Tesla ‘fires’ Full Self-Driving testers, reveals what in-car camera does

Tesla has let some of its unofficial test drivers go.

Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that several Tesla owners that had opted into a Beta release of the automaker’s latest Full Self-Driving semi-automated system have had their privileges revoked because they weren’t paying enough attention to the road while using it.

The feature, which Tesla drivers have pre-paid up to $10,000 for while it is in development, can “make lane changes off-highway, select forks to follow your navigation route, navigate around other vehicles and objects, and make left and right turns.”

Musk has previously said he has experienced it driving from point to point across Los Angeles several times with no human intervention required and videos of other operators having the same experience have been posted to social media.

Musk also apparently confirmed that the cars are using an internal camera to monitor driver awareness, something that hadn’t previously been widely revealed. It’s not clear if the testers are expressly notified of this fact, but images of the information screens they are presented with that have surfaced do not mention it.

In 2019, Musk said the camera would be used in the future to keep an eye on passengers “in case someone messes up your car” when Tesla’s proposed automated taxi service goes into effect.


General Motors currently uses facial recognition for the same purpose when drivers are using its hands-free Super Cruise highway driving aid, which only works if they are looking at the road ahead.

However, even as some drivers have been cut out of the loop, Musk said more Beta testers were being added ahead of a wide release. He added that a new version of the software coming in April would rely solely on exterior cameras and artificial intelligence to drive and would no longer need to use the cars’ radar systems, let alone the lidar technology that every other automaker working on autonomous cars says is key to its operation.

Tesla’s moves come even as the National Transportation Safety Board has called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to implement more stringent safety standards for autonomous driving systems being tested on public roads.

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