Tesla’s latest software update serves as a reminder that we are still years away from truly autonomous cars. The innovative EV company’s cars will now be monitoring drivers while Autopilot is engaged via a “driver-facing camera that should confirm a driver is paying attention to the road,” according to a Jalopnik report cited by Inside Hook.
This safety-centric upgrade is an improvement to Tesla’s Level 2 semi-autonomous system, which by definition requires a driver to be able to take control of the vehicle at anytime while regulating acceleration and steering.
Previously, Tesla tracked drivers’ attentiveness based on whether a hand was on the steering wheel. That system could be easily fooled by taping weights to the wheel, even while leaving the driver’s seat unoccupied, as Consumer Reports proved.
“The cabin camera above your rearview mirror can now detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged,” an official software update from Tesla reads. “Camera data does not leave the car itself, which means the system cannot save or transmit information unless data sharing is enabled.”
The news comes after a number of controversies surrounding Tesla’s Autopilot feature, including a fatal crash in Texas that sparked a National Transportation Safety Board investigation. The NTSB ultimately concluded the driver aid was not engaged at the time of the accident.
But in California, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is still looking into its 29th Tesla-related crash, which happened when a Model 3 struck an overturned semi-truck, according to NBC News.