If you own a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y, then it’s apparently now possible the in-car camera is or soon will be monitoring you while on Autopilot. According to TechCrunch, Tesla has reportedly enabled the capability through a software update.
The use of the new feature was originally spotted on Twitter after a current Tesla owner took to the platform to post images of the latest software version on his Model Y.
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
Within the release notes, it describes “Camera Cabin Updates” as:
“The camera cabin 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.”
If you do want your information shared, then you can change the car’s data settings by going to Tap > Controls > Safety & Security > Data Sharing via the Tesla’s touchscreen. Otherwise, it’s disabled by default and your data is only stored locally.
As noted by TechCrunch, Tesla’s vehicles originally used sensors built into the steering wheel to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel while on Autopilot. But according to plenty of articles on the internet, it’s very easy to fool the system into thinking your hands are on the wheel.
The new feature also comes only a few days after Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed the company’s Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, in North America, were being made without radar. In a blog post, Tesla said it will instead “rely on camera vision and neural net processing to deliver Autopilot, Full-Self Driving, and certain active safety features.”
The sensors (in conjunction with the cameras and LiDar) are mainly used to detect spacing and objects around it for things like blind spots, forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, and more.
But the transition from radar sensors to a camera-based system isn’t a good look as far as safety goes. The company has already lost its “Top Pick” status from Consumer Reports among other seals of approval from testing organizations:
Some Tesla vehicles are losing critical performance designations from testing organizations including Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) because the government’s top vehicle safety rating agency says the vehicles may lack some key advanced safety features, including forward collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB).
Details on exactly how the cabin cameras will work to ensure safe driving have yet to be revealed. But considering it’s rather creepy to think about cameras watching you while driving, new Model 3 and Model Y owners should definitely make sure those data settings are disabled.