Tesla Now Uses Cabin Camera to Monitor Driver Attentiveness With Autopilot On

Tesla activates in-car camera to monitor driver attentiveness when the car is on Autopilot 1 photo
Photo: Twitter/Kevin Smith
Officially, Tesla never agreed to or in any way entertained the possibility that criticism of its Autopilot was justified. Specifically, Tesla always insisted that its safeguards against Autopilot misuse were enough to deter said misuse, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Now, Tesla is finally doing something that might be a bit more efficient in keeping drivers in the driver's seat when Autopilot is engaged. The latest software update, the same one that removes radar from Autopilot, includes activating of the in-cabin camera for driver attentiveness (hat tip to Electrek).

A camera over the rearview mirror exists in Tesla models but has only been used sparingly by the automaker. Initially, CEO Elon Musk said it would be used to deter vandals from wrecking robotaxis and that was back when Tesla still entertained the thought of an entire fleet of those. More recently, the camera was used to monitor drivers part of the Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta program, removing those who did not pay attention to the road as they’re supposed to.

One could make an argument that Tesla has learned from this FSD use. One could just as well make the argument that this was the plan all along. The bottom line is that Tesla is now using existing cameras in newer models for monitoring driver attentiveness when Autopilot mode is activated. The new measure comes to join the other safeguards, including the buckled seat belt, weight sensors in the seat, and constant pressure on the steering wheel, hopefully preventing show-offs for leaving the driver’s seat when the car is in motion.

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

That last phrase is meant to assuage privacy concerns: in other words, Tesla won’t be hoarding or giving out to third parties footage of you in the car. That said, the thought of a camera turning on with Autopilot and recording everything is enough to get even diehard Tesla supporters angry. As usual, most of these conversations are now being carried out on social media.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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