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Mercedes-Benz fixes error that let drivers watch TV while in motion

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On the EQS electric sedan and the newest S-Class

Photo by Andrew Hawkins / The Verge

Mercedes-Benz has fixed a server issue that made it possible to browse the internet and watch TV on the 56-inch “hyperscreen” in the new electric EQS and newer S-Class sedans. While the oversight is already resolved, the German automaker filed for a recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in “an abundance of caution.”

The company says in a document filed with the NHTSA (which was spotted by Consumer Reports’ Keith Barry) that, in November, it found an “incorrect configuration was available on Mercedes-Benz’s backend server and might have been installed on vehicles in the field.” Very few cars were affected (the EQS only just started hitting city streets here), around 227 by Mercedes-Benz’s count. The S-Class sedans made up a majority of that group. The company says it’s not aware of any crashes related to the error.

The recall comes at a time when more and more automakers have followed Tesla’s lead in adding massive touchscreens to the dashboards of their cars. Mercedes-Benz’s hyperscreen is one of the biggest available. It consists of three separate displays embedded in one glassy housing that spans the entire dashboard.

This new focus on big screens — as well as the increase in the number of computer controllers throughout most modern vehicles — has made it easier for automakers to adjust a car’s functionality well after it’s sold, raising new questions about what should or shouldn’t justify a recall. It also comes just a few days after The New York Times reported that Tesla quietly started allowing some video games to be played while its cars are in motion, something it didn’t permit when it first launched the feature.

Tesla has shown a little caution when it comes to issuing recalls for software updates, though. In November, it issued a recall for nearly 12,000 cars equipped with the “Full Self-Driving” beta software, after many of those drivers started experiencing erratic braking. Tesla had already shipped an over-the-air software update meant to address the issue but still filed the recall with the NHTSA.