Consumer Reports Confirms Tesla Model S Has Driver Monitoring Function


On December 24, we pointed out a discrepancy between what Consumer Reports wrote about Tesla’s driver monitoring camera and what Tesla said on its website. While the consumer organization said the Model S had that system, Tesla informed (and still does) that only the Model 3 and Model Y presented it. Jake Fisher contacted us to show that Tesla is faster in updating its cars than taking care of its website. The senior director of CR’s Auto Test Center sent us an image of the Model S digital owner’s manual. In it, Tesla informs this: “Cabin Camera Model S is equipped with a cabin camera located above the rear(-)view mirror. The cabin camera can determine driver inattentiveness and provide you with audible alerts, to remind you to keep your eyes on the road when Autopilot is engaged. By default, images and video from the camera do not leave the vehicle itself and are not transmitted to anyone, including Tesla, unless you enable data sharing.” Despite what the EV maker’s website still says about the driver monitoring function being exclusive to the Model 3 and the Model Y, Tesla’s website is outdated. It is not clear which update gave that capability to the electric sedan, but the fact is that it can try to avoid driving distraction – at least theoretically. CR really tested FSD in a vehicle that could verify if the driver was paying attention to the road or not. What the consumer organization realized was that covering the internal camera did not make FSD disengage: it kept on running as if nothing had happened. In practical terms, it is as if the camera didn’t exist or did not have that function, as Tesla still says. More than an issue with the driver monitoring system – which also failed to curb driver distraction in CR’s Model Y – this episode shows AV experts are right to urge American authorities to take measures about FSD. Apart from the erratic behavior the beta software presents on public roads in the hands of regular drivers, knowing that it remains active even when drivers are not paying attention is a massive problem. Many Tesla owners believe FSD makes their cars autonomous and keep trying to prove that in YouTube videos with risky attitudes such as sleeping or playing video games. Now cleared of any doubts, CR’s warning is just another drop in an ocean of demands for proper enforcement of autonomous vehicle testing procedures. NHTSA seems to be taking them more seriously lately – and it should. A company that is faster to update its cars than to update the information to its customers requires more strict supervision.