The Tesla Autopilot ‘buddy’ hack to avoid ‘nag’ when using the driver assist system is coming back disguised as a ‘phone mount’ to get around NHTSA’s ban.
In recent updates, Tesla has been increasing the alerts to ‘hold the steering wheel’ when using Autopilot, most commonly known as “nag” in the Tesla community, in an attempt to try to reduce misuse of the driver assist system.
The move is not welcomed by all Tesla drivers and some of them have been looking at ways to get around it.
Last year, a company launched a product called ‘Autopilot Buddy’ to do just that, but it was shut down by NHTSA this summer for encouraging the misuse of Tesla’s driver-assist system, which requires drivers to always pay attention and keep their hands on the steering wheel.
They described the product on their website at the time:
“The “Autopilot Buddy” restores the use of “Autosteer” on Tesla vehicles to earlier Firmware 7 capabilities* This is not intended to be a hands-off device, your hands must remain on the wheel as directed by Tesla’s® terms of “Autosteer” user agreement.”
They are referring to a previous version of Tesla’s software that featured less aggressive alerts to hold the steering wheel.
In practice, the device is simply a weight made to fit the steering wheel of Tesla vehicles and trick the wheel’s sensor to believe that someone is holding it.
Now Electrek has found out that the company relaunched the product on Amazon, but they tweaked it a little bit and remarketed it as a phone mount – seemingly to get around the NHTSA ban:
They removed any mention of Autopilot and added a bunch of language like “only for stationary use” and “don’t use while the car is in motion.”
It’s now sold as a $229 magnetic phone holder.
We contacted NHTSA about the situation to ask if it is indeed enough to get around the ban. We will update if we get an answer.
As I have previously voiced, I think Tesla’s Autopilot nag is not a great way to make sure drivers are paying attention, but it is the best way they have right now and avoiding the nag is potentially dangerous.
I know a bunch of Tesla Youtubers and bloggers promoted the products and it became somewhat popular last year, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Not only because it is potentially dangerous even though I understand that some are using it while still paying attention to the road and being ready to take over control, but also because it is crazy expensive for what it is: a weight (oh and now a phone mount too… right).
On the other hand, I have to admit that it is a pretty smart rebranding approach on their part.
How about we just keep our hands on the steering wheel and our eyes on the road until Tesla can improve Autopilot enough that it isn’t required anymore?
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.