Tesla says it's improving Autopilot by boosting radar

Tesla says it's improving Autopilot by boosting radar

Tesla says it's improving Autopilot by boosting radar

This week, a fatal accident in a Tesla Model S south of Amsterdam drew attention.

The update to Tesla's autopilot system will rely more heavily on radar to identify objects in addition to a camera.

Consequently, Musk boasted that the upcoming iteration of Tesla's Autopilot software can now initiate a brake sequence even when it can't recognize what a particular object on the road is.

"We are making much more effective use of radar", Musk, the company's chief executive officer, said during a conference call with journalists. Autopilot will now use radar and camera sensors together to determine braking events, rather than sensors supplemented by radar information.

The warning will sound after the driver's hands are off the wheel for more than three minutes when the Tesla is following another vehicle at speeds above 45 miles per hour.

When asked whether this system would have saved the life of Joshua Brown, who was killed earlier this year in a auto crash while riding in a Tesla.

"These things can not be said with absolute certainty, but yes, we believe it would have". It can also detect it through obfuscation like rain, fog, or haze.

However, Musk emphasized during his introduction that the autopilot improvements couldn't deal with every potential problem.

Musk believes that the update would probably cut accidents by more than half.

"Perfect safety is really an impossible goal", he said. "It's about improving the probability of safety". That's the only thing that's ever really possible. "There won't ever be zero fatalities, there won't ever be zero injuries".

Musk also promised a more robust warning system inside the auto if the vehicle detects that you're not paying attention.

Tesla does note that reflective surfaces create issues with radar. And these kinds of stops always have the potential to cause injury, making a false positive potentially risky.

Musk said that he has wanted to make these kinds of improvements to Autopilot since previous year, but he was told it couldn't be done for various technical reasons.

Musk said it was "very likely" the improved Autopilot would have prevented the death of Brown, whose vehicle sped into the trailer of a truck crossing a highway, but he cautioned that the update "doesn't mean ideal safety".

When the data shows that false braking events would be rare, the auto will begin mild braking using radar, even if the camera doesn't notice the object ahead.

The radar system is best-suited to detecting massive or metallic objects, like cars and trucks.

That database is more about cataloguing dense objects to avoid.

"I do want to emphasize that this does not mean flawless safety", he said.

One more unique advantage of radar is its ability to see beyond what's immediately in front of it.

"The big problem in using radar to stop the vehicle is avoiding false alarms", Mr. Musk wrote in a blog post on the company's website. "So even if there was something that was obscured both by vision and radar we can use the bounce effect of the radar to look beyond that vehicle and still brake".

Silicon Valley-based Tesla is known for its innovation in luxury electric vehicles but some critics, including rival carmakers, have said it was hasty in rolling out Autopilot.

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