Elon Musk reportedly sought to utilize Tesla’s internal driver monitoring camera to spy on users’ driving habits, aiming to leverage the footage as evidence in autopilot-related lawsuits, according to Walter Isaacson’s latest biography of the billionaire CEO, Electrek reported,
The biography reveals that Musk pushed for the camera’s footage, initially unbeknownst to drivers, to defend Tesla Inc TSLA during investigations post-crash.
The cameras, which first appeared in Tesla’s Model 3 in 2017 and later in S/X models, were not activated until 2021. They are now used to ensure drivers are focused on the road while Autopilot or Full Self-Driving (FSD) systems are engaged. However, Musk reportedly hoped to employ the camera for cabin monitoring, particularly if Tesla’s Robotaxi dream becomes a reality.
According to the biography, Musk insisted that the majority of accidents were due to bad drivers rather than faulty software. During a meeting, Musk suggested that data from the car’s cameras could be used to determine driver error. This suggestion met resistance from privacy advocates within the company.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is presently scrutinizing Tesla’s Autopilot system, with a focus on driver monitoring safeguards. The biography suggests that Musk’s primary motivation for using the cameras was not to enhance safety or improve the system, but to protect Tesla and himself against lawsuits or investigations.
Despite Musk’s desire for surveillance, Tesla’s current warning to drivers states that the camera data doesn’t leave the vehicle unless the owner shares it and is not used for identity verification.
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