Tesla drivers tend to be more distracted when autopilot is on, new research shows.

In short: Tesla’s autopilot system is considered a key selling point for the company, but its safety is being questioned by many, including federal authorities. A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which collected data on drivers, is well founded, as it concludes that people pay less attention to the front of the vehicle / road.

There have been reports of multiple failures related to Tesla’s autopilot (AP) system, at least enough to raise concerns about their safety. US safety agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Office of Defect Investigation (ODI) are already investigating the causes of these accidents, but the findings have yet to be released.

A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is studying the gaze behavior of Tesla drivers with the hotspot enabled or disabled when driving on the highway. found drivers pay more attention to the off-road and less to the road in front of them. This conclusion alone could justify many of the reported accidents.

“Visual behaviors change before and after the AP is turned off,” according to the study. “Before disconnecting, drivers looked less at the road and paid more attention to non-driving areas than when they switched to manual driving. A large proportion of off-road glances before switching to manual driving were not compensated for by longer forward glances. ”

The research results are not all that surprising, but they give an idea of ​​where the drivers are looking when the access point is turned on or off. When the hotspot is turned on, drivers are looking more at the lower / central parts of the car (phone, media screen), which, according to the researchers, are “not related to driving.”

These findings also suggest that Tesla owners who have purchased a FSD (Full Self Driving) system that was recently updated before version 10, do not follow the recommendations for its use. Although the car can move on its own, the EV manufacturer still recommends that users remain vigilant when turning on the system.

If you own a vehicle with FSD, whether you have one or not, always pay attention to the road in front of you.

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