Tesla, now adopted with Tesla Vision after the removal of its radar sensors, was revoked of multiple safety certifications at one point. However, the latest IIHS test has given Tesla the highest level of safety qualification for the new radar-less Model 3. The Consumer Report also decided to grant the model with a “Top Pick” rating.
2021 has been nothing but a bumpy road for Tesla. The company first received attacks from China due to the malfunctioning brake of one of its cars, and was then revoked of multiple safety certifications for the removal of its radar system and the adoption of Tesla Vision. However, it looks like the incident in China is now settled, and the safety certifications have also returned to the hands of Tesla.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently completed the safety testing on the new radar-less Model 3, and has given it the highest “Top Safety Pick+” rating, which has mitigated the distrust previously placed on vision-based autonomous driving.
The vision-based Model 3 received a high score in the avoidance test against vehicles and pedestrians, which means that the cameras and AI of Tesla are able to achieve high-efficiency AEB and warning for frontal impact.
“We have recovered the rating on Model 3 as IIHS gave Model 3 the highest Top Safety+ certification in the new test,” commented Jake Fisher, the Senior Supervisor of Vehicle Testing at Consumer Report, who added that the safety testing of IIHS has been a trustworthy factor for CR, and that both parties will provide a safety qualification at the same time.
“Model 3 configured with radar and without radar rendered identical results in our test,” commented David Aylor, the IIHS manager who was responsible for the testing. The two variations of Model 3 derived identical rating performances in AEB and mitigation in frontal impact. As the testing for the vision-based Model Y is still incomplete, its rating has yet to be announced.
This is not the first adjustment in vehicle safety rating for IIHS, and it is certainly not the first time that a vehicle that is downgraded or revoked of qualifications has recovered its rating. Brands like Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, and Volkswagen had all experienced similar incidents in the past. However, the circumstances for Tesla is rather different compared to these manufacturers since the latter would usually take a year or more to implement adjustments for their new and upgraded models.
For Tesla, the adjustments almost always take place in the production lines and software; as a result, a model that is released within a single year could feature noticeably different performances throughout various points in time. For instance, a partial segment of the Model X that was sold in 2016 was not configured with AEB. This issue was corrected by the company in merely 6 months using software updates. A similar incident happened in 2018, when a group of users experienced a temporary loss of AEB after implementing software updates.
What all of this means is that Tesla's vehicles are probably not as stable as it claims. However, unlike traditional auto manufacturers, the company is able to increase the safety of its models through flexible means. Traditional vehicles that turn out to be a malfunctioning model are usually doomed to be a failure when they are released.
(Cover photo source: IIHS)