In the old days, when an automaker issued a recall for a vehicle, this was something to worry about. In the 21st century, we have Tesla solving such issues through over-the-air software updates, and this latest recall reflects just how adept Tesla is at solving a problem without inconveniencing its customers.
According to the report, the issue affected 11,706 Tesla Models S, X, and 3 cars built between 2017 and 2021. It also affected the Model Y cars built between 2020 and 2021 that are running firmware 2021.36.5.2, which was recently rolled out to Tesla customers in its Full Self-Driving beta testing program last month. Once the software was installed, it caused a pair of chips to stop communicating with one another after the vehicles exit Sentry Mode or Summon Standby Mode.
The problem was preventing the neural networks operating on one of the chips from running consistently. This caused it to give false-positive collision warnings and, worse, false-positive automatic emergency braking activations. Fortunately, Tesla acted fast, halted the rollout, and disabled the two affected safety features on the affected cars within a day. A new firmware version was released just two days after the faulty one and it corrected the problem, restoring the collision warning and the AEB on the affected cars.
The over-the-air remedy will be carried forward in the next firmware releases from this point on. In the report, Tesla noted that over 99.8% of the vehicles (just excluding 17) installed firmware release 2021.36.5.3 or later. Tesla customers don’t need to do anything other than install the new update.
By declaring a recall and filing the report with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tesla is showing that it is willing to work with the agency and honor its wishes to post a “recall” for any safety-related issues Tesla finds and resolves via over-the-air updates. In October, the NHTSA scolded Tesla for not issuing a recall when it issued a software update that fixed another problem. The update in question allowed Tesla drivers to automatically detect and slow down for emergency response lights. The agency was upset over the fact that Tesla didn’t file a recall about this.
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