Video: Watch Tesla’s Autopilot use black magic to avoid a wreck

Video footage of an accident on a highway in the Netherlands appears to show the new radar processing technology included in the most recent Tesla Autopilot software update warning the driver of an impending accident and braking before the driver could react.

Version 8.0 of the software, which according to Electrek was directly pushed over-the-air to all vehicles equipped with first-generation Autopilot hardware in September, included a feature that was designed to track not only the car in front of you, but the car in front of that car as well.

This technology, the website explained, is able to see around or underneath the car in front of the Tesla, essentially seeing possible hazards which that driver is unable to and – theoretically, anyway – keeping that individual out of potential accidents.

Now, Gizmodo noted, new dash cam video uploaded by Twitter user Hans Noordsij appears to show the system in action, as it warns Noordsij of a potential accident and starts braking seconds before the vehicle in front of him sped forward and clipped the rear of the SUV in front of it.

Tesla yet to comment, but has acknowledged the footage

The beeping of the warning system in clearly audible in the video, and while there is no way to tell from the footage, Noordsij has confirmed that the Autopilot began applying the brakes before he could react, thus apparently keeping him from getting involved in a nasty wreck.

Even though the footage shows the SUV that was rear-ended rolling over, Noordsij assured the folks at Electrek and Gizmodo that nobody was seriously injured in the accident – which makes it perfectly OK to marvel that Musk’s highly-touted radar detection system appears to work like a charm, successfully anticipating a wreck by “seeing through” the closest vehicle.

It should be noted that Tesla has yet to confirm the authenticity of the footage to members of the media, but as SFGate pointed out, “[Tesla’s CEO] Elon Musk must be pretty pleased with the car and video coverage: He tweeted a link to online reports covering the incident.

When the update was released back in September, Tesla stated in a blog post that they initially added the radar to all Tesla vehicles in October 2014 but had initially intended to use it only as a “supplementary sensor to the primary camera and image processing system.” After considering the matter, however, they decided that it could be “used as a primary control sensor.”

“By using radar detection in concert with visual sensors, Musk claimed in September that the software update enabled Teslas to ‘see’ through vehicles traveling immediately in front of them,” Gizmodo said. “In this case, however, the Autopilot seems less like X-ray vision and more like straight-up clairvoyance.”


Image credit: Hans Noordsij