Late night talk show host James Corden disclosed how to trick a Tesla’s autopilot feature during a cheeky conversation with musician Reggie Watts to his millions of viewers earlier this week.
Teslas that are fully autonomous are a hot-button issue, specifically one that comes with a few problems—the main one being that self-driving cars can’t really self-drive yet. After Elon Musk announced earlier this week that he was aiming to bring software for completely self-driving Teslas to the road by the end of the year, James Corden commented on the news during a monologue on The Late Late Show with James Corden. After bringing up the headline, Corden commented on how Reggie Watts, a former Tesla owner, used to hack his Tesla’s autopilot with a series of weights to trick the car into thinking his hands were on the wheel.
“Didn’t you create a weight?” Corden asked Watts during the monologue. Corden then explained to the audience: “Because you’ve got to have your hands on the wheel, so what Reggie did was create a weight on both sides of the steering wheel so that the car thought that his hands were on it, and then he would just sit back like ‘yeah’.”
Watts is discussing Tesla’s autopilot system—a bit of a misnomer considering, as Corden says, driver’s need to have their hands on the wheel in case the car gives up control—which has given driver’s some false confidence while cruising. A 27-year-old Tesla driver was charged with a felony after running a red light and killing two passengers in California in 2019. Instances like these remind us that Musk’s lofty goal of bringing fully self-driving cars to the road is likely way farther in the distance than we realize.
With a feature like autopilot already proving hazardous, it’s probably not the best look for James Corden to be inadvertently telling his audiences how to skirt the parameters that aim to keep them safe. The best thing to do is keep your hands on the wheel.