Tesla’s autopilot system calculates, senses, and avoids accidents using external cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radar, and remarkable onboard computers.
This system, together with other safety features makes Tesla one of the safest car brands today. Read on as we explain the clever ways a Tesla can significantly reduce the driving workload and make roads safer.
Table of Contents
1. Traffic-aware Cruise Control
This system is majorly used to maintain a constant speed depending on the driving environment and vehicle ahead. It detects other cars and slows itself down or speeds up to align with their speed.
This safety system helps Teslas avoid crashes via sensors that are in place to detect vehicles.
However, Tesla warns its users not to depend on this system as it doesn’t replace the driver’s input or does the driver’s job. It merely acts as an assistant so mistakes or errors aren’t impossible.
So, it brings driving ease but may not detect all incoming collisions for the driver. Tesla does not deny that the system is designed with top-notch cameras and sensors.
However, it is not a hundred percent effective in avoiding accidents.
Conclusively, it remains the driver’s job to be alert and in control of their vehicles at all times. Any laxity might cause serious injury or even death.
Also, traffic-aware cruise control should primarily be used on dry, straight roads or highways.
How Do You Use the Traffic-aware Cruise Control
To start this system, you must drive with a minimum speed of 18 mph unless some environmental conditions may demand a lesser speed.
If a vehicle is ahead of you, the system can be activated at any speed.
These are some important things to note about the traffic-aware cruise control system.
- Maximum cruising speed is about 93 mph
- When the system is available but not engaged, the touchscreen displays the cruising speed that will be set when you finally engage it
- To engage this system while it is available, move the drive stalk down and then release the acceleration pedal
- To cancel the traffic-aware cruise control, push the drive stalk up once or press the brake pedal
2. Forward Collision Warning
Forward collision warning is one of the basic safety features designed to ensure cars avoid obstacles and crashes effectively. The system monitors the path ahead of the vehicle for obstacles like cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, or even structures.
Its sensors have a range of more than 160m. Also, if there’s a predicted collision, the vehicle gives a chime and then highlights the car ahead on the touchscreen.
This usually gives the Tesla owner enough time to take action and decelerate or navigate away.
When the car senses that the obstacles have been removed or the risk of collisions has subsided, it cancels the warnings automatically. These warnings include visual and audible warnings.
The forward collision warning is turned on by default. To turn it off or adjust its settings, simply go through ‘controls> autopilot> forward collision warning’.
The default warning time is always set to medium. You can turn it off or choose to be warned earlier or later. Please also check our article about Teslas and airbags.
Important Facts About Tesla’s Collision Warning System
These are some important things to note about the forward collision warning feature
- The camera and sensors may not give optimal results if a harsh weather condition meets the surrounding area
- Forward collision warning only provides an audible and visual alert
- It does not apply the brake or steer the car
- The main responsibility still falls on the driver to take needed actions
- A malfunction is improbable, not impossible, so false alarms may happen
- The forward collision warning only functions when the speed of the car is between 4 mph and 94 mph
- The system does not bring up a warning if the driver has already applied the brakes and remedied the situation
3. Automatic Emergency Braking
This system aligns with the forward collision warning system. Emergency braking comes in when a frontal collision is unavoidable or if the driver ignores the warnings.
Tesla designed the automatic emergency braking system to apply the brakes, reduce the speed of the car and avoid impact. If an impact is unavoidable, it reduces its severity.
The AEB system also features a visual warning and a chime sound.
Brake lights also come on to notify other road users that you are slowing down. The brake pedals experience an abrupt downward movement when this system comes on.
This system is always turned on by default. To disable it for your drive, go to controls on your touch screen, then click on Autopilot and then on the Emergency braking system.
One good thing about the AEB is that it never goes to sleep.
Precautions and Exceptions With the AEB System
Tesla urges its users to note that emergency braking attempts to reduce the impact of a collision and may not always prevent an accident.
Further, emergency braking only works for frontal collisions. It doesn’t function when the car is in reverse.
Lastly, the brake pedal moves downward when the emergency braking is on. That’s why you should always ensure that there are no obstacles that could stop this downward movement.
For instance, do not leave waste, especially bottles in your car as they may roll and stay under the pedals. Also, avoid thick car mats that take up the whole space.
Something as simple as this may be the difference between a prevented accident and a fatal one.
There are other exceptions with the automatic emergency braking system
- The system only operates with a speed between 3 and 94 mph
- It may not operate quickly if you turn the steering wheel too sharply
- Manual inputs will always override the automatic
- The accelerator pedal can also override the emergency braking feature
4. Obstacle-aware Acceleration
This system is designed to reduce the impact of a collision by drastically lessening vehicle acceleration. It rightly comes on with a visual warning on the touchscreen if it is applied.
This obstacle-aware acceleration works such that if you are parked in front of a garage door and you accelerate hard, you will hit the door. However, it reduces the torque of the vehicle to ease its impact and damage.
Obstacle-aware acceleration is further turned on by default. To disable it, go to the controls, then tap on Autopilot and then on Obstacle Aware Acceleration.
Nevertheless, there are only three situations where obstacle-aware acceleration will operate. They include:
- When the car is in ‘Drive’ or ‘Reverse’
- When the vehicle traveling at a speed of less than 10 mph
- Or when the car detects an obstacle in its driving path
Notably, there are some situations where the obstacle-aware acceleration system may fail or be limited. The first cause of this failure may be environmental conditions. Long distances may affect its functionality too.
It could also be that the driver took a sharp and unexpected turn. Evidently, a quick turn can take anyone by surprise. Thankfully, these systems get smarter over time so this isn’t a permanent flaw.
You should know how safe Teslas are compared to other cars.
5. Thermal Protection
So far, thermal protection is one of the best ways of reducing mortality if an accident occurs. Thankfully, electric cars already have a natural layer of protection against fires.
This is because they have batteries instead of fuel tanks and batteries are less flammable than gasoline or diesel.
In fact, for gasoline-powered cars to work, they literally have to burn fuel.
To avoid overheating and fire hazards, Tesla further equipped its vehicles with thermal protection to keep heat away from the cabin and the battery. So, electric motors are even more likely to overheat than EV batteries.
Thankfully, the thermal protection has paid off over the years. From 2012 to 2020, Tesla vehicles were approximately ten times less likely to catch fire per mile driven.
Compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, Teslas did better. So, find out if Teslas can overheat.
While driving seems to get easier with modernisation, we’re still a long way from fully autonomous cars.
Hence, irrespective of the number of driver assistance features we have today, driving remains an attentive activity. We cannot overemphasize the need for drivers to continue to pay utmost attention while driving.