Tesla disables games in the car under pressure from regulators

Tesla removes a controversial feature in the car in the wake of an investigation by the US security authorities.

Tesla have quietly suspended software within its cars that allows passengers to play complex video games while on the go – under pressure from US regulators – after the feature was available for just a few short weeks.

The Passenger Play feature allowed the use of the widescreen infotainment display as a screen to play video games while on the go, intended for the front passenger.

The U.S. National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) took issue with the update over the air, insisting that Passenger Play could distract the driver – as the games could be played by the driver, remove their eyes and concentration from the road – and cause crashes.

It launched a formal investigation last week, but Tesla has hit the security body hard by agreeing to ban video games from being played when a Tesla is on the move.

NHTSA says Tesla will release an over-the-air update to lock Passenger Play while its vehicles are in motion.

While Tesla apparently intended the feature to be used only by passengers, drivers could easily lean over and circumvent the warning by pressing “I am a passenger”, which is required to activate games.

Online reports have been circulated with detailed information on how Model 3, Model S, Model Y and Model X drivers played the games themselves. NHTSA said more than 580,000 Tesla vehicles in the United States alone were equipped with Passenger Play.

NHTSA is also investigating Tesla’s autopilot function, which has been linked to potentially causing collisions with parked emergency vehicles.

Tom Fraser

Tom started in the automotive industry by leveraging his photographic skills, but quickly learned that journalists got the best end of the deal. He joined CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar, and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during the transition to Drive. As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers car news, car reviews, advice and has a particular interest in long-running feature stories. He understands that every car buyer is unique and has different requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but there is also a loyal subgroup of the Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content. Tom has a deep respect for the entire automotive industry regardless of model and is proud to notice the subtle things that make every car tick. Not a day goes by that he does not learn something new in an ever-changing industry, which is then passed on to the Drive reader base.

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