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NHTSA Opens Investigation Into Tesla 'Phantom Braking' Complaints

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Feb 23, 2022—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into complaints received about Tesla's automatic braking system.

According to a report from Car and Driverthe NHTSA says it has received 354 complaints from Tesla drivers regarding unexpected automatic "phantom" braking incidents over the past nine months. Per the report, Tesla drivers have said "rapid deceleration can occur without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive cycle."

Around 416,000 vehicles have been affected by the issue, all 2021 and 2022 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles. The NHTSA notes the rise in complaints mirrors Tesla's shift away from multi-sensor perception systems that use both radar and cameras to the new Tesla Vision system that relies solely on cameras. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk still favors the camera-only system, tweeting last December that "Whereas radar has trouble seeing small pedestrians, they’re obvious to Tesla Vision."

NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation has opened a Preliminary Evaluation into the issue and said it's not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue.

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