Tesla begins utilizing cabin cameras for driver monitoring

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, speaks during the launch of the new Tesla Model Y on March 14, 2019 in Hawthorne, California.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

Tesla began using the cabin cameras in some Model 3 and Y vehicles to ensure drivers are paying attention to the road when using driver assistance features. This is evident from the release notes received from CNBC.

Their Models 3 and Y already had driver cab cameras, but the company’s manuals stated that they were not used for driver monitoring. Instead, drivers had to “check in” with Tesla’s systems by touching the sensor-equipped steering wheel.

According to Kevin Smith, a second Tesla buyer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Tesla is notifying drivers that their cab cameras have been turned on for driver monitoring in new vehicles without radar sensors. Smith says he received a 2021 Tesla Model Y crossover on Thursday.

The technical changes result from regulatory controls over the safety of Tesla vehicles in the US and abroad. The company is facing dozens of federal investigations into the causes of Tesla crashes in the United States, some of which may have involved autopilot.

Elon Musk’s auto business sells its driver assistance systems under the brand names Autopilot and Full-Self Driving (FSD), an optional upgrade of $ 10,000. Tesla is also offering some drivers who have paid for FSD the opportunity to try unfinished driver assistance features in its FSD beta program, making them effective beta testers.

Tesla’s manuals advise drivers that use of these systems requires “active monitoring”. However, owners have repeatedly shown too much confidence in the systems by sharing videos and reports of driving while you sleep behind the wheel, driving without hands on the steering wheel, or even driving in the passenger or back seat of the car.

A federal vehicle safety officer, the National Transportation Safety Board, has urged Tesla to end beta testing on public roads with customers instead of professionals and add robust driver monitoring to its vehicles.

It’s not clear if Tesla’s new camera-based driver monitoring system and vehicles without radar meet standards set by the NTSB or other safety standards.

Experience of an owner

Kevin Smith ordered his Model Y 2021 in late March and expected to receive a vehicle with the previously marketed Tesla sensor suite including radar.

But on Tuesday of this week, Tesla announced in a blog post that it would shut down radar and downgrade the functionality of the vehicles. The article also states that Tesla will restore the missing functions as soon as Tesla customers switch to a “pure vision” or a camera-based version of its driver assistance and safety functions.

Before he could ship his new Model Y, an “Order Update” on the Tesla website asked Smith to confirm that he would accept the modified car at the same price as the one originally ordered.

The waiver indicated that the company is migrating to Tesla Vision, its camera-based autopilot system, and that some new cars that ship from May 2021 will not have radar. It was also advised that Vision may come with some features that are “temporarily restricted or inactive” and Tesla will restore those features with wireless software updates over the “coming weeks”.

When he took off his four-wheel drive, the Model Y Smith 2021 also saw a “Release Note” on the vehicle’s touchscreen informing him of an update to the cabin camera:

“The cabin camera above your rear-view mirror can now detect and alert the driver’s inattentiveness while the autopilot is activated. The camera data does not leave the car by itself. This means that the system cannot store or transmit any information if data sharing is not activated.” On your car’s touchscreen, tap Controls> Security> Data Exchange. “

Adding a camera-based driver monitoring system will not restore the driver assistance and safety functions that Tesla said were initially turned off.

Consumer reports and the Road Safety Insurance Institute on Wednesday removed the safety notices for the Model 3 in the US after the company announced it had banned radar from those vehicles. According to consumer reports, “The government’s highest vehicle safety rating agency says vehicles may be lacking in some key advanced safety features, including Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB).”

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