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Tesla’s camera-based driver monitoring still inadequate, argues Consumer Reports

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For the longest time, Consumer Reports has heavily criticized Tesla’s driver monitoring systems since the EV maker primarily relied on the vehicles’ steering wheel to determine if a driver is paying attention to the road or not. Now that Tesla has rolled out its camera-based eye-tracking system, Consumer Reports’ stance remains the same. 

In a recent article, Consumer Reports noted that Tesla’s camera-based driver monitoring system failed to keep a driver’s attention on the road. This was the conclusion determined by the publication after testing the system with Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta. Consumer Reports tested the cabin camera-based driver monitoring systems in their 2022 Model S and 2022 Model Y, and the magazine noticed a number of faults. 

For one, drivers could reportedly still use Autopilot even if they were looking away from the road or using their mobile phone. Even if the camera is obscured, the magazine claimed that Autopilot remained active and didn’t prohibit the driver from using the driver-assist system. FSD Beta reportedly remained usable even with the cabin camera blocked as well. 

Kelly Funkhouser, manager for vehicle technology at Consumer Reports, noted that driver monitoring systems should detect driver attentiveness and alert them to pay attention. If the driver were to ignore these alerts, the system should escalate its warnings and eventually disengage the system safely. 

“It is proven that drivers pay less attention to the road when a vehicle is automating some driving tasks, and therefore they may have trouble reacting in time in an emergency if they need to take back control,” Funkhouser said. 

This sentiment was echoed by Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center. According to Fisher, Tesla’s camera-based setup is still inadequate. “To keep people safe, the system should prevent the driver from using active driving assistance if the driver stops looking at the road. Tesla’s system simply doesn’t do that,” he said. 

Similar to its other critiques of Tesla’s systems, Consumer Reports argued that GM Super Cruise’s driver monitoring system is still the golden standard, as it intervenes if its cameras determine that a driver is not paying attention.

What is rather interesting is that Consumer Reports’ recent conclusions about Tesla’s camera-based driver monitoring system contradict reports from actual Tesla owners, many of whom have expressed complaints that the eye-tracking system being used by the company for systems like FSD Beta is actually far too sensitive. Some FSD Beta users have even reported that they were warned by their vehicles to pay attention to the road even if they just glanced at the map in their cars’ infotainment screen. 

Consumer Reports’ full critique of Tesla’s camera-based driver monitoring system could be viewed here.

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Tesla’s camera-based driver monitoring still inadequate, argues Consumer Reports
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