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Tesla Calls Back Over 2 million Vehicles To Enhance Autopilot Safety

Image Source: Vitaliy Karimov / Shutterstock

Tesla has initiated a recall for nearly all its vehicles sold in the United States to improve the safety of its hands-free driving system, Autopilot, and to comply with the conclusions of an extensive NHTSA inquiry, as revealed by Tesla on Tuesday.

The NHTSA specifically highlighted Autosteer, a feature that allows extended hands-free driving with minimal driver engagement oversight, unlike other systems such as GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s Blue Cruise. The NHTSA determined that the controls might not be adequate to prevent driver misapplication of the Level 2 semi-autonomous driving system.

The recall affects 2,031,220 electric vehicles manufactured by the Texas-headquartered electric car maker, spanning more than ten years. The recall includes the following models:

2012-2023 Tesla Model S

2016-2023 Tesla Model X

2017-2023 Tesla Model 3

2020-2023 Tesla Model Y

According to SAE regulations, Level 2 necessitates the driver’s continuous operation of the vehicle. The NHTSA discovered that the safety measures ensuring the driver’s “continuous and sustained responsibility for the vehicle’s operation” are inadequate. Particularly, the driver may not be alerted when Autosteer is deactivated, and may not realize that it is functioning with limited capabilities.

Autosteer is one component of the Autopilot system, along with features like adaptive cruise control, known by Tesla as “Traffic-Aware Cruise Control.” An icon of a small steering wheel displayed can switch from gray to blue when activated, accompanied by both audible and visual alarms.

Thankfully for Tesla owners, the recall solution has been and will continue to be delivered through an over-the-air software update. The current software version is 2023.44.30. The update will introduce more conspicuous alerts and may disable the feature if the driver repeatedly fails to demonstrate driving responsibility while Autosteer is active.

“The solution will add extra controls and alerts to the existing ones on affected vehicles to further prompt the driver to maintain their continuous driving responsibility whenever Autosteer is enabled, including ensuring hands on the steering wheel and attentiveness to the road,” Tesla specified in its submission to the NHTSA.

The NHTSA has intensified its scrutiny of Tesla in recent years following a series of notable accidents and fatalities suspected to involve Autopilot, among other issues. In August 2021, the NHTSA probed Tesla for 11 crashes involving stationary emergency vehicles while Autosteer was engaged. Following discussions between Tesla and the NHTSA, Tesla addressed the agency’s concerns through software updates, despite not entirely agreeing with the findings.

The software update will be covered under warranty, so Tesla will not offer any reimbursement. The latest production models have already received the software update.

Image Source: Vitaliy Karimov / Shutterstock

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