Tesla recalls ‘self-driving’ software update that made cars ‘misbehaved’
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Over the weekend, Tesla rolled out a new version of Full Self-Driving Beta to thousands of cars that was so full of safety-critical bugs that it was uninstalled by the company within 36 hours.
The software, version 10.3, was rolled out on Friday for Teslas enrolled in FSD Beta program with a safety score of 99 or better, a metric that can easily be played. Saturday, Elon Musk tweeted, “Regression in some left turns at traffic lights found by internal QA in 10.3. Correction at work, probably released tomorrow. But that wasn’t the biggest problem with 10.3. A few hours later, he said the company “was temporarily reverting to 10.2” after “seeing some issues with 10.3.”.
What was the problem? According to hundreds of comments on the r / Teslamotors subreddit, the biggest problem seemed to be that the car’s Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system stopped working properly, warning drivers of impending accidents when there was a lot of distance or even no car at all. Several commentators noted the car applied the brakes for no reason repeatedly on short trips, almost causing them to hit from behind. A commentator noted, “I’ve had far too many phantom head-on collision warnings and it’s impossible to drive it in its current state.” The bug affected the car’s FCW system even when Full Self-Driving mode was not activated.
Because Musk disbanded Tesla’s PR department and functionally became the spokesperson for the company, this is what he said about this version: “Please note that this is to be expected with beta software. It is not possible to test all hardware configurations under all conditions with internal quality control, hence a public beta.
Tesla and his fans have long used the line “this is a beta, bugs are expected, it will get better” to justify the missteps, bugs and half-baked ideas like the safety score (also a beta version). This is great when we talk about the beta program of a weather app to get the latest overhaul. It is a whole other matter for security critical software. Other automakers, aircraft makers, and similar industries of course also have beta software, but it is privately tested before being released to the public for precisely this reason.
Federal regulators are more and more interested in Tesla’s software due to the company’s cavalier attitude to using public roads as a proving ground for unproven technology that can dramatically change capacity from one software update to the next. The very existence of a “public beta” on security-critical software illustrates the problem.
Tesla supporters like to argue that the company is unfairly maligned by its critics for being at the forefront of a revolution. But if an automaker sent out a software update that would make thousands of its vehicles unsafe to drive, the NHTSA would ask them questions as well.
Early Monday morning, Musk tweeted, “10.3.1 being deployed now. ”