If you zealously keep up with Tesla news, you’re likely to both think I’m a filthy monster and remember that last month, Tesla announced that it would be eliminating radar transceivers from their Models 3 and Y cars, relying on a camera-only system for its semi-automated driving system. This change also disabled systems like Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance and changed the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW) systems, which resulted in the loss of Consumer Reports’ Top pick status. Well, good news, testing has been done, and the Model 3 got it back.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Grill (just kidding, it doesn’t have a grill, it’s just the IIHS) conducted tests on the new camera-only-based AEB and FCW systems, and must have found them to be top-notch, as it awarded the cars their highest safety award, Top Safety Pick+.
According to David Aylor, the manager of active safety testing at IIHS, the results are the same as the previous radar-assisted system. Aylor spoke to Consumer Reports, saying
“The performance seems to be similar for both systems.
While we are very glad to see the system performs well in preventing crashes, ideally consumers would not have been in a holding pattern, waiting to find out if the car they purchased has vital safety features.”
Aylor, as you can see, did call out Tesla for their lack of information as to whether or not the Models 3 and Y still had these safety systems during the transition period away from radar and to Tesla’s Tesla Vision camera-based system, and he also noted that the Model Y had yet to be tested.
I’d guess the Model Y will get the same Top Safety Pick+ status, as the system is effectively the same as in the Model 3.
Camera-only-based AEB and FCW systems are not unique to Tesla, and have been in use for a number of years. This 2017 NHTSA study found that such non-radar-based systems could be generally as effective as radar-based setups for these specific functions, while providing significant cost savings over radar-based systems.