Tesla plans Autopilot update to clarify confusing 'hold steering wheel' alert

Tesla self-driving view

Tesla drivers are coming to grips with new alerts designed to ensure they stay engaged with their vehicle while it's in Autopilot mode, but one alert seems to be causing some confusion, to the point that CEO Elon Musk has promised a fix.

The latest update to Autopilot includes a "Hold Steering Wheel" alert that pops up in 15 to 20 second intervals if it doesn't detect driver hands on the wheel, reports Electrek

Seems like a sensible safety measure, but it's how the wheel is detecting driver grips that's frustrating Tesla owners. 

According to at least one driver, he now needs to "white knuckle death grip the wheel to keep away the nags." 

Replying to this driver's tweet, Musk said: "Will be adjusting alert to clarify that we mean 'slight up or downward force on the wheel', not really 'hold the wheel'".

See more

So, whenever the next Autopilot update is released, drivers should only need to apply slight pressure to let the vehicle know they're engaged with the steering wheel. 

Tesla's Autopilot has come under scrutiny after a number of accidents that occurred when the self-driving feature was engaged, including a crash in March that resulted in the death of a Tesla driver who ignored warnings from his Model X.

Tesla has maintained Autopilot is an assistance feature, not a full replacement for human drivers, though drivers have discovered hacks to trick the system into thinking they are holding the wheel when they really aren't.

The new nag alerts may be annoying and in need of tweaking, but Tesla is in a position where it needs to keep drivers engaged with their vehicles and paying attention to the road, and not become overly reliant on the system. 


Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.