Tesla Brings Back Automatic Emergency Braking, But Only at Low Speeds

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Of the numerous autonomous safety technologies in our cars, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning show some of the most promising results. They’re so good, the lack of these technologies can now lower a vehicle’s safety ratings. This has prompted Tesla to add AEB back into the Model S and Model X after removing it from models produced after October 2016.

Anyone who happened to buy their Tesla before October of 2016 already has AEB and it will work at speeds up to 90mph. Whether you are about to tap someone’s bumper in a low-speed crash or you’re in danger of having a high-speed collision on the highway, the system will engage and slow you down.

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The newest update, however, isn’t that thorough. It only operates at speeds up to 28 mph so it won’t help you avoid a high-speed crash. According to Tesla, the updates to its AEB system are occurring in stages. Owners can expect to see additional updates that will take the AEB operating speed higher, but Tesla hasn’t said when those updates will be completed.

Automakers are voluntarily working to have AEB as standard equipment on every model by 2022. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says this will make the feature standard three years earlier than if it was forced through as a regulatory requirement.

Studies show that AEB works and could prevent up to 700,000 accidents in the U.S. every year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compared similar models with and without AEB and found a significant reduction in accidents in vehicles with the feature. Combining forward collision warning technology with automatic emergency braking reduced rear-end collisions by 40 percent and injuries by 30 percent.

Consumer Reports now includes this technology as a part of its safety ratings with a bonus awarded to vehicles with standard AEB across the model range. Higher points are given to systems with both low-speed and high-speed AEB, so Tesla still can’t earn a top score.

The group lowered their ratings on the Model S and Model X due to the lack of AEB. Once the bulk of Tesla owners receive the software update, Consumer Reports will take another look at those ratings and could bump them back up. Additional updates with higher speeds could also prompt ratings upgrades all depending on when Tesla decides to roll out the software.

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