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Tesla’s “phantom braking” problem is getting worse, and the US government has questions

When we last checked in with Tesla’s “phantom braking” problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said they had received 350 complaints from owners who said their vehicles braked for no reason. Now the number is 758, and the US government has some questions.

On May 4, NHTSA sent a 14-page “request for information” letter to Tesla about these incidents, including a request for all consumer and field reports it has received about false braking, as well as reports of crashes, injuries, deaths, and injuries. property.

NHTSA also wants to know if Tesla̵[ads1]7;s Full Self-Driving system was active during any of these incidents. Tesla has until June 20, 2022 to comply with the request, although they can apply for an extension if they wish. (The letter was first reported by the Associated Press.)

Reports of “phantom braking” first appeared last fall, when Tesla was forced to roll back version 10.3 of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software, the company’s advanced driver assistance system, due to problems with forward collision warnings and unexpected braking.

However, after the rollback, the number of complaints actually increased significantly, with NHTSA receiving at least 107 from November to January, compared to only 34 in the previous 22 months, according to The Washington Post. In February, NHTSA began investigating incidents involving Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles after receiving 354 complaints.

NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation opened a “preliminary evaluation”, which is the stage before the agency could issue a formal recall and covers approximately 416,000 vehicles. To date, there have been no reports of crashes, injuries or deaths as a result of this issue.

The problem can be traced to Tesla’s decision last year to remove radar sensors from new Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. The decision came after Musk publicly expressed a desire to rely solely on cameras to operate the company’s advanced driver assistance system.

Tesla has drawn scrutiny from security lawyers and regulators for its willingness to let its customers test what is essentially an unfinished version of a software product that Musk has long promised will lead to completely autonomous vehicles on the road. Earlier this year, the company was forced to issue a software update to remove an FSD feature that allows cars to perform a “rolling stop” – a maneuver in which the vehicle moves slowly through a stop sign without stopping. (A roll stop is a common driving maneuver despite being illegal in all 50 states in the United States.)

Tesla has not responded to a request for comment, nor has it done so since 2019 when they dissolved the PR department.

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