Teslas Can Now Reportedly Detect Cheat Devices That Allow Hands-Free Driving

Considering how dangerous those devices are, that's a good thing.

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Red Tesla Model 3
Photo: Tesla

Despite the deceptive terms “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving,” Teslas aren’t actually self-driving cars. Drivers are expected to keep at least one hand on the wheel and be ready to take over at any time. But since some people are reckless and trust Autopilot more than they should, some companies have created cheat devices such as Autopilot Buddy that trick the system into thinking there’s a hand on the wheel when there really isn’t. Now, it looks like Tesla’s finally taking these dangerous accessories seriously.

Electrek reports that according to Teslascope, an account that regularly looks into Autopilot updates, “The latest version of Full Self-Driving Beta (V10.69.3.1) can detect some forms of autopilot defeat devices and will be slowly adapted over time as new methods are discovered by Tesla. If detected, it will result in a forced autopilot disengagement; resulting in strikes.”

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They didn’t go into detail about how it works, but it seems likely that the constant resistance provided by a weight on one side of the steering wheel would be noticeably different than the more inconsistent pressure from a human actually keeping their hands on the wheel. Tesla’s update probably isn’t 100% effective, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.

Then again, Tesla’s still got a long way to go on the safety front. Especially when it comes to driver monitoring. The interior camera is supposed to detect when the driver isn’t paying attention to the road, but as Consumer Reports found, it still doesn’t work very well. In fact, Ford’s BlueCruise and GM’s Super Cruise performed far better at ensuring drivers were engaged than Autopilot.

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We’re sure this update will frustrate quite a few Tesla owners, but who cares? If you’re driving dangerously and putting other people’s lives at risk, you need to be stopped.