Tesla Model 3’s driver-facing camera ‘does more than just monitor passengers’

A hacker has revealed the key events that the Model 3’s driver-facing camera is designed to detect – and it appears to do much more than Tesla CEO Elon Musk has so far admitted.

Musk in April confirmed that one use of the driving-facing camera, which is located in the center of the rear-view mirror of all Model 3s, would be used for monitoring passengers in its future network of robotaxis. The camera could be used to dissuade passengers from vandalizing vehicles or at least capture evidence of such acts. 

At that stage the camera had been inactive in all Model 3s, but in June, some three years after the model first hit the road, Tesla issued a software update that activated the camera. 

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As Electrek reported at the time, Tesla allowed some Model 3 drivers to enable the camera, which allowed Tesla to “automatically capture images and a short video clip just prior to a collision or safety event”. 

The images and footage would not be linked to a specific driver but would be used to help Tesla engineers develop future safety features, according to the company. 

Now Electrek reports that a hacker known as ‘green‘ has uncovered the key events that Tesla’s software is designed to detect, and these focus on the driver’s gaze, such as ‘eyes up’ and ‘eyes down’, ‘phone use’, and ‘eyes closed’. 

The events suggest that Tesla is at least exploring a driver-monitoring system based on gaze tracking rather than simply planning to use the camera to monitor passengers in future robotaxis. 

ZDNet has contacted Tesla for its comments and will update this article if it responds.

Separately, Tesla has also enhanced its ‘Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control’ feature,