Like any automaker, Tesla has worked to remove bugs from the operating system of its Autopilot feature, but a bug of a different sort did prove problematic for one Model S owner.
According to one Reddit user, who goes by the name Redebo online, a recent drive down U.S. Highway 93 in Nevada using the car’s Autopilot system was interrupted by a large moth that blocked the system’s sensors.
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“There I was, cruising along on [Autopilot] doing 85 miles per hour on a lonely stretch of 93 between Kingman and Las Vegas,” the Reddit user said in his post. “Suddenly, my driver console flashes red and commands me to take control of the vehicle. AP drops off. Cruise control drops off and I get the ominous warning, ‘Radar visibility has been reduced.’ I see a lone gas station up the road and slow my roll into the fluorescent lighting of the canopy covering the gas pumps. I step out of the car while a car of German exchange students look quizzically at a [Model S] parked next to a pump. Fearing the worst, I peek around the front of the car and was confronted with this sight. The Demon Spawn of Mothra had attacked me and rendered my autonomy useless. Never fear though, a quick scrape with the window squeegee over the radar opening and my technology was restored!”
It might sound funny to think an insect could be the biggest bug the Autopilot system faces, but it also underscores the need for human drivers to be alert even when using this autonomous driving feature.
For its part, Tesla told Tech Insider that it’s unusual for a bug big enough to cover the forward radar sensor to actually do so, and that with changes to the Model S that include the elimination of the front “grille” and the relocation of the forward radar sensor to behind the front fascia, things like this shouldn’t occur, as that sensor is now better protected against bugs and road debris.