Car buyer says Tesla uses cabin cameras to ensure drivers concentrate

Is Tesla spying on drivers? Elon Musk’s firm ‘switches on driver-facing cameras in some Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to make sure they are watching the road’

  • Kevin Smith revealed that his 2021 Model Y had a release note that reads a cabin camera above the car’s rearview mirror can detect driver attentiveness
  • The release note, obtained by CNBC, notes that the cabin camera is allegedly switched on ‘while Autopilot is engaged’
  • Previous Tesla Model 3 and Model Y cars have already had driver-facing cabin cameras installed 
  • Tesla claimed in manuals for the cars that they were not used for driver monitoring, CNBC noted
  • Tesla recently announced that the company is transitioning away from radar toward its Tesla Vision – the company’s camera-based Autopilot system 

A man buying his second Tesla has claimed the company has switched on driver-facing cameras to monitor if they are pay attention to the road, it has been reported.

Kevin Smith revealed to CNBC that he ordered his 2021 Model Y at the end of March but. when he received it. he spotted a release note in the touchscreen display that told him cabin cameras would be switched on when Autopilot is engaged.

‘The cabin camera above your rearview mirror can now detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged,’ reads the release note obtained by the outlet.

‘Camera data does not leave the car itself, which means the system cannot save or transmit information unless data sharing is enabled. To change your data settings, tap Controls > Safety & Security > Data Sharing on your car’s touchscreen.’

Previous Tesla Model 3 and Model Y cars have already had driver-facing cabin cameras installed – but CNBC noted that Tesla claimed in manuals for the cars that they were not used for driver monitoring. 

Tesla is reportedly using the cabin cameras inside its 2021 Model Y, pictured, cars to monitor the attentiveness of drivers

The Autopilot display is pictured in a promotional photo for the 2021 Tesla Model Y

A promotional photo shows the inside of a Tesla Model Y, which reportedly has a driver-facing camera installed above the rearview mirror

Elon Musk’s Tesla company has faced a growing amount of criticism for its Autopilot features has reached out to Tesla for confirmation and additional comment.

The manuals show that Tesla’s Autopilot features require drivers to occasionally touch the steering wheel as a safety feature to seemingly prove that the driver is attentive to conditions on the road, CNBC reported. 

Smith said that he had expected to receive his Tesla with its sensor suite, which included radar, that are used for the Autopilot feature.

However, Tesla recently announced that the company is transitioning away from radar toward its Tesla Vision – the company’s camera-based Autopilot system.

On its website, Tesla notes that – as the company transitions to its Tesla Vision system – some cars may be delivered with key Autopilot features inactive. 

That move comes as Tesla faces criticism and a number of federal probes for car accidents across the country that may have been caused by its Autopilot feature.

‘Beginning with deliveries in May 2021, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built for the North American market will no longer be equipped with radar,’ Tesla said.

‘Instead, these will be the first Tesla vehicles to rely on camera vision and neural net processing to deliver Autopilot, Full-Self Driving and certain active safety features.’

The company said customers who ordered before May 2021 and will receive a car with Tesla Vision would be notified of the change before delivery.

Smith told CNBC that he was asked in an ‘Order Update’ on the Tesla website if he was willing to accept the modified car for the same price as the one with the specifications he had ordered.

On its website, Tesla said it would be limited Autosteer to a maximum speed of 75 mph and a longer minimum following distance. It would also disable Smart Summon, its autonomous parking feature, and Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance – a feature designed to steer the car back into the driving lane if Tesla’s system detects that it is departing its lane and there could be a collision.

‘In the weeks ahead, we’ll start restoring these features via a series of over-the-air software updates. All other available Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features will be active at delivery, depending on order configuration,’ Tesla said on its website.

Tesla said that all cars built for markets outside of North America will continue to be equipped with radar and radar-supported Autopilot features.

The features that Tesla has said it has turned off have not been switched back on, CNBC reported. 

Tesla driver, 35, killed in crash previously shared shared videos of himself driving car without his hands on the wheel or foot on its pedal, investigators have said 

Steven Michael Hendrickson, 35, was killed when his Tesla Model 3 struck an overturned semi about 2.30am. He posted numerous photos of his Tesla Model 3 to social media in 2020

The National Transportation Safety Board has called on Tesla to stop beta-testing its electric cars after it was revealed that people who bought the $10,000 Full-Self Driving upgrade could test unfinished driver assistance features in a beta program.

However, multiple videos have been revealed showing drivers sleeping and sitting in the backseat while the Autopilot feature took them down the road. 

California highway authorities said earlier this month that the driver of a Tesla involved in a fatal crash may have been operating it on Autopilot, after he previously shared videos of himself driving it with no hands on the wheel.

Steven Michael Hendrickson, 35, was killed when his white Tesla Model 3 struck an overturned semi-truck at about 2.30am on May 5.

Before his death, the married father of two posted social media videos of himself riding in the electric vehicle without his hands on the wheel or foot on its pedal. 

He posted numerous photos and videos to social media that showed his hands off the wheel in 2020

The CHP announced that its preliminary investigation had determined that the Tesla’s Autopilot system ‘was engaged’ prior to the crash on the 210 Freeway near Fontana, California – about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

That wreck came just weeks after a Tesla Model S smashed into a tree and burst into flames in Texas, resulting in the deaths of the two men inside, neither of whom was said to have been in the driver’s seat at the time.

That car’s owner, Dr. William Varner, and his pal Everette Talbot were killed in the wealthy The Woodlands neighborhood of Houston on April 17.

Tesla refuted police’s claims, saying a deformed steering wheel suggested that someone was likely in the driver’s seat.

Last month, a Tesla smashed into a tree and burst into flames (above) in the wealthy The Woodlands neighborhood, Houston, on April 17, resulting in the deaths of two men

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office’s released a report at the end of April that revealed more details as to how the flames took hold – reiterating the assertion from cops that no one was in the driver’s seat.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in the crash’s immediate aftermath data downloaded by Tesla indicate the vehicle was not operating on Autopilot, its semi-autonomous driving system. 

In two Florida crashes, from 2016 and 2019, cars with Autopilot in use drove beneath crossing tractor-trailers, killing the men driving the Teslas. 

In a 2018 crash in Mountain View, California, an Apple engineer driving on Autopilot was killed when his Tesla struck a highway barrier. 

After the Florida and California fatal crashes, the NTSB recommended that Tesla develop a stronger system to ensure drivers are paying attention, and that it limit use of Autopilot to highways where it can work effectively.

It was not immediately clear if the new Tesla Vision system meets safety standards from the NTSB.

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