Tesla to demonstrate Hardware 1 cars braking for a UFO in the fog ‘soon’
Jun 20, 2017 | by Iqtidar Ali
A recent Elon Musk tweet suggests that Tesla cars with Hardware 1 still have ongoing software development enabling them with enhanced safety features.
Braking for a dish shaped metal object in zero visibility was a technical challenge for the development team, because to a normal radar’s vision they can look significantly larger than their original size.
But with Autopilot 1.0 version 8.0 update this hurdle was overcome and now Tesla vehicle radars can measure surrounding and oncoming objects to their actual dimensions.
The thing to remember is that Hardware 1 vehicles (produced prior to Oct 2016) have only one front camera for the on-board computer and 12 radars (sonar) to create a 3D picture of the surroundings every tenth of a second.
Braking for an unidentified object in fog, snow or rain using the existing limited hardware capability is a good news for the owners of older Tesla Model S & Model X.
In the world of safety this is value addition beyond measurement where priceless lives can be saved every day.
As we saw last year that further damage was prevented in an accident by Tesla’s on-board radar system that alerted a possible collision ahead of the vehicle in front.
Although Elon Musk has said this demonstration would take place ‘soon’ but the timeline is different in an ‘Elon Year’.
Tesla defined how their vehicles can detect a UFO even if it is ahead of the vehicle in front in a press release last year ‘Upgrading Autopilot: Seeing the World in Radar‘, they stated:
The net effect of this, combined with the fact that radar sees through most visual obscuration, is that the car should almost always hit the brakes correctly even if a UFO were to land on the freeway in zero visibility conditions.
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.