The gadgets are reportedly being used by Tesla drivers to trick steering wheel sensors into thinking drivers’ hands are on the wheel

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

July 14, 2023

2 Min Read
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Amazon has taken down several listings of steering wheel weights, following reports they were being used to trick Tesla’s Autopilot advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) into thinking drivers’ hands are on the wheel. 

The weights are often advertised for other purposes such as to relieve shoulder pain or to double up as a phone holder. However, the placement of the weight on the wheel makes the car’s built-in sensors believe the driver’s hands are on the wheel and stops the car from alerting the driver to remain focused. 

News of the gadgets has seen particular backlash given the wave of Tesla-related lawsuits in the past year, as well as two recent incidents related to the car being in Autopilot mode. 

In March, a Tesla in self-driving mode hit a teen in North Carolina without slowing down, while in December a Tesla driver fell asleep at the wheel and led police on a car chase in Germany.

Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba also took down several similar products.

Steering wheel weights first began to appear in 2018, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a cease-and-desist order to a company selling a product dubbed the “Autopilot Buddy,” which was marketed as a “Tesla autopilot nag reduction device.”

“A product intended to circumvent motor vehicle safety and driver attentiveness is unacceptable,” said Heidi King, NHTSA’s deputy administrator. “By preventing the safety system from warning the driver to return their hands to the wheel, this product disables an important safeguard, and could put customers and other road users at risk.”

Related:Self-Driving Taxis Targeted by Activists in San Francisco

Tesla previously stated on its website that its self-driving modes still require driver intervention and that drivers must remain aware and ready to step in at any moment. 

The NHTSA is currently conducting a safety probe into crashes involving Teslas running its Autopilot ADAS tech. The probe was first launched in 2021 after a series of events of Teslas crashing into stationary emergency response vehicles.

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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