We’re not even in the middle of the week yet and Le New York Times tore Tesla not once, but twice. The big story Alleges Company Essentially Falsified Its ‘Full Self-Driving’ Promotional Video by pre-setting a route for the vehicle to follow, a route it has failed to travel without hitting something. The second, less important but still worrying piece of news concerns Tesla Arcade, the manufacturer’s in-car gaming service, and the fact that it allows drivers to play certain games on the central infotainment screen even when the vehicle is on. movement.
The temperature quotes a Model 3 owner named Vince Patton, who was surprised to find he could play Solitaire while driving in a parking lot. Tesla Arcade has been around for a while, but as the article explains, games were previously only playable when the car was parked. The company reportedly pushed for a vehicles update in July that added three titles, including Solitaire, and lifted that restriction for them:
Until this summer, Tesla’s software package video games – there were over a dozen of them – could only be played when a car was parked. That changed when the 2021.12.25.6 update was released to Tesla vehicles. He added the solitary; a jet fighter game, Sky Force Reloaded; and The Battle of Polytopia: Moonrise, a strategy game of conquest. Mr Patton said he was able to access all three with his car running and that he filed a complaint with the NHTSA through its website.
Except that this timeline doesn’t seem to be entirely accurate. The Times refers to a driver video launch Solitaire while their Model 3 is running, but it’s dated January 1, 2021 – six months before the summer update. In the middle of the video, an on-screen settings menu reveals that this particular car was running software version 2020.48 at the time of filming.
Another video uploaded to YouTube five days earlier, on December 27, 2020, showed someone running Solitaire while clearly on the road, with autopilot on. “Oh whoa, I thought you had to keep your hands on the wheels,” wrote one commentator, to which the original poster replied “technically I had to click“ I’m a passenger ”. – you know, the kind that you sprinkle on the ends of posts when you knowingly pose a danger to all motorists in your immediate vicinity, but being cute about it. What shamelessness.
The ability to play games while driving predates last summer and was possible in Tesla vehicles as early as late last year. At least that’s what I find on YouTube. I can’t find a video of someone who did this before this clip from December 27; if such footage exists, please let all of us know in the comments. Either way, this is clearly nothing new and the media is only picking up on it now.
I’ve never driven a Tesla – damn it, I think the one and only time I sat in a Tesla was in a mall in 2015. It’s hard to follow that stuff unless you are owner. The cat is out of the bag now.
We can and should reprimand Tesla all day long for allowing this sort of thing. It’s lazy at best, deliberately careless at worst. In its report, The Times cites data from the Department of Transportation according to which more than 20,000 people have died in traffic accents this year. Distracted driving is attributed to around 10% of road fatalities, but experts believe the actual figure is significantly higher. “I think the number is closer to 50 percent,” Steve Kiefer, a senior executive at General Motors, told the newspaper.
Some may argue that the responsibility for driving carefully lies with the driver, not the designer of the car. I have to wonder if they would still have that opinion if, God forbid, a road tragedy affected them or affected a loved one. It is common sense. Much like a minor faking their date of birth on an age-restricted website, a prompt to press “I am a passenger” is a blatant breach of responsibility on Tesla’s part. The fact that a warning message is even present in the first place is an unspoken admission by Tesla himself that this is a serious problem – or at least serious enough to pretend he takes it seriously. .
So it’s extremely lazy that the company couldn’t restrict these games based on the driving status of the car, especially since it was doing exactly that before last December. But it would be foolish to present Tesla as the sole culprit here, because as we now understand, the government has allowed the company to get away with it for almost a year and the only people apparently in the know, in Besides Tesla itself, owned its products.
The problem is, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is totally toothless. All it can do is advise automakers on responsible system design – how long looks and actions should take for a driver behind the wheel. NHTSA does not test vehicles to determine if they meet these guidelines, because the guidelines are all they are – neither law nor enforceable. Slate David Zipper looked into the complexity of this problem in September, citing our own Jason Torchinsky in his research. Here is what Zipper wrote:
In 2013, the NHTSA issued guidelines setting the maximum duration of infotainment tasks (each task should be accomplished with glances of two seconds or less, not exceeding twelve seconds), while recommending that activities particularly dangerous, such as accessing social networks or watching videos, being blocked while the car is in motion. But the term “guidance” means what it implies: it’s just a suggestion, which automakers can ignore. An academic assessment published in 2017 found that many infotainment systems are already creating distraction beyond the NHTSA recommended threshold.
I’ll give the bulk of the credit to the auto industry though, because while the government should absolutely codify and impose a test for car interfaces, hardly any automaker neglects common sense recommendations on particularly egregious things, like movies or games on infotainment screens.
Take the new one Jeep Grand Wagoneer, for example. It has an additional screen mounted on the dashboard above the glove box, where the front passenger sits. But like our old buddy Doug DeMuro demonstrated in his exploration of the big SUV, this screen is covered with a material that looks like a privacy film, similar to what some people apply to their laptops, so it appears totally black from the driver’s point of view.
That’s because Stellantis knows it would be colossally stupid – not to mention a terrible look – if the passenger played a game, flipped through Google Maps, or did just about anything on that screen that could potentially hijack. the driver’s attention to the road at the worst possible time. Which brings us to the other layer: even if the driver is not the one actively using the screen in their field of view, allowing this screen to show games, movies or any kind of frivolous, colorful content. and fast while the car is running is always a bad idea.
Google operates a research lab in California where it validates its Android Auto interface in a fictional car interior to assess issues such as range and length of gaze, in order to design infotainment software that is less distracting. Some companies take this sort of thing seriously.
That’s not to say the industry couldn’t be much better on these issues than it has been – moving the climate controls back and forth to screens and onto physical buttons would be a great place to start. However, most manufacturers certainly seem more aware of the dangers than Tesla. Sadly, Tesla has no incentive to do anything differently, as the government body that exists solely to keep our roads safe has never altered its Big Book Of Rules to reflect the past three decades of automotive design. . Maybe there is still time to shoehorn something about it in the infrastructure bill.
I’m curious if Tesla will allow the same freedom of movement for games like Cyberpunk 2077, a title Elon Musk demo as playable in the new Model S with its on-board AMD GPU supposed to compete with the PS5. Or The Witcher 3, Besides. Marketing images that have been live on the company website for months like the one at the top of this post suggest owners can download it right now even though I can’t find footage of a single Tesla production playing it. At this rate, I’ll be more than happy if I never do.