NHTSA asks Tesla why it didn’t start a recall after a safety-related software update

Tesla, operating in a vehicle driver assistance system known as the autopilot, struck a police car in Michigan on March 17, 2021, officials said in a tweet.

Michigan Police

Demanded by federal vehicle safety authorities Tesla Explain why you didn’t start a recall if needed when you pushed a safety-related software update to a customer in September.

With this update, Tesla vehicles can better detect emergency vehicle lights in the dark. According to the letter From the Department of Road Safety to Tesla, it was published on the government website on Wednesday.

Tesla’s “emergency light detection update” was delivered to customers’ cars via wireless software updates a few weeks later NHTSA has started investigation Explore potential safety flaws with Tesla Autopilot, the company’s standard driver assistance package.

Tesla also sells a premium version of the Driver Assistance System under the FSD or Full Self-Drive brand name for $ 10,000 upfront or $ 199 per month. None of Tesla’s systems make it safe to use a car even when it is not always driven by a human driver. These are “level 2” driver assistance systems, not fully autonomous vehicle technology.

As CNBC previously reported, NHTSA has about 12 collisions with the vehicle of the first responder, usually at night or before dawn, when the Tesla driver is parked on the side of the road. Identified. In each incident identified by NHTSA, Tesla drivers used the autopilot or traffic-aware cruise control features prior to the crash. One of the crashes caused death.

NHTSA wants to know if an autopilot defect or design issue caused these crashes. And now they also want to know if Tesla’s software updates have effectively served as stealth recalls.

If the agency determines that the autopilot is flawed, it may require a recall and affect Tesla’s public image. Such discoveries may also increase the urgency of evaluating and regulating driver assistance systems such as Tesla.

NHTSA currently publishes an annual assessment of the New Vehicle Assessment Program for Impact Resistance of vehicles sold in the United States. The NCAP assessment list includes the features included in each vehicle, but it has not yet evaluated the safety of the driver assistance system or restricted its use. Like Tesla.

As part of the Tesla survey, NHTSA evaluates 12 other automakers. Equivalent system..

Gregory Magno, head of NHTSA’s vehicle defects department, told Eddie Gates, Tesla’s director of field quality, that automakers need to fix their cars.

Wireless software updates are subject to current federal recall law, Magno said.

The agency also asked Tesla for its details FSD Beta Program Extensions..

This program provides Tesla owners who are not trained in safety drivers with the opportunity to test pre-release software and new driver assistance features on public roads in the United States. The FSD beta software does not leave Tesla’s vehicle unattended and has not been fully debugged for general use and widespread release. ..

In particular, NHTSA requested detailed records of how Tesla evaluates and selects participants in experimental early access programs.

In another “special order” sent at the same time, NHTSA Chief Counsel Anne Carlson asked Tesla The vehicle owner had to sign to access the FSD beta software in order to provide a copy of the nondisclosure agreement and other agreements.

As CNBC previously reported, Tesla has asked owners to sign an Early Access Program contract that includes various restrictions. For example, I had to agree to “keep my experience in the program secret.”

Confidential information defined by Tesla in one version of the contract includes “Information about Pre-Release Software and Pre-Release Software (including its nature and existence, features, features, screenshots)” and Tesla’s participation in the FSD Beta. person.

In a letter to Tesla’s Vice President of Legal Bill Berry, NHTSA Chief Counsel Anchorson said, “NHTSA adopts practices that could prevent Tesla from accessing safety-related information by authorities. I’m worried about the possibility. ” That information may be related to the NHTSA investigation of Tesla vehicles colliding with emergency response vehicles.

Recently, Tesla has moved to significantly expand its FSD beta program.

This month is, “Beta button” This will allow all customers to request access to the FSD Beta download. We have also released an insurance calculator that provides access to “safety scores” for drivers seeking FSD beta.

According to CEO Elon Musk, who mentioned the number at last week’s annual shareholders’ meeting, Tesla owners who have driven at least 100 miles and scored 100 points in a week have access to FSD Beta this week and have about 1,000 programs. The number of people has expanded.

Vehicle safety advocates, including the National Transportation Safety Board, have called on NHTSA to: Regulate systems such as Tesla Autopilot, FSD, FSD Beta soon, not later.

Tesla must provide the agency with new information by November 1st.

If the company does not comply with the special order, NHTSA warns, it faces a high fine of about $ 23,000 per day and is fined up to about $ 115 million for a series of daily violations. increase. Failure to report this information may result in Tesla personnel facing up to 15 years in prison.

NHTSA said in an email statement to CNBC in connection with a new request for information to Tesla released Wednesday:

“Through these actions, NHTSA will continue to gather the information needed to act as an agency to ensure safety and to keep everyone on the road safe as technology evolves. NHTSA has broad authority over enforcement and deficiencies, and we act when we discover unreasonable risks to public safety. “

NHTSA asks Tesla why it didn’t start a recall after a safety-related software update

Source link NHTSA asks Tesla why it didn’t start a recall after a safety-related software update

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