Tesla allows drivers to play video games in moving cars, raising safety concerns

Tesla has updated its software that allows vehicle occupants to play video games on the central touchscreen while in motion, raising questions about safety and driver distraction. Previously, video games were only playable while the vehicle was in the park.

But according to The New York Times, an over-the-air software update was released last summer, allowing some games to launch regardless of whether the car is stationary or not, raising serious safety concerns.

The edge confirmed in a Tesla Model 3 that: Sky Force Reloaded, solitary, and The Battle of Polytopia can be played on the center touchscreen while the vehicle is in motion. A notification asks the player to confirm that he is not the driver before starting the game, but the message is hardly a deterrent. A driver can simply tap “I AM A PASSENGER” and play a complex action game like Sky Force while in motion.

Please double check if you are a passenger
Image: The Verge

Some interactive apps in the car were already working in motion even before the update, including the drawing pad and karaoke mode in music – which also warns the driver not to participate.

A Model 3 owner told the Time that he had filed a complaint with the NHTSA when he discovered that the games could be played while he was driving his car. That complaint will not be a first. Tesla currently has 59 complaints from owners regarding the Model 3.

A spokesperson for NHTSA told Reuters that it “discussed” the issue of playable video games in moving cars with the company. “Distraction accidents are a concern, especially in vehicles equipped with a range of convenience technologies such as entertainment screens,” the spokesperson said. Reuters. “We are aware of drivers’ concerns and are discussing the feature with the manufacturer.”

Tesla's center screen shows a video game spinning with a fighter jet flying over an ocean, while also showing the status of the Tesla vehicle driving and spinning on autopilot

Sky Force runs while on Autopilot. Don’t try this.
Image: The Verge

Tesla has a reputation for regularly circumventing safety regulations and ignoring recommendations from regulators for improvements. The company offers a version of its level 2 advanced driver assistance system called “Full Self-Driving”, which makes its vehicles non-autonomous and requires drivers to remain vigilant while in use.

The US government has shown renewed interest in Tesla and recently announced that it is investigating incidents where Tesla cars with Autopilot have crashed and collided with parked emergency services.

NHTSA is also seeking more information from Tesla about FSD’s growing public beta testing, the recently launched “Safety Score” evaluation process for participation in the program, and the nondisclosure agreements Tesla allowed participants to sign up until recently.

Tesla's center display shows a list of games in stacked squares that can be selected, and a button to play the game is visible on the screen, but cannot be activated.

Previously released games like Cat Quest block the ability to launch the game while driving, a better way for Tesla to discourage unsafe behavior.
Image: The Verge

Touchscreens in vehicles are quickly becoming the norm as manufacturers continue to remove tactile buttons and buttons from their vehicles. This makes many vehicles more dangerous. According to a study 2019, drivers can be distracted and looking away from the road for up to 40 seconds per task.

Tesla is a pioneer in the use of wireless software updates in the automotive industry, using smartphone-like updates to add features such as enhanced driver assistance to crazy Easter eggs, such as the “James Bond mode” to its electric vehicles. The company has also rolled out a slew of video games it calls Tesla Arcade (we tried it out on a Model 3 in 2019).

Tesla has begun using an interior camera to monitor drivers for its Full Self-Driving beta program, which allows drivers to use automatic steering, lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control on local, off-highway streets. But the vast majority of Tesla vehicles don’t use cameras to track the driver’s eye movements to ensure they keep their attention on the road.