NHTSA closes its investigation into Tesla's 'Passenger Play' feature
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded its investigation into Tesla's 'Passenger Play' feature, stating it will not pursue a recall of the scrutinized vehicles. Passenger Play allowed passengers in the vehicle to play certain games like the Sky Force Reloaded while the vehicle was in motion. Tesla was quick to respond to NHTSA's concerns and issued an update that requires the vehicle to be in park before games can be launched.
The closure of the probe comes amidst continuing concerns over the potential for driver distraction.
Investigation Ends, Still Leaves Room for Future Actions
While NHTSA's conclusion signifies a milestone in Tesla's ongoing scrutiny, it does not entirely absolve the electric vehicle maker. The administration emphasized that the end of the investigation does not mean a safety-related defect doesn't exist. Furthermore, the NHTSA's decision opens the possibility for future action if additional concerns arise.
NHTSA's apprehensions were primarily rooted in Tesla's decision to allow video games to be played on the front center touchscreen of the vehicle while in motion. Having acknowledged these concerns, Tesla voluntarily took action by disabling the 'Passenger Play' feature through an over-the-air software update soon after NHTSA launched its investigation in December 2021.
Tesla's Voluntary Disabling of Feature Commended
The administration confirmed that Tesla reported a 97% completion rate of the software update disabling 'Passenger Play', within a month of its release. The agency lauded Tesla's swift action, which showcased a responsible approach toward ensuring driver safety and mitigating distractions. This action appeared to significantly address NHTSA's concerns, as the agency cited the importance of "affirmative technology-based lockouts" as more effective than merely using labels or disclaimer screens.
Ongoing Scrutiny of Tesla's Autopilot System
Despite the conclusion of this specific probe, Tesla remains under the lens of the NHTSA, which is currently investigating Autopilot. The investigation, covering approximately 830,000 Tesla vehicles, aims to understand better human factors concerning Tesla interfaces and the dynamic driving task.
A History of Safety First
Tesla has always portrayed itself as an automaker that prioritizes safety. From advanced driver assist systems to top-tier safety ratings, the electric car manufacturer has consistently sought to revolutionize transportation safety norms. The swift action in disabling the controversial 'Passenger Play' feature further underscores the company's commitment to road safety and user well-being.
Tesla’s case serves as a potent reminder for all automakers that in-vehicle infotainment devices must balance entertainment and safety. In 2014, the NHTSA issued guidelines encouraging automakers to design in-vehicle devices so the driver can’t use them to perform inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving. As the lines between automobiles and technology blur, the importance of these guidelines will only grow.
Although the 'Passenger Play' investigation has concluded, Tesla’s journey with the NHTSA is far from over. The ongoing probe into Tesla’s Autopilot system indicates that the auto giant will remain under close watch to ensure the highest levels of safety for users and fellow road users alike.
Tesla introduced a wrap-around ambient lighting strip to its new Model 3
If you look up ambient lights for Tesla, you'll see several ads for third-party light kits. Perhaps this is why Tesla added its own Ambient Lights feature to the new Model 3. So, let's get enlightened.
Tesla's ambient lights are thin light strips that are embedded in each of the vehicle's doors near the top edge. It also curves around the dashboard near the windshield, giving passengers a near 360-degree light effect.
Tesla new ambient light feature is available on the new Model 3 (2024+), and will be available on the Cybertruck in a similar manner. With a refresh ongoing for the Model Y, known as Juniper, it will likely also have ambient lights. That just leaves out the most luxurious flagship vehicles, the Model S and X, for now.
The Model S and Model X could be due for a minor refresh that would not only add ambient lighting, but also include a front-bumper camera that the Cybertruck has and the new Model 3 is expected to have in the near future.
Tesla introduced a wrap-around ambient lighting strip to its new Model 3
The ambient light settings allow you to light up the interior in a color that reflects your mood or preference. Under Controls > Lights > Accent Lights, you are handed the freedom to choose virtually any color to adorn the interior of your Tesla.
You have control over whether the ambient lights are on, off, or set to an "Auto" setting, though not fully clarified, seems to promise intelligent lighting adjustments akin to our control over dome lights, offering a reduction in reflections during drives.
While the ability to control the brightness level seems missing, Tesla did include color presets, letting you curate a series of your favorite colors.
It should be noted that the changes are confined to the light strips on the doors and dash, steering clear of the footwell lights and other interior lighting.
With Tesla, we can be assured there will be enhancements to this feature in a future update. In fact, the Tesla community is already busy coming up with useful suggestions. Some owners thought Tesla should take advantage of the lighting to provide driver feedback, such as automatically changing the ambient lighting to a red hue when there's a vehicle in your blind spot. Tesla could also glow the light strip on a door if it's not closed properly, or use the lighting to provide feedback when Sentry Mode is enabled.
Other uses could be more fun, such as cycling the light through various colors when the 'Rainbow Road' easter egg is activated.
Ambient Lighting in Action
While the possibilities are endless and Tesla engineers will surely have fun coming up with creative uses for the feature, the biggest improvement we can hope for in the near future is the ability to adjust the light intensity.
Tesla's new Model 3 received a host of exterior and interior upgrades
Tesla outdid itself with the refreshed Model 3, known as the Highland. Despite all the fantastic upgrades, something is missing - the Performance version or perhaps the Plaid. The letter "T" has shown up on vehicle certificates in Europe, and despite Elon Musk's sense of humor, it is unlikely this is a Mr. T reference.
Deciphering the 'T'
A new document shows the new Model 3 Performance will have a dual motor
eivissacopter / X
Diligent scrutiny of the European Type Certificate, issued by the Dutch vehicle authority RDW and shared on the TFF Forum, revealed a subtle yet pivotal alteration — including the letter 'T' in the eighth digit of the Model 3 Performance's VIN.
This seemingly minor detail, indicative of the vehicle's motor/drive unit type, sparked curiosity and speculation on the forum. Could it be a tri-motor setup to usher in a new Plaid version of the Model 3? This vehicle has already got endless amounts of zip, but three motors? May The Schwartz Be With You!
This could also explain the Model 3+ badging that was spotted during the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in China inspection of the refresh. However, the regulatory filings highlighted just two distinct variants of the car: a rear-wheel drive (RWD) with a 194 kW motor and an all-wheel drive (AWD) dual-motor setup that combines to deliver a formidable 331 kW of maximum power.
Initial conjectures leaned towards the possibility of a tri-motor setup, drawing parallels with the Plaid variants of the Model S and Model X. However, a deeper dive into the certification document clarified that the Model 3 Performance retained its Dual Motor setup, dispelling the possibility of a tri-motor upgrade.
Strategic Enhancements: A Glimpse into Potential Upgrades
Given the documented specifications, it becomes plausible that Tesla has strategically enhanced one of the dual motors, potentially aligning it with the advanced motor found in the Model S/X Plaid. This modification is poised to augment the top-end speed and acceleration of the Model 3 Performance, addressing its comparative limitations in extended races against traditional gas-powered supercars.
Meanwhile, the Model 3 refresh has become the new Bigfoot of the roads of North America, with rare sightings posted on social media. However, it appears the continent is excluded from the initial launch of the Model 3 Highland. Internal communications within Tesla suggest North American enthusiasts might have to exercise patience until 2024.
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