The story starts when Tesla’s AI team decided that it is better to eliminate the forward-facing radar from the safety, Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving (FSD) algorithm. CEO Elon Musk announced back in April that Tesla is now going to move forward with a pure vision-based approach in handling the Autopilot decisions.
This decision also affected the automatic emergency braking (AEB) and front collision warning (FCW) systems for the newly built radar-less cars or if Tesla decides to disable the radar in existing cars via an over-the-air (OTA) software update.
In light of this, decision, both Consumer Reports (CR) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) dropped the Tesla Model 3 from their list of “Top Safety Picks”.
In the meantime, Tesla provided IIHS with a Tesla Model 3 that utilizes the new vision-based system to take decisions for AEB and FCW. After thoroughly testing the new system, IIHS restored the Model 3’s safety status back to “Top Safety Picks+” the highest safety rating a car can score with the IIHS.
In light of IIHS’ decision, Consumer Reports also reinstated the Tesla Model 3 back its Top Pick status as well CR reported earlier today.
“Given the IIHS’ recent evaluations of Tesla’s new camera-based system on its Model 3 and consistent with CR’s integration of IIHS ratings into our recommendations, CR is restoring the car’s Top Pick status,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of CR’s Auto Test Center.Consumer Reports
This is one of the first endorsements that Tesla’s decision to go only with vision-based Autopilot and FSD was the right one backed by ample R&D efforts.
Tesla AI Director and team lead of the Tesla FSD and neural net training program Andrej Karpathy last went in-depth about why the automaker took the vision-based approach and dropped radar, cost, was one of the main reasons.
The screenshot from the IIHS website above also implies that the Tesla Model 3 cars built after April 2021 do not have the radar system installed in them — thus Tesla is moving full throttle ahead with the pure vision-based safety, basic Autopilot, and FSD. In light of this information, we can be sure that the new Tesla Model S and Model X are also radar-less now.