Tesla Owner Tapes Autopilot Cameras to Find Which Ones are Used

An inquisitive Tesla owner decided to test out which cameras are used in the latest version of Tesla’s Autopilot software (2018.10.4) by taping them, one-by-one.  The full video is below.

First, he tapes the side-mounted camera on the fenders, which did not appear to prevent him from using Autopilot.  Next, he tapes the side-pillar cameras and the rear camera.  Still, no problem turning on Autopilot with that set of cameras covered.  Then he tests covering the front facing cameras.  First the left and right cameras up top.  Autopilot continues to function.

Then he tapes all three front cameras (but removes the side-fender tape).  Autopilot still works!  Then he moves the tape from the side-pillar and moves it to the side-fender.  It still worked.  Now, that said, it didn’t stay well centered in the rode and drove more like a “toddler”.

Here’s the summary of combinations tested:

  • Side-fender cameras taped – works
  • Side-fender, side-pillar and rear cameras taped – works
  • Side-fender, side-pillar, rear, and front left+right cameras taped – works
  • Side-fender, side-pillar, rear, and front left+right cameras taped – works
  • Side-pillar, rear, and all three front cameras taped – works
  • Side-fender, rear, and all three front cameras taped – works
  • All cameras taped – not tested (next time)

So Tesla still allows Autopilot to function if key cameras are blocked, likely just relying on Radar and GPS.  Frankly, we think it would be better if it alerted the driver that the cameras are blocked and displayed some sort of warning that the Autopilot system is not operating as intended.  It’s honestly surprising Tesla would allow a driver to engage Autopilot when so many of the sensors are not functioning properly.

See for yourself: