Incident 209: Tesla Disabled “Rolling Stop” Functionality Associated with the “Aggressive” Driving Mode

Description: The “rolling stop” functionality within the “Aggressive” Full Self Driving (FSD) profile that was released via a Tesla firmware update was recalled and disabled.
Alleged: Tesla developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed Tesla drivers.

Suggested citation format

AIAAIC. (2020-10-20) Incident Number 209. in Lam, K. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Responsible AI Collaborative.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
209
Report Count
5
Incident Date
2020-10-20
Editors
Khoa Lam

Tools

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Incident Reports

The Assertive feature may lead to Tesla's engaging in more rolling stops, which could violate U.S. traffic laws.

Tesla has brought back its Full Self-Driving (FSD) profiles around three months after pulling the feature from an October update. The three driving profiles, labeled “Chill” “Average” and “Assertive,” dictate the ways FSD equipped Tesla’s behave in certain scenarios and the amount of risk the vehicles may take when making decisions. Images of the profile settings, first highlighted by The Verge, show in-vehicle descriptions associated with the settings which dictate the vehicle’s follow distance, and frequency of lane changes.

Of particular interest here is FSD’s assertive profile, which, according to the images, will “have a smaller follow distance, perform more frequent speed lane changes, will not exit passing lanes and may perform more rolling stops.” Tesla’s wording around rolling stops here remains unclear, particularly since rolling stops at stop signs in the U.S. are generally illegal. Gizmodo reached out to Tesla for comment but has not heard back.

The “Chill” profile, by contrast, aims to have Teslas maintain a larger following distance and perform fewer speed lane changes, according to images posted by Twitter user @digitalhen. FSD’s “Average” profile unsurprisingly strives to strike a middle ground, though like assertive, it may also engage in more rolling stops.

FSD profiles were part of an over-the-air update Tesla pushed late last year but were quickly pulled after CEO Elon Musk reported, “seeing some issues” which briefly left some drivers unable to access the FSD feature at all.

Striking a balance between public safety and personal driver convenience remains one of the thorniest dilemmas for autonomous vehicle development, a tradeoff dictated as much by philosophy as technical performance. To put that into perspective, one of the top rallying cries amongst autonomous vehicles’ supporters revolves around the argument that more AVs on roads will reduce crashes since the majority of those crashes currently result from human error. However, a 2020 study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimated AV systems may only eliminate around a third of car crashes if those systems were designed to drive in ways that resemble humans, as FSD’s assertive mode appears to.

Instead, the report determined AV systems would need to be designed to prioritize safety over rider preferences if the grandest promises of AV safety are to ever become reality. Though crashes resulting from “sensing and perceiving errors” and incapacitation (factors self-driving vehicles would presumably solve for) accounted for 23% and 10% of total crashes respectively in the IIHS study, another 40% were the result of planning and deciding errors like speeding and illegal maneuvers, which aren’t necessarily solved simply by moving towards autonomous systems.

“Building self-driving cars that drive as well as people do is a big challenge in itself,” IIHS Research Scientist and lead author of the study Alexandra Mueller said in a statement. “But they’d actually need to be better than that to deliver on the promises we’ve all heard.”

Tesla’s foray into assertive driving comes despite mounting scrutiny into FSD and Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance feature from regulators and safety advocates The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a formal probe into Autopilot last summer following rising cases of vehicles equipped with the automated system colliding with emergency response vehicles. The company was also criticized by the head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board late last year for its efforts to expand the FSD beta to more drivers before addressing “basic safety issues.” The first serious crash involving FSD appears to have occurred in November, according to a complaint filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

None of that has seemed to deter Tesla from its FSD expansion. In fact, last week Musk announced his company would raise the FSD price to $12,000— up from the previous $10,000 price tag—and signaled further price increases may follow.

Tesla's 'Assertive' Mode Brings 'Rolling Stops' to Self-Driving Options

Profiles are back in Tesla’s latest “Full Self-Driving” beta 10.3 with an “Assertive Mode” that may perform rolling stops and other borderline maneuvers, The Verge has reported. The update was originally released in October 2021 with three profiles (“Chill,” “Average” and “Assertive”), but was pulled just two days later over issues with traffic light left turns, unexpected stopping and more.

The latest update issued yesterday shows that the Full Self-Driving (Beta) profiles are back. If you choose “Assertive,” the notes state that “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.” As @Digitalhen notes, the system may also perform rolling stops even in “Average” mode.

Generally, a rolling stop means a vehicle doesn’t come to a complete halt at a stop sign (which is illegal and dangerous) but it’s not yet clear if that’s what FSD will do. It’s also illegal in many states to stay in the left or passing lane if you’re not passing anyone, and of course, it’s never a great idea to follow the vehicle ahead too closely. All of that said, the mode hasn’t been tested enough yet to demonstrate exactly how it’s doing those things.

On the weekend, CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla would be raising the price of FSD from $10,000 to $12,000, even though it’s still in beta. As we’ve pointed out before, the name “Full Self-Driving” is misleading (much like Autopilot), as FSD does not offer true Level 4 self-driving, but simply Level 2 advanced driver assistance.

Tesla ‘Full Self-Driving’ beta features an ‘Assertive’ mode with rolling stops

Drivers can choose from Chill, Average, and Assertive profiles.

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta lets you choose from three driving “profiles” that dictate how the car will react to certain situations on the road. Each mode, “Chill,” “Average,” and “Assertive,” varies in terms of aggressiveness (and potentially safety).

The feature was included in the October 2021 version 10.3 update, which was pulled two days after it started rolling out due to an issue with left turns at traffic lights. Tesla issued version 10.3.1 one day later, which still includes FSD profiles, as shown on the release notes posted on Not a Tesla App. Based on these notes, FSD profiles are described as a way “to control behaviors like rolling stops, speed-based lane changes, following distance and yellow light headway.”

A separate image posted to Twitter gives us a more detailed glimpse at what this actually means. In the description beneath the “Assertive” option, Tesla notes the vehicle will “have a smaller follow distance” and “perform more frequent speed lane changes.” The vehicle will also “not exit passing lanes” and “may perform rolling stops,” and it’s not entirely clear whether this means cars won’t come to a full stop at stop signs.

A YouTube video shows all three modes in action, and towards the end, it shows how Tesla describes each FSD profile. In “Chill” mode, the vehicle will “have a larger follow distance and perform fewer speed lane changes,” while “Average” mode means the car “will have a medium follow distance and may perform rolling stops.” That said, it’s a bit hard to distinguish the difference between these modes from this video alone, as it doesn’t test out the vehicle’s behavior in heavy traffic or harsh weather conditions.

It’s hard to tell just how much these FSD profiles change the way the vehicle drives, and if they push the limits of safety, especially when traveling in the rain or snow. If the descriptions of these profiles are accurate, this means that a Tesla in “Assertive” mode may follow cars more closely, come to rolling stops, and swap lanes more frequently — behaviors that tend to be more dangerous no matter the car you’re in.

It’s important to note that Tesla’s FSD feature doesn’t make the car completely autonomous — a “feature complete” version would ideally let users drive to and from work without intervention. Tesla’s controversial FSD beta was rolled out to more users last September based on a “Safety Score” system that prioritizes drivers with safer driving habits, something that the National Transportation Safety Board cautioned against. In November, what appears to be the first-ever crash involving Tesla’s FSD mode left a Tesla severely damaged.

Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ beta has an ‘assertive’ driving mode that ‘may perform rolling stops’

Adjusting following distance, lane change speeds, and even executing rolling stops.

Drivers using Tesla (NASDAQGS:TSLA +7.43%) ‘s Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta can now choose between three different driving profiles that will determine how the car will react to various situations on the road. Tesla is offering a “Chill,” “Average” and “Assertive” mode that has different degrees of aggressiveness and possibly safety.

According to Not a Tesla App feature was initially pulled from the 10.3 version in October 2021 but Tesla recently issued a 10.3.1 update that included a revamped iteration of the FSD profiles. The notes also indicated that the FSD profiles were meant as a way “to control behaviors like rolling stops, speed-based lane changes, following distance and yellow light headway.

One Twitter user posted an image that showed Tesla’s description of the “Assertive” mode. Tesla writes, “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 latter part of the sentence that stated that the car might “perform rolling stops” caught the attention of onlookers who have indicated that they are unsure if this means that the car will not obey the rules of a stop sign.

A YouTube video posted online showed how the three modes work and how they differed from one another. It appears that in “Chill” mode the vehicle has “a larger follow distance and perform fewer speed lane changes.” In “Average” mode, there is medium distance and might also be performing rolling stops. The video still was unable to pinpoint the distinctive difference between the three nor can audiences tell if it means that the car will not come to a full halt in “Average” and “Assertive” mode.

Tesla’s FSD feature does not make the vehicle fully autonomous. Since FSD beta rolled out in September last year, the EV brand has faced many controversies that have yet to be solved.

In other Tesla news, the EV company is raising its prices for full self driving once again.

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving “Assertive” Mode Is the Driving Style No One Appreciates

Population

Number of potentially involved: 53,822

Estimated percentage with defect: 100%

Description of Defect

Description of the Defect: 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.

Description of the Safety Risk: 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.

Description of the Cause: The “rolling stop” functionality is designed to allow the vehicle to travel through an all-way-stop intersection without coming to a complete stop when several operating conditions are first met. The required conditions include:

  1. The functionality must be enabled within the FSD Beta Profile settings; and

  2. The vehicle must be approaching an all-way stop intersection; and

  3. The vehicle must be traveling below 5.6mph; and

  4. No relevant moving cars are detected near the intersection; and

  5. No relevant pedestrians or bicyclists are detected near the intersection; and

  6. There is sufficient visibility for the vehicle while approaching the intersection; and

  7. All roads entering the intersection have a speed limit of 30 mph or less.

If all the above conditions are met, only then will the vehicle travel through the all-way-stop intersection at a speed from 0.1 mph up to 5.6 mph without first coming to a complete stop. If any of the above conditions are not met, the functionality will not activate and the vehicle will come to a complete stop.

Identification of Any Warning that can Occur: None

Involved Components

Component Name 1: Vehicle FW v. 2020.40.4.10 and later with FSD Beta

Chronology

On October 20, 2020, firmware release 2020.40.4.10 was released through an over-the-air (“OTA”) firmware update to vehicles in the limited early access FSD Beta population. The release introduced the “rolling stop” functionality.

On January 10, 2022, and again on January 19, 2022, Tesla met with NHTSA to discuss the functionality, including operating parameters.

On January 20, 2022, a recall determination was voluntarily made to disable the functionality, beginning with firmware release 2021.44.30.15 and newer releases.

As of January 27, 2022, Tesla is not aware of any warranty claims, field reports, crashes, injuries or fatalities

related to this condition.

Description of Remedy

Description of Remedy Program: Tesla will disable the “rolling stop” functionality on affected vehicles, starting with firmware release 2021.44.30.15. Firmware release 2021.44.30.15 is expected to begin deployment OTA to affected vehicles in early February 2022. The disablement will carry forward in firmware release 2021.44.30.15 and later releases. No further action is necessary from owners who install firmware release 2021.44.30.15 or a later release on their vehicles. Tesla does not plan to include a statement in the Part 577 owner notification about pre-notice reimbursement to owners because there is no paid repair relating to this recall’s underlying condition and owners will receive the remedy free of charge through firmware release 2021.44.30.15 or a later release.

How Remedy Component Differs from Recalled Component: Firmware release 2021.44.30.15 and later releases disable the “rolling stop” functionality.

Identify How/When Recall Condition was Corrected in Production: N/A. Firmware releases containing the “rolling stop” functionality were not installed on or deployed to new vehicles in production.

Recall Schedule

Description of Recall Schedule: All Tesla stores and service centers will be notified on or shortly after February 1, 2022. Owner notification letters will be mailed in accordance with 49 C.F.R. § 577.7.

Planned Dealer Notification Date: Feb 01, 2022 - Feb 01, 2022

Planned Owner Notification Date: Mar 28, 2022 - Mar 28, 2022

Part 573 Safety Recall Report