What Does The Tesla Selfie Cam Capture?


Published on October 5th, 2020 |
by Zachary Shahan

October 5th, 2020 by  

A well known Tesla white hat hacker, known simply as “green” on Twitter (@greentheonly), has revealed — to some extent — what the Tesla selfie cam is watching out for. What’s the Tesla selfie cam? It’s a camera right behind the rearview mirror in a Tesla vehicle. Here’s a look from inside my Tesla Model 3 from close up and from further back (you most likely need to click the second image and zoom in to see the camera in that one).

(Side note: Thanks to EV Annex for the fun Elon Musk + Starman sunshade!)

Elon Musk has said before that the selfie cam is not being used yet, and that it’s in the cars for when they become self-driving cars/robotaxis.

Despite not being in use yet, though, “green” has identified what this sole interior camera is set up to watch and take notes about. Have a look:

On the first tag, “BLINDED,” the car is logically set up to notice if the selfie cam is blinded. If someone has hailed a Tesla robotaxi and the selfie cam becomes blinded, I presume that would tell the car to stop and notify Tesla HQ, and to wait until the issue is fixed before continuing service.

I have no real idea what the car’s reaction would be to noticing that it’s dark inside the car, unless that’s simply an indicator to show that the camera isn’t fully blinded but that it may not be able to capture things well due to poor lighting.

Naturally, at a stage where the Tesla isn’t yet capable of 100% self-driving service unmonitored by a human, it could be useful to see if the driver’s eyes are closed or looking down away from the road. The system could then give a warning — perhaps a loud warning — that the driver should open their eyes or look up or else the car will pull over and park itself.

In fact, there’s also a tag to indicate if the driver is using their phone, which could be very useful if Tesla wanted to be proactive about discouraging texting while driving, something that has been shown to be as dangerous as drunk driving.

Showing just how nuanced it really gets, though, you have two tags regarding sunglasses — one indicating that someone has sunglasses on but is probably watching the road and one indicating that someone has sunglasses on but their eyes are likely not on the road.

I’m not sure what “HEAD_TRUNC” stands for, but I’d assume it means the driver’s head is “truncated” — not in the view of the camera.

A final note from me: I’m not sure how it’s useful to know if the driver’s head is facing left or right. I’m sure there are reasons knowing that is useful, but nothing comes to mind except perhaps as evidence in the case of a crash.

Related stories: Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus Long-Term Review 


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About the Author

is tryin’ to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao.

Zach has long-term investments in NIO [NIO], Tesla [TSLA], and Xpeng [XPEV]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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