Tesla Is Recalling Nearly Every Vehicle It Sold In The U.S. Due To An Autopilot Issue

Following two years of scrutiny from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over the reliability of Tesla’s autonomous driving capabilities, the company has made a major announcement. Tesla is initiating a sweeping recall impacting almost all 2 million of its electric vehicles (EVs) sold in the United States.

By investigating more than 1,000 crashes involving Tesla’s Autopilot features, the NHTSA found that the technology cannot fully take control of a vehicle without user input. Nevertheless, drivers may feel too comfortable when Autopilot is engaged, leading them to take their eyes off the road for longer than they should. Unfortunately, this complacency can cause the car’s autonomous features to make serious errors.

Tesla is releasing an over-the-air (OTA) software upgrade in response to the results with the goal of resolving the issues brought up by the NHTSA. This upgrade, however, takes a different tack; rather than improving functionality, it places new limitations on Tesla’s self-driving functions. This will cause the Autosteer feature—available in both the base Autopilot and the $6,000 upgraded Full Self Driving (FSD) version—to check for driver attentiveness more frequently.

The NHTSA revealed that Tesla’s vehicles do not effectively monitor driver attentiveness, despite warnings to remain in control. After the update, if the system detects driver distraction, it will disable Autopilot, compelling the driver to resume manual control. Additionally, Autopilot may refuse activation if road conditions are deemed unsuitable.

The market viability of Tesla’s autonomous features is called into doubt by the recall, particularly in light of the higher expenses involved in upgrading to the upgraded model with FSD. Tesla can install the upgrade remotely over the air, so owners don’t have to take their cars to the service center.

This development emphasizes the fine balance that manufacturers need to maintain in the quickly changing field of autonomous driving technology—between innovation and safety. The NHTSA is closely monitoring Tesla’s corrective actions as it rapidly approaches self-driving capabilities, indicating that this might not be the final Autopilot recall.

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