A Tesla hacker has revealed what Tesla’s driver-facing camera in Model 3 and Model Y is looking for — hinting at driver monitoring feature.

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

At the time, the automaker said that the camera wasn’t active and it would be used in the future.

CEO Elon Musk said that it would be used to prevent people from vandalizing cars when they are being driven automatically on Tesla’s upcoming self-driving robotaxi network.

For almost 3 years, the camera was not used in the Model 3 and Model Y vehicles until earlier this year when Tesla activated the camera for the first time.

The company started collecting images and clips for research purposes with consent from the drivers:

“Help Tesla continue to develop safer vehicles by sharing camera data from your vehicle. This update will allow you to enable the built-in cabin camera above the rearview mirror. If enabled, Tesla will automatically capture images and a short video clip just prior to a collision or safety event to help engineers develop safety features and enhancements in the future. As usual, you can adjust your data sharing preferences by tapping Controls > Safety &Security > DATA Sharing > Camera Analytics.”

Tesla is not actively using the camera to monitor drivers’ attention and instead, the automaker says that it only uses the data without being attached to specific drivers to improve existing features and future ones.

It led some to believe that Tesla could be working on eventually releasing active driver monitoring features.

Now Tesla hacker ‘green‘, known for revealing many features in Tesla’s software, has discovered what events the automaker is trying to detect with the driver-facing camera:

  • BLINDED
  • DARK
  • EYES_CLOSED
  • EYES_DOWN
  • EYES_NOMINAL
  • EYES_UP
  • HEAD_DOWN
  • HEAD_TRUNC
  • LOOKING_LEFT
  • LOOKING_RIGHT
  • PHONE_USE
  • SUNGLASSES_EYES_LIKELY_NOMINAL
  • SUNGLASSES_LIKELY_EYES_DOWN

Tesla’s only active driver monitoring feature when Autopilot is engaged is detecting if torque is being applied to the wheel.

Several other driver-assist systems, like GM’s Supercruise, are using cabin-facing cameras to make sure drivers are looking at the road.

Electrek’s Take

In the past, Elon has talked down on driver-monitoring based on gaze tracking, but it looks like that’s what Tesla is working on.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Tesla will release such a driver monitoring feature.

They might just be researching to see if it’s possible to make a useful one with the existing camera.

Either way, I am happy that they are actively working toward better driver monitoring because it’s currently one of the biggest weaknesses of Tesla’s Autopilot in my opinion.

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