"Look ma, no nags."
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ordered Tesla to hand over any data it has about a hidden configuration of its Autopilot driver assistance feature dubbed "Elon mode," which shuts off the alert noises — or "nags" — that prompt drivers to periodically engage the steering wheel to show they're still paying attention the road.
As Bloomberg reports, the NHTSA sent the Elon Musk-led company a letter dated July 26 to confirm if such a feature, which purportedly "allows drivers using Autopilot to operate their vehicles for extended periods without Autopilot prompting the driver to apply torque to the steering wheel" really exists.
Tesla had until August 25 to respond to the letter. A follow-up letter, posted on Tuesday, confirmed that Tesla did submit a reply in time.
But given the fact that Tesla rarely responds to journalists' requests for comments, we may never hear what the company's answer was — unless it's dragged into the light by court proceedings, of course.
To Tesla's credit, the company is very clear on its website that the misleadingly-named Autopilot software still requires a "fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment."
Yet as an anonymous hacker claimed in an interview with CNBC back in June, Tesla's Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) features have a hidden "Elon mode" that's called something different internally.
The mode reportedly allows anybody to run the features without fully paying attention to the road.
The hacker uploaded footage at the time of the mode in action, titled "Look ma, no nags," showing a Tesla cruising down the highway without the alertness checks.
Outside of running "Elon mode," Tesla drivers can also easily hang cheap gadgets to their steering wheels to trick their cars into thinking they're being attentive.
The latest letter highlights yet again that Tesla is under increased scrutiny by regulators. The NHTSA is already investigating Autopilot over a series of collisions involving stationary emergency vehicles.
The news comes after Musk took the company's latest FSD beta for a spin, livestreaming his experience on X-formerly-Twitter.
Roughly 19 minutes into the stream, the car appeared to lurch into an intersection and even attempted to run a red light, forcing Musk to intervene.
It's unclear whether Elon Mode was activated at the time.
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