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Tesla updates Autopilot ‘nag’ with new alert and clarifies hand on wheel detection

Following a comment from Elon Musk about changing the Autopilot’s ‘Hold Steering Wheel’ alert, Tesla has released a new software update to enable the change and it clarified how they detect the hands on the wheel.

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.

Tesla wrote in the release notes:

“We have changed the “Hold Steering Wheel” alert to now display as “Apply light force to steering wheel” to better communicate how Autopilot detects your hands on the steering wheel, reducing the frequency of the alert displaying. As a reminder, Autosteer detects your hands by recognizing light resistance as the steering wheel turns, or from you manually turning the steering wheel very lighty.”

As we reported yesterday, the update also includes a new speed limiting feature.

Tesla explains the feature in the release notes:

“This new feature limits the acceleration of your vehicle and allows you to set a maximum speed limit between 80 km and 145 km (). While your vehicle is in Park, you can activate Speed Limit Mode by tapping CONTROLS > Settings > Safety & Security on the touchscreen or by tapping CONTROLS on the mobile app, You must use the same 4-digit PIN to enable or disable Speed Limit Mode. A notification is sent to your mobile device if your vehicle approaches the set maximum speed.”

This feature had been requested by owners in the past.

Electrek’s Take

For the Electrek’s Take, I would just refer back to my post on this from last week, but the summary is that this new level of nag is a bummer for owners who use Autopilot appropriately – meaning drivers who always stay attentive and who are ready to take control.

But unfortunately, there too many people who don’t pay attention and however inefficient, this is Tesla’s best way to get people to pay attention at this moment.

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