Home » These Tesla FSD Hands-Free Mod Devices Are Such A Bad Idea And Promoting Them Is Dumb

These Tesla FSD Hands-Free Mod Devices Are Such A Bad Idea And Promoting Them Is Dumb

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There’s been some tweets and videos floating around recently of a Tesla owner-operator demonstrating how to install and use a “Hands Free Tesla Mod Chip” for use with Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta (FSD) software. FSD is a Level 2 system, which means that no matter how advanced it appears to be or is imagined to be, it still requires a licensed, warm, human driver to be ready to take over with no warning. That means that human needs to keep a hand on the steering wheel (or, oy, yoke) so they can take over when needed or desired. If not, Tesla’s system will issue warnings and alerts, and, should you still refuse to take hold of the tiller, FSD will disengage. This device eliminates that safeguard, and it’s good for precisely nobody. Also, it’s stupid.

Devices to fool or spoof the torque sensors in the steering wheel have been around for quite some time, usually in the form of a weight of some sort that clips onto the steering wheel, or, in a pinch, an orange can sometimes work, at least it used to.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Now it seems the sophistication of these devices has ramped up to fool more discriminating hands-on-wheel sensor systems, moving from little weighted clamps and round, citrus fruits to integrated circuits on little PC boards you need to patch into your car’s wiring harness by temporarily removing the airbag:

So, as you can see in the latter part of the video, the little chip there is effectively sending the expected inputs into the Tesla’s computers to fool it into thinking a rational human’s hands are on the wheel, instead of the driver’s seat being occupied by a dork giddy at the prospect of driving with their hands in their groin instead of on the wheel.

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Of course, Tesla does also have a driver-monitoring camera system, and has had it for some time, long enough for Tesla employees to have been found sharing videos of people in their cars, if you remember that mess from last year.

Other systems, like GM’s Super Cruise, do offer hands-free driving, but it’s freeway-only and has a quite strict driver monitoring camera system. The point is all of these safeguards are in place for a reason, and that reason is that all of these systems are, again, Level 2, which is not an assessment of capability, but rather a description of the interaction between human and machine.

Specifically, Level 2 requires constant, unending supervision. These systems are not self-driving systems, they are driver-assist systems and need to be treated as such. When a device like the mod chip above is used to defeat a key part of the attention monitoring system, there’s nothing good that will be gained.

Is anyone installing this so they can pay more attention while the car is in control? No. Fuck no. The reason you’d want your hands free is because you don’t want to be as actively engaged in the task of driving, and the truth is that FSD, advanced as it is, is in no way ready to be working without supervision.

Each new version seems to bring a whole host of new issues. For example, this person records long, unedited FSD driving video and quite honestly shows where the issues are. In a recent video after the upgrade to version 12.3, she documented something that seems to be new in this version: an increased propensity to whack wheels into curbs. Look:

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This is just one little thing that only really harms the Tesla itself. She’s shown quite a few other examples of bad driving behavior with the new version. Like this:

Here it runs a stop sign:

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Sometimes it doesn’t even have anything to do with the car or the software; sometimes environmental conditions can force FSD to disengage:

At any of these times, and so many others, if you’re in the driver’s seat, you need to be ready to take control of your moving 4,000 pounds of car.

I feel like I’ve written this basic article many times before, and yet, somehow, there always seem to be new reasons to re-iterate the basic point: it’s a terrible idea to not pay attention in a Level 2 semi-automated system. Terrible. This is how accidents happen and people get hurt. Not paying attention while driving anything is bad, but for fully human-driven cars, at least there aren’t companies hawking products to let you pay even less attention [Ed note: Well, other than smartphones – MH]

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This thing is a bad idea. Don’t buy one. Don’t use one. If you have a Level 2 system on your car, and you like to use it, the worst possible thing you can do is support any devices like this. You want to get Level 2 systems banned? Shit like this is how you do that.

Please. Don’t fall into this inane trap.

Relatedbar

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Tesla Using Full Self-Driving Beta Runs A Stop Sign In The Middle Of A Debate About FSD Beta

That Anti-Tesla Full Self-Driving Super Bowl Ad Wasn’t Fair To Tesla, But Not For The Reasons You Think

 

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Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
27 days ago

Yup, anyone who does this is a fucking idiot and should be put in a new jail called “stupid fools” This shit should be illegal and banned along w/ charges on their license/record. Screw it, take their license away forever since they clearly don’t know how to drive + aren’t even driving and are a huge risk to everyone on the road. When they kill someone, I hope they rot in prison forever for something 100% preventable. This kind of BS should be stopped now and I hope these companies that do false advertising like Tesla get sued to oblivion and cease to exist. This is the definition of stupidity and is not moving forward, this is called moving BACKWARDS!

Musicman27
Musicman27
27 days ago

At least the guy put a warning and an example of a situation where hands are needed. But that won’t stop most people from abusing the system.

Vicente Perez
Vicente Perez
27 days ago

Terrible idea, 100% bad, don’t do it.

What entrepreneurial types should create is a chip to enhance the safeguard, rather than to defeat it.

Tesla’s system for driver monitoring is rather imperfect. It may yell at you or disconnect the assist features even when properly used. This also leads to some looking into ways around the monitoring system.

Or perhaps Tesla should stop overhyping the assist features, so people are less enthusiastic about misusing them, and not as much babysitting is needed. What a concept!

Citrus
Citrus
27 days ago

I feel as though we need to appreciate the absurdity and potential danger of taking the airbag out to install this – and if someone is dumb enough to install a defeat device, they’re dumb enough to remove or re-install an airbag wrong or, worst case scenario, find a way to accidentally trigger it. Airbags, much like the Wu-Tang Clan, ain’t nothing to fuck with.

Space
Space
27 days ago
Reply to  Citrus

If they are putting everyone else in danger it only seems fair.

VanGuy
VanGuy
27 days ago
Reply to  Citrus

I replaced the headlight switch in my Prius v to add one with the fog light switch, and that included removing the airbag module…it was pretty easy. My only concern here is if/how you disconnect power from it.

Mind you, I completely agree with the premise of the article.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
27 days ago

So, what does this do for culpability if a Tesla hits me and the owner has this disable device installed? And, how would I know? Are we getting to the point that, if an accident involves a Tesla, we have to have it examined at the scene to determine if such a device is installed? I imagine I would have to talk to a lawyer in my state to find out if that’s even possible.

At the minimum, anyone involved in an incident including a Tesla should definitely inform an officer at the scene of the existence of these and question them as to whether they will try to determine if one is present and whether it was engaged.

I apologize in advance to any Tesla drivers who shun these things as a danger to the public and themselves.

Rafael
Rafael
27 days ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

That’s a really good point, if those L2 systems are now partially to blame in case of a crash, they need to be audited for tampering, just like we check the driver for drugs.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
27 days ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

In my experience, systems like this are recording and monitoring performance. So there should be a record of what actually happened with the car’s FSD software that Tesla would have to produce in litigation. Of course, it’ll take you 6 figures in attorneys’ fees to get it.

Harmanx
Harmanx
27 days ago

Most of the example vid posts are FSD v 12.2.1 — which I think was only available to a handful of internal/select testers. (FSD v 12 is a complete overhaul of the software, so the initial point releases weren’t made available while being tested/revised.) But a couple posts here (with the curb-clipping) do show the first wide release: 12.3. — truly big improvements over everything prior. (I’ve been using FSD for years now — and concur with a lot of enthusiastic recent reviews.) Some users have noted it taking corners too close to curbs — hadn’t seen it actually clip one before, but there it is. 12.3.1 started rolling out yesterday to address some issues — perhaps this among them.

Anyway, the article’s main topic is absolutely legit — adas should not have nags circumvented. Perps should have their drivers licenses revoked and probably face even worse for putting others at risk. Just wanted to point out that most of the vids shown here are of a version not available beyond a small set of testers.

Chronometric
Chronometric
27 days ago
Reply to  Harmanx

I would love a longer review of FSD from someone who has extensive experience. You seem like a knowledgeable person without a death wish. It is easy to keyboard snipe and cherrypick the bad decision videos (and some are really bad) but I would like to hear more from someone who uses it often and has lived to tell the tale.

Specifically,
Why do you keep using it?
Does it provide a real benefit other than being a technological marvel?
What are your best and worst moments?
It seems like each point release is both a step back and forward. Is it improving?
Any other insight or advice about automated driving.

Harmanx
Harmanx
27 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

At the time I purchased it (when it was less expensive, but still a splurge for me), I suspected it may never achieve its claim, but totally wanted to experience efforts to get there, even so. (Others have spent heaps more on various other car tech just because it fascinates them, so I assuage my guilt a little.) 

I keep using it because it really is improving. On long highway drives, it feels safe and absolutely reduces fatigue. So far, I still cannot say the same for city street driving, though — despite continual improvements. Version 12 is a complete rewrite and if anything gets it to the long-promised level 4 or 5 autonomy, it will be this approach — and now that it’s been released and the software is almost entirely “self-training” (using a massive data set), that question should finally be answered in the coming few months. 

As to steps forward vs back, this rewrite is a major step forward — drives like a good human driver most of the time — way less robotic. But a couple things they had working well before need to be retrained, like that curb thing (which I haven’t yet experienced, btw). At a two-lane left turn, it switched lanes mid-turn the other day — something that I hadn’t experienced since a much earlier version. (If the driver disengages, they can send Tesla a voice memo to explain the problem, and developers can review the video feed / telemetry.)

If it fails to achieve the big goal, the hardware might be the obstacle. The side-looking cameras are in the b-pillars, for example, which are too far back when turning at intersections with fast-moving cross traffic. (We’ve all needed to lean forward when making some of those turns — the car’s strategy is to slowly creep forwards to compensate. It establishes a “safe” limit line that it won’t go beyond — and gets the desired view, but it’s a line you probably wouldn’t feel super safe standing on as a pedestrian, say.)

FWIW, there have been very few major accidents with FSD — and hundreds of thousands of drivers have been using the beta for years now. That number of accidents isn’t greater than the number of similar accidents with regular driving, from much of what I’ve read. Tesla claims accidents have been much fewer with their software than without it — but that has been challenged and I think refuted.

Chronometric
Chronometric
27 days ago
Reply to  Harmanx

thank you.

Harmanx
Harmanx
27 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

sure. Readers rarely want to hear from some fsd-user doofus — so thankfully, that was a one-off from the likes of me

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
27 days ago
Reply to  Harmanx

I find that it’s too easy to become vested in my opinions/ beliefs, so feel that it’s quite important to absorb data/hear experiences which may contradict them. So I definitely appreciate you posting your experience with the system.

‘Never forget the possibility that you might be an idiot—or just plain wrong’
🙂

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
27 days ago
Reply to  Harmanx

Just adding another thanks from a fellow Autopian curious to hear a balanced review from someone who knows the product.

Tesla (and by extension their customers/beta testers) have done an enormous amount for EV adoption and driving assistance technology, and the cars seem to be good value in comparison to the alternatives (at least for now).

Harmanx
Harmanx
27 days ago

You’re welcome. (If SoCal-local Autopian staff ever want to borrow the car for a couple days to review it first hand, they’re welcome to.)

Chronometric
Chronometric
27 days ago

After watching Miss Jillybean’s Tesla run stop lights and hit curbs, I am actually impressed. It appears that Tesla FSD has reached the proficiency of the average driver.

Data
Data
27 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

“…the proficiency of the average Altima driver.”

Fixed that for you.

Codfangler
Codfangler
27 days ago

“I feel like I’ve written this basic article many times before…”

IIRC, I read a book that you wrote on this topic. Do your friends call you “Cassandra?”

10001010
10001010
27 days ago

I’m interested in today’s EVs but not in today’s AVs. I hate that the two are seemingly conflated for some reason. Well, I know the reason, but it’s still annoying. Like how they mix SciFi and Fantasy at the book store. I like one, not the other, why are they mixed together?!?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
27 days ago
Reply to  10001010

I always chuckle to myself when philosophy books are grouped in the religion, or worse, “new age” section.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
27 days ago
Reply to  10001010

I don’t mind mixing SF and Fantasy, but I’d love if the various media tie-in series were in a different set of shelves entirely.

Not that I’ve been in a physical book store in years and years.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
27 days ago

The people promoting these devices are idiots, but in the hands of someone with at least three quarters of a functioning brain these devices could be useful. My Model 3 doesn’t have FSD but it does have autosteer. Autosteer is convenient and safe if used appropriately (i.e. the driver is paying attention, although not actively moving the wheel).

My biggest complaint with autosteer is that it requires you to periodically make minor steering inputs to prove your hands are on the wheel (I presume FSD works similarly). This is a problem since the inputs required are only slightly less than the inputs that disengage the system. As a result, autosteer is constantly disengaging when I try to make the required inputs to keep my car happy. This is distracting. With a device that eliminates that requirement, autosteer and FSD could be safer than the system as designed. Also, considering how reckless, distracted, drunk, and/or just plain bad at driving some humans are, autosteer/FSD with these devices might actually be safer than a car without these capabilities.

I know most of these devices will be used by idiots to engage in jackassery for social media clicks, but for the minority of us who would use these appropriately they would be nice.

Last edited 27 days ago by Stig's Cousin
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
27 days ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

> considering how reckless, distracted, drunk, and/or just plain bad at driving some humans are, autosteer/FSD with these devices might actually be safer than a car without these capabilities.

A system that can toss you into a curb or a median at speed when it gets confused doesn’t seem safer to me.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
27 days ago

You must know better drivers than I do! At least the Tesla only hits curbs occasionally. That is unfortunately far better than many drivers I know.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
27 days ago

Stoopid Hoomans. 🙁

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
27 days ago

Foolish
Selfish
Dumb ass

Grey alien in a beige sedan
Grey alien in a beige sedan
28 days ago

These are the same people that would refuse to drive a proper manual transmission. Change my mind.

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
27 days ago

I’m convinced that the vast majority of Tesla drivers are people who hate driving and would rather do anything than be involved in the act of driving.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
27 days ago

They would drive stick if they could be aggressively stupid at it.

Last edited 27 days ago by Jonathan Hendry
VanGuy
VanGuy
27 days ago

I hardly think it’s an indictment of someone that they want their transportation to be exactly that, and not much more. Hell, I drive a Prius.

Even if, yes, I agree with the premise of the article and FSD is badly named and these defeat devices are awful.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
28 days ago

I get the feeling that Miss Jillybean and I wouldn’t have much to talk about.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
28 days ago

Level 2 driver assist is the worst of both worlds. The need for constant attention and the difficulty of maintaining that attention make it a poor goal, either Level 3-4 where the wetware isn’t required or Level 1 where it’s clearly understood the human is driving and the box is just a nanny. Tesla’s Partial Self Driving is the worst offender because so many people want to treat as autonomous when it’s Level 2, and flawed at that.

Data
Data
27 days ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Elon’s terminology of Autopilot and Full Self Driving surely didn’t help the matter.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
27 days ago
Reply to  Data

That’s why I always refer to them as Semi-Auto Pilot and Partial Self Driving to more accurately describe their capabilities or lack thereof.

Sklooner
Sklooner
28 days ago

I would wonder about the liability of selling safety equipment defeat devices, met a guy who was wanting to sell 3d printed thingies that defeated the locks on angle grinders and saws so you could leave them running without your finger on the trigger. I suggested that selling them may not be a good idea as it would open him up for lawsuits, I think he understood

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
28 days ago
Reply to  Sklooner

Specifically on grinders, that’s not a bad idea or a significant liability. I bought my Craftsman grinders specifically because they were the only ones in the store with a toggle switch that stays on instead of having to constantly hold a paddle switch.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
28 days ago
Reply to  Sklooner

The outfit in (most likely) China that makes and sells these things and runs a website whose Contact Us page contains nothing but an email address and phone number and whose About Us page has only a vague mission statement and lists a single mononymous Managing Director named “Joseph” probably cares little for getting sued in an American court.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
28 days ago

A contrarian view: please, all Tesla drivers (or owners of any other cars with 2nd level driving systems) buy these devices and install them now. By all means, take your hands off the steering apparatus and pedals. Watch a movie on your touch screen, or take a nap, even. Of course, you will be dead soon, but you will have accomplished a twofold blessing: removing yourself and your cars from existence. Inevitably, there will be collateral damage; however, no freedom is ever gained without sacrifice. I, meanwhile, am moving to an island without cars.

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
27 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

While we’re at it, let’s just remove the safety labels from everything. Nature will sort it out.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
28 days ago

You want to get Level 2 systems banned? Shit like this is how you do that.

Actually, they probably should be banned until there is proper guidance, laws, and properly supervised testing to get these systems to be not “beta testing.”

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
28 days ago

“Groin”…what a great word.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
27 days ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Moist.

Chronometric
Chronometric
27 days ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Taint none better.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
28 days ago

Proper message is you don’t need to spend so much on a fancy device. Some spring clamps on the wheel instead of hands and some gag eye glasses from Jacks Joke Shop in Attleboro MA so the system doesn’t know your sleeping.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
28 days ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Or just get your eyelids tattooed

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
27 days ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

That’s near Al Harrington’s, right?

Alexk98
Alexk98
28 days ago

The dude who posted the mod chip video has some hilariously bad and self-righteous takes in his comment section too. One is copy/pasted below for your enjoyment/suffering/eye rolling pleasure:

Normal Comment: “We can’t just keep our hand on the wheel for now…??? “

Video Uploaders response: “Show me any data that says the wheel tug adds safety and I’ll jump in line. You can’t, because it doesn’t exist. I have over 100k miles on FSD beta, multiple cars clearing the 100 safety score hurdle with pride. I drive my car responsibly. I don’t dance when told to dance. The nag doesn’t add safety to my experience, so I disable it. You do you.”

I swear these ardent FSD diehards are at the highest level of weaponized stupidity I’ve ever seen. The fact that an arbitrary safety score from Tesla is his metric for safe and quality driving is equally hilarious as it is concerning.

At least Miss Jillybean is willing to show and acknowledge its shortcomings.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
28 days ago
Reply to  Alexk98

The arbitrary Tesla safety score is his second metric for safe driving, after his experience of going 100k miles presumably without crashing. Which isn’t crazy or anything, but it is better than the average driver.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
27 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

presumably, maybe. fanbois have shown some exceptional creativity in justifying accidents and attributing them to something else. “not my accident”.

I think the fact that he doesn’t say “I’ve never had an accident” speaks volumes. especially since he goes out of his way to mention some meaningless safety score.

I wonder if he would be impressed with my safe-driving discount score from progressive?

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
27 days ago

Hey, maybe he should put one of those monitoring dongles from his insurance company in one of those cars and see how much his insurance goes down 😉

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
27 days ago
Reply to  Alexk98

“I don’t dance when told to dance.”
Look, asshole, it’s called the social contract: either dance or stay the hell off the floor.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
27 days ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

“I just stand in the middle of the floor swinging my fists around wildly.”

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
27 days ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

We’re gonna need a better bouncer 😉

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