Elon Musk has revealed the reason behind Tesla’s cabin-facing camera that has been in the Model 3 for years without being used.
When Tesla launched the Model 3, it equipped the vehicle with a standard cabin-facing camera located in the rearview mirror.
It has been almost three years since Tesla brought the vehicle to production and this camera, which is included in every Model 3, has remained dormant.
Tesla has yet to implement a feature using this camera, but a software update once referred to the camera being linked to Autopilot and “Tesla Network,” which is supposed to be an upcoming fleet of robotaxis operated by Tesla.
There has been speculation that Tesla could use the camera to monitor driver attention when using Autopilot — hence the reference to Autopilot in the software — and monitor passengers in a shared fleet of self-driving cars in order to discourage vandalizing the cars — hence the reference to “Tesla Network.”
Last year, CEO Elon Musk said that it would be enabled with the fleet of robotaxi the next year.
Now Musk confirmed that it will be to prevent people from vandalizing cars when they are being driven automatically:
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 12, 2020
The idea is that the camera would record the inside of the car during a Tesla Network ride to make sure there’s no funny business going on.
Interestingly, we also got our first look at the camera’s coverage, thanks to two Tesla tinkerers:
The mystery of the model3 in-cabin "selfie" cam is slowly clearing.
huge thanks to @davidhooperr for performing a bunch of research and providing the car.
The images are not perfect but at least we get the idea of the coverage now. pic.twitter.com/r447lQZX8u
— green (@greentheonly) April 12, 2020
It seems to offer a decent wide-angle view of the entire cabin of the Tesla Model 3.
While we now know the exact use case of the camera that Tesla intended when first implementing it, the company has also been looking into different potential use cases.
In the past, Musk mentioned being open to the idea of using the camera to let drivers and passengers record themselves when using the new Caraoke feature released in V10.
Last year, we also reported on Tesla applying for a patent called “Personalization System and Method for a Vehicle based on Spatial Locations of Occupants’ Body Portions”:
The following described implementations may be found in the disclosed personalization system and method for a vehicle based on spatial locations of body portions of occupants in the vehicle. Exemplary aspects of the disclosure may include a personalization system that may include an image-capture device and circuitry in an in-vehicle electronic device. The disclosed personalization system, for example, the in-vehicle electronic device, increases improves an overall in-vehicle comfort and entertainment experience for the vehicle occupants. The personalization system provides an advanced, intelligent, and an automatic personalization of in-vehicle systems in real-time or near-real time for enhanced and consistent in-vehicle comfort and entertainment experience, both before and during a drive.
In short, they plan to use a camera to recognize occupants and automatically apply specific settings personalized to them.
It has also been suggested that Tesla could use the camera as part of its Sentry Mode feature in order to record break-ins from inside its vehicles.
In order for TeslaCam and Sentry Mode to work on a Tesla, you need a few accessories. We recommend Jeda’s Model 3 USB hub (now also available for Model Y) to be able to still use the other plugs and hide your Sentry Mode drive. For the drive, I’m now using a Samsung portable SSD, which you need to format, but it gives you a ton of capacity, and it can be easily hidden in the Jeda hub.
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