Tesla starts monitoring drivers for yawns and eye blinking | Electrek

May 30, 2023

Tesla is stepping up its in-car driver monitoring as it starts to count yawns, blinks, and more to track how drowsy the driver is.

Over the years, Tesla has been criticized for not emphasizing driver monitoring with its advanced driver-assist features under the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving packages.

For years, Tesla was only able to detect torque on the steering wheel; therefore, drivers had to move the wheel to let the system know they still had their hands on the wheel.

This is still the primary way Tesla performs driver monitoring, but the automaker has also started using the cabin-facing camera in 2021. Tesla uses the camera to ensure the driver is watching the road and not using a handheld device.

Now, Tesla is taking its driver monitoring to a whole new level. Green, a Tesla hacker known for revealing new features found in Tesla’s software, has discovered that the automaker is tracking other things, like yawns and blinks:

Looks like Tesla is planning a big boost to (camera based) driver monitoring.
They are now tracking additional things like how many yawns the driver had recently, how many blinks and how long they were, leaning. All this is to calculate how drowsy the driver is.

— green (@greentheonly)

Interestingly, this is not just being done when using Autopilot or FSD Beta. Green says that Tesla is also tracking these metrics when drivers are themselves driving:

It also looks like they are planning to apply this even when not on AP (which is a very right move!) by seeing how well-centered the driving is, how many lane keep assist warnings and corrections happened lately.

But Green couldn’t find anything about what Tesla plans to do with this information or if it reaches a certain threshold.

Electrek’s Take

This is an interesting development and certainly a step in the right direction.

Top comment by Cypress

“says that Tesla is also tracking these metrics when drivers are themselves driving:”

They better be asking permission to collect that data first.

Tesla seemed uninterested in driver monitoring because it is more useful for level 2 and 3 autonomy, and the automaker was always confident that it could deliver level 4 and 5 autonomy quickly.

This has obviously not been the case, and now Tesla is adapting.

Well-executed driver monitoring can improve safety, but the thing that Tesla drivers have been wishing for is that it would reduce the number of alerts to apply pressure to the steering wheel, often called “Autopilot nag.”

While this hasn’t been the case yet, maybe this new development might eventually lead to less “nag.”

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Tesla starts monitoring drivers for yawns and eye blinking | Electrek