Over 2000000 Tesla vehicles are being recalled due to a faulty system that monitors drivers when using the Autopilot feature.
Tesla is issuing a recall for over 2 million vehicles in all of its model range in order to address a malfunctioning system designed to ensure drivers are attentive while utilizing Autopilot.
According to documents released by U.S. safety regulators on Wednesday, the company plans to issue a software update to address the issues.
The recall follows a two-year inquiry conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding a string of accidents that occurred while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was engaged, resulting in some fatalities.
The agency’s inquiry determined that Autopilot’s method of ensuring driver attentiveness may be insufficient, potentially leading to misuse of the system.
Tesla has issued a recall for the majority of its vehicles sold in the U.S., including models Y, S, 3, and X manufactured between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7, 2021.
According to the documents, the software update adds more features and notifications to remind the driver of their ongoing responsibility to drive safely.
According to the documents, the update was scheduled to be sent to specific impacted vehicles on Tuesday, while the remaining vehicles would receive it at a later time.
The Autopilot system has two components, Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control. Autosteer is designed for use on highways with restricted entry, while a more advanced feature, Autosteer on City Streets, is used for other roads.
The upcoming software update will restrict the locations where Autosteer function can be utilized.
The recall documents stated that if the driver tries to activate Autosteer when the necessary conditions are not met, the feature will notify the driver through visual and audible alerts that it is unavailable, and Autosteer will not be enabled.
“According to Tesla’s documentation, the extra features added to the hardware may include more prominent visual alerts, easier activation and deactivation of Autosteer, increased monitoring for use on non-controlled roads and near traffic control devices, and the possibility of being banned from using Autosteer if the driver consistently fails to demonstrate continuous and responsible driving.”
According to documentation, agency investigators held meetings with Tesla beginning in October to discuss their preliminary findings regarding the repair of the monitoring system. Although Tesla disagreed with the agency’s assessment, they agreed to initiate a recall on December 5th in an attempt to resolve the inquiry.
For a long time, advocates for auto safety have been pushing for stricter regulations on the driver monitoring system. This system primarily checks to see if a driver’s hands are on the steering wheel. They have been advocating for the inclusion of cameras to ensure that the driver is focused, a feature already implemented by other car manufacturers with similar systems.
The Autopilot feature is capable of automatically steering, accelerating, and braking within its designated lane. However, it is important to note that despite its name, it is not a fully autonomous driving system and still requires a driver to be present. Independent tests have revealed that the monitoring system can be easily deceived, leading to instances where drivers have been caught under the influence of alcohol or even found sitting in the back seat while the car is in motion.
Tesla reported to the safety agency that Autopilot’s controls may not be effective in preventing misuse by the driver.
On Wednesday morning, the Austin-based company was contacted for additional clarification.
According to Tesla’s website, Autopilot and the advanced Full Self Driving system are not capable of driving independently and are designed to assist drivers who must be prepared to take control at any moment. Tesla owners are currently testing the Full Self Driving system on public roads.
On Monday, Tesla (formerly Twitter) posted a statement saying that safety is increased when Autopilot is activated.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sent investigators to 35 incidents involving Tesla vehicles since 2016, where the agency believes the cars were operating on an automated system. Tragically, these incidents have resulted in the deaths of at least 17 individuals.
The investigations are part of a larger probe by the NHTSA into multiple instances of Teslas using Autopilot crashing into parked emergency vehicles that are tending to other crashes. NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas in the past year, announcing multiple recalls and investigations, including a recall of Full Self Driving software.
In May, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, whose department oversees NHTSA, stated that Tesla should not refer to their system as Autopilot as it is not capable of fully autonomous driving.
On Wednesday, NHTSA announced that the investigation into Tesla is ongoing, and they are observing the effectiveness of Tesla’s solutions while collaborating with the company to ensure maximum safety.