Hacker reveals secret ‘Elon Mode’ in Tesla cars for full self-driving

Feature reportedly didn’t require any attention from the driver while using Tesla’s full self-driving software

Vishwam Sankaran
Wednesday 21 June 2023 07:25 BST

Related video: Tesla Critic Suspended on Twitter

Tesla vehicles appear to have a secret hands-free driving feature named “Elon Mode”, an anonymous hacker has revealed.

The hacker, who goes by the handle @greentheonly on Twitter, is known for assessing the electric vehicle manufacturer’s software code and uncovering features before their official rollout.

In the latest reveal, the hacker unveiled the hidden “Elon Mode” feature which doesn’t require any attention from the driver while using Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) software.

Tesla’s FSD is the EV maker’s advanced driver-assist system that is in beta testing, but is available for those who pay as much as $15,000 or $199 per month for the option.

FSD Beta is a work in progress for the EV company and gives drivers an “autosteer on city streets”.

Tesla recently recalled a number of vehicles for a free over-the-air software update of its experimental FSD Beta package amid fears of crashes.

In February, a recall notice posted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that the FSD Beta system may cause the vehicles to crash.

The notice said this could happen by allowing the vehicles to “act unsafe around intersections, such as traveling straight through an intersection while in a turn-only lane, entering a stop sign-controlled intersection without coming to a complete stop, or proceeding into an intersection during a steady yellow traffic signal without due caution”.

More recently, a leaked internal report indicated last month that the FSD had thousands of user complaints of sudden braking and abrupt acceleration.

On Saturday, the hacker posted a video on Twitter testing out the secret self-driving feature after finding and enabling it.

Tesla’s Autopilot system is known to require drivers to nudge the steering wheel to confirm they are paying attention to the road.

It also constantly assesses the feed of the vehicle’s interior camera above the rearview mirror to observe drivers and make sure they’re looking at the road, leading to some users calling the system’s checks “nagging”.

But @greentheonly found from their “nearly 600 miles” test of Elon Mode on a company-owned vehicle that they “did not need to watch for the dreaded nag”.

The hacker noted that the AI system drove slow on the highway and also seemed to randomly change lanes.

“This also explains the barrage of people that claim the car works very good and they are happy – perhaps they like to drive slow, content with random lane changes and such,” the hacker tweeted.

It remains unclear if “Elon Mode” will come to regular users of the EV, with Mr Musk hinting last December that nag-free driving was coming. Tesla did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

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