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Tesla’s ‘risky’ rolling stop feature sparks new safety recall

Blowing through stop-signs isn’t cool, especially when its a driving feature included by the manufacturer by design.

So, it’s no surprise to see more than 53,000 Tesla vehicles recalled after US transport safety regulators expressed concern about an autonomous driving feature that encouraged rolling stops.

The feature is included in the “assertive” driving profile within Tesla’s full self-driving beta available on Model X, Model S and Model Y vehicles. When enabled, it will prevent the car coming to a complete halt at a stop sign if it detects no other vehicles at the intersection and certain other conditions are met.

While that’s a common tactic deployed by human drivers, it’s against traffic laws, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration isn’t happy about it.

The recall notice on the NHSTA website describes it as a “defect”. It writes (via ArsTechnica): “A software functionality referred to as “rolling stop” allows the vehicle to travel through all-way-stop intersections at up to 5.6 mph before coming to a complete stop if certain conditions are first met.”

It continues: “Entering an all-way-stop intersection without coming to a complete stop may increase the risk of collision. Tesla is not aware of any collisions, injuries or fatalities related to this condition.”

In response, Tesla is going to release a new firmware update (v.2021.44.30.15) early this month in order to disable the feature. The Assertive profile also follows other vehicles more closely, changes lanes more often and will also keep you in the overtaking lane when the situation permits. All aggressive, rather than assertive.

It is described by Tesla as follows: “In this profile, your Model X will have a smaller follow distance, perform more frequent speed lane changes, will not exit passing lanes and may perform rolling stops.”

The mode is joined by two more, the decidedly Silicon Valley bro-esque “Chill” and the why-bother-to-name-it-in-the-first-place “Average”. It comes after Tesla removed the ability to play video games on the vehicle’s centre console while the car is on the go, to which most people were probably asking “wait, you were able to do that in the first place?”

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