced driver-assisted software - although the Musketeer's cars are very popular and ahead of the game in introducing such code to the streets.
There have been numerous cases of people overestimating the intelligence of such software, even recording videos of themselves indulging in NSFW activities while the cars operate independently. It seems Tesla can't get around that pesky Layer Eight problem. ®