Will Teslas be able to avoid small animals?

Will Teslas be able to avoid small animals such as squirrels?

Tesla’s are as nimble as any other comparable sedan. If you are asking about self driving cars, I don’t know, but I doubt they are at that level of advancement yet.

No, they will flatten them like pancakes!

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Oh nooooo, Mr. Bill.

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Tesla’s will be great at avoiding squirrels, if you try to get the claimed range out of them.

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At this time, the driver still has to avoid them. WhenTeslas are fully self driving vehicles, I doubt it. I think small animals are too short to be recognized by the forward sensors. It really depends how small. I don’t think squirrels will register, but dogs probably will.

If they can’t avoid black cars, I don’t know how they’ll avoid little creatures. But then again the whole self-driving thing is a ruse.

There is no reward to dodging squirrels and nothing but risk. No harm will come to the occupants if the squirrel is pancaked but the occupants could die if the car hits a solid object. No contest.

Besides, if the Tesla doesn’t get the squirrel, these 2 will!


I dodged a couple yesterday. Stopped for them. No one got hurt. It’s Spring. Squirrels are running around and playful now that the snow is gone. Watch for them and little kids with bikes and training wheels. That’s what real drivers do, not computers. I refuse to become “redundant” as in the Twilight Zone.



Squirrels or Natasha and Boris? After all, you live near Frostbite Falls, don’t you, @Bing?:grinning:


They might be able to avoid small animals but will they want to?

I can envision the time when there is a law passed requiring small animals to wear a reflective sticker or something.


The squirrel always has moose nearby. You don’t want to hit moose.

Yes. As well as every other automakers’ self-driving vehicles. Tesla still has a very long way to go before it can provide self-driving vehicles. They are still crashing into stationary objects like trucks and road barriers. However, Nvidia and the folks who are leading the way in the self-driving future already have started to program vehicles to deal with animals. Seagulls and pigeons were the first animals to be recognized and the first actions to deal with small animals were as a result of testing in Boston. You can listen to the person behind all that if you watch this video at the bottom of the story. Of course, not every animal will be avoided. However, hitting animals is part of what designers are making an effort to minimize.

It is all a matter of priority. If you can easily avoid the squirrel, or bunny or ducky the car will. That assumes the sensors can even recognize a target that small. There is no need to even recognize a squirrel if there is no negative effect. If avoiding a small animal put the occupants of the car at risk, squirrel is gonna get pancaked, as I posted earlier.

If the animal is a moose (think Bullwinkle…) the car will do everything in its power to avoid the moose because the moose will injure or kill the occupants.

Now Bambi the deer… now that’s where the real difficulty comes into play. Damage WILL occur if the car hits it, risking the occupants’ safety. You can “what-if” a range of scenarios here. And the developers of the systems are doing just that.

If they can’t avoid a squirrel, I wonder if they can avoid a short 2 x 4 or a piece of spent retread on the highway. The squirrel won’t cause damage…but hitting a similar sized object of a less squashable nature could… Seems like in that scenario a human with a brain who can make the decision to either avoid the object or plow over it (depending on traffic, etc) might still be needed. I can envision a lot of scenarios like that…where a decision needs to be made rather than relying on an algorithm. We’ll see.

Actually, a situation arose today as I was driving that I wonder how a computer would handle. Driving down the highway at 70, an empty cardboard box about the size of a box of diapers (1’ x 2’ or so) blew out of one of the vehicles in front of me, landed in the highway in front of me and danced around in my lane. There were other cars behind me. I possibly could’ve braked hard or swerved to avoid it, but I assumed the risk of damaging the 1/2 ton truck I was driving with an empty box was pretty low. So I squashed it rather than slamming on the brakes or trying to make a quick turn at 70. The box was large enough, though, that had it been judged on size alone, it might be seen as needing evasive maneuvers to avoid. I’m glad I’m not one of the guys responsible for thinking of all the “what if’s” and trying to write the self driving program!

One friend of mine was following a plumber truck in his sedan when some metal piece like a t-joint of around 1.5 inch size fell off it.
He did not react in time, it was too close, so he hit this metal piece with his tire.
One tire was slashed, probably between the object and a tire rim.
As the metal piece went out, it hit the car’s bottom side under the doors, leaving a substantial dent before flying out… somewhere… maybe toward other “lucky” motorists.