Tesla Recalling 2 Million Vehicles Equipped with Autopilot

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Filed under Automotive, EV News, News, Tesla

Tesla is recalling more than two million vehicles in the United States equipped with its Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system, following concerns raised by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding the system’s vulnerability to “foreseeable misuse.” The NHTSA has been investigating Tesla for over two years to determine whether the Autopilot ensures that drivers remain attentive while using the driver assistance feature.

According to Tesla’s recall filing, the Autopilot’s software controls may not be adequate to prevent driver misuse, thereby increasing the risk of a potential crash. Acting NHTSA Administrator Ann Carlson emphasized the importance of driver monitoring systems considering human tendencies to over-trust technology.

Tesla’s Autopilot is designed to enable vehicles to autonomously steer, accelerate, and brake within their lane. However, the enhanced Autopilot assists in lane changes on highways but does not render the vehicles fully autonomous. A key component of Autopilot, Autosteer, maintains speed, following distance, and keeps the vehicle within its driving lane.

While Tesla expressed disagreement with NHTSA’s analysis, the company committed to addressing the concerns through an over-the-air software update. This update aims to incorporate additional controls and alerts to encourage drivers to adhere more closely to their continuous driving responsibility when Autosteer is engaged.

NHTSA’s investigation, initiated in August 2021, was prompted by a series of crashes involving Tesla vehicles colliding with stationary emergency vehicles. The agency identified Tesla’s Autopilot system design as potentially lacking in driver engagement and usage controls, leading to foreseeable misuse.

The recall, affecting 2.03 million Model S, X, 3, and Y vehicles in the United States dating back to the 2012 model year, includes a software update based on vehicle hardware. This update introduces visual alerts on the user interface, simplifies the engagement and disengagement of Autosteer, and implements additional checks when Autosteer is engaged. If a driver consistently fails to demonstrate continuous driving responsibility, the feature may be suspended.

Despite the recall, Tesla’s shares experienced a 1% decline in premarket trading. The company, under scrutiny for its Full Self-Driving (FSD) and Autopilot systems, had previously recalled vehicles in February to address concerns about traffic safety law adherence.

The NHTSA’s investigation into Autopilot remains open as it monitors the effectiveness of Tesla’s remedies. Over the years, Tesla has faced criticism from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for insufficient system safeguards and from the NHTSA for not ensuring Autopilot’s safety. The situation also involves a criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department related to Tesla’s claims about its electric vehicles’ autonomous capabilities.


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