NHTSA Issues Tesla FSD Recall Notice — The Details

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On February 15, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a recall notice for certain Tesla vehicles equipped with the so-called Full Self Driving (FSD) suite of driver assistance technologies. The agency says 362,758 Model S, Model X, Model Y, and Model 3 vehicles produced between July 16, 2017, and January 18, 2023, may be affected by the recall, which is known officially as NHTSA recall 23V-085. If you are unsure if your vehicle is affected by the recall, you can plug its VIN (vehicle identification number) into the NHTSA recall tracking tool to find out.

The recall announcement contains the following information:

“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.

“Remedy: Tesla will release an over-the-air (OTA) software update, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed by April 15, 2023. Owners may contact Tesla customer service at 1-877-798-3752. Tesla’s number for this recall is SB-23-00-001. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.nhtsa.gov.”

The NHTSA notice contains some specifics that may be of interest to owners. It says the recalled vehicles either have installed a software release that contains the “Autosteer on City Streets” feature or have that software pending installation. Affected vehicles were identified based on vehicle manufacturing, configuration, and software records. The agency describes the defect as follows:

“FSD Beta is an SAE Level 2 driver support feature that can provide steering and braking/acceleration support to the driver under certain operating limitations. With FSD Beta, as with all SAE Level 2 driver support features, the driver is responsible for operation of the vehicle whenever the feature is engaged and must constantly supervise the feature and intervene (e.g., steer, brake or accelerate) as needed to maintain safe operation of the vehicle.

“In certain rare circumstances and within the operating limitations of FSD Beta, when the feature is engaged, the feature could potentially infringe upon local traffic laws or customs while executing certain driving maneuvers in the following conditions before some drivers may intervene: 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.”

In the specific and rare circumstances described above when a Tesla vehicle is operating with a software version of FSD Beta as described below and with FSD Beta engaged, certain driving maneuvers could potentially infringe upon local traffic laws or customs, which could increase the risk of a collision if the driver does not intervene.

As part of FSD Beta’s general design, the feature provides visual and audible warnings in certain circumstances to alert the driver to their constant supervisory responsibility, which customers acknowledge and agree to prior to first using FSD Beta. Independent of any warnings from FSD Beta, the driver’s observations of the vehicle’s operations and environmental surroundings may also indicate that intervention is necessary.

NHTSA adds that the remedial OTA software update “will improve how FSD Beta negotiates certain driving maneuvers during the conditions described above.”

Tesla FSD Issues Persist

Tesla FSD in action. Photo by Zach Shahan | CleanTechnica.

Reams and reams of commentary have been written about Tesla and its Full Self Driving suite of driver assistance technology. Here at CleanTechnica, some of our staff think FSD is the most brilliant bit of software and hardware engineering in history. Others think its a scam being perpetrated on owners and the driving public, particularly those drivers who are blissfully unaware that a computer-controlled car is operating in their immediate vicinity.

Last fall, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Tesla owners who paid for Full Self Driving but got Sort Of Self Driving instead. That suit is wending its way through the courts and Tesla may face some challenges at trial if a jury learns that it faked the video that has appeared on the Tesla website for years, the one that boasts the driver is just in the video for legal reasons and the car is driving itself. In fact, the whole process was a stunt created by Tesla engineers because Elon Musk demanded they create it.

Last September, CleanTechnica Editor in Chief Zachary Shahan posed this question in the headline of an article he wrote: “Can Someone Explain To Me Why Tesla FSD Can’t Choose The Correct Lane?” He added, “I genuinely want to know why it is that Tesla FSD Beta has so much trouble getting in the correct lane to make a turn. If anyone has a solid, clear answer, I’d love to hear it.”

Here’s more from Zachary based on his own personal experiences with his Tesla Model 3 and FSD Beta. “There’s one thing that I find genuinely bewildering and a little bit infuriating. How is it that Tesla FSD Beta can’t get in the correct lane to make a turn? Time after time, the car, which is following the navigation route it decided was best to drive, just stays in the lane it’s in and doesn’t get into the turn lane it needs to get into. This happens when the street is empty and it’s not at all hard to change lanes. It happens for right turns and left turns. It happens on slow streets and fast streets.

“When I got FSD Beta almost a year ago and noticed this problem, I thought, ‘Well, that’s really weird, but surely they’ll fix this problem soon.’ I also wondered if it was a problem unique to my car and the streets where I drive but I found out that it wasn’t. What I did not expect at all is that almost a year later, the car would still just skip getting in the right lane or left lane or whichever lane it should be in to make a turn.

“I simply don’t understand why the problem persists. It seems that it should be an easy enough problem to solve. But, I have to admit, it’s hard to understand what the problem is in the first place. Who’s got the answer? Why, when the car has a mile of open road to change lanes before a turn, does it not change lanes?”

Perhaps the new OTA coming as a result or the NHTSA recall will resolve some of the issues Zachary has noticed. We’re sure he will be running his own tests soon after that update is installed on or about April 15.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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