Tesla, the pioneering electric vehicle manufacturer, has initiated a massive recall affecting more than two million vehicles in the United States, according to an ITNews Report.
This recall, one of the largest in Tesla's history, specifically targets vehicles equipped with the company's advanced driver-assistance system, Autopilot. The move comes as a response to safety concerns raised by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), particularly regarding the system's ability to ensure driver engagement.
For over two years, NHTSA has scrutinized Tesla, led by billionaire Elon Musk, questioning whether its vehicles effectively compel drivers to remain attentive while Autopilot is active. This recall appears to encompass nearly all Tesla vehicles currently on US roads.
Tesla acknowledged in its recall filing that the software controls of Autopilot might be inadequate in preventing driver misuse, potentially escalating the risk of accidents. The company, despite disagreeing with NHTSA's analysis, has agreed to deploy an over-the-air software update. This update aims to enhance existing controls and alerts, reinforcing the driver's responsibility to remain attentive whenever Autosteer, a component of Autopilot, is engaged. Autopilot is designed to enable cars to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically within their lane, while the enhanced Autopilot assists in lane changes on highways but does not render the cars autonomous.
The issue came to the forefront following multiple fatal crashes involving Autopilot. Acting NHTSA Administrator Ann Carlson, speaking at a US House hearing, highlighted these concerns, leading to the opening of a safety probe in August 2021. Carlson emphasized the importance of addressing these safety issues promptly.
The recall will update 2.03 million Model S, X, 3, and Y vehicles across the United States, dating back to the 2012 model year. The update, tailored to the vehicle's hardware, will feature more prominent visual alerts, simplified engagement and disengagement of Autosteer, and additional checks upon its activation.
This recall does not mark Tesla's first brush with safety inquiries. Since 2016, NHTSA has opened over three dozen special crash investigations involving Tesla's driver systems, with 23 crash deaths reported. Moreover, the US Justice Department has issued subpoenas related to Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD) and Autopilot systems, and in February, Tesla recalled 362,000 US vehicles for updates to its FSD Beta software.
The NHTSA investigation into Autopilot remains ongoing, as the agency continues to assess the effectiveness of Tesla's remedial actions. The recall is a crucial step in addressing safety concerns but does not constitute a definitive resolution in individual accident cases. Legal implications for Tesla may still evolve, as highlighted by attorney Donald Slavik.
Tesla's proactive approach in addressing these issues reflects a commitment to vehicle safety and regulatory compliance. However, the recall also underscores the complexities and challenges inherent in the development and deployment of autonomous driving technologies.
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