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 reveals how many miles have been driven on FSD Beta as of January 2023
Tesla's Full Self Driving (FSD) technology took a giant leap forward in distributing FSD Beta to 400,000 customers in North America. It is a significant milestone for the development of autonomous driving and highlights Tesla's commitment to bringing this cutting-edge technology to the masses. A new version, v11.3 could roll out any day.
Number of Testers Over Time
Tesla made FSD Beta public a little more than two years ago, around October 2020. It was initially only made available to less than a handful of testers, but that pool grew to about 1,000 users later that year.
Since then Tesla has gradually increased the number of testers. The ramp from the initial 1,000 testers took some time, but by October 2021 Tesla had opened it up further through its Safety Score program. By January 2022, it was available to about 60,000 owners.
In March of 2022, Tesla expanded FSD Beta to Canada, gradually adding additional testers, and eventually increasing the number of testers across the U.S. and Canada to 160,000 in September.
Tesla announced this December that the number of testers had grown to 285,000 and recently said this January that it's now accessible to 400,000 Tesla owners.
FSD Beta Expansion and Milestones
Opened to select testers
~ 1,000 added
Start of expansion through Safety Score
Available to 60,000 testers
Expansion to Canada
Available to 160,000 testers
Available to 285,000 testers
Access given to 400,000 owners
The deployment of FSD Beta to such a large number of customers will provide an unprecedented level of testing and feedback, allowing Tesla to refine the technology and bring it to an even higher level of reliability and safety. Furthermore, with over 90 million miles driven on FSD outside of highways, the published data shows a clear improvement in safety statistics, demonstrating the potential for autonomous driving to revolutionize the way we travel.
This increased testing level will help improve the technology even further, as the system can learn from a broader range of driving scenarios and road conditions.
FSD Will Make the Roads Safer
The safety benefits of Full Self Driving technology will be a major selling point for Tesla and one of the primary reasons for its rapid growth. Using cameras and other advanced technologies, FSD can monitor the road and make real-time adjustments to ensure the vehicle operates safely and efficiently. As a result, this technology reduces the likelihood of accidents and provides passengers with a safer, more comfortable driving experience.
Overall, making FSD Beta available to 400,000 customers represents a major step forward for Tesla and the entire autonomous driving industry. It's now available to all customers who have purchased or subscribed to FSD in the U.S. and Canada. The next big expansion is expected to be in Europe sometime this year.
With its focus on safety and reliability, Tesla is leading the way toward a future where driving is fully autonomous, and accidents are a thing of the past. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more impressive advances in the coming years, bringing us closer to a world where autonomous vehicles are a common sight on our roads.
The Ctrl-Bar adds physical buttons to the Model 3/Y
Tesla's minimalistic interior design is both loved and hated. Much loathing is due to the lack of physical buttons drivers are so used to having at their fingertips to control heat, music and everything else in the cabin. The sleek look is attractive, but for some it can fall short in easy accessibility while driving.
That's where a new product comes into play: Ctrl-Bar. Created by Øyvind Husby of Oslo, Norway, Ctrl-Bar has nearly 300 backers on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo and has beat its target funding goal by more than 280 percent. The objective is to provide a tactile, programmable solution to Tesla's minimalistic interior design.
How It Works
Ctrl-Bar is a device that attaches securely to the bottom of the Model 3 and Model Y screen and offers a quick-access, tactile response that physical buttons can only achieve. The premium black glass finish blends seamlessly with the screen bezel, providing a smooth look. It connects to a smartphone using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and gets power from a hidden USB cable connected to the rear center console USB port. The app runs in the background, capturing only the data needed to run the services and prioritizing privacy. In addition, the Ctrl-Bar screen shows real-time changes, so there is no latency when changing temperatures or other functions. After less than a second, the device will send the command to your vehicle.
The Scrolls, Buttons and Extras
The Ctrl-Bar has two scroll wheels with tactile indents to control the cabin temperature, one for the driver and the passenger. In addition, four push buttons are in the middle of the wheels to provide easy access to programmable shortcuts, such as seat heaters, defrost mode, dog mode, and more. All changes made on the Ctrl-Bar are reflected on the center screen, offering a unified experience.
In addition to controlling essential functions, Ctrl-Bar also provides ambient LED lighting. The device has a series of powerful LEDs that illuminate the center console and front footwells. Users can scroll through assorted color and brightness options to find the perfect lighting for their drive. For an additional subscription, Ctrl-Bar offers speed trap warnings. The device checks for nearby fixed speed traps and visually alerts the driver when they are approaching. If the driver exceeds the speed limit, Ctrl-Bar will give an audible warning reminding them to slow down.
The Ctrl-Bar adds physical buttons to the Model 3/Y
Creative Company with a Track Record
Greenmission, the company behind Ctrl-Bar, has successfully launched a premium wireless charger for the Tesla Model S/X. With trusted manufacturers and software developers on board, the main obstacles to getting Ctrl-Bar into the hands of Tesla owners are developing the phone app, establishing a reliable connection, avoiding supplier issues and delays, and managing costs. Despite these challenges, Greenmission is confident they can bring Ctrl-Bar to market and provide a much-needed solution to the lack of physical buttons in Tesla vehicles.
Ctrl-Bar is an interesting device that adds some physical buttons for owners who want or need them. It matches well with the interior of the vehicle and still provides a sleek look. However, it will require your phone to have a cellular connection to successfully send commands to the vehicle, since it relies on Tesla's APIs.
Tesla drivers are always looking for ways to improve their experience, and new features will be made available through Over-The-Air updates. Furthermore, users' feedback and suggestions will be considered and worked on in future updates.
TeslaFi is a service that logs your drives and charging sessions so that you can later refer back to them. We highly recommend checking them out if you use your car for business trips and would like to keep track of reimbursements, if you like to see how much you spend on charging or if you just love statistics. View their about us page and see everything they have to offer!