Tesla has filed a recall covering over 2 million vehicles after a US auto-safety regulator said the company’s Autopilot does not do enough to deter misuse. 

The move comes as a further blow to Tesla’s fully autonomous ambitions, which research company GlobalData predicts “is likely to be slow”.

The difficultly of commercialising autonomous vehicles is outlined in GlobalData’sThematic Research: Autonomous Vehicles (2023) report.

The leap taken from SAE Level 1 autonomy to Level 2 has proven to be minor compared with the jump in complexity needed for Level 3 ‘eyes-off’ autonomous vehicle operation, according to the report.

Moving to Level 4 from Level 3 will be a bigger jump still, according to the report, even Level 3 vehicles will appear simple in comparison with the higher levels and capabilities demanded by truly self-driving Level 4 and Level 5 models.

Tesla is currently considered to be Level 2 autonomous, GlobalData describes this as an autonomous system which controls speed and keeps in its lane.

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The Tesla recall follows a year-long investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which resulted in the regulator finding that Tesla’s attempts to keep drivers engaged during autopilot were inadequate. 

The NHTSA investigation will continue as it reviews how Tesla fixes the issue.

“Automated technology holds great promise for improving safety, but only when it is deployed responsibly,” an NHTSA spokesperson said Wednesday (13 December). 

“Today’s action is an example of improving automated systems by prioritising safety,” they added.

The recall marks Tesla’s second this year involving its automated driving systems, which has seen over 700 crashes since 2019, involving at least 17 fatalities, according to NHTSA data.

Every Tesla vehicle comes fitted with autopilot, using cameras to match the speed of the vehicle with surrounding traffic. 

Tesla has marketed higher-level autonomy since the end of 2016, a system it referred to as FSD Beta. However, this was recalled in February after the NHTSA said it was causing vehicles to drive in dangerous and illegal ways. 

NHTSA has launched over 50 special crash investigations into Tesla cars, all of which have reportedly been linked to the autopilot feature. 

The two ongoing investigations, beginning in August 2021 and February 2022, were linked to Tesla’s braking out of nowhere on busy roads and crashing into emergency vehicles.