Tesla Decides to Block Video Game Playing While Cars Are in Motion

In our last text about Tesla’s “Passenger Play,” we said it was surprising that the company did not solve the issue with a simple OTA (over-the-air) update. It allowed NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to open a PE (preliminary evaluation) about the impacts of playing video games while the cars are in motion. It seems Tesla decided to change that, but it may be too late.
Screen of "Solitaire" on a Tesla 7 photos
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The Battle of Polytopia: MoonriseScreen of "Sky Force Reloaded" on a TeslaVideo Game on a TeslaVideo Game Menu on a TeslaScreen of "Solitaire" on a TeslaVideo Game on a Tesla
According to Associated Press, NHTSA informed that the company decided to stop that feature with OTA updates. On December 22, Tesla dispatched the first batch of changes with its holiday software release. The Tesla owners that did not get it yet have received it on December 23. The difference may be related to a specific update requirement: while the Model 3 and Model Y have very similar hardware, the Model S and Model X are the ones that share more components. That may demand a unique OTA update for each of these pairs.

Although the company decided to revert “Passenger Play,” the safety agency said its PE would continue. Associated Press noted that there’s the possibility that NHTSA will require Tesla to do a recall of that feature, and it makes sense.

As a mere OTA update, some customers may decide that they do not want it. In other words, they may refuse the update to keep playing video games when the car is moving. If the change is framed as something compulsory, they do not have that choice.

Officially, NHTSA states that it started the PE because Vince Patton filed a complaint last month about the feature. To Associated Press, the Tesla owner from Portland, Oregon, said that “it’s absolutely insane” that Tesla allowed people to play video games with the cars in motion. The truth is that the story gained traction after Neal Boudette broke the news on December 8 in “The New York Times.”

Regardless of the reason for NHTSA to have decided to do something, the good news is that 580,000 Tesla vehicles will cease to offer this distraction invitation soon. The safety agency still has no record of any crashes caused by the feature, but it may be the case that they were just not reported yet. The PE may answer that soon.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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