Tesla Recall Impacts Nearly 12,000 Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta Vehicles

Recall comes amid questions about the safety of self-driving vehicles.

A recall has been issued for nearly 12,000 Tesla vehicles participating in a “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) beta, which have been found to contain a software defect that may cause the automatic emergency braking (AEB) system to suddenly engage in error, potentially posing an accident risk for drivers.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Tesla self-driving recall on November 1, after the automaker discovered a communication error in the 10.3 Full-Self Driving (FSD) beta software may cause a false forward collision warning, activating the AEB system.

According to the recall notice, certain Model S, X, 3 and Y vehicles enrolled in Tesla’s full self-driving beta testing for the advanced driver assistance software, received an over-the-air firmware update on October 23, which introduced a disconnect between the two onboard chips when the vehicle is waking up from Sentry Mode or Summon Standby Mode.

Following the firmware update, Tesla told officials they began receiving multiple complaints the next morning with customers reporting the vehicles falsely identified forward collision threats that caused the AEB system to engage unexpectedly, bringing the vehicles to a sudden stop during normal traffic routines.

Tesla engineering and quality assurance teams were assigned to identify the root cause of the issue stemming from the update. They determined the “communication disconnect can result in the video neural networks that operate on that chip to run less consistently than expected. The inconsistency can produce negative object velocity detections when other vehicles are present, which in turn can lead to false FCW and AEB events.” This means the system thinks other vehicles nearby are slowing down suddenly, when they are not.

Officials warn drivers that in the event of a false-positive braking event occurring, the vehicle will come to an abrupt stop, which may increase the risk of a rear end collision and injury to drivers and occupants.

The recall includes approximately 11,704 model year 2017 through 2021 Model S, Model 3, Model X, and 2020 through 2021 Model Y vehicles operating software version 2021.36.5.2.

Tesla announced it has already released an over-the-air update to the impacted vehicles to correct the communication disconnect between the two chips. The update was pushed out to impacted vehicles on October 25, and owners can expect to receive a mailed notification letter by December 28, 2021.

Customers with additional questions or concerns surrounding the recall may contact Tesla customer service at 1-877-798-3752 and reference the recall number SB-21-00-004.

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Self-Driving Technology Concerns

Autopilot is a rapidly evolving Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), which consists of many simultaneously working systems to steer, accelerate and apply the brakes of a vehicle automatically within its lane. While many experts believe these technologies can save thousands of lives by avoiding driver error that causes nearly all accidents,  many of the technologies are new and may be prone to unknown programming errors.

The recall of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving vehicles under beta testing comes amid an ongoing NHTSA investigation into 17 injuries and one death linked to 11 separate Tesla autopilot crashes involving vehicles veering off of roadways and striking other vehicles at emergency first responder scenes while the Autopilot and Traffic Aware Cruise Control were activated.

NHTSA officials announced in August they would begin reviewing the safety and effectiveness of the Tesla autopilot technology used in approximately 765,000 Tesla Model 3, Model S, Model X, and Model Y electric vehicles, with a focus on its Object and Event Detection and Response (OEDR) functionality.


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