LOOK MA NO HANDS

Elon Musk is going to pull back on autopilot mode to keep Tesla drivers from “doing crazy things”

Tesla’s been careful to characterize its new autopilot mode on the Model S as a “hands-on feature.” But with the electric car capable of steering, changing lanes, and parking on its own, drivers’ hands have been freed up to some extent—letting them, say, shave or prepare breakfast—en route to their destinations.

CEO Elon Musk, who considers safety a big selling point of Tesla cars, is not too pleased about that.

“There are fairly crazy videos on YouTube,” he said Nov. 2 in a call with investors. “This is not good, and we will be putting some additional constraints on when autopilot can be activated to minimized the possibility of people doing crazy things with it.”

Autopilot mode—which Musk describes as “beta” software—already has a few restrictions to keep drivers safe. It doesn’t work when the car is traveling at 90 miles per hour or faster. And in Quartz’s own test drive, it alerted drivers periodically—about every five minutes or so—to put their hands on the steering wheel. If drivers fail to do so, the car slows down to a stop and turns on its hazard lights.

Musk didn’t elaborate on the restrictions to autopilot mode or when they would arrive, but he did note that the Model S receives automatic updates on a weekly basis. A Tesla representative was not immediately available to offer additional details.

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