That is exactly what happened in The Netherlands. You can see a Tesla Model X cruising along in the left lane, while the vehicle directly in front of it is speeding along seemingly oblivious to what is taking place ahead. However, the Model X sees all, and predicts that the traffic ahead is coming to a stop.
What happens next is quite amazing. The Forward Collision Warning on the Model X goes off and slows the vehicle down. A split second later, the car ahead plows right into the back of an SUV, seemingly at full speed, because we never see the brakes applied on that car. The impact is enough to send the SUV flipping over multiple times along its long axis, while the instigating car veers off to the right shoulder of the road.
So how was the Model X able to see around the vehicle in front to determine that an accident was likely? You can chalk it to Tesla's Autopilot 8.0 software. This newest version of Autopilot relies primarily on radar instead of cameras to scan the environment ahead. The Tesla Team described the upgrades to Autopilot in a September blog post:
The net effect of this, combined with the fact that radar sees through most visual obscuration, is that the car should almost always hit the brakes correctly even if a UFO were to land on the freeway in zero visibility conditions.
Taking this one step further, a Tesla will also be able to bounce the radar signal under a vehicle in front - using the radar pulse signature and photon time of flight to distinguish the signal - and still brake even when trailing a car that is opaque to both vision and radar. The car in front might hit the UFO in dense fog, but the Tesla will not.
That’s some pretty impressive stuff, and as we’ve seen in this instance, it works marvelously in the real world. In this case, we’re glad that the Model X was the vehicle behind and not the vehicle in front of that speeding red car…
We’d also like to add that, thankfully, no one was seriously injured in this accident.