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Tesla Model 3 gets safety recommendation back after ditching radar

Approved by both the IIHS and Consumer Reports

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Consumer Reports is restoring its “Top Pick” recommendation to the Tesla Model 3 after the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a new evaluation of the car’s camera-based advanced driver assist system.

The IIHS was able to show that the Model 3 with Tesla Vision cameras featured effective automatic emergency breaking (AEB) and forward collision warning systems (FCW), two criteria for Consumer Reports’ Top Pick decision-making. Combined with the IIHS awarding the Model 3 its own “Top Safety Pick” title, Consumer Reports decided to once again recommend the EV.

The publication maintains a contemptuous relationship with Tesla. It last revoked its recommendation earlier this May when Tesla began shipping the Model 3 and Y without radar sensors and warned some safety features weren’t yet rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Consumer Reports has also been critical of Tesla’s Autopilot system and its ability to be triggered without someone in the driver’s seat.

Tesla Vision passing the test adds some weight to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s claim that cameras can be an adequate substitute for radar and lidar sensors in self-driving cars. Musk has gone as far as describing modern car companies’ focus on lidar as a “fool’s errand,” and the announcement that new Model 3s and Model Ys would favor cameras was essentially the company forcing the issue.

Recently, Tesla test cars were spotted sporting lidar sensors, which seems to suggest the company might be reconsidering its stance, but for now the IIHS and Consumer Reports are satisfied with what Tesla Vision is able to achieve.