On Wednesday, NHTSA said it was investigating the fact that you could play video games in a Tesla while the car is in motion, because that seems like a poor idea. On Thursday, NHTSA said Tesla told it, uh, sorry, I’m sorry, I’m trying to delete it.
In more precise terms, Tesla told NHTSA that it would disable the so-called Passenger Play feature while the car is moving, a reversal that perhaps shows what’s possible when government regulators can be moved to flex a little. Tesla will disable the feature via over-the-air update to its cars.
From the Associated Press:
An agency spokeswoman says in a statement Thursday that the change came after regulators discussed concerns about the system with Tesla. The first update went out Wednesday as part of Tesla’s holiday software release, and the rest of the vehicles should get it today.
The statement says NHTSA regularly talks about infotainment screens with all automakers. A message was left Thursday seeking comment from Tesla, which has disbanded its media relations department.
The agency says its investigation of Tesla’s feature will continue even with the update. It was not clear whether NHTSA would require Tesla to do a formal recall with the update. In the past the agency has asked Tesla why it should not be required to do recalls with safety-related software updates.
“The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects posing unreasonable risks to safety, including technologies that distract drivers from driving safely,” NHTSA’s statement said.
Now if only someone in the government could look into Full Self-Driving (which is not full self-driving), maybe we’d really be on to something when it comes to making Teslas safer for both the people who drive and ride in Teslas, and for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists, too. If only.