A new software update for Tesla cars will include the monitoring of drivers when the Autopilot feature is in use by using the vehicle’s internal cameras.
Tesla currently requires drivers to pay attention at all times when the Autopilot “self-driving” feature is being used, but it has been criticised in the past for being easy to fool, with users going so far as to video themselves leaving the driver’s seat completely while the feature is on.
But with the new monitoring feature, Tesla are hoping to crack down on those problems by detecting how attentive the driver actually is.
The vehicles have relied on sensors in the wheel to make sure the driver's hands remain on it, but the new update means the camera above the car's rear-view mirror will start to monitor where the driver is looking.
If the driver stops looking at the road to check their phone, for example, the Autopilot feature can slow down the car or switch it off completely.
According to the BBC, release notes for the update state: “It can now detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged.”
Tesla have also confirmed that "camera data does not leave the car itself" and no data is transmitted unless data-sharing is enabled in the car's settings, which can be changed by the user at any time.
The Elon Musk-run company, which disbanded its press team last year, has not issued a statement about the reasons behind the new feature.