Tesla has been scrutinized heavily, and sometimes unfairly, in the press for its Autopilot and Full Self Driving (FSD) features. Some argue that these features don’t work as advertised, while others point to a number of crashes as proof that they’re downright dangerous. Thus, it’s no surprise that the EV automaker is once again coming under fire from owners, Consumer Reports, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after it decided to drop the radar sensors present in the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y in favor of its new camera-based Tesla Vision system.
Tesla maintains that its new camera-based system is capable of performing the same tasks without the help of radar sensors, but there’s one big problem with the switch – it will temporarily limit or disable several safety features, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward-collision warning (FCW), other features including Smart Summon and Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance, while also limiting Autosteer on Autopilot to a maximum of 75 miles-per-hour. Tesla has said that it will restore these features in the coming weeks via over-the-air updates.
That move will come with consequences, as the NHTSA says that Tesla Model 3 and Y models built on or after April 27th, 2021, will not come with the agency’s “checkmarks” for the aforementioned safety features, as well as dynamic brake support and lane departure warning. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has rescinded the Model 3’s Top Safety Pick+ designation and Consumer Reports is dropping the sedan from its Top Pick list.
While this news is a bit alarming for Tesla owners, it’s worth noting that Ford’s Co-Pilot360 driver-assist features still utilize sensors for a variety of functions, including automatic emergency braking and pre-collision assist. Meanwhile, self-driving tech company Argo AI relies on sensors for a number of functions, as radar has proven more reliable than cameras in bad weather and low-light conditions.