Tesla is seeking FCC approval for a motion-sensing device that could stop children from being left in hot cars and prevent auto theft. As reported by Reuters, the electric vehicle maker wants to market a short-range interactive tool that uses unlicensed millimeter wave (mmWave) radar technology.
The gadget, which would be built into cars' interior, detects movement and can identify occupants, helping to "reduce the risk of pediatric vehicular heatstroke" and protect people through advanced airbag deployment and seat belt reminders. Not to mention guard against potential bandits.
"Because the public interest would be served by such safety and security benefits and because strict compliance with the rule would reduce the accuracy and effectiveness of the device, good cause exists to grant this request," Tesla wrote in its July 31 plea to the Federal Communications Commission. Unlike most radiofrequency-emitting devices that focus on the outside of a vehicle, Tesla's tech would address the inside—while the car is stationary and in motion. That means everything from detecting a broken window to seat belt reminders and airbag suppression (when necessary)
Citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tesla noted that more than 50 children died of vehicular heatstroke in both 2018 and 2019—more than half of them forgotten and left behind. The mmWave system, however, aims to avoid fatal accidents with the ability to "see through" soft materials (like a blanket covering a child seat), differentiate between a human and a random object, and detect "micro-movements" (breathing and heart rate).
The FCC has opened public comment through Sept. 21 on Tesla's request—which points to a similar bid in 2016 by Google to waive the power level limit at which short-range interactive motion sensing devices may be operated.
Elon Musk's automaker last year introduced Dog Mode—a way to keep pups and passersby happy and safe. Model 3 owners can simply enable the climate-control function to ensure pets kept in the car are comfortable, while clearly showing the internal temp on the touch screen display alongside a note that the driver will return soon.