Tesla has been forced to “recall” all vehicles equipped with Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta as NHTSA believes it may cause crashes.

The fix is a software update.

In a recall notice released today, NHTSA has notified that Tesla has agreed to “recall” all 362,758 vehicles equipped with FSD Beta in the US over what it believes is a serious risk that it “may cause crashes.”

Here’s the recall notice summary from NHTSA:

Tesla, Inc. (Tesla) is recalling certain 2016-2023 Model S, Model X, 2017-2023 Model 3, and 2020-2023 Model Y vehicles equipped with Full Self-Driving Beta (FSD Beta) software or pending installation. The FSD Beta system may allow the vehicle to act unsafe around intersections, such as traveling straight through an intersection while in a turn-only lane, entering a stop sign-controlled intersection without coming to a complete stop, or proceeding into an intersection during a steady yellow traffic signal without due caution. In addition, the system may respond insufficiently to changes in posted speed limits or not adequately account for the driver’s adjustment of the vehicle’s speed to exceed posted speed limits.

The notice describes well-known mistakes that FSD Beta frequently makes.

Here are NHTSA’s four main issues with FSD Beta:

  1. traveling or turning through certain intersections during a stale yellow traffic light;
  2. the perceived duration of the vehicle’s static position at certain intersections with a stop sign, particularly when the intersection is clear of any other road users;
  3. adjusting vehicle speed while traveling through certain variable speed zones, based on detected speed limit signage and/or the vehicle’s speed offset setting that is adjusted by the driver; and
  4. negotiating a lane change out of certain turn-only lanes to continue traveling straight.

Tesla has been consistently releasing new software updates to try to improve on FSD Beta, but it has never been able to completely remove those behaviors.

Now the “remedy” to the recall is another software update, NHTSA doesn’t go into the specific of the update other than it will “improve” on those behaviors:

“Tesla will deploy an over-the-air (“OTA”) software update at no cost to the customer. The OTA update, which we expect to deploy in the coming weeks, will improve how FSD Beta negotiates certain driving maneuvers during the conditions described above.”

Based on the defect notice, NHTSA raised its issue with Tesla about FSD Beta on January 25, 2023 and the automaker met with the regulators on several occasions until February 7.

Tesla disagreed with NHTSA’s analysis, but it decided to do a voluntary recall:

On February 7, 2023, while not concurring with the agency’s analysis, Tesla decided to administer a voluntary recall out of an abundance of caution.

Tesla also confirmed that it identified 18 warranty claims between May 8, 2019, and September 12, 2022, that it believes “may be related to the conditions” described in the recall notice. The company says that is not aware of any injuries or deaths that may be related to such conditions.

Electrek’s Take

This is interesting. Beyond the usual concerns – “Is it a recall if the fix is a software update?” – the software update itself could be interesting.

All the issues described in the defect notice are things that Tesla has obviously already been working on. Now the fix for the recall is to “improve” on those issues.

Therefore, it sounds to me that the “recall update” is just the usual next Tesla FSD Beta update. No?

But even if it’s just that, it’s still an important situation since it shows that NHTSA is watching closely and willing to put pressure on Tesla regarding the FSD Beta program.

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