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Tesla starts using cabin cameras to make sure drivers are paying attention

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TSLATesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California on March 14, 2019.Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

Tesla started using the cabin cameras in some Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to make sure drivers are paying attention to the road when they use driver assistance features, according to release notes obtained by CNBC.

Their Model 3 and Model Y cars already had driver-facing cabin cameras, but the company’s owners manuals said they were not used for driver monitoring. Instead, Tesla’s systems required drivers to “check in” by touching the steering wheel, which is equipped with sensors.

Now, Tesla is telling drivers their cabin cameras have been switched on for driver monitoring in new vehicles that lack radar sensors, according to Kevin Smith, a second-time Tesla buyer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Smith says he took delivery of a 2021 Tesla Model Y crossover on Thursday.

The technical changes come amid regulatory scrutiny of Tesla vehicle safety in the U.S. and abroad. The company is facing dozens of federal probes into the underlying causes of Tesla-involved crashes in the U.S., some of which may have involved Autopilot.

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