The ghost braking problem at Tesla, what is it and why does it happen?

Unfortunately well known to Tesla drivers, phantom braking is back on the scene with more and more complaints to the American authorities. Let us return to this phenomenon in detail.

Autopilot navigation on Tesla Model 3 // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

Imagine this: your Tesla is driving on autopilot with no danger in sight and suddenly it slows down sharply and mechanical braking engages. Unpleasant for the occupants, and potentially dangerous for other road users, this is indeed the reality for some Tesla drivers. Explanations.

A phenomenon that is not new

Owners of vehicles from Elon Musk’s firm are mostly familiar with this phenomenon, which has existed for many years. Alerted on multiple occasions, the CEO of Tesla has long turned a deaf ear, or said it would be fixed in an update, without a drastic improvement being noted on the side of the community of Tesla owners.

Online forums and other Reddit communities discussing Tesla vehicles all have threads describing these phantom brakes, and some owners are even becoming suspicious of Tesla’s Autopilot after a few bad experiences. Indeed, depending on the force of the braking, this can cause a lot of discomfort to the passengers, and, even if no case of this kind has yet been noted, go as far as an accident if the vehicle behind you does not brake. not strong enough.

The reason seems to be related to the interpretation of the environment by the various cameras and sensors that equip the vehicle. At least one of them identifies a potential danger and, for safety, triggers the braking so as not to hit this danger. In reality, it is sometimes simply a shadow or a reflection on the roadway, therefore not representing the slightest danger.

Much more frequent complaints in recent months

The Washington Post reports today that owners who have alerted the authorities to these infamous phantom brakes have been much more numerous since November 2021 than they have been for the past two years. Indeed, if only 34 complaints had been reported to the authorities between January 2020 and November 2021, since November 2021 there would already have been 107 reports on this subject.

The ghost braking problem at Tesla, what is it and why does it happen?
Model 3 disc brakes

An attempt to explain the more frequent appearance of these phantom brakings would be the disappearance of radars on the manufacturer’s new vehicles, a measure no doubt taken to deal with the shortage of components, but hidden behind a technological advance dubbed “Tesla Vision “.

However, vehicles that are no longer equipped with radars are still reserved for the North American market for the moment, the manufacturer indicating that it does not currently have enough data to make the transition in other markets for the moment. . So this increase in the frequency with which phantom brakes occur shouldn’t affect the old continent for the moment, but let us know in the comments if you feel a difference for a few months.

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