What is obstacle-aware acceleration? The name implies what it does, and it’s one of Tesla’s many features that actually prevents minor accidents when enabled. Now You Know shows a quick comparison in the video below of how it works — with it enabled and disabled.
Now You Know notes that this update hasn’t gotten much attention, because once it’s turned on, people forget about it. It’s not fancy or fun like Fart Mode or the new Caraoke mode. It’s like that good friend who is always there for everyone and would totally be missed if they were no longer in the picture.
One of the things many people love about their Teslas is the instant torque, which could be a bad thing if you are not paying attention. In the Autopilot menu, you have to scroll down to the bottom to enable obstacle-aware acceleration. What it does is sense any obstacles in front of you, and then limits your acceleration when needed so that you won’t lurch forward too fast when an obstacle (like a car) is nearby. This gives a driver more time to realize their mistake and fix it in the event of accidentally stepping on the wrong pedal or accelerating without proper scanning of the nearby environment.
A study by the NHTSA discovered that accidental engagement of the accelerator pedal causes around 16,000 preventable accidents a year in the US. These accidents happen when a driver thinks they are stepping on the brake pedal but are in fact stepping on the accelerator or on both pedals. Also, they found these incidents happen at low speeds, such as when parking.
I’ve seen those minor accidents where a driver accidentally hits the accelerator and the car lurches forward into another car, or into an object such as a curb. With this feature enabled, you still lurch, but not as hard or fast because the Tesla sees the obstacle.
Now You Know demonstrates how the Tesla works with this feature disabled and enabled. In the demonstration, he uses a tall cardboard box as an obstacle and disables the obstacle-aware feature. Then he hits the accelerator and immediately goes into the box. If that had been a building or another car, he would have definitely scratched up his pretty red Tesla.
In the second demonstration, he enables the obstacle-aware feature and immediately the screen shows that the car sees the obstacle. There is a curved red line in front of the bumper on the screen that represents the obstacle. He repeats the demo. You can see the car still allows him to go forward but it beeps and limits the lurch in time for him to remove his foot from the acceleration pedal.
Tesla is improving our livelihoods by helping drivers to drive safely. According to Driver Knowledge, there is an average of 6 million car accidents in the US every year and more than 90 people die in car accidents every day. 3 million people in the US are injured every year in car accidents and 40% of these injuries are caused by alcohol consumption before driving. When you have a car that has safety features such as Autopilot, obstacle awareness, and regenerative braking, there is no doubt about it: the car will help save lives and prevent accidents.
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