Electric car maker Tesla has released a computer update that allows drivers to play video games while the vehicle is moving.
The software has been sent to Tesla drivers in the UK and the US and allows games to be played on a car’s central touchscreen while it is moving.
The driver can pick from a variety of games including Solitaire and Sky Force Reloaded, which are arcade shooters, as well as a strategy game, The Battle of Polytopia.
It was only possible to play games when your car was stationary before the update. A game can now be chosen while the car is moving and the player will need to verify that they aren’t the driver. This can be bypassed simply by pressing the ‘I am a passenger’ option.
The software has been sent to Tesla drivers in the UK and the US and allows games to be played on a car’s central touchscreen while it is moving
Some drivers are concerned about the updates. A motorists who reviews new Tesla features on YouTube described the update as ‘pretty dangerous’.
The reviewer said: ‘They need to make this [feature]This is dangerous. I’m sure someone is going to use autopilot and then play Solitaire while they are on autopilot. Take note of that, Tesla.’
Tesla’s autopilot feature can independently steer, change lanes, accelerate or brake but drivers are still expected to have their hands on the steering wheel.
Another YouTube user, called CF Tesla, said: ‘I did wonder if this was one of those things where if you started going 5 or 10mph that the game would pause or shut off, but as I drove through my neighbourhood checking it out, it kept working.’
The driver can select from Solitaire, Sky Force Reloaded, an arcade shooter, and The Battle of Polytopia, a strategy game. The stock image above is taken from the Internet.
Safety campaigners warn that it doesn’t matter if the passenger is playing it, it could still be dangerous distracting others.
According to driving laws in Britain, motorists can use screens only when ‘viewing driving information related to the state of the vehicle or its equipment, when navigation is displayed, or when assisting in viewing the road around the vehicle’.
Screens used for anything else ‘should not be visible to the driver while the vehicle is being driven’.
Next year the law will be tightened to ban any use of a handheld device while driving, including to take photos or play games, with rule-breakers facing a £200 fine and six points on their licence.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that it was investigating the feature and was in discussion with Tesla.
A spokesman said: ‘Distraction-affected crashes are a concern, particularly in vehicles equipped with an array of convenience technologies such as entertainment screens.’
According to government figures, 17 deaths occurred last year due to crashes that involved drivers who were distracted by their mobile phones. Another 114 people sustained serious injuries while 385 received minor injuries.
Tesla was reached for comment by the Associated Press last night.