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Updated Dec 13, 2023, 9:37am EST
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Tesla will recall two million vehicles over Autopilot safety worries

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk gets in a Tesla car as he leaves a hotel in Beijing, China May 31, 2023. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo
REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo
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The News

Tesla is set to recall more than two million vehicles after a multiyear investigation by U.S. auto regulators raised concerns about the safety of its Autopilot system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that the system does not do enough to prevent driver misuse following a two-year probe launched after several Tesla crashes.

The recall will include Tesla Models 3, S, X, and Y that were manufactured between 2012 and 2023.

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SIGNALS

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Autopilot is a misnomer

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Sources:  
NPR, The Associated Press

Tesla’s Autopilot system has been criticized extensively. The system can steer, accelerate, and brake, but is actually a driver-assist technology that requires a human to keep their hands on the steering wheel. The system is easy to override: Two years ago, a drunk driver who had allegedly engaged his Tesla’s Autopilot, or Full Self-Driving feature, was found sitting in the back of his car after a crash, and not in the driver’s seat. Drivers have reportedly become distracted with Autopilot engaged, which has led to crashes because neither the driver not the vehicle’s system avoided obstacles.

Tesla to roll out software updates

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Sources:  
CNBC, Semafor

U.S. safety regulators said Tesla will issue a software fix to correct the issue, and that the cars will not actually be taken off the road. An update that will be pushed to the affected cars will add extra controls and alerts that should ensure drivers cannot override Autopilot. This is not the first time Tesla has had to issue a software fix: In February, the company recalled more than 360,000 vehicles that had a beta version of the self-driving software installed, correcting the issue with a software update. Tesla head Elon Musk has previously pushed back about calling the updates a “recall”: “The word ‘recall’ for an over-the-air software update is anachronistic and just flat wrong!” he wrote on his social media site X earlier this year.

Whistleblower warns of braking issues

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Sources:  
Handelsblatt, BBC

A former Tesla employee has said that the Autopilot feature is not safe for use on public roads. Lukasz Krupski leaked data showing customer complaints about braking and the self-driving software to German media. Tesla vehicles sometimes engage in “phantom braking,” which means stopping even if there is no obstacle in the road, he said. Krupski also alleged that he saw data which indicated that Tesla did not follow some requirements for operating vehicles which have a self-driving feature. “It affects all of us because we are essentially experiments in public roads,” Krupski told the BBC in an interview. “So even if you don’t have a Tesla, your children still walk in the footpath.”

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