Tesla Starts Releasing Self-Driving Update That Allows Drivers To Keep Hands Off Wheel


Tesla Inc TSLA has begun rolling out its latest Full Self-Driving (FSD) v12.4 update to employees, which notably removes the controversial "steering wheel nag." This feature, which prompted drivers to apply pressure to the steering wheel to confirm attentiveness, has been mostly replaced with enhanced camera-based driver monitoring. The update aims to refine the driving experience by reducing unnecessary alerts and improving safety measures.

As reported by Electrek, CEO Elon Musk has touted the v12.4 update as "mind-blowing," claiming it will deliver a five-to-10 time improvement in miles per intervention.

The removal of the steering wheel nag, long a point of frustration for Tesla drivers, is expected to be a welcome change. Instead of relying on steering wheel torque, the new system uses cabin cameras to monitor driver attentiveness, provided the driver's eyes are visible and unobstructed. 

The update's release notes, shared by the Not a Tesla App, detail the enhanced driver monitoring system. It clarifies that the cabin camera must have a clear and continuous view of the driver's eyes, which means no sunglasses or hats with low brims. In cases where visibility is impaired, the system will revert to using both torque-based and vision-based monitoring.

The notes also emphasize that cabin camera images do not leave the vehicle unless data sharing is enabled, addressing privacy concerns.

Tesla has begun distributing the update to its internal fleet and plans to expand it to the wider fleet this week. This development marks a significant step in Tesla's ongoing efforts to advance autonomous driving technology while ensuring driver safety and compliance with regulatory standards.

Photo courtesy of Tesla.

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