Can Tesla’s Improved Autopilot Feature Predict Accidents? Perhaps Yes!

A video shared by user on Twitter shows Tesla’s autopilot predicted a crash before it happened for real.

A Dash cam video has been uploaded on Twitter which shows that a car manufactured by Tesla is driving somewhere in the Netherlands on a highway and a collision between two cars occurs. The two cars were right in front of the Tesla car. The footage was shared by Twitter user Hand Noordsij and shows that the traffic was moving at a quick pace on a two-lane highway. The dash cam’s read out showed a cruising speed of 113 km/hr.

However, the video isn’t just showing an accident on the road captured by the person driving the Tesla car but actually, it highlights the fact that Tesla’s autopilot apparently predicted the crash before it happened for real. There is a beep heard in the video just before the accident happens, and this beep is something that has taken everyone by surprise. It is clear that the beep is basically the alarm sound of the car’s Autopilot feature. When contacted, Tesla’s representative confirmed that the beep sound is indeed the Autopilot’s Forward Collision Warning.

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It makes a lot of sense now; Tesla’s autopilot is definitely not churning out sounds just like that but there should be some kind of mechanism involved that made the system create a warning sound to help the driver avoid or even prevent an accident.

Tesla did note in its September blog post that its Autopilot feature works through radars and has the capability to Bounce after latest improvements in the software.

“Taking this one step further, a Tesla will also be able to bounce the radar signal under a vehicle in front —using the radar pulse signature and photon time of flight to distinguish the signal — and still brake even when trailing a car that is opaque to both vision and radar,” revealed the company’s post.

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This means the radar detected that the black SUV was slamming its brakes even though the other car, a small red hatchback, didn’t do so. When the warning sound was heard, the emergency braking system of Tesla car kicked in much before the driver hit the brakes manually.

Fortunately enough, no one was killed in this accident that the video shows. It seems like the driver of the hatchback was not paying much attention otherwise, he would have noticed that the driver of the SUV was braking due to heavy traffic.

Tesla stated that it wasn’t an easy task to incorporate radar in the vehicle’s primary control sensor without using the camera system that confirms the detected objects visually. Because photons travel and bounce off on different types of surfaces; to a radar people appear somewhat translucent and plastic and the wood appears transparent. But on metallic surfaces, especially those having round or dish like shapes, the signal gets amplified.

These issues were resolved by Tesla in its September update of the Autopilot software and the latest version enables more calculated analysis of 3D objects and the system is able to get a better sense of the world surrounding the car. However, the company still thinks that the system isn’t perfect and aims to improve the radar technology.

The Autopilot feature is unique and helpful but it must not be relied upon too much by human drivers and they should not take their eyes off the road at any point.

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Written by Carolina

Carolina works for HackRead as a technical writer. She is a Brazilian traveller who has been to almost every country around the world. She has a keen interest in technology, gadgets and social media.