Tesla is recalling more than 362,000 cars equipped with its Full Self Driving driver-assistance system after government regulators found it increased the risk of accidents.
The company’s technology, which can steer, accelerate, brake and change lanes on its own, allows vehicles to travel above legal speed limits and through intersections in “an unlawful or unpredictable manner,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday in documents posted on its website.
Testing and analysis by the safety agency showed that a component of the system that steers car on city streets could create “an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety based on insufficient adherence to traffic safety laws.” The agency said Tesla was not aware of any deaths or injuries caused by the flaws the agency had identified.
The safety agency noted that the recall addressed only one set of concerns it had with Full Self Driving and that it was continuing to investigate the system and less advanced technology that Tesla calls Autopilot.
Despite their names, neither system can drive cars on their own and Tesla tells owners of its cars to be prepared to take control of the car at any moment while using its driver-assistance technology. It also instructs car owners to keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road.
Safety experts have often raised concerns about the Tesla systems and similar technology offered by other automakers. One of their biggest fears is that people will become so lulled into thinking that their cars are driving themselves that they will not be able to take control when the technology malfunctions or handle certain traffic conditions.
Data released by the federal safety agency last summer showed that six people died and five were seriously injured in nearly 400 incidents from July 1, 2021 to May 15, 2022, involving cars using advanced driver-assistance technologies. Tesla’s technology, which is installed in many more cars than the systems offered by other automakers, were being used in 273 crashes, five of which were fatal.
The safety agency said Wednesday that Tesla agreed to the recall and planned to fix the flaws through an over-the-air update to the affected vehicles, according to a letter posted on the agency’s website. The recall involves all four of the models the company makes and covers vehicles produced from 2016 to 2023. The automaker intends to notify owners of the recalled vehicles by mail no later than April 15.
The safety agency said that Tesla did not agree with the regulators analysis but that the company had agreed to a voluntary recall “out of an abundance of caution.”
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
The agency is looking into 41 crashes since 2016 involving Tesla vehicles that were using the company’s advanced driver-assistance systems, including 14 that left a total of 19 people dead.