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Elon Musk Says Tesla Is Changing Its 'Hold Steering Wheel' Alerts After Complaints

Don Reisinger

Tesla has made a change to its Autopilot feature to improve safety. But it’s also proven to annoy users, and now the carmaker is doing something about it.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his company plans to change the Autopilot “screen alert to clarify that we mean ‘slight up or downward force on the wheel.'” A recent update to Autopilot tells Tesla drivers to “hold the wheel.”

Tesla earlier this month pushed a software update to its Autopilot that included the new “hold the wheel” directive. The feature is meant to remind users to stay alert and also tells the vehicle that the driver is still actively engaged in the ride, even if the car’s semi-autonomous driving system is turned on.

The move is part of a broader safety effort by Tesla as it deals with recent accidents involving people driving with Autopilot turned on. Enhancing the requirement of drivers to interact with the steering wheel appears to be an attempt by Tesla to keep people engaged with what’s happening around them.

However, soon after the update was released, many Tesla drivers took to Twitter to complain that it was going too far. The drivers complained that the “hold steering wheel” alerts pop up every 15 to 20 seconds. And, in some cases, even when they “white knuckle death grip the wheel,” as one Tesla driver put it, the system doesn’t realize the driver is engaged and should stop nagging him or her.

Based on Musk’s tweet, it appears that the Tesla steering wheel cannot adequately determine that a person is engaging with it by just squeezing it. A slight force up or down, however, will do the trick.

Musk didn’t say in his tweet when the update will be released. But, chances are, it’ll be available to Tesla vehicles soon.