Incident 211: A Tesla Taxi Cab Involved in an Accident in Paris with Twenty Injuries

Description: In Paris, about 20 people were injured in an accident involving a Tesla Model 3 taxi cab which was reportedly caused by a sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) episode and braking issues.
Alleged: Tesla developed an AI system deployed by Taxis G7, which harmed pedestrians.

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AIAAIC. (2021-12-11) Incident Number 211. in Lam, K. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Responsible AI Collaborative.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
211
Report Count
7
Incident Date
2021-12-11
Editors
Khoa Lam

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Incident Reports

A Tesla Model 3 taxi cab got involved in a severe accident in Paris. The first official information about it is that the cause was an SUA (sudden unintended acceleration) episode and braking issues. About 20 people got hurt, five of them with life-threatening injuries.

The crash happened on December 11 at around 9 PM in the 13e arrondissement in Paris. Le Figaro reports that the police informed the driver was traveling on rue d’Ivry (it’s actually avenue) when his car suddenly started accelerating and could not brake. Jérôme Coumet, the mayor of the 13e arrondissement, said on Twitter the crash was caused by a “technical failure.” He also said that “the accelerator (pedal) would have stuck.”

With no control, the EV first hit a bike rider on avenue d’Ivry. The taxi cab would then have hit two pedestrians at the crossing with rue de Tolbiac, smashed a glass recycling container – sending glass bits into other passersby – another pedestrian and a traffic light at avenue de Choisy. It just stopped when it hit a van close to the restaurant Le Mandarin de Choisy, according to CNEWS.

French newspapers and websites have conflicting information about the number of injured people. CNEWS talks about eight people in ICUs, five with life-threatening injuries, and 12 more lightly hurt people. Le Figaro mentioned nine people hurt. Le Parisien said 7 people had life-threatening injuries, and 13 went to the emergency room. Unfortunately, Le Parisien seems to have talked to the people involved in the accident, but we have no access to the article.

This is not the first report of SUA incidents with Tesla vehicles. Still, it seems to be one of the worst ones in which those claims happened. Jason Hughes, known as the Tesla Hacker, has already dismissed SUA incidents in Tesla vehicles as impossible due to how the brakes override the accelerator pedal whenever they are activated.

The latest hypothesis for these episodes is that cruise control is accidentally turned on. When the previously set speed is much higher than the one the vehicle is traveling at, it accelerates too fast to the established speed and looks like an SUA episode. In China, the government obliged Tesla to take measures and it added a sound to warn TACC (Traffic-Aware Cruise Control) was switched on. Tesla has never clarified if this is the cause for SUA events, and investigations have never concluded that this was really the case. Perhaps the French police will help determine what causes such problems in Tesla vehicles.

Tesla Model 3 Taxi Cab Accident Hurts About 20 People in Paris Due to Braking Issues

PARIS, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Leading Paris taxi company G7 has suspended the use of all Tesla Model 3 cars in its fleet after a serious accident with one of the cars at the weekend, it said on Tuesday.

A company executive said that the 37 Tesla Model 3 cars in it fleet will remain suspended until the conclusion of a police investigation into the case.

G7 deputy Chief Executive Yann Ricordel told Reuters that the driver was off-duty and was taking his family to a restaurant when the accident happened on Saturday evening.

Ricordel added that Tesla had said on Monday that an initial inquiry had ruled out the risk of a technical dysfunction of the vehicle.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

"Today we have two divergents views on the subject. We will maintain the suspension of the Tesla Model 3 while the investigation is ongoing, as a safety measure for our drivers, customers and other road users," Ricordel said.

Paris taxi firm suspends use of Tesla cars after fatal accident

Tesla, the electric-vehicle company, is facing fresh scrutiny of its popular Model 3 sedans in France following a fatal weekend crash.

G7, a top Paris taxi firm, said it had temporarily suspended its fleet of 37 Tesla Model 3s after an off-duty driver taking his family to a restaurant on Saturday evening was involved in an accident. The Model 3, Tesla’s most affordable vehicle, was Europe’s top-selling car in September.

In the accident, the car hit at least two pedestrians and a glass container that shattered on impact, before crashing into a van, according to French media reports. At least one person was killed and 20 others were injured, several of them seriously, Paris prosecutors told reporters Tuesday.

“Our decision to temporarily shut down our Tesla Model 3 fleet is an act of precaution,” G7 wrote on Twitter. Police are investigating the incident.

Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, the transport minister, said on French radio Wednesday that there was no indication that a technical fault was to blame for the incident and that he was not worried about Model 3 safety.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. It was unclear if the driver was using Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assistance system at the time of the crash. G7 deputy chief executive Yann Ricordel said the driver had tried to brake but instead the vehicle accelerated, Reuters reported.

In the United States, there have been reports of more than 200 incidents involving Teslas unexpectedly accelerating and crashing. The federal car-safety agency concluded in January that the incidents were the fault of drivers confusing their brake and accelerator pedals, and were not due to vehicle defects.

Tesla told France’s Le Monde newspaper that the Paris accident was not caused by accelerator blockage or a sudden disruption of the cruise control. The world’s most valuable listed automaker was unable to physically inspect the Model 3 sedan, which was badly damaged, according to Le Monde, but the company claimed that the vehicle suffered “no technical faults.”

The Biden administration has stepped up enforcement of federal safety regulations regarding advanced driver-assistance systems — particularly Tesla’s habit of issuing software fixes without reporting underlying problems, following several recent incidents.

This past summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a formal probe of Tesla’s Autopilot software after nearly a dozen crashes involving parked emergency vehicles. A number of people have reportedly died in the United States in crashes involving the driver-assistance system. (Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has touted data suggesting Tesla vehicles using Autopilot are safer than the average car.)

The French crash probe also comes as Tesla is facing lawsuits from workers alleging sexual harassment at its facilities.

Musk isn’t shying away from the spotlight, however. On Tuesday, he engaged in a public spat on Twitter with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over taxes, with Musk describing her as “Senator Karen” after she accused him of “freeloading” by not paying his fair share. In recent times, “Karen” has become a catchall term for an entitled, demanding White woman who polices other people’s behavior.

Tesla Model 3 fleet suspended by major Paris taxi firm after fatal accident

On Saturday, an off-duty G7 taxi driver was en route to a restaurant with his family when a collision killed one person and injured 20 others, Reuters reported.

It was not apparent if the car’s autopilot mode was activated at the time of the crash, but local French media said that the vehicle hit a cyclist and three pedestrians before crashing into a van. Several of the injuries from the incident were serious, according to Reuters.

G7 Deputy Chief Executive Yann Ricordel reportedly said while Tesla conducted an initial inquiry that indicated the vehicle did not malfunction, it apparently accelerated when the driver tried to brake.

“Today, we have two divergent views on the subject. We will maintain the suspension of the Tesla Model 3 while the investigation is ongoing, as a safety measure for our drivers, customers and other road users,” Ricordel said.

While G7 awaits the results of a police investigation into the matter, he reportedly added that taxi drivers who lose compensation as a result of the suspension would be paid in full for lost wages and that the company is looking into ways for the affected drivers to resume work quickly.

Reuters added that G7 has 9,000 affiliated drivers who use vehicles they own for their work for the taxi company. Currently, roughly half of the company’s fleet is electric or hybrid, but it aims to make all its cars green by 2027.

Paris taxi company suspending use of Teslas after fatal accident

PARIS, Dec 16 (Reuters) - The lawyer for a taxi driver involved in a fatal accident in Paris at the weekend said the driver's Tesla Model 3 vehicle had accelerated on its own and that its brakes had not worked.

Paris taxi company G7 suspended the use of 37 Tesla Model 3 cars in its fleet after the accident on Saturday, while it awaited the results of a police investigation into the cause of the accident. One person was killed and 20 injured, three of them seriously.

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has told the French government there was no indication that the accident was caused by a technical fault, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

"He (the taxi driver) has explained to the police officers that the car had accelerated on its own and that he did not succeed in activating the brakes, the brakes did not work despite his best efforts," lawyer Sarah Saldmann told Reuters late on Wednesday.

She said the wreckage of the car was being investigated by police, who had found the USB key which records the car's activity in the glove compartment.

After the driver was briefly hospitalised for minor injuries and then held for questioning for 48 hours, he was placed under formal investigation on Wednesday for suspected involuntary manslaughter, Saldmann said.

Under French law, a formal investigation means there is "serious or consistent evidence" implicating a suspect in a crime. It is one step closer to a trial, but such investigations can be dropped.

The driver remains under judicial control and is banned from driving for now. Saldmann said tests showed the driver had not been under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medicine.

The driver, born in 1964, has been a taxi driver since the 90s and has never been involved in an accident like this one, she said. He bought the new vehicle three months ago, she said.

Last year, the U.S. auto safety regulator opened a formal review into over 200 complaints about sudden acceleration of Tesla cars, but the regulator later said it found no defects in Tesla's systems, saying the accidents were caused by "pedal misapplication".

Tesla, which is at the forefront of the electrical and self-driving vehicle revolution and has a market value of nearly $1 trillion, has not responded to requests for comment.

Paris crash Tesla driver says car accelerated on its own - lawyer

PARIS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has told the French government there is no indication that a fatal accident in Paris involving a Tesla Model 3 taxi was caused by a technical fault, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Paris taxi company G7 has suspended the use of the 37 Model 3 cars in its fleet after the accident on Saturday evening, which involved one of its drivers.

BFM TV reported that the driver had been placed under formal investigation for suspected manslaughter. Under French law, a formal investigation means there is “serious or consistent evidence” implicating a suspect in a crime. It is one step closer to a trial, but such investigations can be dropped.

One person was killed in the crash and 20 injured, three of them seriously.

"We have been in contact, of course, with Tesla's management and they tell us that there is no technical problem to flag on their vehicles," government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters.

He added that the government was waiting for the outcome of the ongoing judicial investigation.

Still in shock four days after the accident, witnesses told Reuters the car ploughed through metal posts, a row of pay-to-ride bicycles, a recycling bin full of glass and hit pedestrians and a van before finally coming to a halt.

"I thought it was an attack. There was glass, dust ... it was as if there had been a blast," Tillard Diomande, who was serving clients from behind his bar in a nearby restaurant, said.

The vehicle, which had stopped at a red traffic light, suddenly sped forward, hitting and dragging with it a cyclist who later died, a police source said, citing the driver's own version of events, witnesses and video surveillance.

The driver tested negative in an alcohol test, the police source said.

It was not clear whether the car was operating in Tesla's Autopilot mode, which handles some driving tasks.

NO SAFETY ALERTS

Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told RMC radio that he had spoken with the chief executive of Tesla Europe, who told him there had been no safety alerts about the Model 3.

He added that the automaker, which collects detailed data from the sensors and cameras on its vehicles, notified him that it had provided the relevant technical data to investigators.

Tesla, which is at the forefront of the electrical and self-driving vehicle revolution and has a market value of nearly $1 trillion, has not responded to requests for comment.

G7 Deputy Chief Executive Yann Ricordel told Reuters the accident occurred while an off-duty taxi driver was taking his family to a restaurant. The driver tried to brake but the car accelerated instead, Ricordel said.

Last year, the U.S. auto safety regulator opened a formal review into over 200 complaints about sudden acceleration of Tesla cars, but the regulator later said it found no defects in Tesla's systems, saying the accidents were caused by "pedal misapplication".

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did not consider software defects in its investigation, and French investigators need to look at software as a potential cause, Philip Koopman, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said on his blog posting.

Video of the scene obtained by Reuters showed the wreckage of a black Tesla and debris strewn across the street. The vehicle's left-hand side was crumpled, the front left wheel collapsed and the windscreen shattered.

The car appeared to have collided with a white van, which suffered front-end damage. Other footage circulating on social media showed members of the public tending to the wounded and shocked bystanders in the aftermath of the accident.

Tesla boss Elon Musk was named 2021 "person of the year" by both Time magazine and the Financial Times for triggering a historic shift in the auto industry towards electric vehicles, and also sending rockets into orbit with his space company.

Tesla's Model 3 topped European car sales in September, marking the first time an electric vehicle has done so in monthly charts.

The NHTSA said in August it had sent teams to review 31 Tesla crashes involving 10 deaths since 2016 where it suspected advanced driver assistance systems use.

It ruled out Autopilot in three of the crashes.

Musk has repeatedly defended Autopilot and in April tweeted that "Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle."

Tesla told France there was no sign of technical fault in Paris crash

French authorities are currently investigating the accident in which a Tesla vehicle hit a cyclist and pedestrians before crashing into a van.

Officials in Paris, France are working to determine the cause of an accident last Saturday involving a Tesla vehicle that killed one person and injured twenty others. There are differing accounts around the cause of the incident. According to Reuters, police are investigating the wreckage of the Tesla Model 3 and analyzing the USB key that records its activity to better understand what happened.

Sarah Saldmann, a lawyer for the driver, told Reuters that the driver claims his Tesla Model 3 accelerated “on its own” and did not respond to brakes. Saldmann adds that he was treated for minor injuries and is now under investigation for suspected involuntary manslaughter.

Reuters says Tesla told the French government earlier this week that there was “no indication” on their end that a technical fault was responsible. The French transportation minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, echoed that statement in a radio interview on Tuesday, saying there was no evidence of a Tesla issue.

The driver has worked as a taxi driver since the 1990s, and currently works for G7, one of the largest taxi companies in Paris. He was off-duty at the time of the accident, but in response, the company still moved to suspend the use of Tesla Model 3 cars for its drivers, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

“We will maintain the suspension of the Tesla Model 3 while the investigation is ongoing, as a safety measure for our drivers, customers, and other road users,” Yann Ricordel, G7 Deputy Chief Executive, told Reuters.

This new report adds to the mounting concerns over the safety of Tesla vehicles. In 2020, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated reports of Tesla cars unintentionally and rapidly accelerating after receiving more than 200 complaints of such incidents. Ultimately, the Washington Post says the agency attributed the issue to people hitting the wrong pedals, speeding up when they meant to brake, rather than technical defects. The Washington Post notes that electric cars are also able to speed up faster than most gas-powered vehicles, which could have contributed to driver confusion over the acceleration.

However, the NHTSA has been involved in looking into a number of other issues relating to Tesla this year. On Thursday, the agency said it is currently in communication with Tesla over glitching Autopilot cameras in some of its vehicles. CNBC said Tesla is replacing these on a “goodwill basis” for owners experiencing the issue, but that the company has not put out a voluntary recall. And last week, the NHTSA responded to a New York Times article published about an update that allows Tesla drivers to play video games on the dash while the car is in motion, saying the agency is “discussing the feature with the manufacturer.”

Other, more serious problems with Tesla’s self-driving and Autopilot features have prompted NHTSA investigations and recalls. This summer, the agency launched an ongoing inquiry into multiple accidents involving Teslas hitting emergency vehicles while in Autopilot mode, which have resulted in numerous injuries and one death. Then, in November, Tesla issued a safety recall over a “software communication error” in its Full-Self Driving Beta program, which has since been addressed in a software update. It is currently unknown whether the Paris driver was using the Autopilot feature when the accident took place this past weekend.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has not commented on the crash, but he did broadly respond to safety concerns around automobile autonomy in a Monday interview with TIME, which named him 2021’s “Person of the Year.”

“I think it’s one of those things where you’re not going to get rewarded for [the lives that you save], necessarily, but you will definitely be blamed for the lives you don’t,” Musk told TIME Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal. “Even if you save 90 percent of the lives, the 10 percent that you don’t save are going to sue you.”

What we know so far about the fatal Tesla crash in Paris