Tesla’s camera-based driver monitoring system rolls out to radar-equipped cars

Tesla Camera

Tesla has started rolling out its camera-based driver monitoring system to its radar-equipped vehicles as part of software update 2021.32.5. The new function effectively adds another layer of safety for the company’s vehicles, particularly when drivers are using Autopilot and Full Self-Driving suite features.

Tesla has been building cars with cabin cameras since 2017, though only for the Model 3. Back then, the camera really had no purpose, though Elon Musk noted in 2019 that the sensor was meant for Robotaxi use. Tesla eventually activated the in-cabin camera last year to record images and videos in the event of a collision or safety event, though it was presented as something that was optional for owners.


The cabin camera saw more use this past May when it was used as a driver monitoring system, though only for the company’s pure vision vehicles. Tesla hacker-owner @greentheonly, after exploring the company’s software, previously noted that the camera-based driver monitoring system uses neural networks to watch out for potentially dangerous driver behaviors. These behaviors included using a mobile device or looking away from the road while using Autopilot.

Based on reports from Model 3 and Model Y owners with radar-equipped vehicles, it appears that the camera-based driver monitoring system is now being rolled out to more members of Tesla’s fleet. Tesla Model Y owner @jayanthvignesh, whose vehicle is equipped with radar, noted that the feature seems to work pretty well, prompting him to stay alert when he kept his head down while operating his vehicle. The Tesla owner added that he also received a quick alert after he peeked into his phone while waiting at a red light.

With a neural network-powered camera-based driver motoring system, Tesla’s vehicles now have an extra layer of safety when running their Autopilot and Full Self-Driving suite features. This should help avoid Autopilot and FSD abuse, such as those specified and demonstrated by Consumer Reports. Such instances of Autopilot and FSD abuse were ultimately made possible because Tesla was primarily detecting pressure on the steering wheel to determine if drivers are paying attention or not.

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