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Elon Musk reveals purpose of Tesla Model 3’s mysterious camera

The Tesla Model 3 has a mysterious camera located above its rear-view mirror, and while it remains inactive, it was not until now that its purpose was revealed.

Twitter account LivingTesla called out Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk over the unexplained camera. Musk responded to the tweet, finally ending all speculation.

It’s there for when we start competing with Uber/Lyft & people allow their car to earn money for them as part of the Tesla shared autonomy fleet. In case someone messes up your car, you can check the video.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2019

The Tesla shared autonomy fleet that Musk referred to is a ride-sharing service that will utilize the company’s electric vehicles and their built-in Autopilot systems. Owners will be able to earn additional income by allowing their self-driving Teslas to transport passengers. This may sound like stuff of legend, but according to Musk, the technology is actually on its way.

That’s exactly the idea. What’s not well understood is that Tesla cars being made *today* will be able to do that for you. Just a matter of finishing the software & going through regulatory approval. Will be explained in depth via live webcast on April 22.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2019

Tesla owners will apparently not need an upgrade to add their electric vehicles to the company’s ride-sharing fleet, with a camera already in place to monitor the behavior of passengers. Musk added in another tweet that once internal cameras of Tesla vehicles are enabled, a setting will be added for deactivating them.

There was speculation that the mysterious camera would be part of an attention-based monitoring system for Autopilot, to make sure that drivers will still have their attention on the road despite activating the self-driving feature. This has now been debunked, though Musk added that the internal camera may be used to supplement the external cameras as they can see through the second side windows and rear windows, possibly as an extension to Tesla’s Sentry Mode.

Tesla introduced Sentry Mode in February as a security feature that utilizes the external cameras of its vehicles for protection. In addition to monitoring ride-sharing passengers, the camera above the Model 3’s rear-view mirror may also be utilized as new “security guards” under Sentry Mode in a future update. Sentry Mode was launched alongside Dog Mode, which allows owners to safely leave their dogs in their vehicles.

The latest Autopilot update released by Tesla allows its electric vehicles to change lanes on their own, without requiring the driver’s permission. The update builds on an earlier feature that informs drivers when the car should change lanes, but waited for confirmation before making the maneuver.

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