Tesla is currently developing a new safety feature for its cars that will be able to detect children left behind inside the vehicle on a hot day. The EV company submitted a request to the Federal Communications Commission for approval of the unlicensed sensor that would be used in the system.
The short-range millimeter-wave radar will work at an above-average performance level higher than the standard levels imposed by existing regulatory policies, which is why the request was made. Aside from child protection, the additional feature will also enhance Tesla’s Sentry Mode that prevents car theft.
Carried by a front-end radar, the sensor will be using four transmitting antennas and three receiving antennas. With Tesla’s Autopilot being a camera-based system, the sensor technology is compatible. Detectors will also be installed within the car seats and would be able to determine occupancy by sensitive weight sensors. These additions to the car features will come in handy during life-threatening situations.
The strength of the emitted waves of the upgraded sensors will be capable of detecting motion even under soft fabrics which children usually use. The ones that are being used today do not possess that kind of ability. Furthermore, it also has the ability to differentiate whether a child actually occupies the seat or it is just an inanimate object, so there is less chance of false alarms. It will also be able to sense small movements such as breathing and heartbeat - something that no other automobile sensor has done before.
Tesla’s current sensors have a standard weight limit that registers an object as a human being, similar to other cars. For passengers whose weight falls below that limit, airbags pose a danger. Hence the CDC updating the policy that discourages children from occupying the front seat of a car.
FCC’s gathering of public feedback regarding the upgraded sensor system will carry on until September 21.
A request for a similar technology was also submitted by Valeo, but as of now, it is still pending.
According to statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under the US Department of Transportation, the number of children’s deaths attributed to heat stroke after being suffocated inside a car has increased over the years. It amounts to 54% of total hot car deaths. The first vehicular heatstroke death of 2020 was a 4-year old child who was left unattended.
Internal car temperatures can rise up to twice the outside temperatures. Sometimes, the inside of the car can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) even if it is only 57 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius) outside.