Tesla uses a camera above the rearview mirror in the Model 3 and Model Y to monitor driver activity while autopilot is active. Before that, the company monitored the driver with sensors on the steering wheel to make sure he was holding his hands on it. Nevertheless, electric car owners often ignored the system’s warnings, which led to dire consequences.
Regulators and safety experts have been asking Tesla for years to add better driver monitoring to their vehicles. Elon Musk initially refused to change anything but then admitted that accidents involving the autopilot are due to the overconfidence of drivers who rely entirely on the autopilot. By the way, other automakers, such as General Motors and Ford, use eye-tracking systems with cameras in their cars so that drivers are not distracted when driving with autopilot. But Musk believed that camera technology was not effective.
A Twitter user who announced the purchase of the Model Y posted a photo describing the new safety feature in the vehicle’s software.
Delivery was super smooth. Summon and lane departure avoidance disabled for now, increased follow distance, hard cap at 75, requires auto brights or kicks out of AP, cabin camera for driver monitoring… nothing unexpected yet. pic.twitter.com/gKIkHSGNI7
– Kevin Smith (@spleck) May 27, 2021
According to the description, the camera above the rear-view mirror can now register if the driver is distracted when the autopilot is on and issue warnings. The data received by the camera is not saved or transmitted anywhere unless the corresponding function is enabled in the system. The Model Y owner also reported that the steering wheel sensor alerts are still active.
Tesla does not define the term “driver inattention,” which the company uses in its software update notes, nor does it elaborate on what happens when a driver loses vigilance. The addition of camera-based driver monitoring follows an active discussion on the network of autopilot systems in cars after several accidents with supposedly active driver assistance systems. In addition, social media users have repeatedly posted videos in which they tricked the autopilot into thinking that someone was driving.