NHTSA nixes Autopilot Buddy, a Tesla attention-detection cheating device

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants Autopilot Buddy off the market in the U.S. The cheating device disables a safety feature for Tesla’s Autopilot system by mimicking input that indicates a driver has their hands on the steering wheel.

The NHTSA issued a consumer advisory reporting its cease and desist letter to Folder, Falco, and Reese Partners LLC, the company that sells the $199 Autopilot Buddy. The order directed the company to respond by June 29, 2018, certifying that it has stopped all marketing, sales, and distribution in the U.S.

“A product intended to circumvent motor vehicle safety and driver attentiveness is unacceptable,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. “By preventing the safety system from warning the driver to return their hands to the wheel, this product disables an important safeguard, and could put customers and other road users at risk.”

A disclaimer on the device site contains the following: “Warning: The Autopilot Budy is not a safety device. Using this device irresponsibly may cause injury or death. This device is designed for closed track use, not for use on public streets.”

The site also states, “You as the driver are responsible to keep your car under control. Autopilot Buddy’s primary function is to disable the autopilot check-in restrictions.  Autopilot Buddy is developed for closed circuit or track use only.  Disabling key safety feature of any car is dangerous and ill-advised.”

The Autopilot Buddy website currently has buy buttons for international orders for Tesla Model S, Model X, and Model 3 cars. There is also a wait list button for U.S. orders and the following note, “Attention U.S.A. residents: Though we are not currently taking orders within the United States.  You can be added to our ‘Waitlist.’  Once we can resume domestic we will contact you.”

Tesla’s Autopilot is designed to assist drivers while traveling, but it is not a fully autonomous driving system. “Every driver is responsible for remaining alert and active when using Autopilot and must be prepared to take action at any time,” according to Tesla.

Tesla recently updated the Autopilot software to increase the sensitivity in the system that detects when drivers’ hands are not on the wheel. The current system looks for the minor movements or nudges that would indicate human hands on the steering wheel while driving with Autopilot engaged. In the absence of such movements, Autopilot issues audio and visual warnings and, if there is no change, gradually stops the vehicle and turns on the hazard lights.

Cars

You don’t need to go autonomous to make trucking safer

Long haul truckers are very good at their jobs, but they face long hours and unpredictable conditions. Autonomous tech may be coming, but here’s how lidar technology companies are working to enhance trucking safety today.
Cars

Apple Car may make its debut in the middle of the next decade

Apple likely won't become a full-fledged manufacturer like General Motors or Ford, but the tech giant is diving into the auto industry pool. Here's everything we know about the company's automotive efforts.
Mobile

Trust us, you need to pay attention to Samsung’s new mobile modem

Samsung has announced the Exynos Modem 5100 chip, which usually would not be very exciting, but this one is its first 5G modem that will connect future mobile devices to the super-fast network.
Emerging Tech

Georgia is paving the way for a high-tech, sustainable highway

A consortium of government, corporate, and non-profit entities have come together to build a “smart” highway in Georgia. See how this 18-mile route is setting an example for future constructions.
Cars

NHTSA investigating Ford F-150 seat belt fires, may recall 1.4 million trucks

The NHTSA is investigating reports of fires in five Ford F-150 pickup trucks. The NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigation is exploring whether seatbelt pretensioners caused the fires during crashes and if a recall is necessary.
Cars

2019 Honda Civic sedan and coupe add more standard driver-assist tech

The 2019 Honda Civic compact sedan and coupe get a handful of updates to stay fresh, including exterior styling tweaks, standard Honda Sensing driver aids, and a new Sport trim level.
Product Review

2019 Chevrolet Silverado is the biggest and best Silverado ever

There’s a lot to tell in our 2019 Chevrolet Silverado first drive review, from new engine options, new chassis and suspension design, new bed and tailgate features, new trailering tools, and new trim levels. Dive in and learn.
Cars

Danny Thompson just set a land speed record in a 50-year-old car

Danny Thompson, son of the late racing legend Mickey Thompson, has just taken his dad's Challenger 2 streamliner to a breathtaking speed of 450 mph. The feat makes it the fastest piston-powered vehicle in the world.
Cars

Porsche goes rallying, and it’s not with the model you’re thinking of

Porsche channeled its racing heritage to turn the 718 Cayman, not the Cayenne, into a rally car. The GT4-spec model was built as a fully functional concept, and it will participate in its first rally during August.
Product Review

You don't want a 360-degree dashcam, and this is why

What can 360° video do for your car? In the case of the new Waylens Secure360 dash camera, it watches for intruders and attempts to provide a complete picture of both the interior and exterior of your ride.
Cars

2019 Ford Ranger online configurator launched, pricing revealed

The 2019 Ford Ranger midsize pickup truck starts at $25,395, but a fully loaded version can top $40,000. The Ranger is making its return to the United States after a seven-year absence.
Product Review

The 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback lets you have your 444-hp cake and eat it, too

Audi expanded the RS 5 family with a high-performance sedan named Sportback. It stands out from rivals like the BMW M3 with a shapely fastback-like silhouette, and it surfs the downsizing wave with a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 in lieu…
Cars

Tesla board waits for Musk’s plan to go private as Saudi Arabia stays silent

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk asked more questions than he answered when he declared he could take Tesla private. The money allegedly comes from Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich nation and Tesla investor, but officials have stayed silent.
Cars

Live out your Steve McQueen fantasies with this souped-up Ford Mustang Bullitt

Ford tuner Steeda teamed up with Chad McQueen, son of Steve McQueen to create the ultimate 'Bullitt' tribute car. It's an upgraded version of the recently launched 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt.