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Tesla recalls 54,000 'full self-driving' vehicles because software lets them disobey stop signs

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David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla is set to recall 53,822 self-driving vehicles in the U.S. due to a software functionality that may allow the vehicles to disobey stop sign laws, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in a notice published Monday.

What are the details?

At issue is the "full self-driving (beta) software" installed in the vehicles, which contains a "rolling stop" feature that "may allow the vehicle to travel through an all-way stop intersection without first coming to a stop," the notice stated.

According to the NHTSA, the functionality could increase the risk of a crash at four-way stops. Thankfully, according to Tesla, no such accident has occurred as a result of the feature.

The company told the NHTSA in recent communications, "As of January 27, 2022, Tesla is not aware of any warranty claims, field reports, crashes, injuries or fatalities related to this condition."

In a tweet, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the feature was not a mistake, but a pre-programmed function, albeit one that needed to be changed to comply with state traffic laws.

"Indeed, there were no safety issues," Musk writes. "The car simply slowed to ~2 mph & continued forward if clear view with no cars or pedestrians."

NHTSA noted that federal law "prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects posing unreasonable risks to safety, including intentional design choices that are unsafe," according to Reuters.

What else?

To remedy the issue, Tesla will conduct an over-the-air software update to disable the "rolling stop" functionality, free of charge, meaning customers won't even have to take the cars to a service center.

The recall will affect thousands of Tesla's Model S, X, 3, and Y vehicles produced between 2016 and 2022 for which owners elected to have the self-driving beta software installed.

The program reportedly gives drivers early access to new features, such as "autosteer on city streets," which aren't completely debugged yet. The autosteer feature allows drivers to navigate roads without touching the steering wheel.

Though it should be noted that despite the name, the "full self-driving" software does not make Tesla vehicles completely autonomous.

CNBC reported that Tesla announced on Jan. 26 that it had expanded the controversial testing program to approximately 60,000 vehicles in the U.S.

Anything else?

The recall is reportedly the result of a defect report filed with the NHTSA.

"On January 10, 2022, and again on January 19, 2022, Tesla met with NHTSA to discuss the functionality, including operating parameters" of the rolling stop feature, NHTSA records indicate.

Then, "On January 20, 2022, a recall determination was voluntarily made to disable the functionality."

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