DETROIT (AP) – Tesla is recalling nearly 54,000 cars and SUVs because their “Fully Self-Driving” software lets them roll through stop signs without coming to a complete halt.
Recall documents posted Tuesday by US security regulators says Tesla will disable the feature with an over-the-internet software update. The “roll stop” feature allows vehicles to go through intersections with directional stop signs at up to 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) per hour.
The recall shows that Tesla has programmed its vehicles to violate the law in most states, where police will send drivers tickets because they have disregarded stop signs. The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices, said they are not aware of any state where a rolling stop is legal.
According to documents, Tesla agreed to the recall after two meetings with officials of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Tesla said in documents it knows of no accidents or injuries caused by feature.
The recall covers Model S sedans and X sport utility vehicles from 2016 to 2022, as well as 2017 to 2022 Model 3 sedans and 2020 to 2022 Model Y sport utility vehicles.
Selected Tesla drivers “beta test” the “Fully Self-Manage” software on public roads. The company says the cars cannot drive themselves and drivers must be ready to act at all times.
A firmware release to eliminate the rolling stops is expected to be released in early February.
Tesla, which has dissolved its media relations division, did not comment on Tuesday.
NHTSA says failure to stop for a sign could increase the risk of an accident. “The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects that pose unreasonable risks to safety, including intentional design choices that are unsafe,” the agency said. “If the information shows that a security risk may exist, NHTSA will act immediately.”
Tesla introduced the “rolling stop” feature in a software update sent to the test owners on October 20, 2020. NHTSA met with Tesla on January 10 and 19 this year to discuss how the software works, the documents read. On January 20, the company agreed to disable the rolling stops with the software update.
The “roll stop” function allows the Teslas to go through stop signs in all directions as long as the owner has activated the function. The vehicles have to drive below 5.6 mph as they approach the intersection, and no “relevant” moving cars, pedestrians or cyclists can be detected nearby. All roads leading to the intersection had to have speed limits of 30 mph or less, the documents read. The Teslas will then be allowed to go through the intersection at 0.1 mph to 5.6 mph without coming to a complete stop.
Philip Koopman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, said 4-way stop signs are commonly placed to protect intersections for children when no intersection guard is present. He said Tesla’s “machine learning” system could incorrectly identify objects. “What happens when FSD decides a child crossing the street is not ‘relevant’ and fails to stop?” he asked. “It is an unsafe behavior and should never have been placed in vehicles.”
Koopman said traveling through a stop sign at 5.6 mph is similar to treating it as an allotment.
Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors’ Security Association, said he was not surprised that Tesla had programmed vehicles to violate state laws. “They are constantly pushing the boundaries of safety to see what they can get away with, and they really pushed a lot,” he said. “Every time it’s just a little worse. It is good to see NHTSA pushing back. ”
The automaker needs to make safety a priority “not to take advantage of some of our worst behavior on the road,” Adkins said.
In November, NHTSA said it was investigating a complaint from a California Tesla driver that the “Full Self-Driving” software caused an accident. The driver complained to the agency that a Model Y ended up in the wrong lane and was hit by another vehicle. The SUV gave the driver a warning halfway through the turn, and the driver reportedly tried to turn the wheel to avoid other traffic. But the car took control and forced itself into the wrong lane, the driver reported. No one was injured in the crash on November 3.
In December, Tesla agreed to update its software to prevent video games from being played on center touchscreens as his vehicles move.
NHTSA also investigates why Tesla’s repeatedly uses the company’s less sophisticated “Autopilot” driver assistance system got stuck in emergency vehicles parked on roads.
Last week, Tesla said in its earnings release that “Complete Self-Management” software is now tested by owners in almost 60,000 vehicles in the US It was only about 2,000 in the third quarter. The software, which costs $ 12,000, will accelerate Tesla’s profitability, the company said.
CEO Elon Musk said he would be shocked if the software could not run more securely than humans this year. In 2019, Musk predicted a fleet of autonomous Tesla robot axes on the roads by the end of 2020.
Tesla’s shares, which have fallen more than 20% since peaking at $ 1,229.91 on November 4, fell about 1% on Tuesday.