One of the points brought up by skeptics when discussing Tesla’s self-driving vehicle efforts is the assumed problem of safe traveling/functioning in inclement weather — heavy rain, snow, ice, etc.
Something that isn’t often brought up with these reservations is the fact that even rear-wheel drive (rather than all-wheel-drive) variants for the newest Tesla cars possess better traction than most all-wheel-drive vehicles.
The recently released Tesla Model S P100D apparently follows in this tradition, offering a “crazy” grip even when on wet pavement. The team over at Drag Times recently made a good video of a Model S P100D (outfitted with numerous cameras) being put through the paces in the rain — demonstrating the vehicle’s excellent traction control.
Our sister site Gas 2 provides a bit more: “But they noticed something interesting while driving back and forth to the track. The P100D is a road rocket even in the rain. Somehow, some way, Tesla has figured out how to make the car grip like crazy even on wet pavement. Why that should be is not exactly clear, but the gang loaded their car up with cameras to document the proceedings, then headed out for some pedal to the metal runs on wet asphalt. In the accompanying video, the external camera documents that there is not the slightest hint of wheel spin, even when the driver whistles down to the engine room for maximum power.”
Amazingly, even while maintaining that level of stability, the Model S P100D being tested still managed to do 0 to 60 mph in just 2.72 seconds — even though the road was quite wet. Clearly, the company is relying on some extremely intelligent and responsive computer-controlled traction control.
One of the main reasons that I’m skeptical that self-driving Teslas will have much trouble in heavy rain or snow is that I’ve ridden in them while driving in such weather, and they handle better than practically any other cars out there (see: Model S P85D Vs. Snowmobile — Drag Race On Ice Lake In Norway). The video above is another testament to that.
Self-driving systems are likely to be quite conservative in such situations anyways, further reducing the possibility of problems, so I’m skeptical that weather of any kind will be a real problem.
One area where self-driving probably will have problems for some time to come is in some rural locations, and on some of the gravel mountain roads that are common in some parts of the US. In those situations, though, you can of course drive yourself.
Much of the potential utility and interest in self-driving vehicles doesn’t relate to such rural situations, it should be remembered, but to highway/freeway travel and to short trips within cities — where the technology will likely prove very helpful in reducing automotive collisions and fatalities.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book
Our Latest EVObsession Video
CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.