Tesla Drivers Can Now Play Video Games Even With Car Moving
After purchasing the Tesla Model 3 this summer, Vince Patton watched a YouTube clip that surprised him: three video games that can be played on a large touch screen mounted in front of the dashboard – on the street.
“I don’t think that’s right,” said Mr. Patton, retired at Lake Oswego, Ore.
But in a parking lot, he tried and was able to play a solitaire game on the Model 3 while he was in motion. “I just did it for five seconds and then turned it off,” he said. “I am shocked. To me, it just seems naturally dangerous. “
The automaker added games to the over-the-air software update that was shipped to most of its cars this summer. They can be played by the driver or the passenger in the driver’s entire view, raising new questions about whether Tesla is compromising safety while rushing to add new technology and features to your car.
Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which coordinates the state’s efforts to promote safe driving, said:
Tesla’s autopilot system, which can drive its own car, slow down and speed up, has been criticized by safety experts for years for allowing the driver to lengthen his arms off the steering wheel, even if it is not expected. And it is not an effective tool to ensure that drivers pay attention to the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tesla cars running in autopilot mode have been linked to at least 12 traffic deaths since 2016, hands-free driving and drivers looking off the road. Mr Adkins said the video game connection was “crying out for NHTSA to provide some guidance and regulation.”
Tesla and its chief executive, Elon Musk, did not respond to several emails asking about new video games and whether they could pose a security threat.
Distracted driving is a major cause of the growing number of traffic deaths in the United States. The Department of Transportation estimates that in the first six months of this year, 20,160 people died in traffic accidents. It had grown by 18.4 per cent in the first half of 2020 and the highest since 2006.
Driver’s negligence is officially cited as the cause of about 10 percent of traffic deaths, said Steve Kiefer, a senior executive at General Motors who is also the head of a foundation dedicated to tackling reckless driving. But he and other safety experts believe the actual figure is too high because, they say, deviations are often overlooked when naming other causes, such as reckless driving, in an accident investigation.
“I think the number is close to 50 percent,” said Mr Keefer.
The Kiefer Foundation is dedicated to his son, Mitchell, who died in 2016 at the age of 18 when his car was hit by a deranged driver on a highway in Michigan.
Distracted driving is caused by activities that take the driver’s hands off the steering wheel, divert their eyes from the road, or divert their attention from the act of driving. This is usually associated with smartphone use, such as texting or emailing while at the wheel, but drivers sometimes read books or do makeup. Some states have made it illegal to use a cellphone while driving. Automakers, Apple and Google have developed in-car software to make it easier to use voice commands to send text messages and make phone calls, leaving hands free on the go.
Automakers have also added mechanisms to reduce potential distractions from the front-seat screen. The Stalantis – formerly the Fiat Chrysler – offers an entertainment system that can play DVDs on the front screen, but when moved out of the car park, it gets dark. Many navigation systems do not allow addresses to be entered manually while the car is running. Mazda vehicles are prohibited from making maximum use of dashboard screens while in motion.
GM’s Super Cruise system, which can steer and brake and allow drivers to get their hands off the steering wheel, has an infrared camera to track the driver’s eyes. If it strays off the road, the Super Cruise warns or stops and controls the driver.
“We believe that with driver monitoring and eye monitoring, these features can be implemented completely safely,” said Mr. Kifer said.
Some Tesla cars have simple cameras that look at the driver’s face, but the cameras look less in the dark and do not blink. Four years ago, after investigating a fatal autopilot crash, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended adding an infrared camera to improve Tesla driver monitoring, but the company did not.
“This is surprisingly disappointing,” said Jennifer Homandy, chair of the Security Council. “We’re trying to warn the public and tell Tesla, ‘Hey, you need some security.’ But they don’t have it. ”
The Security Council investigates traffic accidents and may recommend measures to improve safety, but it does not have the authority to compel companies to take action. NHTSA plays this role.
The NHTSA has issued guidelines to vehicle manufacturers that any in-vehicle recreation equipment must be designed so that the driver cannot use them “to perform secondary distractions while driving.”
Until this summer, the video games in Tesla’s software package – there were more than a dozen – could be played while in the car park. That changed when the 2021.12.25.6 update was beamed for Tesla vehicles. Added solitaire to it; A jet fighter game, Sky Force Reloaded; And the Battle of Polytopia: Moonrise, a Victory Strategy Game. Min. Patton said he was able to access all three locations, including his car, and lodged a complaint with the NHTSA through their website.
In the warning that appears before the start of the game, Tesla shows awareness that solitaire can be played while moving the car: “Solitaire is a game for everyone, but playing while the car is on is for passengers only.” A button asks the player to confirm that he is a passenger, but the driver can only play by touching him.
In another YouTube video, another Tesla owner shows how the game can be played while driving. “It’s very dangerous,” the owner says in the video. “I’m sure someone is going to use the autopilot and then play solitaire while he’s on the autopilot. Take note, Tesla. “
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