Forget Phantom Braking, Some TikTokers Think Their Teslas Can See Ghosts

The owners of Tesla vehicles are posting videos to TikTok showing their cars’ pedestrian warning systems displaying people who aren’t there while driving through cemeteries.

The trend has resulted in a number of videos on the social media platform and elsewhere, but one expert believes that the culprit is an unfortunate result of Tesla’s tech, not evidence of the afterlife.

The videos see a Tesla driving slowly through a cemetery and, as the vehicle creeps through past the gravestones, occasionally, from the corner of the screen, a person can be seen walking into frame. From there, the camera filming the video invariably whips up to where the alleged people are, but nothing is there.

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@nojumper Proof ghosts are real? 👀 #tesla #cemetery #tiktokhalloween #halloweendecor #spooky ♬ original sound – No Jumper Podcast

The result of this spooky phenomenon, though, might not be a Tesla’s ability to perceive beyond the earthly realm, but the challenges it faces perceiving anything at all. Speaking to The Verge, Sam Abuelsamid, an expert on automated driving, said that Teslas almost certainly aren’t seeing ghosts.

“Tesla has opted to rely solely on cameras for doing their driver assist features. Cameras are passive sensors,” he said. “They’re capturing light that’s being reflected off of other objects from unknown sources. Which means that they don’t really know where an object is in physical space.”

He explains that the camera systems use inference to guess at where and what an object is. That’s why the paranormal figures appear only briefly on the infotainment screen as the car works out what’s a far away person and what’s a nearby gravestone.

We have reached out to Tesla for more information about this phenomenon, but so far the automaker has ghosted us (pun intended…).

Indeed, that same challenge of inferring what surrounds it may be what’s behind another spectral phenomenon: phantom braking. Since removing the radar and other sensors from its cars, which help provide more information to the central computers in order to help perceive the world around them, reports of Teslas braking for no apparent reason on the highway have exploded.

Unfortunately, while the ghostly apparitions in these videos appear to be mostly harmless, phantom braking can have serious consequences. Not only is it unsettling and uncomfortable to be subjected to an emergency stop unexpectedly, it can also lead to a vehicle being rear ended, which could lead to injuries.