If you’re a Tesla owner, you might have noticed an update this past week that adds limited use of automatic emergency braking (AEB), a safety feature that was first announced some six months ago. The roll-out of the feature came just ahead of Consumer Reports lowering their scores of the Model S and Model X vehicles, specifically citing the absence of the AEB as their justification.
Tesla models produced before October 2016 have had AEB available at speeds up to 90 mph. The feature is designed to help protect drivers in situations like abrupt braking on the highway. Newer Teslas, however, have been without this feature for the last six months, with the company promising to activate it after it had been thoroughly tested.
Last week Consumer Reports stated that it was deducting points from the scores of the Model S and Model X as a result of the missing safety feature. Tesla says it actually began rolling out its AEB update from April 25, the day before Consumer Reports criticized its cars. The AEB system is currently limited to speeds of 28 mph or slower, which the reviews organization argues is still far below the higher speeds where the feature is really needed.
Tesla has said that it will continue updating AEB over time, and that “higher limits will come later.” Consumer Reports has responded that once it confirms the “vast majority” of Tesla owners have received the update, they will then re-evaluate the vehicles’ scores.
Update: Headline amended to clarify that Tesla is enabling automatic emergency braking as per the body-text, which will “automatically engage the brakes to reduce the impact of an unavoidable frontal collision with another vehicle.”
Update 2: Article updated to reflect Tesla’s claim that it began rolling out its AEB update the day before Consumer Reports’ initial announcement on April 26. In a statement on Wednesday last week, a spokesperson for the automaker said “Tesla confirmed that the over-the-air rollout of automatic emergency braking began yesterday.” However, according to the Consumer Reports article on April 28, it was Thursday, April 27 when the Model S 60D in their fleet received the update. Tesla operates a rolling update process, upgrading cars progressively rather than in one fell swoop; in doing so, it’s able to identify any unforeseen issues before the software is spread across all vehicles. As such, the timescale for a complete roll-out can vary, though Tesla said last week that it was expecting to have the 28 mph AEB functionality fully distributed by the end of last week.
The disparity between the 90 mph functionality for pre-October 2017 cars, and the 28 mph functionality rolled out in this new AEB update, comes down to the second-generation Autopilot hardware. Tesla began fitting that as standard to all new Model S and Model X cars from October last year, but the updated sensor suite required new software and, importantly, new testing before the so-called “AP2” vehicles could reach feature-parity with existing, “AP1” cars.
SOURCE Consumer Reports