Taptes / Futurism
Who Could Have Thought

Reckless Tesla Drivers Are Using Cheap Weights to Fool Their Cars Into Thinking They’re Paying Attention

byMaggie Harrison Dupré
7.10.23, 5:06 PM EDT
Taptes / Futurism

"How do you think they're going to behave?"

Not Dangerous Enough

Tesla owners are using cheap steering wheel weights to trick their cars into thinking they're keeping their eyes on the road.

According to a report from The Washington Post, the weights, which have risen in popularity as Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD) continues to be adopted by a growing number of drivers, offer intentionally mundane-looking benefits, such as relieving shoulder pain or doubling as a phone holder.

In reality, however, the weights are designed and sold to allow FSD users to take their hands off the wheel while their car attempts to drive itself — despite Tesla still requiring drivers to actively pay attention and be able to take over at any point with the feature turned on.

It's incredibly reckless behavior, especially considering that Tesla Autopilot-related deaths have seen an unsettling surge in recent months.

High Risk, No Reward

Per the WaPo, the devices are being sold across the web, and are particularly common on massive online marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba's AliExpress.

Comments on the listings — several of which have been removed in light of the WaPo's report — are reportedly telling of the products' real purpose, even if a product description suggests otherwise.

"If you use it in city streets then it'll work without any alerts," read one Amazon review of something called the "Steering Wheel Glass Breaker," which, according to the report, was posted in May. "Use it at your own risk."

"Just got this, and tested it, driving 38 miles," another commenter reportedly wrote of the same product. "No Autopilot nag for the entire ride."

To be clear, the car "nags" for good reason. Tesla's self-driving features are anything but perfect and have been involved in several fatal collisions. Drivers are using these cheap weights at their own risk, but are also putting other drivers around them at risk, too.

Even so, experts say that the prevalence of the products, while obviously terrible, isn't all that surprising.

"Elon Musk's saying it's supposed to drive itself," Carnegie Mellon University professor Philip Koopman, who has been studying autonomous vehicle safety for 25 years, told the WP. "That's what they're going to hear. How do you think they're going to behave?"

For its part, Amazon says that it's doing its best to counter the issue.

"The products in question were evasively listed, have been removed, and we are taking corrective action," an Amazon spokesperson told the WaPo. "Amazon does not tolerate illegal or evasive behavior, and we enforce bad actors that make factual misrepresentations to customers."

More on Tesla autopilot: The Number of Known Deaths Involving Tesla's Autopilot Has Surged

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