Tesla Removed Radar for 2 Models Leading to Pulled Safety Ratings
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It’s difficult to deny that Tesla is an innovator in the automotive game. But as with any innovator, there are times they'll experience doubters or drawbacks.
Tesla recently removed a key feature from the Model 3 and Model Y, causing a drop in their safety ratings and leaving car insurance adjusters scratching their heads. Let's take a closer look at those changes, who pulled their safety ratings, and what else is being said about their safety features.
Tesla was removed from two prominent safety rating lists
Consumer Reports, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) are three of the leading organizations that rate cars in terms of safety. Their ratings go a long way in the auto industry, building consumer trust.
According to the Associated Press, both of those organizations recently pulled their safety rating from two of Tesla's models. Why did they do this, exactly?
It was due to a move Tesla made to its safety systems on their Model 3 and Y cars. Tesla removed radar capability from its systems in order to test their new camera-based "Tesla Vision" feature, leading all bodies to pull the ratings.
So what was the damage? For Consumer Reports, they had previously called both models a "Top Pick" in terms of safety.
IIHS had also given the models their highly coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating. And the NHTSA, which had previously given both models marks for having several important safety features, removed them from their website.
Why Tesla wants to be well-rated in terms of safety
NHTSA, IIHS, and Consumer Reports review vehicles' safety features and provide scores to reflect those features. Some of those features they review include:
- Ability to provide automatic emergency braking
- Lane departure warning
- Headlight evaluation
- Airbag quality
Though this isn’t an exhaustive list, these ratings are helpful to consumers that highly value safety when buying a vehicle.
This is a problem for Tesla because as they look to familiarize the larger car-buying market with their self-driving cars, they'll need all the support they can get. Getting downgraded in terms of safety from highly reputable sources isn't a good look.
What critics have said about Tesla's self-driving systems and safety features
Tesla's drawn plenty of attention for its self-driving cars. While this is certainly an innovation, it hasn't been developed without criticism.
One common gripe is that Teslas lack a laser sensor (also known as lidar). This sensor has an increased ability to see either at night or during inclement weather. Lidar has been a common feature among other companies testing self-driving cars, but it isn't present in Tesla's offerings.
Tesla's "Autopilot" system (given that name by CEO Elon Musk) has struggled with pinpointing other vehicles such as tractor-trailers making a turn in front of its cars. Three people have died while in Tesla's Autopilot mode in accidents related to trailers or barriers.
Teslas in Autopilot mode have also hit police vehicles and fire trucks that have their lights flashing. While the NHTSA, IIHS, and Consumer Reports' actions may seem hasty to an outside observer, there's no denying that Tesla has some work to do in order to produce safer vehicles.