Posted on May 16, 2023 at 5:51 PM
Hacker says Tesla is monitoring driver behavior to measure drowsiness
Leading electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla will start analyzing driver behavior. The company will start conducting the said analysis on vehicles despite the driver choosing not to engage assistance software, including Autopilot and the Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta.
Tesla is monitoring driver behavior to measure drowsiness
The plans of the electric vehicle maker were announced by a hacker known as “greentheonly” on Twitter. According to the hacker, the new monitoring technique by Tesla would depend on camera monitoring to track the behavior of the driver.
“Looks like Tesla is planning a big boost to (camera-based) driver monitoring. They are now tracking additional things like how many yawns the driver had recently, how many blinks, and how long they were, leaning. All this is to calculate how drowsy the driver is,” the hacker said.
Tesla is yet to officially announce the release of such a safety feature, indicating that the feature was only discovered, but the company has yet to confirm whether it is in future plans. The hacker in question, greentheonly, frequently exposes the hidden features within the software updates of the electric vehicle.
The hacker published a Twitter post on May 3 and provided an in-depth detail about how this safety feature will operate if it is launched. The hacker said that the feature would be one of the hidden elements that would be released by the automaker in the next software update.
He said that the drivers using Tesla vehicles would be monitored for any behavior that could indicate drowsiness. Such behavior includes the number of times that the driver has blinked or yawned. These involuntary movements could be tracked using the interior cameras located above the dashboard.
Tesla already has features that can track the attentiveness of a driver and their behavior if they have engaged Autopilot of FSD. However, this new function will be different because it will operate whether or not the driver has engaged any assistance feature. This makes the feature more intrusive and has the ability to affect the driver’s privacy.
The Twitter post garnered mixed reactions from other Twitter users. Some users noted that the feature would be a great addition because it would promote road safety. However, others have argued that it is a double-edged sword because of the invasion of the driver’s privacy. However, greentheonly said that the EV maker was currently only adding the code, and the feature was yet to be integrated into the UI.
Tesla plans to support business growth
Tesla also released its quarterly earnings call, where it elaborated on plans to grow its income. The EV maker has provided several discounts for its electric vehicles, and it is now replacing this lost income with an increase in subscription revenue. The EV maker is currently focused on growing the subscriptions derived from driver-assistance packages.
Earlier this year, Tesla merged its FSD and Autopilot platforms in a bid to expand utilization. However, none of these packages qualified above being a Level 2 system. The package still sits below the standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the classification of driverless vehicles.
The brand said that it would attain full autonomy towards the end of the year. However, the leaked safety feature shows that the plans for full autonomy are still lagging behind. If Tesla achieves full autonomy for its vehicles, it will need less monitoring from the drivers. Therefore, this feature to monitor drivers for signs of drowsiness shows that the company is yet to realize the technology capacity and standards needed to have fully autonomous models.
This development also comes as Tesla faces criticism over safety features. The EV maker has been criticized in the past over its failure to have safety features put in place to boost assertiveness when the driver assistance feature has been engaged. The automaker has also been criticized over the use of complex terminologies to promote the use of its software products.
The NHTSA has also opened multiple investigations into the accidents that reportedly involve the use of the self-driving packages offered by the automaker. In some states like California, regulators forced the company to stop using the phrase “full self-driving” to market its models.
The leaked feature of tracking the behavior of the driver could be a proactive measure by the company to avoid legal conflicts. If the feature is launched, it will be released in the coming months, and it could play a significant role in promoting safety on Tesla models.