Tesla Vision fails as owners complain of Model 3 cameras fogging up in cold weather
Anyone who is even remotely aware of the electric car space has heard the jokes about Tesla's legendary panel gaps and knows about the company's recent decision to move to the camera-based Tesla Vision-only system for its driver assistance and FSD features. This move was heavily criticised by many, and it appears that the lack of alternative sensors may be causing Tesla owners headaches, according to a recent Reddit thread on r/teslamotors.
The thread started with one user, u/phish0742, lamenting the fact that Full Self-Driving and Autopilot are non-functional on their morning commute due to cold weather. Despite using cabin and battery pre-conditioning and using the defogging system, the Model 3's windscreen-mounted front cameras are blocked by moisture trapped between the camera lens and the windscreen.
Being unable to utilise the front camera, Tesla simply makes Autopilot and Full Self-Driving unavailable until the camera is clear. While Autopilot is included with all Tesla vehicles, Full Self-Driving is not, only recently having been discounted to being a US$12,000 option, down from US$15,000.
Making matters worse, the original poster had owned a Model 3 before and had never had any issues remotely similar to what they're experiencing in this six-month-old Model 3.
Upon reaching out to Tesla to schedule a service appointment, Tesla's service team performed remote diagnostics on the vehicle, found no hardware issues, and cancelled the service appointment without performing any maintenance or repairs.
A number of commenters shared that they were having similar issues, and Tesla's own service team echoed this sentiment. Tesla called u/phish0742 to inform them that "several owners are calling about the same issue," the technician continued that Tesla is looking for a software solution for future revisions, advising that lower humidity would resolve the trapped moisture and clear up the camera.
The issue appears to be that Tesla has not included a way for moisture to escape the camera housing, nor has it included defogging equipment in the camera compartment, making the design or manufacturing at least partially to blame for this issue.
Curiously, one user that also reached out to Tesla to have the same issue corrected was told by Tesla's service centre that it was an issue with HW4 cameras in cold weather. This could be an indication that this is a problem with other models in the Tesla lineup, since HW4 has yet to make it to the Model 3.
It's important to remember that these reports may be a vocal minority, although the responses issued by Tesla's service teams indicate that there may indeed be an underlying issue that needs correction.
One potential solution to issues related to the camera-only approach is to use additional radar or LiDAR sensors as a fall-back for poor weather and to detect objects that are difficult to identify with vision alone. Tesla knows this and has already started installing radar sensors in Model S and X vehicles as part of the move to the HW4 platform.
AP/FSD is unusable on my morning commute on a BRAND NEW model 3. MAJOR design flaw compared to my 2018