There has been discussion about putting cameras inside Tesla cars to film drivers for awhile. This is mainly due to a string of accidents that were portrayed at the time as a failure on the part of autopilot. After almost every accident, it was discovered that the driver was being careless. In one of the most recent accidents, no one was driving when the car crashed.
The cameras will be placed above the rear-view mirror in the Model 3 and Model Y. They are being used to make sure the driver is paying attention to the road.
Up to this point, Tesla was relying exclusively on the torque sensors in the steering wheel to make sure the driver was paying attention. This camera is a supplement to the torque sensors in the steering wheel, This information may mean that Tesla drivers will no longer be able to tie a roll of duct tape to the steering wheel to trick the system into thinking a driver is present.
Cameras vs. eye tracking system
Tesla has these cameras above the rear-view mirror while Ford and General motors have an eye tracking system. Ford’s system focuses on the driver’s gaze. The driver’s gaze is important, but there are times when the driver does look away from the road momentarily. The Tesla cameras track more than just the eyes. There is a discussion to be had about what kind of system is easiest to use and prevents the most accidents.
Drawbacks of these cameras
There has not been enough disclosure as to what will be done with the camera footage that the car films. There have been many privacy concerns. Also, drivers could tamper with the camera if they wanted to. They could put a piece of tape over the camera, so that the rest of the duct tape can be hung on the steering wheel to trick the car. For many years one of the biggest concerns brought up by skeptics of self-driving cars was that hackers could hack into a car to try to cause harm. Luckily, this hasn’t been such a common occurrence. However, if someone with bad motives was able to steal a Tesla, then they could maybe access the camera footage to try to harm the owner of the vehicle. Lastly, based on many sources, it seems the car needs to do more to alert drivers at the moment they are caught zoning out.
Benefits and quirks of cameras
The camera system is synchronized into the rest of the self-driving software. There is the possibility that the camera could make it so Tesla decides that the driver doesn’t have to put their hands on the wheel as much. Instead of every 10 seconds, it could be every 30 seconds, or even 45 seconds on the highway. The biggest benefit is that Tesla will ban drivers from using the autonomous software who are not paying attention.
Daniel Cappo reports Tesla developments at Torque News. He has had a passion for cars ever since age five when his grandparents let him drive their old golf cart around their property in Upstate NY. He has attended numerous auto shows, and even got the chance to drive a Ferrari California on the track. Ever since Tesla opened up a dealership at his local mall, he's been an avid follower of their cars and technology. Dan has a B.S. in Public Communication from U Vermont. Follow Daniel on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily Tesla News.