Tesla Issues Massive Recall Over Autopilot Mode
Tesla is recalling nearly all of the vehicles the company has sold in the U.S., marking the latest chapter in the deadly, ongoing saga over its controversial Autopilot technology.
The company is calling back some 2 million vehicles, Tesla officially told federal regulators Dec. 12. The company said it will issue a software update for those vehicles to provide more safeguards against misuse of the Autopilot mode linked to several accidents.
The recall follows a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in response to hundreds of crashes involving Teslas in Autopilot mode. At least a handful of people have died in those crashes, including a California man killed in 2018 when his car collided with a freeway barrier near Redwood City.
“Autopilot can steer, accelerate and brake automatically in its lane, but is a driver-assist system and cannot drive itself despite its name,” the Associated Press reports. “Independent tests have found that the monitoring system is easy to fool, so much that drivers have been caught while driving drunk or even sitting in the back seat.”
NHTSA found that some Tesla drivers may be lulled into a sense of overconfidence that Autopilot allows vehicles to fully drive themselves.
“The agency says its investigation found Autopilot’s method of making sure that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to ‘foreseeable misuse of the system,’” according to the AP.
Tesla’s software update is aimed in particular at the Autosteer component, which is intended for use on limited-access freeways. The update will further limit the situations in which Autosteer can be used.
“When Autosteer is engaged, it uses several controls to monitor that the driver is engaged in continuous and sustained responsibility for the vehicle’s operation as required,” Tesla said in a recall report. “If the driver attempts to engage Autosteer when conditions are not met for engagement, the feature will alert the driver it is unavailable through visual and audible alerts, and Autosteer will not engage.”
However, the recall does not address another major safety concern related to Autopilot: cars’ inability to spot and react to stopped emergency vehicles while the technology is engaged. A Tesla Model S was reportedly engaged in Autopilot when the vehicle smashed into a fire truck in Culver City in 2019, for example.
“It’s not digging at the root of what the investigation is looking at,” Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, told the AP. “It’s not answering the question of why are Teslas on Autopilot not detecting and responding to emergency activity?”
Speak with a California Lemon Law Attorney
There is some good news for Tesla and other car owners in California. You do not need to wait for a recall to get a defective vehicle fixed.
The state’s lemon law requires car manufacturers to perform various repairs on vehicles while they are under warranty. The law also requires those companies to buy back vehicles that they cannot or will not fix.
If you are a car owner or lessor stuck with a lemon or locked in a dispute with a manufacturer over repairs, the lemon law attorneys at Bickel Sannipoli APC can help.
Call us at (888) 800-1983 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer today.