Dash cams are a popular purchase for many vehicle owners these days, the footage providing useful evidence in the event of a smash or a dispute with another driver. There’s also the added excitement that you might capture the next viral video, though be careful what you wish for.
More recent Tesla models have eight cameras already built into the vehicle to help its Autopilot feature make sense of, and respond to, the vehicle’s surroundings. Up to now, drivers have been unable to access the cameras, but following repeated requests, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said dash cam functionality is on its way.
Asked recently on Twitter about when Tesla drivers will be able to use some of the cameras as a dash cam, Musk tweeted back: “Good news on this front. Tesla engineering rallied & this will be part of [Autopilot version 9]. Going through final testing now.”
Musk later clarified his response by saying that it would launch as a “beta version,” adding, “Will improve with V9.1.”
Tesla cars have three cameras facing forward, each one offering a different field of view. Two more are located in the side pillars, and another two point backwards from the side-located turn-signal lights. The eighth points outward from the rear of the vehicle.
The built-in Tesla cameras already record footage, a discovery made in 2016 by Tesla owner Jason Hughes. Keen to find out how much data a Tesla vehicle saved in an accident, the programmer took apart a center display unit that he obtained from a crashed Model S. Hughes found that footage from the cameras was saved to the car’s Media Control Unit when the airbags deployed.
Tesla engineers can then examine the recordings to help them determine if an accident was attributable to human error or an issue with the car’s on-board computers. The company also assesses data from the vehicle’s computer logs to learn about its precise condition in the moments before an accident.
The release of Autopilot 9 is expected imminently, though it was originally slated for an August launch. It will roll out first to select beta testers before heading to everyone else a few weeks later.
While the dash cam functionality will be a nice bonus for those who haven’t already invested in a stand-alone unit, version 9 is also highly anticipated as it’s expected to introduce more advanced autonomous-driving features for Tesla vehicles.
If you don’t have a Tesla but are in the market for a dash cam, then check out Digital Trends’ pick of the best.
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