The American electric car maker has been forced into a recall of its controversial tech feature after it was revealed it was breaking the law.
Tesla has recalled more than 50,000 cars to remove a “rolling stop” feature that saw models automatically drive through stop signs without coming to a halt.
A controversial update to its “autopilot” driving assistance features, known as “Full Self-Driving Beta”, programmed vehicles to slow down – but not stop – at intersections with stop signs.
Sophisticated sensors in the cars looked for moving vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists before rolling through stop signs at speeds up to 9km/h.
A recall notice for the car said “entering an all-way-stop intersection without coming to a complete stop may increase the risk of collision”.
“Tesla is not aware of any collisions, injuries or fatalities related to this condition.”
Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted that “there were no safety issues”.
“The car simply slowed to ~2 mph & continued forward if clear view with no cars or pedestrians,” he said.
The feature was made available to some Tesla Model 3, Model S and Model Y owners from October 20, 2020.
Tesla agreed to “voluntarily made to disable the functionality” following meetings with road authorities in the US.
The feature prompted strong reactions on social media, where people pointed out that failing to stop when required was illegal.
But Tesla owners who used the feature said it maximised comfort behind the wheel, and was no different to what many drivers do every day.
One tweeted that “God is recalling 694,206,942.0 humans for rolling stop signs”.
Quinn Nelson, host of the popular Snazzy Labs YouTube channel, said self-driving car features are “going to become a really tricky topic”.
“Yes, rolling stops are illegal. So is speeding,” he said.
“But maybe matching human behaviour is better than legal exactitude.”
The recall takes the form of a wireless software update.
It follows running changes to safety systems in October 2021 that addressed “unexpected activation of automatic emergency brake”, increasing the risk of a crash.