Tesla to use in-car camera for Autopilot to monitor drivers

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Autonomous and self-driving car technology is still proving divisive, especially in crashes involving Tesla cars where drivers were asleep at the wheel while the Autopilot feature was turned on. In order to mitigate this risk, Tesla is now activating the in-car camera systems to monitor drivers while Autopilot is on and potentially stop them from falling asleep at the wheel.

Previously torque sensors in the wheel were used to monitor whether drivers were awake or not, but that system has proved flawed given the fatalities we have seen to date.

Now it looks like Tesla will be adding more measures in place to reduce complacency, an issue that CEO Elon Musk previously noted in light of the recent crashes. That said, at the time he was against the use of in-car cameras as he termed the technology “ineffective”.

Whether its effectiveness has been improved in this short amount of time remains to be seen, but if the company wishes to continue with its push for self-driving technology, more measures have to be in place.

The discovery of this newly activated feature comes after a customer who recently purchased a Model Y electric vehicle, shared an image of some software release notes online.

“The cabin camera above your rearview mirror can now detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged. Camera data does not leave the car itself, which means the system cannot save or transmit information unless data sharing is enabled,” the notification read.

As The Verge points out, the Model Y features in-car cameras as standard, but Model S and Model X vehicles made before 2021 do not. The refreshed versions of both models announced earlier this year, are said to have the cameras. That said, it is unclear how Tesla will address the Autopilot monitoring issue in older cars.

While we wait for official word on that front, it looks all carmakers that wish to get into the autonomous field, such as Ford and Volkswagen, will need to build monitoring measures into the systems too.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.

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