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Tesla Plans To Use Cabin Radar To Replace Traditional Seat Sensors

Tesla Plans To Use Cabin Radar To Replace Traditional Seat Sensors

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Tesla has recently announced a significant update: in the upcoming software version 2024.14.3, Tesla will introduce a groundbreaking change by utilizing a cabin radar system to replace traditional seat occupancy sensors, enhancing both driving safety and intelligence. This shift underscores Tesla's commitment to pushing technological boundaries while ensuring driving safety.

For a long time, Tesla's seat sensors have played a crucial role in monitoring seat occupancy, which is especially important for activating autonomous and full self-driving features, ensuring that a human driver is always present.

tesla internal camera


However, the dual-edge effect of technology has become apparent. Occasional false alarms or malfunctions of seat sensors have not only affected the user experience but also could incur unnecessary maintenance costs and, in extreme cases, pose risks of being intentionally bypassed.

Tesla hacker greentheonly has uncovered the secret behind this transformation while delving into the code of the upcoming software update. Tesla will shift to using cabin radar to monitor the occupancy status of the driver's seat.

This change is based on a waiver previously granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), allowing Tesla to use millimeter-wave sensors in the 57-64 GHz band. These sensors are intended to enable functions such as child protection, intrusion prevention, and external environment monitoring.

Radar is reinstalled in Tesla

The hacker "greentheonly," who closely monitors Tesla developments, recently revealed on social media that he had decompiled Tesla's software update data. He found that Tesla plans to remove the seat occupancy sensors and instead use cabin cameras or radar to perform their original functions, with the latter being more likely.

As early as April 2021, Tesla received approval to install cabin radar. This system, consisting of four transmitters and three receiver antennas, can penetrate soft materials and differentiate between children and objects on the seats. It can even monitor breathing, heart rate, and other information that visual sensors cannot capture.

However, Tesla's primary consideration for reinstalling radar in the vehicle is to detect whether the driver’s seat is occupied when the car is started.

In the past, some owners, perhaps overly trusting in FSD, used cheating devices to trick the system into thinking the driver’s seat was occupied, enabling "driverless" operation.

Addressing this issue not only fixes the bug but also optimizes another problem: some owners reported that the seat sensors were too sensitive. A slight movement would falsely register as the seat being empty, causing the car to slow down and stop.

Understanding Cabin Radar

Cabin radar is primarily used for detecting living beings inside the vehicle, monitoring the status of passengers, and intrusion detection. For instance, if a child or pet is left inside the car, the radar can detect them and trigger an alarm through the system. Additionally, it can be integrated with the Driver Monitoring System (DMS) to provide vital signs information beyond visual data, offering a more comprehensive analysis of the driver's condition, which is particularly important for future Level 3 autonomous driving.

Currently, there are two main technical standards for cabin radar: millimeter-wave and UWB (Ultra-Wideband). The millimeter-wave radar has the following frequency bands:

  • 24GHz, discontinued in 2022 and no longer allowed in new vehicles.
  • 77GHz and 79GHz, intended for external vehicle use. Cabin radar should avoid these bands to prevent wireless channel interference.
  • 60GHz, which is the band Tesla’s cabin radar uses, specifically 57-64GHz.

The UWB radar for vehicles primarily operates in the 6-8GHz band, which is compliant in most major regions globally. From a cost perspective, UWB radar is much cheaper than millimeter-wave radar, but it lacks the penetration and resolution capabilities of millimeter-wave radar. The Significance of Cabin Radar

The Significance of Tesla Introducing Cabin Radar

The introduction of cabin radar means that Tesla's safety monitoring system will become more precise and intelligent. Compared to seat sensors, which can be easily tricked or physically damaged, radar provides more stable and reliable monitoring results. This effectively prevents the vehicle from being mistakenly started without a driver, significantly enhancing driving safety. Additionally, this technology can reduce the high maintenance costs associated with sensor failures, saving expenses for users.

It is noteworthy that this technological iteration by Tesla is not an isolated event but part of its ongoing effort to optimize driver assistance systems and enhance in-vehicle safety monitoring capabilities. Tesla has already widely adopted driver-facing cameras to improve accountability, especially when using semi-autonomous driving technologies.

The integration of cabin radar will further solidify Tesla's leading position in active safety technology, ensuring its vehicles continue to advance securely on the path of intelligent development.


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