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Feds Ban Aftermarket ‘Autopilot Buddy’ for Tesla Drivers

The primary function of the Autopilot Buddy is to disable a Tesla safety feature that monitors the driver’s hands on the steering wheel and warns the driver when hands aren’t detected, according to NHTSA.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a cease-and-desist order to a company that sells the “Autopilot Buddy,” a product marketed as a “Tesla Autopilot nag-reduction device.”

The primary function of the Autopilot Buddy is to disable a Tesla safety feature that monitors the driver’s hands on the steering wheel and warns the driver when hands aren’t detected, according to NHTSA.

“A product intended to circumvent motor vehicle safety and driver attentiveness is unacceptable,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said. “By preventing the safety system from warning the driver to return their hands to the wheel, this product disables an important safeguard, and could put customers and other road users at risk.”

According to the Autopilot Buddy website, Dolder, Falco and Reese Partners is the owner of the Autopilot Buddy trademark and patent. The company notes that it isn’t affiliated with Tesla.

In a letter to the company, NHTSA directs Dolder, Falco and Reese Partners to respond by June 29 and to certify that the company has stopped all U.S. marketing, sales and distribution of the product.

Tesla boasts that all of its vehicles “have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.” However, several high-profile accidents involving Tesla vehicles have prompted greater scrutiny of Tesla’s self-driving features.

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