- tesla wants to use millimeter-wave radar technology as a means to detect children and other occupants left in its vehicles.
- the technology can see through cloth and soft surfaces and would be able to detect micro-movements including breathing and heartbeats.
- tesla is asking the fcc to allow it to use higher power levels for its sensors than what are allowed under existing rules.
in 2019, 52 children died of heatstroke in the united states after being left in vehicles. it’s a terrible statistic, and many automakers have responded with rear-seat sensors that remind drivers to check the back seat when exiting a car. tesla wants to go further and has asked the fcc to allow it to use millimeter-wave radar technology in its cars to see the entire cabin in more detail. in its filing it says, "because the public interest would be served by such safety and security benefits and because strict compliance with the rule would reduce the accuracy and effectiveness of the device, good cause exists to grant this request."
if you’ve been to the airport in the past few years, you’ve likely encountered millimeter wave radar technology. it's the tube you stand in that scans you to see under your clothing. tesla would like to use it in its vehicles to determine if a child has been left in the vehicle and as a security feature.
tesla is petitioning the fcc to operate its sensors at higher power levels than are currently allowed. tesla says that "unlike cameras, millimeter wave provides depth perception and can 'see' through soft materials, such as a blanket covering a child in a child restraint."
the company continues that millimeter wave technology “can differentiate between a child and an object left on the seat, reducing the likelihood of false alarms.” it also added that the technology can detect “micro-movements like breathing patterns and heart rates, neither of which can be captured by cameras or in-seat sensors alone.”
tesla says that the system could also be used as a security feature and determine if a seatbelt alarm needs to alert the driver. the company says that it could be capable of scanning up to 6.6 feet outside of a vehicle.
to pull this off, tesla wants to put four transmit and three receive antennas and a radar front end in its vehicles. of course, it still needs to get permission from the fcc to up the power of its system and add to its vehicles. no word if the fcc approves the request when this technology will end up in tesla's vehicles.