Tesla faces federal investigation into video games drivers can play

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Tesla’s infotainment display has been offering video games for years, but in late 2020 the company activated them while driving.

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Tesla is officially the subject of a U.S. government video game investigation. The electric car maker has caught the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because its vehicles currently allow occupants to play video games on their infotainment screens while the vehicles are in motion. The NHTSA says this ability could “distract the driver and increase the risk of an accident.”

The probe covers approximately 580,000 Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles with this passenger play feature. Tesla had previously added various video games to its central touchscreen, but only made them playable when the vehicle was in Park. The ability to play games on the go would have changed in December 2020, but it’s unclear why the change was made.

The passenger game includes an “advocate screen” with an interstitial warning saying that “playing while the car is in motion is for passengers”. The screen requires a confirmation press to access the games, but the on-screen button can be pressed by the passenger or driver.

The investigation comes in the wake of a December 8 New York Times article that investigated the issue. The NHTSA would have hired Tesla the next day.

Tesla has added new gaming features to its infotainment display no later than Tuesday, when its annual Live Vacation Update became available for download.

Tesla’s four current model lines are part of the NHTSA investigation.

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In contrast, earlier in December, Mercedes-Benz recalled 227 examples his new EQS electric sedans, as well as some S-Class models for similar behavior. The German automaker’s luxury sedans inadvertently allowed some vehicles to display Internet or TV programs on their MBUX infotainment systems moving due to a software problem. The automaker itself reported the issue to NHTSA and a recall followed.

Tesla is also currently under federal investigation for its Autopilot driving assistance system. In August, the NHTSA launched an investigation to determine if the Level 2 system had a safety issue after at least 11 collisions with stopped emergency vehicles were reported.

Tesla did not immediately return Roadshow’s request for comment on this matter. The automaker no longer operates a public relations department to respond to such requests.


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