Tesla Seeks To Market Sensor Device To Detect Child Left In Hot Car

Tesla Inc. is seeking approval to market a short-range interactive motion sensor device that would help prevent kids from being left in hot cars and improve theft-prevention systems.

Tesla (TSLA) has filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission asking for permission to market the device, which would operate at a higher power level than allowed under current rules. The device, which would be integrated in passenger vehicle interiors, incorporates millimeter wave (mmWave) radar technology to detect movements within a vehicle and to classify vehicle occupants.

The electric vehicle maker argues that for the full potential of this life-saving technology, the sensor must be operated at slightly higher power levels, although not more than those granted in 2018 by the FCC to a similar product operated by Google.

“The device could be used, inter alia, to reduce the risk of pediatric vehicular heatstroke, protect vehicle occupants from injury through advanced airbag deployment and seatbelt reminders, and enhance theft prevention systems,” according to Tesla.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 50 children died from vehicular heatstroke in both 2018 and 2019, the majority of which had been left in the vehicle because someone forgot the child was there.

The device will utilize 4 transmit and 3 receive antennas driven by a radar front-end unit. The application of the sensor would be focused on the interior of the vehicle, but it may be capable of scanning up to 2 meters outside of the vehicle, Tesla said.

The electric vehicle maker explained that unlike cameras, mmWave can “see” through soft materials, such as a blanket covering a child in a child restraint and, unlike in-seat sensors, it can differentiate between a child and an object left on the seat, reducing the likelihood of false alarms. In addition, mmWave is capable of detecting micromovements like breathing patterns and heart rates, neither of which can be captured by cameras or in-seat sensors alone, the company said.

Furthermore, Tesla asserts that mmWave radar can also provide vehicle security benefits. It can be used to improve theft prevention systems by detecting a broken window or vehicle intrusion more efficiently than other sensors.

Five-star analyst Daniel Ives at Wedbush last week raised the stock’s price target to $1,900 (7.3% downside potential) from $1,800, amid confidence that electric vehicle (EV) demand in China is starting to accelerate in the July-August period.

“We believe Tesla thus far in 3Q has seen strong demand in Europe and China with the US market remaining softer,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “To this point, robust Model 3 demand out of China remains a linchpin of success and appears to be on a run rate to hit 150k unit deliveries in the first year out of the gates for Giga 3 which is driving some strength for Tesla as well as Model Y deliveries starting to ramp as well.”

However, with shares up a stellar 390%, Ives maintained a Hold rating on valuation. Meanwhile, the $1,295 average analyst price target now implies 37% downside potential for the shares in the coming 12 months.

The rest of the Street is in line with Ives’ stock outlook with a Hold analyst consensus. (See Tesla’s stock analysis on TipRanks)

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