US regulator targets Tesla on NDAs, over-the-air software updates

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The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent Tesla a pair of letters targeting the company’s use of non-disclosure agreements for owners who use its “full self-driving” software beta as well as over-the-top Get early access to your decision to make. -Air software update to fix a problem that regulators say should have caused a recall.

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The letters prompt the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s growing scrutiny of Tesla and practices related to over-the-air software updates and automated driving features within its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system.

Tesla vehicles come standard with a driver assistance system branded as Autopilot. For an additional $10,000, owners can purchase “full self-driving” or FSD — software that CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly promised will one day deliver full autonomous driving capabilities.


FSD, which has steadily increased in price and added new functions, has been available as an option over the years. However, Tesla vehicles are not self-driving. The FSD includes the Summon parking feature as well as Navigate On Autopilot, an active guidance system that navigates a car from highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including making interchanges and lane changes. The latest FSD beta is about to automate driving on highways and city roads.

However, it is still a Level 2 driver assistance system that requires the driver to pay attention, keep their hand on the wheel and be able to take control at all times.

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The first letter, dated October 12, asked Tesla to explain why the company did not issue a recall when it used a software update to correct how Autopilot’s advanced driver assistance system could make an emergency response in low light conditions. Locates vehicles. In NHTSA’s view, using an over-the-air software update to repair anything related to vehicle safety should be a recall.

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

NHTSA said that a recall notice must be filed with the agency no more than five business days after the manufacturer is aware of or becomes aware of a safety defect or non-compliance.

“Any manufacturer that releases an over-the-air update that mitigates a defect that poses an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety is required to file an accompanying recall notice to NHTSA in a timely manner, The letter continued.

NS second letter, also on October 12, addressed Tesla’s use of an NDA for its so-called FSD Early Access beta release program. The owners have already paid for the FSD, but Tesla requires an NDA to access the beta software. Last month, Musk also established another requirement – a safety score that uses personal driving data to determine whether owners can access the latest beta version.

The agency wrote, “Given that NHTSA relies on consumer reports as an important source of information in the evaluation of potential security flaws, any agreement that NHTSA does not make in the early access beta release program from reporting security concerns.” Can withhold or deny participants is unacceptable.” Letter.

“Furthermore, limits on publicly sharing certain information also adversely affect NHTSA’s ability to obtain information relevant to security. Non-disclosure agreements with respect to FSD Early Access beta releases to ensure that We are issuing an attached special order to Tesla.

Musk indicated on Twitter this week that Tesla would drop the NDA requirement.

The agency, however, is seeking more information and said Tesla has until November 1 to respond to both requests.

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