Tesla recalls 11,704 vehicles after identifying Full Self-Driving Beta software error

Tesla voluntarily recalled nearly 11,704 vehicles after identifying a software error that could cause a false forward-collision warning or unexpected activation of the automatic emergency brake system, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration said.

All of the affected vehicles had early access to the automaker’s “Full Self-Driving Beta,” it’s advanced driver assistance system. The system, which is still in beta mode and requires the driver to be attentive at all times, has been released to thousands of customers in recent weeks. Tesla said it was not aware of any crashes or injuries as a result of the software error.

The over-the-air firmware update, which was released on October 23, introduced what the regulator called “a software communication disconnect” between two on-board chips. The following day, Tesla said it started receiving reports from customers.

“This communication disconnect can result in the video neural networks that operate on that chip to run less consistently than expected,” the safety recall report said. “The inconsistency can produce negative object velocity detections when other vehicles are present, which in turn can lead to false [forward-collision warnings] and [automatic emergency braking] events.”

Affected vehicles include certain Model S, Model X and Model 3 cars that were manufactured between 2017-2021, and certain Model Y models that were manufactured between 2020-2021. Tesla has released a separate over-the-air software update to address the issue and owners will be sent letters notifying them of the issue and resolution.

"In a matter of hours, we investigated the reports and took actions to mitigate any potential safety risk," Tesla said.

The formal recall is a marked departure from the California automaker’s recent interactions with the country's top automotive safety agency, which includes releasing a software update for a separate bug identified in its Autopilot system last month, for which Tesla did not issue a recall. NHTSA sent a letter to the automaker on October 12 asking why it did not issue a recall.

“As Tesla is aware, the Safety Act imposes an obligation on manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to initiate a recall by notifying NHTSA when they determine vehicles or equipment they produced contain defects related to motor vehicle safety or do not comply with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard,” the agency wrote.

The regulator opened a separate investigation into Autopilot in August after identifying 12 separate incidents in which a Tesla crashed into parked emergency vehicles.

Regarding this recall, NHTSA said it would “continue its conversations with Tesla to ensure that any safety defect is promptly acknowledged and addressed.”