Tesla confirmed in a new software update that its vehicles are now scanning for rough roads, like potholes, to help avoid them damaging the vehicles by adjusting the suspension.

In order to achieve full self-driving, a system would have to be able to handle a wide range of different scenarios, including different weather and road conditions.

These conditions, like potholes, can sometimes be difficult for human drivers to handle, and some people find it improbable that self-driving systems will be able to appropriately navigate them. Tesla is leveraging its large customer fleet equipped with Autopilot hardware to capture data on those corner cases and teach its neural network to handle them.

Back in 2020, CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla Autopilot is eventually going to detect potholes and make mini-maps to remember them and avoid them.

Two years later, Tesla Autopilot is not quite there yet, but we are now seeing the first confirmation that Tesla’s fleet of vehicles is looking for them or more “rough road sections” in general.

In a new 2022.20 software update, the automaker writes in the release notes about a new feature of the “Tesla Adaptive Suspension” system:

Tesla Adaptive Suspension will now adjust ride height for an upcoming rough road section. This adjustment may occur at various locations, subject to availability, as the vehicle downloads rough road map data generated by Tesla vehicles.

This is the first confirmation of the Tesla vehicle fleet scanning the roads to evaluate its conditions.

For now, it’s not about Autopilot, or Full Self-Driving Beta, navigating around those “rough road sections,” but Tesla adapting the suspension for those conditions.

Tesla explains how to activate the feature:

The instrument cluster will continue to indicate when the suspension is raised for comfort. To enable this feature, tap Controls > Suspension > Adaptive Suspension Damping, and select the Comfort or Auto setting.

Obviously, this feature is only going to be available in Tesla vehicles with adaptive suspension, like the new Model S and Model X.

Electrek’s Take

This is a nice step toward the direction of Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving, being able to avoid potholes.

Personally, when I drive on Autopilot, the two top reasons I have to take over controls are phantom braking events – which Tesla has yet to completely fix and to avoid potholes – or bad road conditions that Autopilot is about to drive right through.

While as mentioned above, this is just to adapt suspension for now, Tesla at least confirms that it is scanning the road to determine its conditions and I would assume that the next step is to make Autopilot/FSD avoid those issues.

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Fred Lambert

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