Tesla has enabled the in-car camera in its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to monitor drivers when using its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system.
Tesla announced that the “cabin camera above the rearview mirror can now detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged” in a software update. Tesla’s data is stored in a closed loop system, which means that the images acquired by the camera do not leave the vehicle.
According to Tesla, the system will not be able to save or transmit data until data sharing is enabled. A number of Tesla owners, industry watchers, and writers who use Twitter have mentioned the firmware upgrade.
Tesla has been criticized for failing to activate a driver monitoring feature in the vehicle, despite mounting evidence that owners were abusing the technology. Owners have recorded scores of videos on YouTube and TikTok misusing the Autopilot function, including some of them filming themselves in the backseat as the vehicle travels down the highway.
Tesla hasn’t used the camera in its cars until recently, instead relying on sensors in the steering wheel that measure torque – a technology that requires the driver to maintain their hands on the wheel. How to fool the sensors into thinking a human is behind the wheel has been documented and shared on social media by drivers.
Tesla hasn’t revealed any information regarding the driver monitoring technology, such as whether it tracks eye gazing or head posture, or whether it would be utilized to enable hands-free driving. On select split highways, GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s Blue Cruise advanced driver aid systems allow for hands-free driving.
To ensure that drivers are paying attention, their systems use a mixture of map data, high-precision GPS, cameras, and radar sensors, as well as a driver attentiveness system that watches the person behind the wheel.
Autopilot is a driver assistance technology that comes standard on Tesla vehicles. Owners can upgrade to “full self-driving,” or FSD, for an extra $10,000, a technology that CEO Elon Musk believes will one day enable fully autonomous driving. FSD has been available as an option for years, with prices and capabilities continuously increasing.
Tesla vehicles, on the other hand, are not self-driving. Summon, a parking tool, and Navigate on Autopilot, an active guidance system that navigates a car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including interchanges and lane changes, are both included in FSD. Drivers can enable “Navigate on Autopilot” for a trip after entering a destination into the navigation system.
The move comes barely a week after Tesla announced that its Model Y and Model 3 vehicles headed for North American consumers will be constructed without radar, fulfilling Musk’s ambition to enable Autopilot and other active safety systems only with cameras and machine learning.
Several deadly collisions involving Tesla vehicles that were using Autopilot have increased pressure on the company to take action.
To offer the sensing required for advanced driver assistance system features like adaptive cruise control, which adapts a car’s speed to surrounding traffic, as well as lane maintaining and automatic lane changes, automakers often utilize a combination of radar and cameras — and even lidar.
Musk has praised the capabilities of the company’s branded “Tesla Vision” system, which relies only on cameras and “neural net” processing to detect and understand what is going on in the area around the vehicle and then respond properly.
The decision to remove radar from the vehicles has resulted in some negative press for the corporation. The Model 3 is no longer a Top Pick in Consumer Reports, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced that it will revoke the Model 3’s Top Safety Pick+ certification.
Model 3 and Model Y vehicles constructed on or after April 27, 2021 will no longer earn the The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s check mark for automated emergency braking, front collision warning, lane departure warning, and dynamic brake assistance.