Tesla is recalling more than two million vehicles in the US over concerns about its Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the system’s method of making sure drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to “foreseeable misuse of the system”.
The NHTSA has been investigating Elon Musk’s company for more than two years over a series of crashes, some of which were deadly, that happened while the Autopilot system was in use.
Tesla said Autopilot’s software system controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse” and could increase the risk of a crash.
Tesla’s Autopilot is intended to enable cars to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within their line, while enhanced Autopilot can assist in changing lanes on highways but does not make them autonomous.
One Autopilot component is Autosteer, which maintains a set speed or following distance and works to keep vehicles in their driving lane.
Tesla said it did not agree with the NHTSA’s analysis but would deploy an over-the-air software update that will “incorporate additional controls and alerts to those already existing on affected vehicles to further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility whenever Autosteer is engaged”.
It said the update will include increasing the prominence of visual alerts on the user interface, simplifying engagement and disengagement of Autosteer and additional checks upon engaging Autosteer.
The update would also eventually suspend a driver from using Autosteer if they “repeatedly fail to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility while the feature is engaged”, Tesla added.
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The recall covers models Y, S, 3 and X produced between 5 October 2012 and 7 December this year.
The update was to be sent to certain affected vehicles on Tuesday, with the rest getting it later.
The NHTSA’s investigation into Autopilot will remain open “as we monitor the efficacy of Tesla’s remedies”, the agency said.
The regulator has investigated 35 Tesla crashes since 2016 in which it suspects the vehicles were running on an automated system. At least 17 people have been killed in the collisions.
It was unclear whether the recall has implications for Tesla cars in other countries, including the UK.
It is the second time this year Tesla has recalled its vehicles in the US.