Tesla update might make Full Self-Driving truly hands-off

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature set allows the car to essentially drive itself in certain scenarios. However, a safety feature keeps drivers from giving up completely, but CEO Elon Musk said drivers will soon have the option to disable it.

The feature in question is steering wheel whining, which requires the driver to keep their hands on the wheel at all times; If not, the car will ask them to move the steering wheel a little every now and then to make sure they’re paying attention.

Recently, a Twitter user (via Teslarati) suggested that “users with more than 10,000 miles on FSD Beta should be given the option to turn off steering wheel whine,” and Musk agreed, saying that an update (which will presumably include this functionality) is coming in January.

With this update, Tesla drivers should be able to turn on FSD and keep their hands completely off the wheel while the car is driving itself. Some owners have expressed their excitement about the feature on Twitter, although it could raise further questions as to whether FSD is mature enough to be allowed on public roads.

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Tesla has another way to ensure the driver is paying attention – the built-in cabin camera, which should issue warnings or even apply the brakes if it detects an inattentive driver. However, there are a few problems with this approach. First, not all Tesla vehicles have the cabin camera, which could mean that owners of these cars just don’t have the option to turn off the steering wheel buggers.

More importantly, a December 2021 Consumer Reports report (and updated June 2022) found that Tesla’s camera-based driver surveillance was not an adequate solution to ensure the driver was paying attention to the road, although it is unclear whether Tesla the system has improved since.

Tesla’s FSD (still referred to as “Beta” by Tesla) is a set of features that allows the driver to enter a destination into the car’s navigation system and have the car drive itself there, although this requires the driver to be alert and attentive is ready to take over at any time. FSD was initially made available to a very small subset of users, but later expanded to include drivers who meet Tesla’s “Safety Score” requirements. However, last November it was made available to all users whose Tesla cars have the hardware to support it.

FSD has also landed Tesla in trouble as regulators investigate issues like phantom braking. A Tesla driver recently told California authorities that his car’s FSD technology failed, causing an eight-vehicle accident on the San Francisco Bay Bridge in November 2022. As of December 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated 41 accidents involving Tesla cars that had some of Tesla’s autonomous driving features enabled.

https://mashable.com/article/tesla-fsd-beta-hands-off Tesla update might make Full Self-Driving truly hands-off

Zack Zwiezen

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