California based Tesla Inc has applied for permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to market a short-range interactive motion-sensing device that could help prevent children from being left behind in hot cars. The system could also help improve theft-prevention systems.
Tesla aims to get permission for its devices, which will use unlicensed millimeter-wave sensors, to operate at higher power levels than that are currently allowed.
Tesla’s device would utilize four transmit and three receive antennas driven by a radar front-end unit. Millimeter wave radar technology has advantages over other sensing systems like camera-based or in-seat occupant detection systems, said Tesla.
The radar-based system “provides depth perception and can ‘see’ through soft materials, such as a blanket covering a child in a child restraint.”
Tesla went on to add, it “can differentiate between a child and an object left on the seat, reducing the likelihood of false alarms”; it can also detect “micro-movements like breathing patterns and heart rates, neither of which can be captured by cameras or in-seat sensors alone.”
Radar imaging can also assess body size to optimize airbag deployment in a crash depending on whether an adult or child is seated, which is more effective than existing weight-based, in-seat sensor systems, said Tesla.
The system would also be more accurate in determine when to engage seat belt reminders.
The FCC is seeking public comment on Tesla’s request through September 21.
Tesla has noted that the FCC had granted a similar request to Alphabet Inc’s Google Inc in 2018 for a device that works under identical operating parameters.
Incidentally, in March 2020, Valeo North America had also submitted a similar request to the FCC for its in-vehicle safety-related monitoring device that could also detect children in cars.
Valeo North America’s request is pending.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2018 and 2019, more than 50 children died when they were left behind in hot cars, with 54% of such occurrences being the child being forgotten in the car.