Autopilot secret 4 minute shutdown

Autopilot secret 4 minute shutdown

I have searched the forum as best I could, since there is no search function on the web site and I cannot find an answer to this. When in the autopilot mode, my model S requires the drive to be touching the wheel every four minutes or it will show the pop-up telling the driver to put hands on the wheel and it gives you several seconds to do so or it starts slowing you down. This function is likely to keep the driver from falling asleep and probably helps clear Tesla of some degree of liability. I would think, though, that slowing down to a stop in the middle of a super highway may be as dangerous as doing nothing. Nonetheless, has anyone else noticed the four minute governor built into the autopilot?

Tropopause | February 23, 2016

True it does this thanks to our friends who took unnecessary risks with AP version 7.0

I don't know why people think it's dangerous for AP to smoothly bring the car to a stop with hazard lights flashing. My old ICE car would simply have plowed into another vehicle or off a cliff if I was incapacitated during driving. I'll choose the former, thank you Tesla!

jordanrichard | February 23, 2016

Disclaimer, I don't have an AP car.

People are complaining about touching the steering wheel from time to time, it is the law. I am not saying that I am a prude, but legally in any state you have to have your hands on the steering wheel at all times. If you don't believe me, pass a cop while eating a Subway sandwich, with 2 hands or a burger in one hand a drink in the other and see what happens. Unless the cop is a fan of Tesla, you are most likely getting a ticket.

EdwardG.NO2CO2 | February 23, 2016

Nothing secret about it! Common sense!

tezzla.SoCal | February 23, 2016

@jordanrichard - not true, some states (ie:NY) require a hand on the wheel, most don't.

tezzla.SoCal | February 23, 2016

Actually, from this link:

"So, how do all these laws apply to cars such as Google’s new prototype? Interestingly, New York is the only state that has a law that states “no person shall operate a motor vehicle without having one hand…on the steering mechanism at all times when the motor vehicle is in motion.” Without even having a steering wheel, this law would technically be broken by Google’s fully autonomous car."

Mike G | February 23, 2016

From my testing you could go for 15 minutes without touching the wheel if conditions are perfect. I'm getting a reminder in various intervals depending on conditions, so there is definitely no set governor or time limit on autopilot.

damonmath | February 23, 2016

I agree with Mike on the timing of the nanny warning. I seem to get the same warnings in about the same spots daily on the freeways. This morning I did however have a warning followed immediately by another warning with less than 30 seconds between warnings. I do see a pattern, but it has more to do with the road I'm on and net necessarily a timeout. | February 23, 2016

I'm unclear what is secret about it. Seems to have been talked about quite a bit since 7.1 came out :)

One way to search:

dvernier | February 23, 2016

I had not heard of it and there was no mention of it in the car's 7.1 release notes (why?). (I guess I might of heard of it if Tesla provide a search on this forum.) Also,to repeat, my Model S wants your hands touching the wheel at least every four minutes, regardless of "conditions where the sailing was clear. We timed it on the Florida turnpike. I don't think 7.0 had this "feature".

Although, I understand the reason the states have a law regarding no-handed driving, but where did the 4 minutes come from and why is that different from 1 or 2 minutes? Seattle has no law that prohibits having both hands off the wheel, there may be others. Anyway, at least the city cops usually do not enforce the law that says you have to drive with your shoes on.

Haggy | February 23, 2016

I have no reason to believe it's four minutes. I've taken trips where I've definitely had fewer times where it's reminded me, but it's not as if it's some sort of ordeal. You simply grab the wheel with a minor amount of pressure. It made more sense when it did it at times when you needed to keep your hands on the wheel than it does now, but if the car wants to check up on me every few minutes, I don't really mind. It's better than me driving for an hour after I keel over. And by me, I mean somebody else.

Haggy | February 23, 2016

There isn't any law in any state that I've been able to find that you need to have shoes on when you drive, but I was told it was the law when I was growing up. I have found plenty of sources that say that there isn't a law in any US state nor is there a federal law against driving without shoes. It's impossible to consider those definitive because you can't cite a section of a vehicle code that doesn't exist. But if one did exist, somebody would have posted it somewhere by now.

1BadNerd | February 23, 2016

dvernier, I think you couldn't find it because other people claim it's three minutes, not four. Using's link and searching for three-minutes will find you this:

danCE | February 23, 2016

The warning seems to be triggered by long highway curves.

It also seems to be based on your speed relative to the speed limit. If you're at or below the speed limit, it comes on less frequently or not at all. But if you're AP'ing at 10 mph above the speed limit, I've found it comes on every 3 min.

LargeHoagieCollider | February 23, 2016

WK057 over on TMC has hacked his Model S and dissected the AP software. A timed nag is present only on certain classes of roads (and there are four Tesla-defined classes if I recall correctly).

Dwatson102 | February 23, 2016

Mine seems to remind when things get a little dicey like intermittent lane lines. Hi just rest my hand on my leg and hook one finger gently over the wheel and everything seems copacetic.. It also gives me feedback on what the autopilot is doing because I can feel the gentle moves of the steering wheel.

SomeJoe7777 | February 23, 2016

A video I made that shows 5 cycles of a 3-minute "Hold Steering Wheel" message. This is a straight road, 4 lane, divided, but is apparently defined as a "Class 2" road by the Autopilot software.

johncrab | February 23, 2016

This is just the beginning and when we have smart roads sharing information with cars based on a single game plan, I think this will all work really well. In the meantime, we have chosen not to be guinea pigs for the auto industry and we're uncomfortable that there are cars out there driving themselves. In all fairness, I live in AZ where I'm uncomfortable with the woman putting on makeup or the guy watching the ball game while pretending to drive and multitask seamlessly. Perhaps I should trade my S for a used Brinks truck and fit it with reactive armor.

logicalthinker | February 24, 2016

Laws are generally made by bullies who think they know best how to control people.
Liberty isn't safe, but it's better than external control.
NY needs to get rid of its onerous laws. As does every other state.

dvernier | February 24, 2016

Just a thought on why some are seeing 3 minutes between nags and I was seeing 4 minutes. I believe it may have to do with the distance traveled by the driver over time. The post about 3 minutes said they were driving 75 miles per hour. I was driving 68 miles per hour, so if it is distance based, my nags would come further apart than those traveling faster. | February 24, 2016

I got a warning last night and when I didn't do anything, I got a more strident warning but it did not stop steering the car.

Copythat23 | February 24, 2016
Haggy | February 24, 2016

The original notion was supposed to be that the warning would appear when the car couldn't be sure that it was safe to operate without possible human intervention. That part still makes sense. What doesn't make sense is that if I come out of a curve and the warning comes on, and I do nothing, and the road is straight, even at that point. the warning won't go away on its own. The warning should go away when a driver grabs the wheel. It should also go away if the road conditions no longer warrant a warning. If Tesla has something else in mind, such as the electronic equivalent of a dead man's switch, they should document that.