There has been an uptick in incidents and near-accidents at Tesla since Elon Musk stated almost two years ago that the company will no longer be installing radar sensors in its vehicles, according to a new piece in The Washington Post.
There were hundreds of specialists, former workers, and test drivers quoted in the article. According to the Post, complaints filed with authorities after the 2021 update indicated that a greater number of Teslas operating in Autopilot or Full Self-Driving mode were halting for phantom impediments, misidentifying roadsigns, and having trouble identifying emergency vehicles.
Other anonymous sources told the magazine that the decline in radar use was directly correlated with an increase in phantom braking. Hundreds of reports of phantom brakes have been received by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is looking into the matter, according to data obtained by the journal.
Almost 750 Tesla owners contacted the NHTSA last year to report that their vehicles suddenly applied brakes.
In 2022, after more than a dozen reported collisions between Teslas using Autopilot and emergency vehicles, the government stepped up its probe into the technology. The NHTSA has reported that this driver-assistance function has problems recognizing parked cars.
In an earlier post, Musk said Tesla will stop installing radars in vehicles by 2021. Several engineers were “aghast” and sought counsel from a former Tesla executive on how to persuade Musk to keep the sensors, the Newspaper alleged.
Musk has previously stated his goal for Tesla’s Fully Self-Driving and Autopilot software to be able to “see” using its cameras rather than radar.
The Autopilot driver-assistance system is included in all new Teslas. The FSD upgrade, which makes it possible for a vehicle to read traffic signals, lane changes, and park itself, costs $15,000 upfront or $199 each month. To use either of these functions, a legal driver must be present.
Prior to 2021, the electric car manufacturer also employed radar sensors to help vehicles avoid collisions in addition to cameras. The business is now reliant on eight cameras and Autopilot labelers to teach the vehicle to react to its surroundings.
Tesla employees use the vehicles’ own camera video to teach the vehicles how to recognize and avoid hazards.
Competitors to Tesla’s autonomous driving system choose alternative sensors, such as LiDAR technology. If the cameras aren’t able to see well due to rain, snow, or fog, the sensors can nevertheless help the cars create a digital map of their surroundings and navigate through it more accurately. Musk has previously warned that LiDAR is “doomed” and too expensive.
Despite the billionaire’s assurances that a fully autonomous Tesla will be available in the market by the end of 2016, analysts are less confident in the company’s prospects.
As Insider’s Tim Levin reported earlier this year, experts advised him that FSD is not yet fully autonomous. Moreover, the NHTSA reported an issue with FSD in February, prompting Tesla to deploy a software upgrade through over-the-air for more than 362,000 vehicles.
When Insider reached out to Tesla for comment, a representative did not provide any. The firm boasts in its voluntary vehicle safety report that its automobiles “have achieved among the lowest overall likelihood of harm of any vehicles ever assessed by the U.S. government’s New Vehicle Assessment Program.”