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The Tesla autonomous driving system (FSD) allows the car to drive itself in certain situations. However, a safety feature prevents drivers from driving without intervention. However, Elon Musk, CEO of the company, has said that they will soon have the option to deactivate it. This is the warning function behind the wheel, which requires the driver to constantly keep their hands on the wheel. If he doesn’t, the car asks him to move the steering wheel a little every once in a while to make sure he’s paying attention.
Systems to control clueless drivers
Recently, a Twitter profile suggested that “users with more than 10,000 miles in FSD Beta should have the option to turn off the steering wheel prompt.” Elon Musk agreed, saying that an update—presumably bringing this functionality—is coming later this month. With this update, Tesla drivers will be able to activate the FSD and not touch the steering wheel while the car is driving itself. Some owners have expressed enthusiasm for the update, although it may raise further questions about whether the system is mature enough to be allowed on public roads.
Tesla has another way of making sure the driver is paying attention: the in-cabin camera, which should issue warnings or even apply the brakes if it detects a distracted driver. However, there are a couple of problems with this approach. First of all, not all Tesla vehicles have a cockpit camera, which could mean that owners of these cars won’t have the option of turning off the steering wheel prompts. And what is more important, a report of Consumer Reports concluded that Tesla’s camera monitoring of the driver was not an adequate solution to ensure that the driver was paying attention to the road. It’s unclear if Tesla has improved the system in recent months.
Tesla’s system is currently in the “beta” phase
Tesla’s FSD is a set of features that allow the driver to enter a destination into the car’s navigation system and have it drive there on its own, but requires the driver to be attentive and ready to take control at all times. The FSD was initially made available to a very small subset of users, but was later expanded to eligible drivers, according to the company. Last November, however, it was made available to all users whose Tesla cars have the necessary hardware to support it.
The FSD has also gotten Tesla into some trouble, and regulatory bodies have investigated issues surrounding phantom braking. A Tesla driver recently told California authorities that the FSD technology in his car malfunctioned, causing an accident involving eight vehicles on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. In December 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated 41 accidents involving Tesla cars in which some of their autonomous driving features had been activated.