Tesla is recalling 54,000 cars equipped with its Full Self-Driving software to disable a feature that allows cars to roll slowly through intersections without stopping under certain conditions.
The move comes after the carmaker was criticized on social media for enabling “rolling stops” in violation of traffic rules.
“Failure to stop at a stop sign may increase the risk of a crash,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a letter to Tesla confirming the recall that was made public Tuesday.
The action only covers Teslas equipped with software that the company calls Full Self-Driving and includes Tesla models S, X, 3 and Y that were produced at various times between 2016 and 2022.
Full Self-Driving is more advanced than Tesla’s more widely used Autopilot driver assistance system. Despite their names, neither system can operate a car without the active involvement of a human driver.
Although Tesla customers can purchase Full Self-Driving software – it costs $ 12,000 – the software is still in a testing phase and the company has only allowed a select group of customers to activate it.
The rolling stop issue is the latest in a series of safety issues involving Tesla. In August, the traffic safety agency opened a formal investigation into a series of accidents in which Teslas crashed into Autopilot mode on emergency vehicles that were stopped or parked, often at the site of a previous accident. The agency is trying to figure out why Autopilot sometimes failed to see and stop for police cars or fire trucks with emergency lights flashing.
A month later, Tesla released an over-the-air update to improve the ability to recognize emergency vehicles. The safety agency responded by reminding Tesla that federal law requires the company to initiate a recall if it corrects a safety defect. The agency also ordered Tesla to provide data about its Full Self-Driving software and raised concerns that Tesla might prevent customers from sharing safety information with the agency.
In November, Tesla modified the software on about 12,000 cars to solve a brake problem and submitted a formal recall to document the move. The automaker also recalled 458,000 cars in December for two separate mechanical defects that could affect safety. ,
And in December, the security agency opened an investigation into a feature that allowed passengers and drivers to play video games on the dashboard screen while Tesla cars were moving. A day later, Tesla agreed to turn off the feature.
The rolling stop problem came to light after a Tesla software update in October added new driving modes that could allow cars with the system to roll through intersections at speeds of five miles per hour or less. The security agency discussed the matter twice with Tesla in early January and the company agreed to issue a recall and disable rolling stops on Jan. 20, according to documents posted on the agency’s website.
Tesla told the supervisor that rolling stops were only allowed at intersections if no cars, pedestrians or cyclists were detected. The company told the safety agency that it was unaware of accidents resulting from rolling stops by cars equipped with the Full Self-Driving software, the documents show.
The company did not respond to a request for comment.