Tesla is recalling 53,822 electric cars to remove software that allows cars to roll through stop signs, violating most state laws and increasing the potential for crashes.
The recall includes Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model Y vehicles from model years 2017 to 2022 that received firmware release 2020.40.4.10 or newer and have the beta version of Tesla's Full Self Driving (FSD) driver-assist system, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall report.
Recent firmware updates allowed FSD to execute rolling stops, allowing vehicles to travel through all-way-stop intersections at up to 5.6 mph without coming to a complete stop, according to the report.
2022 Tesla Model 3
However, cars will only do that if the feature is activated, they are already traveling less than 5.6 mph when approaching an intersection, and no "relevant" moving cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists are detected, the report noted.
Tesla released the affected firmware updated in October 2020, according to the report. Tesla representatives met with the NHTSA on January 10, 2022, and January 19, 2022, to discuss the rolling-stop feature. A voluntary recall determination was made January 20, the report said.
Tesla will disable the rolling-stop function on all vehicles, and remove it from future software releases, the report said.
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid
Several states now allow bicycle riders to do rolling stops—but they have fewer pounds of pedestrian-threatening vehicle at their command. Consequently, no such permissions exists for cars, that we're aware of.
Tesla has only applied the "beta" part of its city driving ability set to drivers that achieve a particular safety score—although the head of the NHTSA called it and the "Full Self Driving" name itself "irresponsible." The system is a driver aid, and does not make cars self-driving.
Yet Tesla CEO Elon Musk has insisted for years that Tesla is just a software update away from autonomous driving, and that this will allow owners to rent out their cars as so-called "robotaxis." Musk last week suggested that the robotaxi potential of its so-called full self-driving system is more important than a $25,000 car.
2021 Tesla Model X
Assisted-driving modes aside, one positive for the one-pedal driving permitted by the Model 3 and other electric cars is that it requires more driver awareness. Although not every automaker is convinced that one-pedal driving aids efficiency.
Tesla's over-the-air software update capability should at least allow the company to correct its mistake quickly. Updates have allowed true safety remedies in the past, including tweaking Model 3 brake behavior for better/safer stops.
And to add to a growing debate: Should over-the-air updates to driver-assistance systems—to comply with traffic laws, in this case—be identified as safety recalls? Let us know in your comments below.