By on October 3, 2019

Sentries stand on guard for our safety, keeping watch over sleeping or unprotected persons, and Tesla’s “Sentry Mode” system pretty much does the same. While two-legged assailants can’t slip a Fairbairn-Sykes dagger between the digital guardian’s ribs to disable the feature, the external camera security system can, in return, set that assailant up for a date with the police.

That’s what happened when one Tesla went up against an angry Coloradoan.

As reported by CBS Denver, a Broomfield, Colorado Tesla owner used the system, contained in a software update issued earlier this year, to catch a perp who came bearing keys. The Model 3’s owner, who parked in a school parking lot and returned to find his car keyed to bare metal, used the car’s surveillance footage to find images of the suspect and send that evidence to the local constabulary.

After returning from his kid’s soccer game to a defaced automobile, owner Alan Tweedie replayed footage from the nine outward-facing cameras. Soon enough, he had his man. Or woman, to be exact.

“Then I found one where a woman distinctly came around with a key in her hand, dug it right in the side, walked it all the way up,” Tweedie told CBS. “Very angry, very purposeful, definitely trying to conceal it.”

Once the images went live in the media, it was only a matter of time before the perp, whom police would normally never find, stopped running. Maria Elena Gimeno, 57, turned herself in to police Wednesday. While it isn’t known what prompted her attack on the Tesla, she could face felony charges. Damage to Tweedie’s car was pegged at $2,000.

While this drama had a happy ending (for the owner, anyway), it’s too bad Tesla doesn’t add an extra camera designed to keep watch on the driver. Tesla CEO Elon Musk famously scoffed at the idea of adapting a driver-monitoring camera to the company’s Autopilot driver-assist feature. Cadillac chose a different route with its Super Cruise system, however, adding a camera to scan drivers’ faces for signs of drowsiness or distraction.

Super Cruise keeps a closer watch on drivers, boosting safety by punishing abuse more harshly. As NTSB reports have shown us, the drivers of certain Teslas involved in recent crashes were able to continue driving even after repeated warnings and long stretches with no steering wheel-hand contact.

Then again, the recent roll-out of Smart Summon shows Musk, and by extension Tesla, places a great deal more trust in both owners and their vehicles then perhaps he should.

[Image: Tesla]

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18 Comments on “Tesla’s Cameras Can Catch Vandals Defacing Your Car, but Not Drivers Nodding Off...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Musk, and by extension Tesla, places a great deal more trust in both owners and their vehicles then perhaps he should”

    Correction: The Society of Automotive Engineers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are the real culprits here.

    Despite the wailings in the media (including TTAC), SAE Level 2 systems don’t even have to work, because – by definition – the driver must remain attentive at all times. The fact that drivers can’t or don’t remain attentive is explicitly the driver’s fault. This is why Autopilot lawsuits will never go anywhere. Adding nannies as Cadillac does is nice and helpful, but not required.

    IMO, SAE Level 2 systems ought to be banned from the roads.

    If you demand perfection from SAE Level 2, then you’re really asking for SAE Level 4 or 5. And that won’t happen for a long time, if ever.

    • 0 avatar
      Deontologist

      The fact that the CEO goes on 60 minutes and demonstrates how he can both conduct an interview and not hold the steering wheel demonstrates to owners that they can, too, trust Autopilot to that extent.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        “As NTSB reports have shown us, the drivers of certain Teslas involved in recent crashes were able to continue driving even after repeated warnings and long stretches with no steering wheel-hand contact.”

        To be precise, what the report shows us is that drivers of certain Teslas were able to continue NOT DRIVING … and that’s the problem in a nutshell.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Agreed – human behavior is in conflict with the SAE Level 2 requirements for autonomous driving. Musk sets a bad example.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      If we’re gonna ban SAE Level 2, what about Level 0?

      Plenty of people in cars with zero autonomous nannies fall asleep all the damn time.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Apparently other manufacturers do an even worse job of detecting drowsy driving or drivers falling asleep. Even worse, they don’t have an auto-pilot system that can keep them alive when it happens.

    https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatigued-driving

    A quick google finds plenty of cases of drivers falling asleep and crashing that don’t involve Teslas. Where are the anti-drowsy cameras?

    “Cadillac chose a different route with its Super Cruise system, however, adding a camera to scan drivers’ faces for signs of drowsiness or distraction.”

    Yeah, but there have been problems with that camera. They’re working on fixing it, but let’s see what happens when there are more cars on the road with it.

    https://jalopnik.com/cadillac-is-already-fixing-super-cruise-1834420496

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      Right?

      If someone is going to be dumb enough to fall asleep in their car, which would you rather? That they be in car with a 90% chance of crashing and dying immediately, i.e. most cars on the market today. Or a car with a 1% chance of crashing, i.e. Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        Deontologist

        “If someone is going to be dumb enough to fall asleep in their car, which would you rather?”

        You’re asking the wrong question.

        We would all be safer if every car had its airbag removed and a 13 inch knife installed instead.

        No one would even dare to doze off while driving, unless they are suicidal.

        With cars nowadays, drivers subconsciously ask “How much can I look at my phone and get away with it? I mean, my car can brake for obstacles…I paid extra for the driver assistance/full self-driving package!!”

        With cars with 13 inch shanks jutting out the steering wheel, the question shifts to “Am I going to be fully attentive while driving? If not, how about I just don’t go driving?”

        The relevant concept here is called “risk compensation.” People tend to feel safer than they actually are, and as a result, people do dumb things, expecting to be safe in spite of their actions. “I paid $5000 for the full self-driving package, let me just look at my phone a lil’ bit while my car is driving itself” is the thought process that leads one astray.

        If we all had 13 inch blades jutting out the steering wheel, most people wouldn’t be asking themselves how much phone-gazing they would be able to get away with.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        “..If someone is going to be dumb enough…”

        Not a chance. These crash test dummies are catching some Z’s, or nap time(!) because “Autopilot”.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    One of the scariest things about Tesla technology is that one day Ford will try to emulate it.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Hey. Priorities man. Priorities.

  • avatar
    vvk

    https://www.facebook.com/377191122414507/posts/1722404327893173

  • avatar
    TS020

    I always say to people the safest car is something like a TVR Speed 12. 800HP, RWD, no ABS or TCS. The reason is because you then get two choices: pay attention to driving, or die, and since the safest car is the one with the attentive driver…

    Also there has never been a crash in a TVR Speed 12; perfect safety rating ;)

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    I wonder what the lady was so ticked off about? Husband owns a gas station?

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