Tesla is recalling nearly 54,000 vehicles because its ‘fully self-driving’ program lets them pass stop lights without stopping completely.
DETROIT — Tesla is recalling nearly 54,000 cars and SUVs because its “fully self-driving” program allows it to roll through stop signs without stopping completely.
Documents published Tuesday by US safety regulators say Tesla will disable the feature with an online software update. Rolling stop allows cars to pass through intersections with stop signs up to 5.6 mph.
The recall covers 2016 to 2022 Model S sedans and SUVs, as well as 2017 to 2022 Model 3 sedans and 2020 to 2022 SUVs.
Selected Tesla drivers are a “pilot test” of the “fully self-driving” program on public roads. The company says cars cannot drive themselves and drivers must be prepared to take action at all times.
A firmware version to disable rotation stops is expected to be sent out in early February.
A message was left early Tuesday requesting comment from Tesla, which has dissolved its media relations division.
Safety advocates complain that Tesla should not be allowed to test vehicles in traffic with untrained drivers, and that Tesla’s software could crash, putting other motorists and pedestrians at risk. Most other car companies with similar programs test drivers who are trained in human safety.
Tesla introduced a “rolling stop” feature in a software update sent to test owners on October 20. The NHTSA met with Tesla on January 10 and 19 to discuss how the program will work, the documents said. On January 20, the company agreed to disable the rolling stops with a software update.
Owners will receive the required notification letters on March 28.
Rolling stop allows the Teslas to go through stop lights as long as the owner has enabled the function. Vehicles must travel less than 5.6 mph while approaching the intersection, and no “related” cars, pedestrians or cyclists may be detected nearby. The documents said all roads leading to the intersection must have speed limits of 30 mph or less. Teslas will then be allowed to pass through the intersection at 0.1 mph to 5.6 mph without fully stopping.
In November, the NHTSA said it was looking into a complaint from a Tesla driver that “Full Self-Driving” software caused the malfunction. The driver complained to the agency that Car Y got on the wrong lane and was hit by another vehicle. The SUV alerted the driver in the middle of the turn, and the driver tried to turn the wheel to avoid other traffic, according to the complaint. But the driver took control of the car and “stormed the wrong lane,” the driver reported. According to the complaint, no one was hurt in the November 3 plane crash in Brea, California.
In December, Tesla agreed to update its less advanced “autopilot” driver assistance system after NHTSA opened an investigation. The company has agreed to stop allowing video games to be played on central touch screens while its vehicles are in motion.
The agency is also investigating why Teslas on Autopilot frequently crashes into emergency vehicles parked on the roads.