Tesla Ordered to Provide Data on Driver Assistance Systems
Tesla has received a special order from federal automotive safety regulators requiring the company to provide extensive data about its driver assistance and driver monitoring systems, including a previously undisclosed feature called “Elon mode.”
Understanding Tesla’s Driver Assistance Systems
When a Tesla driver uses the company’s driver assistance systems, such as Autopilot or Full Self-Driving (FSD) options, visual prompts appear on the car’s touchscreen to remind the driver to engage the steering wheel. If the driver neglects to do so, the prompts escalate to a beeping sound. If the driver continues to ignore the prompts, the vehicle can disable the advanced driver assistance features for the rest of the drive or longer.
Introducing “Elon Mode”
With the “Elon mode” configuration enabled, Tesla allows drivers to use Autopilot, FSD, or FSD Beta systems without the constant prompts to engage the steering wheel.
NHTSA’s Concerns and Special Order
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expressed concerns about recent changes to Tesla’s driver monitoring system, suggesting that drivers may be able to operate the vehicle in Autopilot mode for extended periods without being prompted to apply torque to the steering wheel. NHTSA sent a letter and special order to Tesla, requesting details about the use of this configuration and the number of authorized cars and drivers.
Deadline and Confidential Treatment
Tesla was given a deadline of August 25 to provide the requested information. The company responded on time, but their reply has been granted confidential treatment by NHTSA. Tesla has not yet commented on the matter.
Automotive safety researcher Philip Koopman agrees with NHTSA’s concerns, stating that hidden features that compromise safety should not be present in production software. NHTSA is also conducting investigations into crashes involving Tesla Autopilot systems.
Tesla’s Position and CEO’s Demo
Opinions on Tesla’s Progress
While some experts acknowledge improvements in Tesla’s technology, they believe the company still has a long way to go before offering a safe, self-driving system. During Musk’s demo, the Tesla system almost ran a red light, requiring Musk’s intervention to prevent any danger.