Tesla Autopilot to Detect Emergency Vehicles at Night and Slow Down, Says Manual [Update]

As Tesla faces an investigation into its Autopilot system’s behavior when nearing emergency vehicles with their lights on, the company has reportedly added some information about those kinds of circumstances to its vehicle manual for owners of both Model 3 and Model Y units.

Tesla has updated its car manual for owners of both the Model 3 and Model Y, including new information about how the vehicles’ Autopilot systems reduce their speed and engage the driver when near emergency lights, according to @Analytic_ETH.

In the updated manual with the 2021.24.12 software update, it says that upon encountering lights from an emergency vehicle at night and at high speeds, the vehicle’s speed “is automatically reduced, and the touchscreen displays a message informing you of the slowdown.”

The news comes amidst a larger probe of Tesla from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which was opened after a series of Tesla Autopilot-engaged vehicles crashing into emergency responders parked on the shoulder of a highway.

The investigation is ongoing and the NHTSA will require Tesla to respond to the agency’s letter by October 22. You can read Tesla’s full addition to the Model 3/Y manual below:

If Model3/ModelY detects lights from an emergency vehicle when using Autosteer at night on a high speed road, the driving speed is automatically reduced and the touchscreen displays a message informing you of the slowdown. You will also hear a chime and see a reminder to keep your hands on the steering wheel. When the light detections pass by or cease to appear, Autopilot resumes your cruising speed. Alternatively, you may tap the accelerator to resume your cruising speed. Never depend on Autopilot features to determine the presence of emergency vehicles. Model3/ModelY may not detect lights from emergency vehicles in all situations. Keep your eyes on your driving path and always be prepared to take immediate action.

Aside from the text shared above regarding this update, stay tuned as the manual becomes widely available and everyone can see the update for themselves.

Update Sept. 22, 9:08am PDT: According to developer @greentheonly, the user shared an image of this updated manual with Tesla North, seen below, which verifies the above. @greentheonly confirmed this Autopilot feature is being tested in 2021.24.10 and .11 and .12 releases, and not in 2021.32.x.