In another example of why some industry spectators such as myself are as pro-self-driving-tech as we are, a new dashcam video has emerged showing Tesla’s Autopilot system saving a “driver” from a collision two vehicles ahead. The collisions wasn’t obvious to the human driver based on sight alone.
This ability to detect emergency braking incidents two vehicles ahead, granted by the Autopilot system’s use of forward-facing radar in its hardware suite, means that the system can already perform better than human drivers in some regards (though certainly not all, as of yet).
Here’s the video, have a watch:
— Hans Noordsij (@HansNoordsij) December 27, 2016
Our friends over at Teslarati provide more: “A screen grab of a Tesla dashcam video was posted to Twitter showing Tesla’s radar-based Autopilot system sounding off a forward collision warning well before the accident can be seen. Moments later, a small compact directly in front of the Tesla is seen colliding into a SUV with enough force to lift the mid-size utility vehicle from the ground, and send it tumbling along the freeway.”
As some further explanation here, Tesla rolled out a major update to its Autopilot system a few months back (partly in response to the fatal accident earlier this year, where the human driver may well have been negligent). With the update, greater control and emphasis was granted to the radar sensors, as opposed to the cameras.
This restructuring of focus allows the Autopilot system to keep tabs on what’s going on out of visual range, by bouncing radar signals underneath the vehicle directly in front — thereby providing the ability to detect emergency braking events multiple vehicles ahead of oneself. That ability is pretty clearly demonstrated in the video above. (And also here.)
As a reminder, Tesla is expected to begin rolling out any day now its new Autopilot system for vehicles featuring the new hardware suite (which will reportedly allow for fully autonomous driving once software solutions are achieved and legislation permits it). That new Autopilot hardware suite is in every Tesla manufactured since mid-October.
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