NHTSA asks Tesla why there was no recall regarding the “Autopilot” software update

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked Tesla this week to explain why the company didn’t issue a recall notification last month when it implemented a safety-related software update for its “Autopilot” program.

The latest NHTSA investigation related to Tesla’s update of some vehicle models that improved their ability to detect emergency lights in “low light” conditions while using the autopilot. Federal agencies are currently investigating Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system, which automatically controls basic tasks like steering and accelerating but requires human oversight.

“As Tesla is aware, the Safety Act requires automotive and automotive equipment manufacturers to initiate a recall by notifying the NHTSA if they discover that vehicles or equipment they manufacture have automotive safety-related deficiencies or fail to comply with an applicable safety standard for automobiles, “an NHTSA official said in a letter to Eddie Gates, Tesla’s director of field quality.


Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla Inc., comes to the Axel Springer Awards ceremony in Berlin on December 1, 2020. Tesla Inc. is included in the S&P 500 index a shot on December 21st, a move that (Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz / Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The letter indicated that automakers are required to notify the NHTSA of a recall within five days of discovering a “safety flaw or non-compliance” in their vehicles. The agency asked Tesla whether they would like to submit a recall notification for the software update or provide a “technical and / or legal basis for the rejection”.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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In a separate letter, the NHTSA asked Tesla to provide details of its beta test for the Full Self-Driving software, including the number of participants and information on nondisclosure agreements that participants had to sign.


In August, the NHTSA initiated an investigation into Tesla’s autopilot functionality. The investigation focuses on 12 accidents in which Tesla autopilot vehicles allegedly failed to detect emergency vehicles.

Tesla officials have claimed the autopilot system is safe.

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