Just recently, reports emerged stating that Tesla is recalling about 11,700 Model S, Model 3, and Model X vehicles from 2020 to 2021. This was because software version 2021.36.5.2 may have a communication error that may cause an unexpected activation of the vehicles’ Automatic Emergency Braking (ABS) or Forward Collision Warning (FCW) systems. The reports cited a notice filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a source for the recall information.
The recall made the rounds on mainstream media, but while the NHTSA’s notice was frequently referenced, what was generally ignored was that the safety agency also indicated that the issue had already been addressed by the EV maker through a software update. This is not surprising at all, considering that the recall was caused by software and Tesla, being a tech-centric automaker, was able to address the potential communication error in its vehicles through a simple over-the-air update.
TESLA RECALLING 11,700 U.S. VEHICLES BECAUSE COMMUNICATION ERROR MAY CAUSE A FALSE FORWARD-COLLISION WARNING OR UNEXPECTED ACTIVATION OF THE OPERATING SOFTWARE — NOTICE FILED WITH NHTSA$TSLA
— *Walter Bloomberg (@DeItaone) November 2, 2021
“Tesla quickly remedied the condition OTA with firmware release 2021.36.5.3, which was released to the subject population on October 25, 2021. The OTA remedy will carry forward in firmware release 2021.36.5.3 and later. As of this filing, more than 99.8% of the subject population (i.e., all vehicles but for 17) installed firmware release 2021.36.5.3 or a later release. No further action is necessary from owners whose vehicles are equipped with firmware release 2021.36.5.3 or a later release,” the NHTSA noted.
This particular detail was generally left out in mainstream media’s reporting of the recall.
Looking further into the NHTSA’s notice, it is difficult not to be quite impressed with the speed upon which the software fix was implemented by Tesla. According to the chronology of events outlined by the safety agency, Tesla received reports of false FCW and AEB events from customers on the morning of October 24, 2021. By the evening of the same day, Tesla had already developed a fix for the issue. Software update 2021.36.5.3, which contained the fix, was released the next day, October 25, 2021.
“By the evening on the same day, we deterministically reproduced the condition, identified the root cause, and developed software release 2021.36.5.3 as a correction solution. Global engineering and quality assurance teams performed testing and validation on the new release throughout the night and into the next morning, and were successfully unable to produce the condition. On Monday morning, October 25, 2021, after completing validation, we began deploying 2021.36.5.3 OTA to the subject population and re-enabled FCW and AEB features on vehicles with 2021.36.5.3 installed,” the NHTSA’s document noted.
Read the NHTSA’s full Safety Recall Report notice below.