Tesla has agreed to modify software program in its vehicles to forestall drivers and passengers from enjoying video games on the dashboard screens whereas automobile are in movement, a federal security regulator stated on Thursday.
The settlement got here a day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a formal investigation of the game feature, which is named Passenger Play. The investigation was introduced after The New York Times reported this month on the potential safety risks the games posed.
“Following the opening of a preliminary evaluation of Tesla’s ‘Passenger Play,’ Tesla informed the agency that it is changing the functionality of this feature,” the protection company stated in a press release. “In a new software update, ‘Passenger Play’ will now be locked and unusable when the vehicle is in motion.”
Safety specialists had criticized Tesla for permitting the games to be accessible whereas vehicles have been in movement. “There is no argument that can be made that this isn’t dangerous,” stated Jason Levine, the chief director of the Center for Auto Safety, a shopper group.
Tesla didn’t reply to a request for remark.
The federal security company is analyzing different potential issues of safety with Teslas. In August, it opened a proper investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system, which may speed up and brake a automotive by itself, after vehicles utilizing the function crashed into parked hearth vehicles, police vehicles and different emergency autos at the very least 11 occasions. Those accidents resulted in one demise and a number of other critical accidents.
In addition, the protection company can also be reviewing greater than two dozen different accidents involving Teslas working on Autopilot. The company has stated eight of these crashes resulted in a complete of 10 deaths because the first occurred in 2016.
While the video sport function is just not instantly linked to the Autopilot points, the protection company on Wednesday advised it was anxious that Tesla drivers may play games whereas utilizing Autopilot in the mistaken perception that the automotive was driving itself and that they needn’t concentrate to the highway.
The firm instructs drivers to maintain their arms on the wheel and concentrate to the highway whereas utilizing Autopilot. But it does little to monitor drivers, and there may be mounting proof that some drivers routinely ignore its recommendation and warnings.
Tesla has been including video games to its vehicles for a number of years. Most may be performed solely when the automotive is in park. But this summer time it remotely up to date the software program of its vehicles to make out there three games that may very well be performed on the massive contact screens mounted in the middle of Teslas. The games have been solitaire; a jet fighter sport, Sky Force Reloaded; and a conquest technique sport, the Battle of Polytopia: Moonrise.
A warning that appeared earlier than the solitaire sport began indicated Tesla anticipated it to be performed whereas the automotive is moving: “Solitaire is a game for everyone, but playing while the car is in motion is only for passengers.” Players have been requested to affirm that they weren’t driving the automotive, however nothing prevented drivers from clicking by way of that display screen and enjoying the games.
“The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects posing unreasonable risks to safety, including technologies that distract drivers from driving safely,” the protection company stated.
The investigation the protection company opened on Wednesday covers about 580,000 vehicles and sport utility autos from mannequin years 2017 by way of 2022.