Auto wipers not ready for prime time (Mar. ‘18)

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Cycle11111

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Just had a chance today to confirm my previous suspicion. In this case there was absolutely no rain, only spray from the car in front.


This would be the same in light rain that would be light enough not to trigger the sensor. In this situation anyone would get frustrated simply because we can't tell whether the droplets are from the sky or the car in front, and assume it's raining that hard and the sensor does not see it or it's very slow to respond. I think this is a design flaw not of the car but of the "Auto" feature of the wipers. It simply does not have a good enough sample of the windshield to make a good decision.

I tried to record the area near the camera, it's not very obvious, but it's mostly free of any water drops, obviously not enough anyway to trigger the wipers.
I have to say I disagree mostly with what you say. The earliest versions of auto wipers were marginal at best and if I used them I had to intervene constantly to get satisfactorily results. Now the recent version that is supposedly ML trained I find is not perfect but equal to or slightly better than those I had in two Mercedes and one Hyundai. According to what I read if you have to get them to swipe manually that goes into the data set to improve performance. I have not had chattering issues except occasionally on our MX but not on the M3. Note rainX or other lubricants plus worn blades can be major causes of this. Also to be transparent I have used the new auto wipers on both our cars for rain and snow extensively since the last two releases came out in Dec - we live in Truckee CA and I work in the valley.
 

GDN

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We've had rain the last 10 days and I would say the wipers have improved quite a bit. Especially on dark mornings, even with light rain or mist. They aren't perfect yet, but improvement is good.
 

skygraff

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Yeah, light rain either results in no wipes or constant fast wipes, lately. I’ve also noticed that the ambient light impacts things as well (lots of wipes at intersection but not enough wipes between more lighted areas at night).

It seemed to have gotten better but, since December (2019) updates, things have deteriorated and I get the camera blocked message a lot even when the windshield is completely clean.
 

kataleen

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The thing I am not sure I understand, maybe someone with better knowledge on this can enlighten me, is how will machine learning help in the cases where there's minimal water drops on the front facing cameras area, but lots of water on the rest of the windshield. What does it rely on, as input data? I am pretty sure, based on my limited optical/photography knowledge that it can't "see" drops in the air before they hit the windshield.
I have the feeling that we're asking the system to make a decision for the entire windshield when it can only see 5% of it, which of course will not always be correct unless there's uniform water coverage (i.e. normal rain)
 
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garsh

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The thing I am not sure I understand, maybe someone with better knowledge on this can enlighten me, is how will machine learning help in the cases where there's minimal water drops on the front facing cameras area, but lots of water on the rest of the windshield.
It won't. :)

But the eventual goal of auto-wipers is to allow Full Self Driving to function in rain. So in that sense, it doesn't matter if the rest of the windshield is covered with muck - as long as the cameras can see, the computer will be happy. In the meantime, the meatsack in the driver's seat can just keep hitting the wiper button if they want to be able to see as well. :)

I'm guessing that Tesla only uses images from the front-facing cameras. There's no reason why they couldn't use input from any and all of the cameras in the future. Well, there is a reason - it will require a LOT of processing power in the car to handle more cameras just for detecting rain, and I'm sure that they want to set aside the majority of the current processing power for FSD.
 
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Dasher

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A slightly tangential topic...

Here in the UK we have 'enjoyed' the wettest February on record. This has meant that Dasher's wipers have had a good workout, as have the washers. The dirt coming off the roads, when washed off, causes quite a waterfall down the driver's window, increasingly obscuring the view of the driver's mirror. Is this a right-hand drive problem only, or does it also happen on left-hand drive cars?

Previous cars I've had have varied in their ability to trap surplus water from the windscreen and channel it down before it splurges over the side window, but the Model 3 (at least mine) isn't very successful at this.
 

JasonF

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Previous cars I've had have varied in their ability to trap surplus water from the windscreen and channel it down before it splurges over the side window, but the Model 3 (at least mine) isn't very successful at this.

That's the driver/passenger window frame which does that job. Frameless window cars can't do that, and water washes over the sides. I had a Mitubishi Eclipse previously, and it had the same issue.
 

NR4P

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My US car soaks me if the driver window is slightly open and its raining. Even windshield washer feature drips inside the car and on my left leg.
 

garsh

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Sounds like Tesla made some big changes to the automatic wiper neural net in 2021.4.15.5.
I'm personally hoping that this stops it from wiping when their is no rain, and maybe stop it from wiping too quickly when the rain isn't that heavy.

 

GDN

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Sounds like Tesla made some big changes to the automatic wiper neural net in 2021.4.15.5.
I'm personally hoping that this stops it from wiping when their is no rain, and maybe stop it from wiping too quickly when the rain isn't that heavy.

I'm running 2021.4.15.5 since last week. Drove through a light shower or two this past weekend. Wipers responded perfectly every time.
 

Kizzy

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Sounds like Tesla made some big changes to the automatic wiper neural net in 2021.4.15.5.
I'm personally hoping that this stops it from wiping when their is no rain, and maybe stop it from wiping too quickly when the rain isn't that heavy.

I’d be interested in getting reports from people on the AP 2.x computer about improvement/comparison with the FSD computer.
 

Bernard

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I'm running 2021.4.15.5 since last week. Drove through a light shower or two this past weekend. Wipers responded perfectly every time.
I am running the same, but wipers are still not responsive enough here in Hawaii. That they cannot handle tropical downpours is not a serious issue, as I doubt that any car's wipers could and it's better in such cases to let the worst pass over and then resume driving. The problem is at the other end of the scale: they still cannot handle fog condensation and light drizzle -- if the accumulation of droplets on the windshield is slow, the system simply never initiates a wipe, even though visibility drops to zero. (This is a common occurrence on the saddle road between Hilo and the Kona coast, at an altitude reaching over 6'000ft, with frequent fog.) And when the system initiates a wipe, the delay for action is usually far too high: even with a reasonable rain level (not just a drizzle), it takes it a good 5-6s to get going.
Manual mode is a pain to use (the screen is not usable and the audio commands, while they work fine, are tedious) and, with just 4 settings, is not flexible enough.
So I end up pushing on the left stick over and over and over and... It's a good thing that I live on the dry coast ;-)

I had a European Passat from the 2006 model year that was *way* better than that. I think it was a case of hubris from Musk et al.: they thought rain sensors would be unnecessary as the cameras used for Autopilot would do the job just as well; and they also neglected to provide a sensitivity adjustment (for drivers' preferences -- e.g., I am farsighted, so stuff on the windshield bothers me a lot less than it does my wife, who is nearsighted). They were wrong (so far): while the autowipers have indeed improved over 3 years of firmwares (my Model 3 left the factory in April 2018, but received the HW 3.0 upgrade last year), they are still not on par with those on competing German sedans (which use rain sensors, have sensitivity adjustments, etc.). This is not a first-world issue: it is a safety issue, since a few seconds during which one has a hard time seeing through the windshield are more than enough to cause an accident.
 
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JasonF

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I had a European Passat from the 2006 model year that was *way* better than that. I think it was a case of hubris from Musk et al.: they thought rain sensors would be unnecessary as the cameras used for Autopilot would do the job just as well

A rain sensor is really just a very low resolution camera that's only good enough to measure light input, so technically that's correct. The trick is how to get the software to do something simple on a much more complex device.

Most likely the way it works now is the camera is comparing the clarity of the view to a second or two ago. That might be why slow spitting rains don't trigger the wipers, because it's slow enough that the windshield looks about the same as it did a second ago. What it probably should look for in addition to second-to-second occlusion comparison is color shift - because when it's raining, or there's sand or mud spraying on the glass, it's going to refract a lot of light and cause a sudden shift in the visible color palette. Which is essentially what rain sensors do, use visible light to detect a color spectrum shift.
 
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Long Ranger

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This is not a first-world issue: it is a safety issue, since a few seconds during which one has a hard time seeing through the windshield are more than enough to cause an accident.
I agree. For about my first year of ownership this was by far my biggest issue with the car. I kept thinking that I would gladly give up all Autopilot functionality just to have manual wiper controls using the scroll wheel and/or wiper button. I’d still love manual wiper controls, but it is better now.

The big improvement for me came when I started using Rain-X. The software has improved as well, but with Rain-X the behavior immediately changed from under-wiping to over-wiping. I’ll take the minor annoyance of overly aggressive wiping over unsafe visibility any day.
 
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garsh

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The big improvement for me came when I started using Rain-X. The software has improved as well, but with Rain-X the behavior immediately changed from under-wiping to over-wiping. I’ll take the minor annoyance of overly aggressive wiping over unsafe visibility any day.
I can't believe I went through several decades of life without using Rain-X (or any other similar product).
If anybody hasn't tried it yet, PLEASE DO. It makes an INCREDIBLE difference for being able to see out of your windshield.
  • Sure, it wears off after a while and needs to be reapplied, but honestly, it never completely wears off, and even in a very-worn-off state, windshield clarity is much improved over using nothing at all. You'll never need to use the "fast" wiper setting again.
  • The instructions seem a little daunting (make sure windshield is clean and dry, use a microfiber towel, wipe off completely). You're fine to ignore them. Nowadays, I just put it on with a paper towel. It doesn't seem to matter. I'll still clean the windshield first, but I don't worry about it being spotless and completely dry. And I don't bother trying to wipe it completely off - it's ok if the windshield still looks hazy after putting it on. After driving through the first rain, that haziness completely disappears.
 
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SoFlaModel3

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Sounds like Tesla made some big changes to the automatic wiper neural net in 2021.4.15.5.
I'm personally hoping that this stops it from wiping when their is no rain, and maybe stop it from wiping too quickly when the rain isn't that heavy.


This is a curious improvement … I only care what rain looks like on the windshield for driving the wipers.

That said … I feel like auto wipers have been really good lately in general.
 

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