The feds are now investigating.
It has happened. On November 3, the owner of a 2021 Tesla Model Y living in California claims they were involved in an accident while the vehicle's Full-Self Driving Beta software was engaged. The incident was reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which is now investigating.
The owner says the vehicle was in FSD Beta mode "and while taking a left turn the car went into the wrong lane and I was hit by another driver in the lane next to my lane." The vehicle did give "an alert halfway through the turn" and the driver attempted to take control. It was already too late. "The car by itself took control and forced itself into the incorrect lane," the owner said.
The NHTSA confirmed it has received the report and is "in communication with the manufacturer to gather additional information." Tesla, as usual, had no comment.
There's already a potential clue as to what went wrong. Earlier this month, the carmaker recalled almost 12,000 vehicles in the US alone due to a communication error that could result in a false collision warning or, equally troubling, unnecessary automatic emergency braking. The recall only happened following an FST Beta software update. As of October 29, Tesla claims over 99.8 percent of the recalled vehicles had received a software update to resolve the issue. The report did not state whether or not the Model Y in question had the update.
Still, the NHTSA is taking the matter seriously as it previously raised concerns about the software's readiness for public roads. It's important to know that FSD Beta is not rated at Level 3, 4, or 5 self-driving capability but rather Level 2 - the same as Autopilot. FSD is, essentially, a more advanced form of Autopilot. Both systems require a fully attentive driver who's ready to assume control in emergency situations.
This accident didn't appear to result in any serious injuries but it happened nonetheless. It's still too early for there to be an official NHTSA investigation but this is certainly a situation worth following.