Image: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Tesla Model 3 regains Consumer Reports Top Pick status and IIHS Safety Award as new independent IIHS testing shows the new camera-based driving and assistance system provides effective automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning (FCW) systems.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released the first estimates of new Tesla vehicles that use a camera-only (pure vision) system for AEB and FCW, and do not use radar. Proving its reliability, Model 3 once again received the Top Safety Pick +, the highest IIHS safety award. “Given the IIHS’ recent evaluations of Tesla's new camera-based system on its Model 3 and consistent with CR's integration of IIHS ratings into our recommendations, CR is restoring the car's Top Pick status,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of CR's Auto Test Center.
At the end of May, Tesla announced that it had removed radars from its vehicles. The company is continuing its transition to Tesla Vision, which will rely only on cameras and will not need radar. Starting with deliveries in May 2021, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles destined for the North American market will no longer be equipped with radar. These will be the first vehicles to fully rely on camera vision and neural net processing to deliver Autopilot, Full Self-Driving (FSD), and certain active safety features.
The Tesla Vision-equipped Model 3 and Model Y were not independently tested on FCW and AEB when they went on sale. This is why Model 3 temporarily lost its CR Top Pick designation in May. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that FCW, lane departure warning (LDW), and two AEB functions—crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support—were not available on Model 3 vehicles built on or after April 27, 2021. The IIHS also removed the Top Safety Pick + designation for Tesla Vision-equipped Model 3s built before May 1, 2021, at the same time.
In early June, IIHS tested the new Model 3 with Tesla Vision and gave the car a top Superior rating in a test of whether it could avoid or lessen a collision with another vehicle, and an acceptable Advanced rating in tests of whether it could avoid or lessen the impact of striking a pedestrian. The results are consistent with those obtained by the IIHS when testing the earlier Model 3 with radar. “The performance seems to be similar for both systems,” said David Aylor, manager of active safety testing at the IIHS. The similar Tesla Model Y also uses a camera-based system but does not have a Top Safety Pick + designation because it has yet to be tested, he continued.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.