Tesla Issues Recall Over 'Rolling Stops'

54K cars, SUVs recalled due to Full Self-Driving feature that critics say is unsafe
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 1, 2022 10:45 AM CST
Tesla Recalls 54K Vehicles Over 'Unsafe' Self-Driving Feature
A 2021 Model 3 sedan sits in a near-empty lot at a Tesla dealership in Littleton, Colo., on June 27, 2021.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

(Newser) – Tesla is recalling nearly 54,000 cars and SUVs because its "Full Self-Driving" software lets them roll through stop signs without coming to a complete halt. Documents posted Tuesday by US safety regulators say Tesla will disable the feature with an over-the-internet software update, per the AP. The "rolling stop" feature allows vehicles to go through intersections with all-way stop signs at up to 5.6 miles per hour. The recall shows Tesla programmed its vehicles to violate the law in most states, where police will ticket drivers for disregarding stop signs. A spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices, said he isn't aware of any states that allow rolling stops.

About 60,000 selected Tesla drivers are "beta testing" the "Full Self-Driving" software on public roads. The company says the cars can't drive themselves and that drivers must be ready to take action at all times. Tesla introduced the "rolling stop" feature in a software update that was sent out to the testing owners on Oct. 20. The feature lets Teslas go through all-way stop signs as long as the owner has enabled the function. No "relevant" moving cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists can be detected nearby, and all roads leading to the intersection have to have speed limits of 30mph or less, the documents said. The Teslas would then be allowed to go through the intersection at 0.1mph to 5.6mph without coming to a complete stop.

Tesla agreed to the recall after two meetings with officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to documents. Tesla said it knows of no crashes or injuries caused by the feature. The recall covers Model S sedans and Model X SUVs from 2016 through 2022, as well as 2017 to 2022 Model 3 sedans and 2020 through 2022 Model Y SUVs. "What happens when FSD decides a child crossing the street is not 'relevant' and fails to stop?" says Philip Koopman, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. "This is an unsafe behavior and should never have been put in vehicles." CEO Elon Musk has said he’d be shocked if the software can’t drive more safely than humans this year.

(Read more Tesla stories.)

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