Tesla improves driver monitoring to watch for drowsiness, even when not using Autopilot

Tesla has made some significant changes to its camera-based driver monitoring system to now watch the driver for drowsiness. The improvement to the software is not limited to when Autopilot is engaged, as the driver will also be watched during regular driving.

Over the years one of the biggest criticisms of Tesla’s driver-assist software was the lack of an effective driver-monitoring system. Since Autopilot was first launched Tesla has used a system which checks for your hands on the steering wheel, measuring for torque from having your hands on the wheel. This changed in mid-2021 with the activation of the cabin camera, but the feature was only active to “detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged.”

But distracted driving can happen at anytime, and Tesla is stepping up their driver monitoring system even when a driver-assist system is not engaged. According to hacker @greentheonly, who frequently reviews the source code of Tesla’s software to uncover hidden gems, the camera-based driving monitoring system is now going after drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel. Green says the software now tracks the number of times the driver yawns, their blinking pattern, and even the posture of their body.

Along with these measures, Tesla is also keeping an eye on how well the car is staying centered in the lane, and how many times lane-keep assists and warnings have been triggered recently, all in an apparent attempt to detect drowsiness.

While green was able to notice these changes in the code, he was not able to determine what Tesla would do to reprimand you if the system did detect drowsiness when not using Autopilot. When Autopilot is engaged, the driver can be kicked out of using the system for not remaining attentive. Since there is no driver-assist system to kick you out of, the system will likely just display an audio and visual warning on the screen, although green was not able to confirm this.

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