Tesla Autopilot Now Requires Drivers to Be Attentive and Properly Seated

A much-needed safety measure

A Tesla storefront in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tesla’s Autopilot feature has been at the center of a number of controversies lately. A fatal crash in Texas this past April sparked an NTSB investigation, which concluded that Autopilot could not have been engaged where the accident took place but remains open on other matters. A more recent crash in California also prompted news reports linking it to Autopilot. And the question of what, exactly, Autopilot can and should be used for remains open.

Alternately: there’s a significant difference between features that assist a driver and features that allow a car to drive itself. And now, it seems that Tesla is making what Autopilot is capable of a little more clear to those driving its cars.

Writing at Jalopnik, Jason Torchinsky notes that Tesla’s Driver Monitoring System now incorporates “a driver-facing camera that should confirm a driver is paying attention to the road.” A software update from Tesla included changes to the cabin cameras, including the ability to “detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged.”

As Torchinsky points out, this makes it significantly more difficult for Autopilot users to trick the system into believing that they are able to take over driving in the case of an emergency. It’s a welcome change for nearly anyone concerned about safer roads and a reduced chance of a nominally “automated” vehicle being involved in a crash or collision.

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