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Tesla recalls all of its over 2 million US vehicles due to autopilot flaws

What just happened? Multiple controversies have emerged regarding the self-driving features in Tesla vehicles throughout 2023, but the latest recall is the most far-reaching. Although it affects every car the company has sold in the last decade, the word “recall” might be outdated, given Tesla’s solution.

Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have announced a recall of every vehicle the company has sold in the US. The situation dwarfs two prior Tesla recalls from earlier this year, this time amounting to over two million cars.

In practical terms, users will soon receive an over-the-air update that promises to fix the problem without requiring them to bring their vehicles to the shop. Tesla has employed this solution before, indicating that referring to its software problems as “recalls” is an anachronistic legal technicality.

After spending over two years investigating eleven accidents involving autosteer, the NHTSA determined that Teslas don’t sufficiently ensure drivers remain attentive while self-driving systems are engaged. Autosteer is supposed to give users visual and audio alerts when road conditions limit its effectiveness or prevent it from activating. Furthermore, it assumes drivers remain fully alert and keep both hands on the steering wheel.

The patch to update the software to version 2023.44.30 introduces more prominent alerts and additional controls. Autosteer also receives new safety checks and a simpler on/off switch. The recall and update affect all Tesla Model S, X, 3, and Y vehicles manufactured and sold between October 5, 2012 and December 7, 2023. Cars built and sold after that period ship with the latest software pre-installed.

A smaller recall affecting the same models occurred in February, requiring Tesla to update 365,000 vehicles due to a problem with the Full Self-Driving Beta. An employee leaked 100GB of company data in May, highlighting over 1,000 safety incidents. Another recall in October concerned a software flaw in the brake fluid detection system in over 54,000 Model X cars.

Tesla isn’t the only company dogged by safety problems with autonomous vehicles lately. The founder of the robotaxi company Cruise recently resigned after numerous traffic incidents throughout the year resulted in the revocation of the company’s California operation permit and the suspension of operations nationwide.

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