Tesla has begun using the camera above the rear-view mirror on its Model 3 and Model Y to help make sure people pay attention to the road while using Autopilot, the company’s advanced driver assistance system.
The main way Tesla cars measure driver attention is through torque sensors in the steering wheel that look for resistance – a rudimentary way to ensure drivers stay on the wheel.
If not enough notes are recorded, the vehicle carries out a series of escalating visual and audible warnings.
The change comes after regulators and safety experts spent years asking Tesla to add better driver monitoring to its cars.
Even the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, has admitted that accidents involving robotic guides stem from inaction.
But he previously rejected his engineers’ calls to add more driver monitoring to the company’s cars.
The technology is ineffective, Musk said at the time.
Companies such as General Motors and Ford currently sell cars with camera-based eye-tracking systems.
These systems aim to ensure that drivers are attentive while using the hands-free driving features.
Tesla and the Autopilot:
Spread A Model Y car user image showing software release notes describing the new security feature.
The release notes say: The cabin camera can now detect and alert the driver inattention while the autopilot is on.
She added: The system cannot save or transfer information unless data sharing is enabled.
Model S and Model X cars built before 2021 do not have a cabin camera.
But the redesigned versions announced in January – which haven’t yet shipped – are supposed to have it.
And Tesla doesn’t know what driver inattention it uses in its release notes, or what happens if you decide someone isn’t paying enough attention.
The in-car camera was largely neglected initially with the Model 3 and Model Y, although Tesla began using it to ensure that drivers in beta testing of the fully self-driving version of the Autopilot were paying attention to the road.
Musk said in March that Tesla removed some beta testers because they weren’t paying enough attention.
The addition of the camera-based driver monitoring feature follows a new wave of scrutiny of the autopilot.
This new wave emerged after two fatal accidents where it initially appeared that the driver assistance system might be involved.