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Tesla to change Autopilot hand detection warnings

by Justin King
Tesla to change Autopilot hand detection warnings

Drivers have complained the updated system falsely \'nags\' even when hands are on the wheel.

Tesla will soon roll out a revised alert for drivers who are frustrated by Autopilot's 'nagging' warnings to keep their hands on the wheel.

Some owners claim the latest Autopilot software update will falsely activate its warnings to put hands on the wheel even when the driver is gripping the steering wheel.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to a Twitter complaint, promising to change the screen alert to clarify that the system is sensing "slight up or downward force" on the wheel, not really "hold the wheel."

The company has tightened Autopilot's preventative safety provisions after several fatal accidents in which drivers apparently ignored the warnings.

Musk recently lamented the fine balance between warnings that are annoying enough to help prevent complacency yet not so annoying that drivers will simply choose to stop using Autopilot.


Some drivers quickly learned tricks to defeat the warning systems in the first cars equipped with autosteer, attaching random objects to the side of the wheel to replicate the force of a hand.

General Motors has taken a different approach with its Super Cruise technology, integrating a rear-facing camera on the steering column to verify that the driver's eyes remain fixed ahead toward the road. The system also relies on high-precision mapping data, limiting auto-steer engagement to select divided highways that have already been extensively scanned into a database.

Tesla has argued that its Autopilot-equipped cars are already several times safer than average vehicles, despite a few attention-grabbing accidents involving drivers who ignored disclaimers and active warnings.