A recent defect should cause Elon Musk to seriously rethink Tesla’s autonomous driving hardware.
In late October, a Tesla driver discovered a significant flaw in his brand-new Model 3. The defroster lines, intended to clear fogged-up or icy windshields, failed to properly clear the driver assistance cameras.
Consequently, this triggered repeated “take over immediately” messages. Since the messages were accompanied by loud alarms, the driver was unable to use the Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature, for which he had paid $15,000. FSD aids with tasks like lane changes and on-ramp navigation.
The exact cause of the issue remains uncertain. It’s possible that humidity entered the interior bracket that houses the camera.
The driver booked a service appointment, but Tesla canceled it. Tesla’s representatives conducted a remote check and stated that the vehicle had no hardware-related problems.
Interestingly, however, the representatives also said that multiple Tesla owners have reported the same issue. According to Futurism, Tesla is working to resolve the issue through a software update.
Tesla driver assistance cameras aren’t enough
This incident reveals the limitations of relying solely on camera-based driver-assistance systems. If a camera’s view is obstructed, it has no way of sensing the environment around the vehicle.
By adding radar and LIDAR sensors to its future cars, Tesla could stop similar incidents from occurring.
Radar uses radio waves to determine a car’s distance from surrounding objects. LIDAR does the same thing, only with laser light. These technologies enable cars to construct detailed 3D maps of their environments, something that cameras cannot do.
Furthermore, radar suffers no loss of performance in poor weather.
Tesla may finally be starting to get the message. Notebookcheck reports that Tesla has begun placing radar sensors inside some Model S and Model X vehicles.
However, the company is still refusing to deploy LIDAR sensors. LIDAR sensors are even more accurate than radar sensors.
Image Source: Stefan Spielbauer