Just a few weeks ago, we published a report about how Tesla’s new radar technology for the Autopilot is already proving useful in some potentially dangerous situations. We now have a new piece of evidence that is so spectacularly clear that it’s worth updating that report.
The video of an accident on the highway in the Netherlands caught on the dashcam of a Tesla Model X shows the Autopilot’s forward collision warning predicting an accident before it could be detected by the driver.
With the release of Tesla’s version 8.0 software update in September, the automaker announced a new radar processing technology that was directly pushed over-the-air to all its vehicles equipped with the first generation Autopilot hardware.
One of the main features enabled by the new radar processing capacity is the ability for the system to see ahead of the car in front of you and basically track two cars ahead on the road. The radar is able to bounce underneath or around the vehicle in front of the Tesla Model S or X and see where the driver potentially can not because the leading vehicle is obstructing the view.
That’s demonstrated clearly in this real world situation on the Autobahn today.
In the video embedded below, we can hear the Tesla Autopilot’s Forward Collision Warning sending out an alert for seemingly no reason, but a fraction of a second later we understand why when the vehicle in front of the Tesla crashes into an SUV that wasn’t visible from the standpoint of the Tesla driver, but apparently it was for the Autopilot’s radar:
Update: We embedded a better video directly from the dashcam further down – thanks to Frank van Hoesel.
Hans Noordsij, the Tesla driver from the Netherlands who reported the video, said that everyone involved in the accident “turned out to be OK” despite the fact that the SUV rolled over.
What is most impressive is that fact that we can clearly hear the Forward Collision Warning alert before the lead vehicle even applied the brake, which shows that the Autopilot wasn’t only using the lead vehicle to plan the path, but also the vehicle in front of it – the black SUV.
The driver of the Tesla also reported that Autopilot started braking before he could apply the brakes himself, according to Noordsij.
Again, this new feature was pushed via an over-the-air software update to all Tesla vehicles equipped with the first generation Autopilot and it should soon be pushed to the vehicles equipped with the second generation Autopilot hardware.
While collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems are evidently useful safety features, they are no substitute to staying vigilant and being ready to take control at any time.
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