Tesla FSD Beta Gets Its First Official Recall, Related to Automatic Braking

NHTSA sent Tesla a message after asking why a software update was not treated as a recall if it dealt with safety matters. Before the safety agency asked Tesla about that again, the company decided to issue a voluntary recall related to FSD Beta, a first for its beta software.
Tesla Makes Voluntary Recall of FSD Related to Automatic Braking 15 photos
Photo: NHTSA/YouTube
Tesla Autopilot and FSDTesla Autopilot and FSDTesla Autopilot and FSDTesla Autopilot and FSDTesla Autopilot and FSDTesla Autopilot and FSDTesla Autopilot and FSDTesla Safety Score BetaTesla Safety Score BetaTesla Safety Score BetaTesla Safety Score BetaTesla FSB Beta Request DisclaimerTesla's Request Button for FSD Beta and How It Is Doing on Public RoadsFSD Video Shows Near-Head-On Collision Avoided by Human Driver
You will remember that Elon Musk announced a rollback to FSD 10.3 on October 24, 2021. The Tesla CEO said that it was expected to happen with beta software and that people would get FSD 10.2 temporarily. The chronology of this new recall shows that the issue was precisely with that beta software.

Tesla discovered that it “unexpectedly” activated AEB (automatic emergency braking). The company adopted a curious choice of words when it concluded that “the risk of a rear-end collision from a following vehicle may increase.” “May” seems like a euphemism.

The “reports of false FCW and AEB events from customers” emerged on October 24, 2021, the same day Musk tweeted about the FSD 10.3 rollback. Tesla engineers discovered in the evening on that same day that the problem was caused by “a software communication disconnect between the two onboard chips.”

Tesla Autopilot and FSD
Photo: Tesla
According to Tesla, this disconnection could “result in the video neural networks that operate on that chip to run less consistently than expected. The inconsistency can produce negative object velocity detections when other vehicles are present, which in turn can lead to false FCW and AEB events.” It was especially present when the vehicles woke up from “Sentry Mode” or “Summon Standby Mode.”

In the chronology, Tesla said that it took measures to mitigate the risk, which were “canceling 2021.36.5.2 on vehicles that had not installed it, disabling FCW and AEB on affected vehicles, and/or reverting software to the nearest available version.” The bold is ours.

Many Tesla owners complained about that, such as Kevin Smith: you can see his tweet below. Mahmood Hikmet made a thread on Twitter explaining why that was “all shades of problematic.” He compared it to an automaker disabling your airbags without telling you and said thousands of vehicles must have gone through that. Tesla revealed the number of affected vehicles in the Part 573 Safety Recall Report: 11,704 units, 100% of which presented the defect. That is also the first official number we have of cars that use FSD.

FSD Video Shows Near\-Head\-On Collision Avoided by Human Driver
Photo: YouTube/Philip Koopman
The chronology continues by stating that Tesla’s team “developed software release 2021.36.5.3 as a correction solution.” It would have “performed testing and validation on the new release throughout the night and into the next morning.” On the morning of October 25, Tesla deployed the correction and FSD 10.3, the exact version of the beta software that almost caused a head-on collision recently. Imagine 11,704 Teslas doing that every day.

Although some may get the impression that the EV maker did everything as it should, it took all these corrective measures before warning NHTSA about them. According to the chronology, “an OTA recall determination was voluntarily made” on October 26. That was after the recall had already been performed. The information about the recall appears on the safety agency page dated October 29. We learned about it on November 2, days after the recall.

It goes further than that: to push its FSD Beta software tests on untrained customers, Tesla deactivated FCW (front collision warning) and AEB – two helpful safety aids – without telling its customers it did that. Let that sink in. Phantom braking is an old complain from Tesla owners: is it also a "software communication disconnect?" On top of everything, Elon Musk said that’s expected from beta software, which shows he probably had to be persuaded to treat the defect as a recall.

Press members complain about Tesla not having a PR department. That would make it one of the least transparent automakers around. After seeing how Tesla handled this entire situation, the media’s concerns about transparency are nothing to worry about compared to how it deals with its customers.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)

 Download: Tesla AEB Part 573 Safety Recall Report (PDF)

About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
Gustavo Henrique Ruffo profile photo

Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories