NHTSA and Transport Canada are concerned about Tesla's removal of the Autopilot 'nag' screen
On the day that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released information about roadway fatalities, reporters were more interested in anything Tesla-related. Reuters stated the acting head of the NHTSA, Ann Carlson, made “comments to reporters on the sidelines of an event in Washington.” Those sideline comments were regarding the government’s review of crashes involving Teslas and the possibility of removing the steer wheel “nag” for Autopilot.
By the way, the NHTSA reported that fatalities due to car crashes in the United States appear to be leveling off after dramatic increases over the last two years. But back to Tesla.
Carlson told reporters that the government agency is investing a lot of resources in the Autopilot investigation that started in August of 2021. The acting head told Reuters, “The resources require a lot of technical expertise, actually some legal novelty, and so we're moving as quickly as we can, but we also want to be careful and make sure we have all the information we need."
Autopilot Changes are Coming
Part of the review is also said to investigate if drivers are paying attention when operating Tesla vehicles in Autopilot. The onboard alert system that assesses driver awareness has been activated in several crashes that the agency is investigating, which is why Carlson took particular interest in Elon Musk's recent tweet.
As we reported, Musk responded to a tweet from @WholeMarsBlog asking users with more than 10,000 FSD miles driven could have the option to disable the “tedious steering wheel nag.” Musk responded, "Agreed, update coming in Jan."
Carlson told reporters, “A very extensive investigation ongoing... We are in conversations with Tesla about this latest communication."
Removing the Nag
Musk also recently tweeted that a significant Full Self Driving update was coming in two weeks, including many major improvements. Given the timeline, this change to the steer wheel tension could be part of the FSD Beta V11.3 update. Therefore, it makes sense that the NHTSA has been in contact with Tesla. The results of its investigation could significantly impact the future of the autonomous vehicle vision that Musk has been working toward for years.
According to a recent tweet from DirtyTesla, he states a source told him that Transport Canada is already considering disallowing FSD Beta in Canada and that the removal of the steering wheel 'nag' could be the deciding factor.
DirtyTesla shared the message on Twitter:
"Transport Canada has been close to recommending they pull the plug on Beta in Canada because they don’t feel testing beta software with road users is safe. If the nag is removed they will most likely recommend it be pulled."
What Tesla Should Do
Tesla's reliance on detecting force being applied to the steering wheel was never a great solution. It doesn't provide continuous monitoring and it doesn't always properly detect resistance on the wheel, causing a lot of "not paying attention" prompts.
It sounds like Tesla is already in talks with the NHTSA, so we are hopeful that they're reaching an agreement they both feel good about. Other Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), such as BlueCruise already have hands-free driving on select highways. BlueCruise only monitors driver behavior through a camera similar to Tesla's in-cabin camera.
Instead of Tesla phrasing this as the 'removal of the steering wheel nag,' they should state that they'll be transitioning to better driver monitoring by leveraging their cabin camera and machine learning. Tesla launched vison-based driver monitoring two years ago. There have undoubtedly been improvements and they should state that they're now ready to transition to a system that allows improved monitoring while also reducing the need to 'nag' drivers at specific intervals.
Over the past seven years, the NHTSA has conducted nearly 40 special investigations where authorities suspected Autopilot was in use so their concern is understood, however, Tesla could do better to put them at ease.
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Tesla is implementing a new hazard light pattern that improves drivers' attention
Emergency Safety Solutions
Tesla is rolling out a significant safety enhancement through a software update. Teslas, already the safest vehicles on the planet, got a little safer thanks to a small company based in Texas. While this article will highlight the advancement in safety, it will also applaud the work of Emergency Safety Solutions, which dared to challenge the old way of doing things.
Overnight Evolution: The Game Changer
Tesla North America didn't mince words when they announced: "If an airbag is deployed, hazard lights will automatically activate & flash faster to improve visibility." Elon Musk added, "New Tesla safety feature uploaded via over-the-air software update. Your car just got better while you slept."
It got much better thanks to a partnership with Emergency Safety Solutions (ESS), which we spotlighted a year ago. The small company, now just five years old, used a Tesla Model 3 to display its advancements in the hazard lights system, which had remained unchanged for more than 70 years. After numerous studies, the company changed everything about the hazard lights and approached Tesla with its findings.
Chilling Frequency: Every seven minutes, a disabled vehicle is involved in a crash on American roads. The result? An alarming 15,000 injuries or fatalities annually.
Ancient Flaws: The primary culprit behind these startling figures is a hazard light system that hasn't been updated in over seven decades.
The Solution: A frequency shift by adjusting flash frequencies from the sluggish 1.5Hz system to between 4Hz and 6Hz immensely heightens driver alertness. Hertz is a unit of frequency, which equals the number of cycles per second. In this case, the frequency of flashing lights is increased from 1.5 flashes per second, up to 4 - 6 flashes per second.
Real-World Outcomes: When 5Hz flash frequency was tested, drivers reacted a crucial 12 seconds faster. Moreover, they recognized an issue of more than three football fields sooner than the 70-year version. The number of drivers shifting to the safer side of a disabled vehicle also shot up dramatically — from 30% to an impressive 87%.
Emergency Safety Solutions also posted on X: "Great step toward making our roads safer for people in disabled and vulnerable vehicles! We appreciate our partnership with Tesla and applaud this major milestone in our mission to protect drivers when they need it most."
Tesla states in their post on X that this update is rolling out now in the U.S. to Model 3/Y vehicles and newer Model S and Xs.
It's more likely that H.E.L.P. is implemented in update 2023.38, but we have yet to receive release notes for vehicles in the U.S., so we'll have to wait and see if this enhancement made it in.
More H.E.L.P. to Come
Keep an eye out for even more safety advancements courtesy of this partnership with ESS and Tesla. The company created the Hazard Enhanced Location Protocol or HELP. Beyond the lightning-fast flashes, HELP seamlessly integrates with in-car and phone navigation systems, giving drivers a heads-up about potential hazards before they become visible. It's like giving your Tesla a sixth sense.
Unfortunately, that will take longer as it would require more automakers to get on board with this new system. However, as we've realized, automakers are following Tesla's leadership on several fronts, and they may also increase road safety and implement the advanced system.
If an airbag is deployed, hazard lights will automatically activate & flash faster to improve visibility
It's not a good day to be named Max and work at Tesla or on the security team assigned to the Cybertruck. You can't help but wonder how a daring individual found himself in the driver's seat of this highly anticipated vehicle. This perpetrator spoke in Russian and joked that a bag in the truck belonged to Elon Musk before zooming in to a name tag reading "Max."
While we certainly don't condone breaking the law, we were provided with a risky reveal of the Cybertruck's interior courtesy of a mysterious and perhaps too-bold-for-his-own-good infiltrator.
The video is less than a minute long but provides new information, notably on the updated user interface (UI). For weeks we've had Cybertruck sightings, but this is our best look at the Cybertruck's display.
Updated Icons and Font
The UI appears designed specifically for the Cybertruck; icons possess subtle sharp edges, mirroring Cybertruck's angular aesthetics. This design philosophy also extends to the unique font choice, giving the UI a rugged, distinct look.
A further advancement is the seamless transition between vehicle visualization and maps. The once-clear partition is a fading background, allowing for a more unified appearance. This unity is further emphasized with the vehicle now being depicted atop a 3D polygon terrain, which has been discovered before in firmware updates.
Icon Placement Changes
One of the first distinctions users would notice is the transition from horizontal app icons. This design has been the hallmark of previous Tesla models, to a vertical arrangement along the lefthand side of the screen.
The vehicle control icon is at the bottom, followed by climate controls and other apps. The gear indicator has evolved, too, switching from its usual horizontal layout to a vertical orientation in the screen's top left portion.
A closer look at the Cybertruck's UI
The status icons, such as time, temperature, Tesla profile used to grace the top of the display, but they have now been realigned to the left side and can now be found directly above the vehicle visualization.
Cameras, Front Camera Confirmed
Another intriguing update revolves around the Camera app. Where previously users had to decipher camera views, they are now labeled for convenience, as showcased in the video with marked "Left" and "Front" camera views. Yes, there is a front camera view, finally answering the question of Tesla introducing the front bumper camera. We previously had a look at how we expect Tesla's updated Camera app to work with the front bumper camera.
One of the standout features in the video is the battery display. Gone are the traditional battery icons. Instead, we are introduced to slanted lines, each symbolizing 10% of the battery charge. This visual representation is intuitive and integrates with the Cybertruck's angular design.
Music Mini Player?
Beneath the vehicle visualization is what appears to be a minuscule music control feature, though its precise functionality remains uncertain from the short video clip.
Inside the Cybertruck: More than Just a Fresh UI
Ambient Lighting: Drawing inspiration from the latest Model 3 Refresh and the Chinese Model Y, the Cybertruck incorporates a colorful ambient lighting strip. Strategically placed, this lighting adds a modern aura to the vehicle's groundbreaking design.
Interior Layout and Accessories: The video takes us on a mini-tour of the truck's interior, revealing several intriguing features:
Hexagonal Design Elements: Keeping in line with Cybertruck's geometric aesthetic, the backup camera icon flaunts a hexagonal design, intriguingly contrasting the octagonal design found on the cupholders.
Center Console: A spacious tray area reminiscent of the old Model S finds a home between the front seats. Decked with some wires and a yet-to-be-identified document, the console boasts "cyber cupholders" with an octagonal design. Furthermore, it's equipped with dual phone charging spots right in front of the cupholders.
Sun Visor: The video briefly showcases the two-stage sun visor, which resembles the one found in the Model X. The video provides a glimpse of the massive glass roof, promising a panoramic view that will undoubtedly make the interior feel even more expansive.
Rear Window View: A feature with many talking is the clear view through the back window. Although the video offers only a short glimpse, obstructed by tires placed in the truck's bed, it's evident that when the cover is open, drivers and passengers will benefit from an expansive, unobstructed view.
As one viewer pointed out, this video will probably be used for evidence one day. Whoever was in the Cybertruck owes Max an apology, and poor Max needs to remember to lock the door.
Video reveals the Cybertruck’s UI
- apps are along the left side - status bar icons like time and temp are above the vehicle visualization - smaller nav search icon - gradient between the visualizations and map
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