Phantom Braking is Growing Problem - Wall St. Journal

Phantom Braking is Growing Problem - Wall St. Journal

From the Wall Street Journal this morning: "As Automatic Braking Becomes More Common in Cars, So Do Driver Complaints" (link below but behind paywall).

The gist of the article is that the "phantom braking" issues that we see occasionally on the Model 3 are a common flaw of AEB systems from all manufacturers. They note that the "National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has fielded more than 400 individual complaints in the last three years from drivers of vehicles made by Nissan Motor Co. , Volkswagen AG , Honda Motor Co. and other major car manufacturers flagging auto-braking problems, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the agency’s public database... Most are from drivers saying they have had trouble with the automatic brakes deploying suddenly when there is no evidence of danger—at highway speeds."

They note that 44% of all new cars sold in 2018 had AEB systems. "Calibrating the car’s detection software to be discerning enough to identify hazards but filter everything else out is a challenge, said Wayne Powell, vice president of electronic systems at Toyota Motor Corp. ’s North America division. “Getting it to not put on the brakes when it shouldn’t is a very, very hard problem,” Mr. Powell said."

Unlike any of the other auto companies mentioned here, however, Tesla's software is updated OTA to address this issue. For all the Nissan, VW, Toyota, Honda, etc. customers referenced in the article, the only option is to head into the dealership when a software update is available (as the poor lady who "was in tears" after her Nissan Rogue suddenly stopped on the freeway for no reason).

Magic 8 Ball | 27 août 2019

Nice to see things in perspective and that only Tesla has the OTA path to address these sorts of bugs, thanks for sharing.

LostInTx | 27 août 2019

My wife has a 2020 Acura RDX that has experienced phantom braking several times, a couple of which is repeatable at the exact same location.

We're on the cusp of great technology but are still in the toddler stage.

kevin_rf | 27 août 2019

Had a nasty phantom brake, as as bug report put it on the second try. As as the right click reported it: "Fat umm Break-in".

It was nasty and I hit the brakes instead of the gas making it worse. Luckily the car behind me was far enough back. I think it was triggered by the overpass and the truck in the center lane. Quite annoyed, especially with it taking two tries to submit the bug report, auto-correct errors and all.

TexasBob | 27 août 2019

I definitely had more than a few phantom braking events with my Subaru Eyesight system before I got the Model 3.

lbowroom | 27 août 2019

So all manufacturers are struggling with solving a difficult engineering problem? Sad that this is a revelation to anyone but happy their are reasonable people left in the world.

M3phan | 27 août 2019

I’m lucky I guess. LR RWD from July ‘18, lonely a couple, three such events, all last year. Nothing in months.

SamO | 27 août 2019

I've had phantom "slowing" a few times but i just lightly press the gas and the car realizes that everything is ok, and resets the speed to the limit.

gballant4570 | 27 août 2019

Never had any phantom braking myself.....had a few issues with lane departure detection and alerts when it first appeared, until I got it set right, but haven't had any phantom braking I am happy to say.....

Eazyndn | 27 août 2019

Happened to me today with no one in front of me for a good 30 yards, and with a truck behind me. Luckily truck kept it’s distance. Did a bug report, but instead of Phantom breaking ( which is what I said), it recorded it as Cranston breaking and thanked me for the feedback.

AZTesla | 27 août 2019

Yep, I had a significant phantom braking event happen just last night. My car got spooked by a semi-truck pacing me on the right. Luckily, no one was driving behind me, else they might have rammed me.

FISHEV | 27 août 2019

Except the “phantom braking” problem is with Tesla’s 3rd rate adaptive cruise not with Emergency Braking, the topic of the WSJ article unless the writer confused the two.

The top rated EB systems (Subaru) don’t have “phantom braking” issues on the EB system or the Adaptive Cruise system. Tesla really needs to get adaptive cruise, blind side indicators, lane keeping up to current standards and add rear cross track warning. It looks very much like Tesla sacrificed good basic safety systems for “Full Self Driving”.

lbowroom | 27 août 2019

The nonsense continues

TexasBob | 27 août 2019

Subaru DOES have this problem. Just a random example reported to NHTSA

Subaru systems (mobile eye) had a big problem going blind at sunset. (2018 model Outback, personal experience, also a limitation explained in the owners manual and on screen.)

82bert | 27 août 2019

Why does no one stop this fool??

jnordland | 27 août 2019

FISHEV "Except they don't as NHSTA and IIHS both consider Subaru's Eyesight system best in the business. Some for profit website selling click bait, not so much. Any camera system such as Tesla's or Subaru's will have issues with direct sun into the camera's but Subaru's has zero issues with phantom braking on the adaptive cruise or the emergency braking. It's why Subuar's are Top Safety Pick + in every category that Subaru offers a car."

My coworker had to lemon law his Subaru with Eyesight after the computer was replaced for the 3rd time and he continued to have phantom braking. Biggest difference between his issue and Tesla's is that the Subaru would go into emergency braking, engage anti-lock brakes, and come to a complete stop from 65+mph in the middle of the highway. This happened to him and his wife about 1/2 dozen times and continued to happen even after the Eyesight computer was replaced multiple times. He had to turn off the Eyesight system altogether (I believe he said it was a $2k or 3k option). Subaru agreed to take back the car when they couldn't fix the issue. So much for "mature technology".

lbowroom | 27 août 2019

Perhaps someday there will be a human moderator who can cut the infection off and cauterize the wound.

vmulla | 27 août 2019

We know there is a human moderator. Unfortunately, not active enough.

Bighorn | 27 août 2019

Friend got two Subaru lemons or 100%. Never again.

casun | 27 août 2019

“Cranston breaking”

perhaps there was a meth lab in the roadway?

Atoms | 27 août 2019

I’ve got plenty of improvement expectations for AP, but phantom braking is not one of them in the last several months.

FISHEV | 27 août 2019

“My coworker had to lemon law his Subaru with Eyesight “@jeremynordland.

I’m sure your personal anecdote about a “coworker” is accurate but in the compiled, lifetime actual stats of NHSTA and IIHS, Subaru’s Eyesight is top rated.

The phantom braking on the Tesla’s is in the adaptive cruise/AP system not in the emergency braking. I suppose it could bleed over to emergency braking in Tesla’s software mix just as Full Self Driving requirements degrades basic adaptive cruise with needing to be more sensitive to the point of oversensitivity seeing trees by the side of the road or vehicles safely in their lanes as “emergencies” and applying the brakes.

jnordland | 27 août 2019

@FISHEV so you think the Subaru system that randomly activates the emergency brakes while at highway speeds is superior to the Tesla system that slows a bit while on adaptive cruise until it can differentiate an object? Hmm I think I'll disagree with that logic.

FISHEV | 27 août 2019

“So you think the Subaru system that randomly activates the emergency brakes while at highway speeds is superior to the Tesla system that slows a bit while on adaptive cruise until it can differentiate an object?”

Nope I think that Subaru’s Eyesight system is the top rated safety system based on NHSTA and IIHS stats and testing and that rare possible exceptions don’t make the rule or make the overall actual accident statistics which all rate Subaru/Eyesight tops.

We do see phantom braking as the No. 1 complaint about Model 3’s with AP.

SamO | 27 août 2019

Links or it didn’t happen

casun | 27 août 2019

fishev is always wrong.

lbowroom | 27 août 2019

Does it have electrolytes?

lbowroom | 27 août 2019

You’re not even saying anything with that mish mash of verbiage. Top rated cross track blind sided nimbocker shottle

jnordland | 27 août 2019

@FISHEV "Any camera system such as Tesla's or Subaru's will have issues with direct sun into the camera's but Subaru's has zero issues with phantom braking on the adaptive cruise or the emergency braking."

You stated this but that's demonstrably not true. The issues Subaru has with their system is significantly more dangerous than what Tesla owners are experiencing (unexpected emergency braking vs reduced speed). Is Subaru required to report to NHTSA or IIHS every time they buy back a car for faulty hardware? I have my doubts.

Not to mention, IIHS rated 2018 Model 3's "Superior" in their Front Crash Prevention testing. The Model S received the same rating. There is no rating higher than Superior so how does Eyesight have the highest rating?

jnordland | 27 août 2019

And one more thing - two of the top 5 cars most likely to be involved in an accident are Subarus:

1. Subaru Crosstrek (25.81% have a prior accident)
2. Honda HR-V (25.7%)
3. Hyundai Elantra GT (25.58%)
4. Infiniti Q50 (25.14%)
5. Subaru WRX (24.9%)

lbowroom | 27 août 2019

It’s just a word game. Top doesn’t necessarily mean highest. Cross track and blind side have no meaning in automotive terms. Empty sentences constructed to sound like they mean something. We all masticate 3 times a day too.

lbowroom | 27 août 2019

Let’s not forget that with all his research and financial means, Fish chooses to drive a Tesla.

SamO | 28 août 2019

I ask for links to price Subaru has a better system and he links to some troll friend on the forum.

Classic EaglePDX

tdrager | 28 août 2019

Dynamic range?

The dynamic range of the cameras in my M3 are only so good. I had numerous phantom braking events where there was a tree shadow in the road on a sunny day, on a divided highway. My wife complained that it was making her sea-sick, so it was disabled.

A few questions:

1. Can autopilot ever be as good as a human?

2. Should the AP can only be used on roads where there are no shadows, or a cloudy day?

3. Not until the dynamic range of the cameras are as good as the human eye will the AP be useful?

4. Did the AP software think complex tree shadow shapes are structures?

5. Why didn’t the radar sensor override the camera data? Radar would have shown “no obstacle”.

jstat10 | 28 août 2019

It more likely the processor, not the camera, is the limiting factor. You only need 20/40 vision to get a driver's license(!), less for a restricted license. And you don't need color vision.

Given how well things work now, the current processor can probably classify objects correctly, but it does it too late to be useful. The increased speed of HW3 should eliminate most of phantom braking problems. We shall see.

billtphotoman | 28 août 2019

@tdrager - Camera dynamic range is indeed a _big_ problem. If data is outside of the dynamic range of the camera it is just lost so no amount if image processing can fix that. This is why photographs of very high contrast scenes (sunsets at the beach for example) don't look anything like the way our eye sees them.
Supposedly the model 3 cameras have 18 stops (which is actually really amazing if true) while the human eye has about 25 (so 2 to the 7th more). One option is if they have enough processing power and can read the camera sensors quickly enough is to combine images of different exposures.

Techy James | 28 août 2019

@tdrager "5. Why didn’t the radar sensor override the camera data? Radar would have shown “no obstacle”." Problem with this approach is Radar only metal based solid objects. I also has limitations where items, like a moose, deer, person, or other large animal that would have significant chance of damage/injury during impact that a radar wouldn't detect because the object is not solid enough. Radar works great at detecting objects like vehicles that have enough metal for the radar to be effective. Radar would never detect items like large animals or even a truck tire laying in road.

WEST TEX EV | 28 août 2019

I think current software is known to prioritize cameras over radar. I don’t know why this is true. Seems radar is superior for true obstacle avoidance (as compared to “looks like an obstacle”)

IMO Subaru adaptive cruise/lane keep is BAD. It is a “warning of lane cross” system not a “stay in lane” system. It will bounce off lane markings several times and then quit and alarm. Although I personally love it when Tesla quits as it is stating “I cannot navigate properly, please use human intelligence”

howard | 28 août 2019

Never had a single phantom breaking or rapid slowing with the ACC on the 2019 Volt. That is long-distance highway use as well as constant heavy Phoenix metro traffic. I set it and forget it. Weave in and out of traffic with my foot comfortably resting not hovering over the accelerator pedal waiting to override so I am not rear-ended.

Bighorn | 28 août 2019

Kind of suspicious when people have laudatory comments for every brand but Tesla. Makes you wonder.

howard | 28 août 2019

Bighorn. Makes you wonder.

Might make you wonder but it makes me mad. Tesla TACC should be every bit as good as my lowly Volt!

SamO | 28 août 2019

Nope. That’s not it.

Bighorn | 28 août 2019

Doesn’t really explain claiming the Taycan the victor of the spoils seeing as nobody’s seen one yet.

SamO | 28 août 2019

Well everyone gets a participation trophy.

“The winner” trophy For the lap record set by a “prototype” and not a production vehicle.


lbowroom | 28 août 2019

Is the Volt concerned about anything but the car in front of it?

Jeremyapp | 28 août 2019

> “Cranston breaking”
> perhaps there was a meth lab in the roadway?

Cranston Braking is the same thing as Braking Bad. It makes total sense :)

SamO | 28 août 2019

Dealership FUD? It doesn't matter how terrible the car, but if it comes from a stealership, it must be amazing?

Eazyndn | 28 août 2019

> “ Cranston Breaking “

Sorry about the spellcheck mistake, S/B “Braking” instead of “ Breaking”. Couldn’t find a way to edit.

kevin_rf | 28 août 2019

That's okay, you should see some of the downright bizarre combinations that the car comes up with for it when I try to report it.

FISHEV | 28 août 2019

‘The issues Subaru has with their system is significantly more dangerous than what Tesla owners are experiencing (unexpected emergency braking vs reduced speed)”@jeremynordland

Except Subaru Eyesight has no “issues” which is why Subaru’s are Top Safety Pick + in every category in which Subaru makes a car, the Subaru Legacy Sedan vs. the Tesla Model 3 Sedan, Tesla’s safety systems are clearly inferior and rated as such. Tesla’s phantom braking issue, the inconsistent lane keeping, the non-functional blind side indicators and driver’s side mirror that can’t see blind spot and no rear cross track warning.

To the article’s possible issue of Emergency Braking giving false warnings, the Tesla seems to do OK with it, no false reading but some early collision warnings. Subaru’s auto braking system in it’s top safety rated cars seemed more predictable than the Teslas (2015 Subaru Legacy vs. 2019 Model 3 AWD LR).

The Subaru’s adaptive cruise has no phantom stops which is a big problem for the Model 3’s AP system, probably the top owner complaint on all the Tesla forums including this one.