Tesla reveals in a patent application how it plans to use the cabin-facing camera inside Model 3, which is still dormant, to personalize the in-car experience for the occupants.

When Tesla launched the Model 3, it equipped the vehicle with a standard cabin-facing camera located in the rearview mirror.

It has been over 2 years since Tesla brought the vehicle to production and this camera, which is included in every Model 3, has remained dormant.

Tesla has yet to implement a feature using this camera, but we now learn of a planned use for it thanks to a patent application and new comments from CEO Elon Musk.

The automaker applied for a patent called ‘Personalization System and Method for a Vehicle based on Spatial Locations of Occupants’ Body Portions’:

“The following described implementations may be found in the disclosed personalization system and method for a vehicle based on spatial locations of body portions of occupants in the vehicle. Exemplary aspects of the disclosure may include a personalization system that may include an image-capture device and circuitry in an in-vehicle electronic device. The disclosed personalization system, for example, the in-vehicle electronic device, increases improves an overall in-vehicle comfort and entertainment experience for the vehicle occupants. The personalization system provides an advanced, intelligent, and an automatic personalization of in-vehicle systems in real-time or near-real time for enhanced and consistent in-vehicle comfort and entertainment experience, both before and during a drive.”

In short, they plan to use a camera to recognize occupants and automatically apply specific settings personalized to them.

The patent application describes some of the potential personalization:

“In some embodiments, the circuitry may be configured to execute a first level of customization in the vehicle based on the defined user preferences in the identified driver profile of the first occupant. For example, the electrically powered adjustable components, such as the driver seat, vehicle mirrors (e.g., the ORVM), front mirror, radio, music preferences, and driving mode preferences, may be adjusted in accordance with the user preferences in the driver profile of the first occupant. The circuitry may be configured to communicate a plurality of control signals to one or more other ECUs to initiate the adjustments in accordance with the user preferences in the driver profile of the first occupant.”

Tesla already enabled most of those settings to be automatically applied based on the driver’s profile, but the patent describes a Tesla vehicle doing it automatically by recognizing occupants using a camera located in the rearview mirror.

Here’s another excerpt from the patent application:

“The image-capture device is positioned in the interior of the vehicle such that a field-of-view of the image-capture device is suitable to capture self-portrait images that include at least a face portion of all occupants (including driver and passengers) in the vehicle. Thus, the image-capture device may also be referred to as a selfie camera. In some embodiments, the image-capture device may be installed in the vicinity of the front mirror of the vehicle, as shown, for example, in FIG. 3A. Examples of the image-capture device may include, but are not limited to, an image sensor, a wide-angle camera, an action camera, a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera, a camcorder, a time-of-flight camera (ToF camera), a night-vision camera, and/or other such in-vehicle cameras or sensors.”

Here are some drawings from Tesla’s patent application:

In a recent interview released last week, CEO Elon Musk did briefly mention the system described in the patent application in reference to something Tesla plans to do with the advent of self-driving and a shared fleet of robotaxi:

“You’ll want probably dynamic personalization, so it’s like you step into the car, it knows who you are, it knows everything you want, and the car reconfigures itself automatically to all your preferences. So you could step into any car, and that’s how it would be.”

The system was designed by Blair Williams, a former Apple engineer who most recently worked on Autopilot and Infotainment Hardware Engineering at Tesla before joining Boosted earlier this year, and Adnan Esmail, a longtime hardware engineer at Tesla.

Electrek’s Take

One of the main use cases that has been speculated for the Model 3’s cabin-facing camera is to monitor passengers in the car for the future Tesla Network.

If Tesla owners are to put their cars on the fleet and have strangers step into it, a camera would be useful to prevent them from trashing the vehicle or trace it back to a specific passenger if something happened.

I feel like facial recognition of those passengers is the first step toward that and sure, why not personalizing the experience if you already know who is in the car.

What do you think about this concept? Let us know in the comment section below.


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