Tesla has agreed to upgrade software in its cars to prevent drivers and passengers from playing video games on dashboard screens while the vehicle is in motion, a federal security regulator said Thursday.
The deal comes a day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a formal investigation into a game feature known as Passenger Play. The investigation was announced after the New York Times reported on security risks posed by the games this month.
“Following the launch of Tesla’s preliminary evaluation of ‘Passenger Play’, Tesla informed the agency that it was changing the functionality of this feature,” the security firm said in a statement. “In a new software update, ‘Passenger Play’ will now be locked and unusable while the vehicle is running.”
Security experts have criticized Tesla for allowing cars to access games while in motion. “There is no argument that this is not dangerous,” said Jason Levine, managing director of the Auto Safety Center, a consumer group.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
The Federal Security Agency is investigating other potential security issues with Tesla. In August, Tesla began a formal investigation into its automated pilot system, which could automatically accelerate and brake a car after at least 11 collisions with parked fire trucks, police cars and other emergency vehicles. One of those accidents resulted in death and several serious injuries.
In addition, the defense company is reviewing more than two dozen accidents involving Teslas operating on an automated pilot. The company says there have been a total of 10 deaths in eight accidents since 2016.
Although the video game feature is not directly linked to automation pilot issues, the security company suggested on Wednesday that Tesla drivers could play games while using the autopilot in the false belief that the car was driving itself and that they did not need to pay attention. Road.
When using an autopilot, the company advises drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and focus on the road. But it does little in monitoring drivers, and there is growing evidence that some drivers ignore its advice and warnings.
Tesla has been adding video games to its cars for years. Most can only be played while in the car park. But this summer Tesla has remotely updated its car’s software to make available three games that can be played on large touch screens fitted in the center. Games solitaire; A jet fighter game, Sky Force Reloaded; And a win-win strategy game, Battle of Palitopia: Moonrise.
An alert appeared before the start of the Solitaire game, with Tesla expecting the car to play as it moved: “Solitaire is a game for everyone, but playing in the car’s motion is for passengers only.” Players were asked to make sure they were not driving the car, but nothing prevented the drivers from clicking on the screen and playing games.
“The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects that cause unreasonable risks to safety, including technologies that divert drivers from safe driving,” the safety company said.
The defense agency said in a report released Wednesday that there are approximately 580,000 cars and sports utility vehicles from the model years 2017 to 2022.