Elon Musk’s Tesla gets a new super-sensory autopilot system which could predict a collision and react faster compared to a human driver. The 40 second clip which was first reported by Electrek suggests that the latest Autopilot uses radar technology that allows the system to see what a human cannot.
— Electrek.Co (@ElectrekCo) December 27, 2016
The clip shows a highway stretching before a Tesla, and a danger sound is followed by a car rear-ending SUV, which then flips over on impact. The sound was nothing but the Vehicle’s Forward Collision Warning.
Tesla believes that the radar technology can be used as a primary control sensor without actually needing a camera. Tesla calls it the “non-trivial” and counter-intuitive problem”. Because for obvious reasons, the world looks strange a radar. Wavelength varies as the photons travel through different weather conditions. Hence, people appear translucent on the radar, anything made of wood or painted plastic is as transparent as glass to radar.
Tesla confirmed in a blog from September that the Autopilot 8.0 uses radar signal to “bounce” objects around. Which is what happened in the video. The software can detect both what lies ahead and what the driver cannot see.
“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. The car in front might hit the UFO in dense fog, but the Tesla will not”, Tesla said in a blog post.