Tesla to block drivers from playing its video games while in motion

Tesla is set to send out a software update that will prevent drivers from accessing its games while the vehicle is in motion (Picture: AP)

Tesla drivers will no longer be able to access play video games while the car is in motion, following a government probe over safety concerns.

The electric carmaker has decided to pull the plug on the feature days after a US federal agency opened an investigation into the safety of Tesla’s ‘Passenger Play’ feature, which previously allowed drivers to play video games on its centre touch screen console while they were driving.

Tesla is set to send out a software update that will prevent drivers from accessing its games while the vehicle is in motion.

Earlier this week, the US regulator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked into fears the feature could potentially distract drivers.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint submitted to the agency by a Tesla Model 3 owner Vince Patton in November.

Patton decided to file a complaint after discovering he could play games, such as Sky Force Reloaded and Solitaire, in his Tesla while it was in motion.

‘Somebody’s going to get killed,’ Patton told the Associated Press. ‘It’s absolutely insane.’

An NHTSA spokesperson said: ‘Distraction-affected crashes are a concern, particularly in vehicles equipped with an array of convenience technologies such as entertainment screens.’

A man from Portland, Oregon filed a complaint with federal regulators after discovering that a Tesla on-board feature allows drivers to play video games while the car is in motion (Picture: AP)

Tesla updated its software in December 2020 allowing passengers to launch some games on the centre touchscreen while the car was in motion, The New York Times reported.

Previously, video games were only accessible while the vehicle was in park mode.

In the Tesla Model 3, games like Sky Force Reloaded, Solitaire, and The Battle of Polytopia: Moonrise, were available to play on the centre touchscreen while the vehicle was in motion, as confirmed by The Verge.

Barring a weak warning message that asked the player to confirm they weren’t the driver before launching the game, drivers could easily play a complex action game like Sky Force while in motion.

All they needed to do was choose the ‘I am a passenger’ option when prompted.

In November, Musk’s Tesla recalled nearly 12,000 vehicles sold since 2017 (Picture: Reuters)

Even before the update, some interactive apps like the drawing pad and the Karaoke mode worked in motion, with a warning to the driver not to participate.

Elon Musk owned Tesla has a reputation for getting in trouble with the NHTSA. In November, Tesla recalled nearly 12,000 vehicles sold since 2017 after a software update caused false forward-collision warnings and unexpected activation of the emergency brakes.

‘Following the opening of a preliminary evaluation of Tesla’s “Passenger Play”, Tesla informed the agency that it is changing the functionality of this feature,’ an NHTSA spokesperson told Insider.

They pointed out the Vehicle Safety Act prohibited manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects posing unreasonable risks to safety, including technologies that distract drivers.

Around 3,100 people in the US die annually in accidents involving distracted drivers. 

Metro.co.uk has reached out to Tesla for comment.


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