"Relying 100 percent upon vision will prove to be a mistake."
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has doubled down on the use of camera-based driver-assistance hardware for the company's lineup of EVs. That's despite other autonomous vehicle companies successfully using LIDAR-based systems for their self-driving efforts, even alarming Tesla's own engineers.
Technical capabilities aside, it turns out that relying on cameras comes with potentially serious practical downsides — like cold weather, for instance.
In a thread on the r/teslamotors subreddit, a Tesla driver found that their brand-new Model 3 had a "major design flaw": the defroster lines, designed to quickly clear up fogged-up or icy windshields, apparently failed to clear up the vehicle's driver assistance cameras, triggering repeated "take over immediately" messages.
As a result, the disgruntled driver wasn't able to use their vehicle's Full Self-Driving feature, a notorious $15,000 add-on that assists the driver with things like changing lanes or taking an on-ramp — yet another glaring oversight for the luxury car brand, in other words.
Blinded by the Light
While it's still unclear whether it was a defect that caused the issue — it certainly wouldn't be the first — which allowed humidity inside the interior bracket in front of the rearview mirror that houses the camera, other redditors also chimed in to say they'd been struggling with the same issue.
"Can’t even use cruise control on my 30-minute commute," one user wrote.
"Service just called me and told me that several owners are calling about the same issue," the original poster added in an update, "and they are looking for a software fix in the future."
They also wrote that their scheduled service appointment was canceled, with reps claiming that "they remotely checked and I have no hardware issues."
The incident highlights the drawbacks of relying on camera-based driver-assistance systems. While a growing number of carmakers are making use of LIDAR technology, which uses pulsed lasers to detect the vehicle's surroundings, Musk is steadfast in his belief that cameras are superior.
His customers, however, aren't convinced.
"Relying 100 percent upon vision will prove to be a mistake," one redditor commented.
"We humans augment our vision with technology to enhance our sensory perception and how we interact with the world around us," they added. "Why not do the same thing with that goddamn computer on wheels."
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