Tesla releases software update to disable in-motion passenger play

At this point, it’s no surprise that Tesla or CEO Elon Musk is announcing a game-changing feature for its EVs.

Earlier this year, Tesla rolled out the ability for passengers to play video games through the dash-mounted infotainment system even when the car is in motion, which can be activated after the player confirms that he was a passenger.

However, there is also nothing preventing a driver from pressing this prompt.

Today, Tesla notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of plans to roll out a software update that disables the feature while the vehicle is in motion.

This comes after reports earlier this week that the agency had opened a preliminary investigation into passenger gambling, following concerns raised by Tesla Model 3 owner Vince Patton (as reported by the New York Times). This probe covers all four Tesla models – the S, X, Y and 3 from 2017 to 2022.

Display of Sonic 1 on the Tesla dashboard

(Image credit: Tesla)

While the availability of games like Sonic 1 has created a buzz among Tesla gaming and fans, traffic safety experts and agencies are concerned that live video and interactive touchscreen activities may present security issues. security.

Musk has made his love for gaming known over the years, so his intention to make Tesla’s infotainment system highly capable of running AAA titles was impressive, but no surprise.

NHTSA has also already presented a number of investigations this year into touchscreen failures, as well as the performance of Tesla’s self-driving software following consumer complaints.

While we haven’t yet heard anything directly from Musk or Tesla representatives about this particular evidence, the NHTSA investigation is the first step in what could be a long journey to reshape the way Tesla deals with its security system. in-car entertainment.

Analysis: The long road to innovation

Big changes to the way we live, work and even drive aren’t always welcomed with open arms, and it’s safe to say that Tesla is no stranger to skepticism.

That being said, the leaps and bounds of new developments like Tesla’s powerful infotainment and self-driving system warrant caution.

Early NHTSA estimates (June 2021) show that approximately 38,680 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2020 in the United States – the highest predicted number of fatalities since 2007. According to road safety charity Brake, 2020 has seen 1,516 people have been killed on UK roadswith 1,460 deaths recorded in Britain and 56 recorded in Northern Ireland.

Of course, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many of those deaths can be attributed to distracted driving, but previous NHTSA statistics suggested that about 9% of accidents in 2019 have been reported as being related to distraction.

Autonomous driving presents the possibility for distracted driving to have less of an impact on these stats – however, for now, the technology is causing more safety issues than it solves, judging by the NHTSA investigations.

While the future of self-driving cars remains bright, it’s safe to say that, for now at least, it’s time to manage expectations, fasten our seat belts, and stop the game of solitaire we’ve been playing. playing on our infotainment systems while taking a break. of the road.