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Tesla Model 3 Caught On Video Smashing Into A Dummy Pedestrian During Automatic Braking Test

On the 26th of September, a video gained a severe amount of hits within minutes on a Chinese social media site called Weibo. The video was first picked up by an online media outlet Jalopnik. The video was of a Tesla Model 3 crashing into an inanimate, fake pedestrian. This situation was created specifically to test the automatic braking system of the Tesla Model 3. As seen in the video it was evident that the automatic braking system of the Tesla Model 3 failed miserably.

Tesla Model 3 Caught On Video Smashing Into A Dummy Pedestrian During Automatic Braking Test

Increasing Importance Of Automatic Braking

In the automobile sector enormous research and resources are spent on technologies to ensure driver, passengers, pedestrian safety. At the top of the pyramid to ensure this safety is and always has been the braking system. The evolution of braking technology over the years has been a key factor in improving safety, from wooden box brakes right up to the ABS technology. As we enter into the era of electric vehicles and autonomous driving, the braking technology is again under the spotlight. Every electric vehicle company has the ultimate goal of complete autopilot mode with Tesla leading the pack. Tesla has showcased its superiority in the autonomous, Tesla already provides the following tech:

  • Navigate on Autopilot (Beta): Actively guides your car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting lane changes, navigating interchanges, automatically engaging the turn signal, and taking the correct exit
  • Auto Lane Change: Assists in moving to an adjacent lane on the highway when Autosteer is engaged
  • Autopark: Helps automatically parallel or perpendicular park your car, with a single touch
  • Summon: Moves your car in and out of a tight space using the mobile app or key
  • Smart Summon: Your car will navigate more complex environments and parking spaces, maneuvering around objects as necessary to come to find you in a parking lot.
  • Traffic and Stop Sign Control (Beta): Identifies stop signs and traffic lights and automatically slows your car to a stop on approach, with your active supervision
  • Upcoming: Auto-steer on city streets

We have already covered Elon Musk’s desire to offer its customers Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) package. The latest update in the Tesla mobile app suggests that this subscription option might soon be available to customers. The step to push the features like Navigate on Autopilot and Auto-steer on city streets from their Beta phase to being installed and ready to use for customers need a complete go-ahead by AAA( American Automobile Association).

Previous Automatic Brake Test Failures

The video trending since yesterday isn’t the only time Tesla has been caught on tape failing the automatic brake test. In the tests conducted by the AAA( American Automobile Association), late last year, automatic braking only prevented a collision with an adult less than half of the time. For children, a collision was only avoided 11% of the time at 20 miles per hour. These results are generalized over the performance of  four vehicles with the Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.

  1. 2019 Chevrolet Malibu
  2. 2019 Honda Accords
  3. 2019 Tesla Model 3
  4. 2019 Toyota Camry

Tesla Model 3’s results were abysmal, to say the least, the following images show the performance of the car under the following inquiries

Inquiry 1: How do vehicles equipped with pedestrian detection systems perform when encountering an adult pedestrian crossing the roadway?

The summary clearly shows how dysfunctional the Tesla was compared to the rest of the cars:

Inquiry 2: How do vehicles equipped with pedestrian detection systems perform when encountering challenging vehicle/pedestrian interactions?

1) Child pedestrian darting into traffic from between two parked vehicles:

The DNT (Did Not Test) in the second graphic means that the Tesla Model 3 wasn’t put under the test for 30mph because it didn’t clear a single test at 20mph.

 2) Vehicle turning right on the adjacent road with adult pedestrian crossing simultaneously:

This test was carried out on the following setup,

The results were equally disappointing:

The Model 3 failed to provide a SINGLE notification.

3) Vehicle approaching two adult pedestrians alongside the roadway

It was a recurring theme for the Tesla, didn’t clear a single test at 20mph hence weren’t eligible for testing at 30mph.

Unsurprisingly, Tesla Model 3 was the worst performing car in the category as depicted by the graphic below,

Inquiry 3: How do pedestrian detection systems function at night?

Once again the Model 3 didn’t give a single notification.

What Could Be The Possible Issue With The System?

The AAA tests were a blow to the gut for the complete Autopilot mode hopefuls, the tests were conducted almost a year ago. A year on it seems that Tesla hasn’t been able to solve the pedestrian detection conundrum. Although it is unclear who conducted the test in China was it a test or just some Tesla owners testing the braking system. Some have suggested that the issue could be that Teslas pedestrian detection system works in the real world but isn’t able to fathom a mannequin or a fake bot as an actual pedestrian. This is highly unlikely. Tesla taking a silent stance over the video has increased doubts regarding the braking system.

Ritwik Shah
Ritwik Shah
Aspiring Mechanical Engineer and Formula Student. An automotive and sports enthusiast who is always up for a discussion.


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