Tesla is trying to solve the long standing (and often deadly) problem of young children being left along in hot cars.

The electric carmaker has asked the Federal Communications Commission for approval to market a short-range interactive motion-sensing device. The technology could help prevent children from being left behind in hot cars. The device also has the added bonus of also helping prevent vehicle thefts.

Tesla wants permission to use unlicensed millimeter-wave sensors. They would operate at higher power levels than allowed under existing automotive manufacturing rules. Tesla’s device would utilize four transmitting antennas and three more that receive. Together, they form an advanced radar.

A Safer Future?

Tesla says Wave radar technology has advantages over other sensing systems like camera-based or in-seat occupant detection systems. The radar-based system provides depth perception. It can also see through soft materials, such as a blanket covering a child.

Tesla claims that its system “can differentiate between a child and an object left on the seat, reducing the likelihood of false alarms.” They also declared it can detect “micromovements like breathing patterns and heart rates, neither of which can be captured by current cameras or in-seat sensors.”

Radar imaging, Tesla added, can also assess body size. That data could help optimize airbag deployment in a crash, depending on whether an adult or child is seated. They promise it would be more effective than existing weight-based sensor systems.

The FCC is seeking public comment on Tesla’s request through September 21. Tesla noted that the Commission granted a similar request for a Google in 2018, which works under identical operating parameters.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says more than 50 children died from being left in hot cars in both 2019 and 2018. Of those incidents, 54% occurred because someone simply forgot that the child was in the car.


Devon is a writer, editor, and veteran of the online publishing world. He has a particular love for classic muscle cars.