One of the big questions about autonomous driving and driver assist systems, like Tesla’s Autopilot, is how will they perform in tough conditions, like rain, snow etc.
To help answer the question, a Tesla Model 3 owners put Autopilot to test in a snowstorm.
First of all, please don’t try this at home.
Even though Tesla Autopilot is quite an impressive application of autonomous driving features, it is still only in “beta” and it is meant to be used with the driver always ready to take control.
Furthermore, it is better to use the system on the highway and in clear conditions.
That said, Tesla allows drivers to enable on most roads and in virtually any weather conditions.
So Model 3 owner Rémi Bergeron decided to test Autopilot on Quebec roads during a snowstorm to see how the system would fair.
He shared the following video with us:
As you can see, the Autopilot did surprisingly well on some stretches, but it also got dangerously confused during some parts of the drive, which serves as a good reminder to always be vigilant when using the system – especially if you decide to turn it on during difficult driving conditions.
This is an interesting video because by using and overlaying the TeslaCam feature, you can also see what Autopilot’s forward-facing cameras can see in those more difficult driving conditions.
During some parts of the video, you can see that the vision was impaired by the snow.
In other parts, Autopilot did surprisingly well even though the road markings were covered by the snow.
That said, the video clearly shows that the system is not ready to handle those kinds of conditions.
To be fair, those driving conditions are also difficult for humans, but there’s always the question of how sensors fair when there’s snow potentially blocking their field of view.
Here we are talking about the cameras, but Tesla even recently addressed the issue of ice buildup on the front to the car messing with the Autopilot’s radar sensor.
They recommend using a Rust-Oleum NeverWet spray coat on the front fascia to help prevent ice buildup. Tesla recommends only using the top coat and not the base one. They give more winter tips here.
As for the cameras, the front-facing ones are behind the windshield and therefore, they rely on the wipers in those conditions – just like human sensors (eyes).
Some of the other cameras are more difficult to keep clean and I expect that we are going to see some other improvements on that front in the future in order to handle more difficult conditions.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
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