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Tesla recalls nearly all vehicles sold in US to fix autopilot software

DETROIT (AP) – Tesla is recalling nearly all of the vehicles it sold in the United States (US), more than two million across its model lineup, to fix a defective system that’s supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when they use Autopilot.

Documents posted yesterday by US safety regulators say the company will send out a software update to fix the problems.

The recall comes after a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use. Some were deadly.

The agency says its investigation found Autopilot’s method of ensuring that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to foreseeable misuse of the system.

The software update includes additional controls and alerts “to further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility”, the documents said. The update was to be sent to certain affected vehicles on Tuesday, with the rest getting it at a later date, the documents said.

Autopilot includes features called Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control, with Autosteer intended for use on limited access freeways when it’s not operating with a more sophisticated feature called Autosteer on City Streets.

The software update apparently will limit where Autosteer can be used. “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,” the recall documents said.

Depending on a Tesla’s hardware, the added controls include “increasing prominence” of visual alerts, simplifying how Autosteer is turned on and off, additional checks on whether Autosteer is being used outside of controlled access roads and when approaching traffic control devices, “and eventual suspension from Autosteer use if the driver repeatedly fails to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility”, the documents said.

Recall documents say that agency investigators met with Tesla starting in October to explain “tentative conclusions” about the fixing the monitoring system. Tesla, it said, did not concur with the agency’s analysis but agreed to the recall on December 5 in an effort to resolve the investigation.

Tesla vehicles at a dealership. PHOTO: AFP
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