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Tesla driver says ‘self-driving’ tech took control and forced unsafe lane change, causing her to crash

Driver says she tried to take wheel and correct path of vehicle but was unable to stop software making ‘unsafe manoeuvre’

Arpan Rai
Saturday 13 November 2021 07:54 GMT
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While no one was injured in the software-driven car crash on 3 November, the car was severely damaged on the driver’s side
While no one was injured in the software-driven car crash on 3 November, the car was severely damaged on the driver’s side (AP)

American safety regulators are investigating the complaint of a Tesla driver who says the car’s “full self-driving” software took control and made an unsafe manoeuvre, resulting in a serious crash.

Earlier this month, a 2021 Tesla model Y small SUV owned by a woman in California’s Brea went into the wrong lane and was hit by another driver.

While no one was injured in the software-driven car crash on 3 November, the car was severely damaged on the driver’s side, the complaint said.

According to a complaint filed by the vehicle’s driver with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the driver testing the SUV got an alert from the car halfway through the turn and the driver tried to turn the wheel to avoid other traffic.

However, the driver said she was unable to take back control and the car proceeded to enter in an incorrect lane forcefully, “creating an unsafe manoeuvre putting everyone involved at risk”, the complaint read.

"The car went into the wrong lane and I was hit by another driver in the lane next to my lane," the driver wrote.

This is reportedly the first such incident of a glitch in Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” software which resulted in a crash and potentially endangered the driver’s life.

Tesla is yet to comment on the incident. The world’s most valuable car company last year disbanded its public relations department, and did not respond to a message left by the Associated Press requesting a response to the complaint.

The traffic safety authority said it was aware of the crash. "NHTSA is aware of the consumer complaint in question and is in communication with the manufacturer to gather additional information," an NHTSA spokesperson said on Friday.

Tesla, which recalled nearly 12,000 vehicles earlier this month, maintains that "Autopilot" and "Full Self-Driving" are driver-assistance systems and cannot drive themselves, despite their names.

Drivers steering the car have to be ready at any time to intervene, the company had said.

Additional reporting by AP

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