NHTSA Forces Tesla to Recall FSD Beta
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NHTSA Forces Tesla to Recall FSD Beta

A Tesla car on Autopilot rear-ended a Culver City firetruck on the 405 Freeway on Jan. 22, 2018. The firetruck was stopped with its lights flashing as firefighters attended to a previous crash there.(Culver City Firefighters Local 1927)

Despite Elon saying, “not really a recall,” the NHTSA has put Tesla on notice — forcing the brand to fix 360,000 cars with FSD Beta.

“The word ‘recall’ for an over-the-air software update is anachronistic and just flat wrong!” Musk whined out over Twitter — but his attempts to waive away the NHTSA’s very official, very real recall weren’t enough to re-write the order. The NHTSA website directly reads, “Full Self-Driving Software May Cause Crash … FSD Beta software that allows a vehicle to exceed speed limits or travel through intersections in an unlawful or unpredictable manner increases the risk of crash.”

The FSD Beta software currently a $15,000 up-front payment for the privilege of applying for it, and “requires” drivers to attentively watch the road at all times, ready to spring into action at a moments notice if the software starts to do something screwy, or, as the system is programmed to do seconds before it determines an accident is imminent, turns itself off altogether — meaning that, technically, it was you who crashed into that parked, highly visible emergency vehicle, and not your car.

Despite Tesla’s urging drivers to remain attentive and the negative publicity surrounding the software’s liability-dodging “kill switch,” Tesla fans have been tinkering on the things for years, working out various “hacks” to trick the cars into believing that, for example, a human hand is on the wheel when it isn’t. Some of these hacks are clever — some are just an orange.

Orange You Glad You Might be Killed by This Idiot?

Image via JRTJunt; YouTube, via DailyDot.

The proposed fix is an over-the-air (OTA) software update, but it’s critical, again, to emphasize that said “update” doesn’t exist, yet. This isn’t Tesla offering an improvement in its software, in other words.

“YES, this is a RECALL,” wrote Philip Koopman, a professor at Carnegie Mellon and expert on University and Autonomous Vehicle Safety, Embedded Software, and UL 4600, via LinkedIn. “NHTSA went to Tesla and forced the issue. Tesla disagreed with NHTSA that these were actual problems, so presumably no action would have been taken without a recall. This is precisely why we need recalls even if OTA updates are available. Kudos to NHTSA for going to bat over this round of unsafe FSD beta behavior.”

The very real, very appropriately-named and NHTSA-mandated Tesla recall (Emphasis mine. —Ed.) affects over 360,000 Teslas equipped with FSD Beta software (which is pretty much all of them).


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