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Tesla is updating Autopilot’s ‘Hold Steering Wheel’ alert after complaints, says Elon Musk

As we reported earlier this week,Tesla’s latest Autopilot update comes with more ‘nag’ to make sure drivers keep their hands on the wheel, but some owners are complaining about their hands not being detected on the wheel even though they are gripping it.

CEO Elon Musk now says that Tesla will update Autopilot’s ‘Hold Steering Wheel’ to better reflect what needs to be done.

Following accidents on Autopilot that seemed to indicate that some owners are becoming too complacent with the driver assist system and they are not paying enough attention anymore, Tesla introduced more “nag” with the latest update.

Autopilot appears to now send out ‘Hold Steering Wheel’ alerts every 15 to 20 seconds when it doesn’t detect hands on the steering wheel.

As we reported, some owners actually felt like Tesla’s detection of hands on the wheel had actually improved, but others felt like it was the other way around and complained to Musk on Twitter.

Musk responded to one of them with the upcoming update to the alert to better reflect what needs to be done to make the alert go away:

The sensors on the steering wheel don’t actually respond to someone just gripping the wheel. It detects torque on the wheel and therefore, a slight force needs to move the wheel up or down.

The new Autopilot update is part of the software version 2018.21.9 that started to be pushed last week. We expect another small update to soon include this change.

Electrek’s Take

I think it’s becoming a bit ridiculous. Tesla will now be asking drivers on Autopilot to move the steering wheel “slightly up or down” every 15 to 20 seconds, which is pretty much what steering is on the highway anyway.

I understand that nothing has changed in practice and Tesla is trying to make it easier for drivers to get rid of the alerts by being more precise, which is a good thing, but it still sounds weird.

As I stated in my last article on Autopilot, I think paying attention to the road and to what Autopilot is doing is a lot more important for safety than actually having your hands on the wheel as long as you can get them on the wheel fairly quickly if needed, which is generally always the case if you are in the driver’s seat.

But right now this is, unfortunately, Tesla’s best way to make sure that the driver is engaged, which is the most important thing for safety.

Though as Musk said last week, it is about finding a balance between not making the system too annoying otherwise people won’t use it, negatively affecting safety, but also not allowing people to get too complacent with fewer nags.

Do you think Tesla is achieving this balance? Let us know in the comment section below.

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