Tesla owners learned on Wednesday that the automaker was recalling about 2 million vehicles amid a years-long investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into its Autopilot technology, and the reactions were varied. While some considered it less serious than it seemed, others were dismayed by the impending changes to the driver assistance system.
For one thing, some customers weren't too bothered by the size or nature of the recall. After all, it's an “over-the-air” repair that will be performed remotely – they won't have to drive to a dealership for it. In fact, some Tesla drivers think the headlines were exaggerated. “When a software update is considered a 'recall', ugh,” complained a Tesla owner on Reddit. “All this does is make the anti-Tesla media salivate, I'm sure the NHTSA was pressured to ensure that was the case.”
At the same time, other Tesla fans are balking at the details of the update itself, which will add measures to ensure drivers continue to pay attention while the Autopilot feature (intended for use in highway acceleration, steering and braking) is engaged. In the Tesla community, these audible and visual alerts – including those when the car fails to detect the driver's hands on the steering wheel – are commonly called “nuisances,” and the prospect of more safeguards has been met with irritation by many who consider them a problem. . disturbing obstacle.
“Gotta love the government always making things less pleasant,” one disappointed customer tweeted Wednesday. Another said he was starting to question the subscription cost from basic Autopilot capability to fully autonomous driving (FSD) – about $200 per month – noting that the steering wheel sensor system was already cumbersome. Particularly angry was a man who tweeted: “So now it will become more boring. Between him and my wife I can barely use it. I will be intensifying my persistent defeat efforts. I've been using (Autopilot) since 2015. I don't need any more complaints!” Meanwhile, a redditor on r/TeslaMotors called the upcoming fixes “a great example of pretending to make things safe in a way that will only make things less safe.” They added“If any driver needs more hassle, it’s the one who DOESN’T use Autopilot.”
The Tesla recall is voluntary and a kind of commitment with federal regulators, who continue to investigate how Autopilot misuse can contribute to accidents. At the beginning of this year, a Washington Post investigation revealed that the driver assistance system was “involved in many more accidents than previously reported”, and the newspaper this week examined eight “fatal or serious” accidents. Tesla collisions in which Autopilot was activated on roads where it “could not operate reliably”. The latest software changes should prevent drivers from enabling the feature in these areas – and if a user receives enough “attacks” due to inattention, they could be locked out of the feature, just as can happen with the more advanced FSD system.
But some Tesla drivers indicated they planned to bypass the update, which the company has already begun rolling out to some cars. “For older cars, I might skip this update,” tweeted one. “I like (Autopilot) the way it is.” A copywriter announced, “So I guess there are no more software updates for me. Not applying this. They explained that they also avoided previous updates: “The car has been begging me to do a software update for months and I simply haven't approved it. I stopped allowing minor release updates to be applied after some of them reset all my custom settings.
On the same Tesla subreddit, a driver expressed concern that Tesla might require a cabin camera – it's a small lens above the rearview mirror that determines inattention — to use Autosteer, a component of the Autopilot feature. “I refuse to allow a Tesla-controlled interior camera in my car,” they wrote. “If they require its use for Autosteer, you can guarantee I will unlock the car.” They also shared a Reuters article from April about how Tesla employees shared internally sensitive images and videos recorded by cameras in customers' vehicles.
And in a Discord for Tesla owners, several members complained about the future limits of where they could activate Autopilot features, indicating that they currently use it on roads where they shouldn't. “It's annoying that Autosteer is completely disabled on certain roads now,” one user wrote. “I have a bad feeling they might limit access to the highways just now.” Responding to a comment about Autopilot being restricted to highway driving, another wrote: “AP working anywhere is part of the appeal for me.”
The discussion in the group was not without accusations, however, with many blaming the dreaded software tweaks on irresponsible drivers. “Well, the game is over, people have ruined the luxury of not being constantly bothered by autopilot,” read a typical complaint. An equally aggrieved party took the criticism further: “Honestly, so many of you are so negligent and treat this new driving experience as if it is already completely capable of taking over you,” they chided. “You deserve to be bothered every (five) seconds on every trip. Even if Tesla achieves full autonomy, everyone who has abused it to this point should be prevented from enjoying its final form.”
The frustrations extended to the still-unfulfilled promises from Tesla and CEO Elon Musk (who has yet to publicly comment on the recall) of a fully autonomous driving system – what FSD aims to become. (The California Department of Motor Vehicles filed a complaint accusing the company of falsely advertising both this and its Autopilot technology.) “FSD, and even regular AP, still being in beta after almost (seven) years is a big joke,” fumed one redditor. In the Discord chat, a customer promised: “If Elon doesn't get real FSD and Parking working, the next time I buy a car, it won't be a Tesla unless the range is reasonable.”
“Looks like you’re going to buy another car then,” replied one user. “LOL.”