In a significant move, Tesla is recalling more than 2 million vehicles in the U.S., covering its entire model lineup, to address a defective system related to its Autopilot feature. The recall follows a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into crashes involving Tesla vehicles while the Autopilot system was in use, some of which were fatal.
The NHTSA investigation revealed concerns about the inadequacy of Autopilot’s method to ensure driver attention, leading to “foreseeable misuse of the system.” Although Tesla did not fully agree with the agency’s analysis, the company has opted for a voluntary recall to resolve the concerns.
The recall covers Tesla models Y, S, 3, and X produced between October 5, 2012, and December 7, 2023. The remedy involves a software update that limits the use of Autosteer to appropriate conditions. The update includes additional controls and alerts, such as increased visual alerts, simplified engagement and disengagement of Autosteer, and additional checks for responsible usage.
While safety experts acknowledge the recall as a positive step, some argue that it places the responsibility on the driver and does not address the core issue of Tesla’s automated systems struggling to identify and respond to obstacles effectively. The recall does not retrofit older Tesla vehicles with night vision cameras or address the challenge of Tesla vehicles not reliably detecting emergency vehicles.
NHTSA has been investigating Tesla crashes involving Autopilot, with at least 17 fatalities reported in such incidents. The safety agency will continue monitoring the effectiveness of Tesla’s remedies and collaborate with the automaker to ensure the highest level of safety.
The recall has financial implications for Tesla, with the company obligated to pay a posting fee to the Heroes, the Korean Baseball Organization team, as part of MLB’s posting system arrangement. Despite the recall, Tesla’s share price rebounded after an initial dip, reflecting resilience in the market.
The recall underscores the ongoing challenges in achieving safe and effective autonomous driving technology and raises questions about the adequacy of current regulations and monitoring mechanisms.