Tesla has started to roll out its new “Driver Drowsiness Warning” feature, which leverages the cabin camera for driver monitoring.
Over the years, Tesla has been criticized for not emphasizing driver monitoring with its advanced driver-assist features under the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving packages.
For years, Tesla was only able to detect torque on the steering wheel; therefore, drivers had to move the wheel to let the system know they still had their hands on the wheel.
This is still the primary way Tesla performs driver monitoring, but as of 2021, the automaker has also started using the cabin-facing camera. Tesla uses the camera to ensure the driver is watching the road and not using a handheld device.
Earlier this year, we learned through Tesla hacker Green that the automaker would further leverage its cabin-facing camera by counting the number of yawns and blinks from the driver in order to gauge drowsiness.
Tesla has started implementing this feature, which it now calls “Driver Drowsiness Warning.” The feature has begun appearing in Tesla’s European owner’s manual:
The Driver Drowsiness Warning is designed to notify drivers who appear to be drowsy by monitoring driver facial characteristics as well as driving behavior to determine patterns indicative of drowsiness. When driver drowsiness is detected, an alert is displayed on the touchscreen in the cards area and an alert is sounded.
Interestingly, the feature has not yet appeared in the North American owner’s manual.
Tesla says that the feature only activates when driving over 65 km/h (40 mph) for at least 10 minutes with Autopilot disengaged.
That last point is interesting, but I assume it concerns Tesla already pushing other warnings to pay attention when Autopilot is engaged.
The feature is optional:
You can disable or enable Driver Drowsiness Warning by touching Controls > Safety > Driver Drowsiness Warning for the current drive cycle. The Driver Drowsiness Warning systems automatically re-enables at the start of every drive cycle.
Tesla is not the first automaker to launch driver alertness monitoring technology. Mercedes-Benz has had a similar feature for almost a decade.