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Tesla will correct self-driving software which ‘may’ cause crashes

The experimental software "allows a vehicle to exceed speed limits or travel through intersections in an unlawful or unpredictable manner that increases the risk of a crash," according to the recall notice.

(CN) — Electric automaker Tesla agreed to issue a free, over-the-air software update to 362,758 cars in order to correct serious flaws in its experimental self-driving software marketed as "Full-Self Driving Beta."

The software "allows a vehicle to exceed speed limits or travel through intersections in an unlawful or unpredictable manner that increases the risk of a crash," according to a recall notice issued Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Full-Self Driving system, the notice adds, may send the cars "traveling straight through an intersection while in a turn-only lane, entering a stop sign-controlled intersection without coming to a complete stop, or proceeding into an intersection during a steady yellow traffic signal without due caution."

The recall notice affects the Tesla Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. There is no evidence of any deaths or injuries caused by the faulty software.

Despite its name, Full-Self Driving is not an autonomous driving mode — cars will not drive if the driver's hands are not on the steering wheel. The experimental software is available for $199 a month, and will automatically brake for traffic, stop signs and traffic lights. It can steer, accelerate and change lanes on its own.

Tesla also has two other self-driving modes. The first, "autopilot," functions a bit like an advanced version of cruise control, matching the vehicle's speed to surrounding traffic and steering the car to stay within a marked lane. The other mode is "enhanced autopilot," which adds other functions — the car will change lanes for you, park for you, and can be "summoned" rom a parking spot so as to meet the driver. The latest recall notice affects only cars with the optional full-self-drive beta software.

Elon Musk, the iconoclastic Tesla founder and CEO, signaled his displeasure with the use of the term "recall" as applied to the recent announcement. In a reply on Twitter, a website which he recently became the owner of, he wrote: "The word 'recall' for an over-the-air software update is anachronistic and just flat wrong!"

A government report released in 2022 linked 10 deaths in the U.S. to Tesla vehicles using the autopilot feature in a four-month period, but it has yet to be determined if these crashes were due to human error or poorly designed software. Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a report finding that Tesla's autopilot software was not to blame in a fatal crash in 2021 in Texas, and that the crash was instead due to "the driver’s excessive speed and failure to control his car, due to impairment from alcohol intoxication in combination with the effects of two sedating antihistamines, resulting in a roadway departure, tree impact, and postcrash fire."

NHTSA is still investigating other potential flaws with all three of Tesla's self-driving modes.

Categories:Government, Technology

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