NHTSA is known to be investigating reports of phantom braking and autopilot malfunction after the radar technology was removed from Tesla models
It’s been almost a couple of years since Elon Musk deleted the radar sensors from Tesla models. While this move was questioned by many, it’s only now that a report from The Washington Post has cited an increase in crashes and near-crashes ever since the Texas-based carmaker did away with the technology. Based on interactions with many ex-employees and expert drivers, it was claimed that the Autopilot mode would brake for imaginary obstacles. It’s also reportedly having issues with the identification of street signs and emergency services vehicles.
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More than 750 Tesla Drivers Report Phantom Braking
Unnamed sources have even asserted an upstick in phantom braking since the radar technology was removed. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is already investigating this matter, has registered numerous complaints of phantom braking in the last nine months. In fact, more than 750 Tesla drivers have informed NHTSA about phantom braking. Last year, the agency even revealed that its investigation into the Autopilot mode has found that the driver-assistance features are failing to identify parked vehicles.
It was in 2021 when Elon Musk revealed the plans of removal of radars from Tesla cars. Musk has said that the Full Self-Driving and Autopilot features of Tesla should work by mimicking human senses through the camaras and not radars. It must be noted here that currently, all Tesla models come with Autopilot driver assistance system. Owners can even opt for the Full Self Driving feature that enables the car to identify road signs, traffic lights, switch lanes and even park on its own. Until 2021, the top-selling electric car brand used radars as well as cameras to enable its cars recognize obstacles. With the elimination of radar, though, the cars now rely completely on a set of eight cameras and Autopilot labelers.
Rivals Continue to Use LiDAR
The cars are trained to recognize and respond to various obstacles by labelling footage captured by the car’s cameras. Meanwhile, the rivals continue to use LiDAR technology to identify the obstacles. These sensors come in handy even when the cameras can malfunction due to factors such as snow, rain or fog. However, Musk feels LiDAR is ‘doomed’ and too expensive. Also, last month, Tesla rolled out an over-the-air update to over 362,000 vehicles to rectify an issue with the Full Self Driving feature that the NHTSA believed could lead the vehicles to “act unsafe around intersections.”