A federal safety regulator said on Thursday that Tesla has agreed to change the software in its vehicles to prevent drivers and passengers from playing video games on dashboard screens while the vehicle is in motion.
The deal comes a day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. launched an official investigation for the game feature, known as the Passenger Game. The investigation was announced after The New York Times reported this month. potential security risks posed by games.
“Following the opening of a preliminary review for Tesla’s ‘Passenger Game,’ Tesla has notified the agency that it has changed the functionality of this feature,” the security agency said in a statement. “In a new software update, ‘Passenger Game’ will now be locked and unavailable while the vehicle is in motion.”
Security experts had criticized Tesla for allowing games to be accessible while cars were in motion. “There can be no argument that it’s not dangerous,” said Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Automobile Safety, a consumer group.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
The federal safety agency is examining other potential safety issues with Teslas. It launched a formal investigation in August. Tesla’s Autopilot systemA car that can accelerate and brake on its own after vehicles using this feature crash into parked fire trucks, police cars, and other emergency vehicles at least 11 times. These accidents resulted in one death and several serious injuries.
In addition, the safety agency is also investigating more than two dozen other crashes that Teslas have worked on on Autopilot. The agency said eight of those crashes have resulted in a total of 10 deaths since they occurred in 2016.
While the video game feature isn’t directly linked to Autopilot issues, the safety agency suggested Wednesday that it was concerned that Tesla drivers might be playing games while using Autopilot in the false belief that the car is self-driving and needing no attention. path.
The company instructs drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and pay attention to the road while using Autopilot. But it does little to monitor drivers, and there is growing evidence that some drivers routinely ignore their advice and warnings.
Tesla has been adding video games to its cars for several years now. Most are only playable when the car is parked. But this summer, Teslas remotely updated its vehicles’ software to make three games playable on large touchscreens mounted in the center. The games were solitaire; a jet fighter game, Sky Force Reloaded; and Battle of Polytopia: Moonrise, a strategy game of conquest.
A warning that appeared before the solitaire game started stated that Tesla expected it to be played while the car was in motion: “Solitaire is a game for everyone, but playing while the car is in motion is only for passengers.” Players were asked to verify that they were not driving the car, but nothing stopped the drivers from clicking that screen and playing the games.
“The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects that pose unreasonable risks to safety, including technologies that prevent drivers from driving safely,” the safety agency said.
The investigation, which the safety agency opened Wednesday, covers nearly 580,000 cars and sports utility vehicles from model years 2017 through 2022.