U.S. regulator targets Tesla on NDAs, live software updates – TechCrunch
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent a pair of letters to Tesla targeting the company’s use of nondisclosure agreements for owners who get early access to its beta version of the “driving software”. fully self-contained âas well as its decision to use an -Air software update to resolve an issue that regulators said should have been a reminder.
The letters signal Tesla’s scrutiny by the NHTSA and its practices related to live software updates and automated driving features within its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system.
Tesla vehicles come standard with a driver assistance system bearing the Autopilot brand. For an additional $ 10,000, owners can purchase “fully autonomous driving” or FSD – software that CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly promised will one day offer full self-driving capabilities.
FSD, which has steadily increased in price and added new functions, has been available as an option for years. However, Tesla vehicles are not autonomous. The FSD includes the Summon parking feature as well as Navigate on Autopilot, an active guidance system that allows a car to move from a freeway ramp to an exit ramp, including interchanges and lane changes. The latest beta of FSD is supposed to automate driving on highways and city streets.
However, it is still a level 2 driver assistance system that requires the driver to pay attention, have their hands on the wheel and be able to take control at all times.
The first letter, dated October 12, asked Tesla to explain why the company had not issued a recall when it used a software update to fix the way its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system detects. emergency vehicles in low light conditions. In the opinion of the NHTSA, using an over-the-air software update to fix anything related to vehicle safety should be a reminder.
As Tesla is aware, safety law requires manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to initiate a recall by notifying NHTSA when they determine that the vehicles or equipment they have produced contain defects related to motor vehicle safety or do not conform to an applicable motor vehicle safety standard, “the agency wrote.
The NHTSA said a recall notice must be filed with the agency no later than five business days after the manufacturer became aware or should have known of the safety defect or non-compliance.
“Any manufacturer posting a live update that mitigates a defect that poses an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety is required to timely file a recall notice with NHTSA,” the letter continued.
The second letter, also dated October 12, dealt with Tesla’s use of NDAs for its so-called FSD early access beta program. Owners have already paid for FSD, but Tesla has asked NDAs to access beta software. Last month, Musk also instituted another requirement: a safety score that uses personal driving data to determine whether owners can access the latest beta.
“Because NHTSA relies on consumer reports as an important source of information to assess potential security flaws, any agreement that might prevent or deter participants in the Early Access Beta program from reporting safety concerns at NHTSA is unacceptable, âthe agency wrote in the letter.
âIn addition, even the limitations on public sharing of certain information negatively impact NHTSA’s ability to obtain safety relevant information. In order to ensure that the non-disclosure agreements regarding FSD’s Early Access Beta do not interfere with NHTSA’s ability to exercise its oversight responsibilities, we are issuing the attached Special Order to Tesla.
Musk indicated on Twitter this week that Tesla will drop the NDA requirement.
The agency, however, is seeking more information and said Tesla has until November 1 to respond to both requests.