Tesla has stopped building forward-facing radar sensors in its Model 3 sedans and Model Y SUVs in North America, after CEO Elon Musk publicly expressed a desire to rely on cameras to power the system. advanced driving aid of the company, Autopilot.
Tesla developed the vision-based version of Autopilot during the limited beta testing of its Full Self-Driving software. But it is not completely done to ensure that the autopilot works without the radar sensor, as it limits or disables certain features of these vehicles indefinitely. Autosteer – the autopilot feature that can keep a Tesla centered on a lane, even around curves – will only be usable at 75 miles per hour and less. Tesla is also only making it available at a longer (unspecified) minimum tracking distance to all cars ahead.
The company claims that Smart Summon – which allows a driver to “summon” their Tesla from outside the car, even in a crowded parking lot – “can be turned off on delivery,” as well as the bypass feature. emergency lane exit. Tesla says it will start restoring these features ” [i]n the coming weeks’ in a sequence of live software updates.
Tesla is not currently removing the radar sensor from its more expensive models, the Model S sedan or the Model X SUV. The company says it is initially focusing on making the Model 3 and Model Y dependent on the system based exclusively on the vision, because it sells a lot more. “Their transition to Tesla Vision allows us to first analyze a large volume of real-world data in a short period of time, which ultimately speeds up the deployment of features based on Tesla Vision,” the company wrote.
Tesla has not provided more information on when it will stop building radar sensors in Model S and Model X, or the vehicles it builds in China. The company actually stopped making the Model S and Model X in the first quarter of 2021 as it prepared a new version of each vehicle. These redesigned versions have been delayed, although a launch event for the new Model S is scheduled for next week.
Radar sensors are common in many modern passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs. They are used to help detect approaching objects quickly, even in poor visibility, and are one of the sensors that power safety functions such as automatic emergency braking. While modern cars also pull data from other sensors – including cameras – to power these features, automakers like to have multiple types to ensure there is redundancy. If some type of sensor fails or cannot work in a certain situation, there is always a backup.
Musk has spent years saying he doesn’t think laser lidar sensors are necessary to develop semi and fully autonomous vehicles. But he’s recently started talking a lot more about Tesla’s transition to a vision-based system that relied primarily on the eight cameras built into each car (and 12 ultrasonic sensors) as well as neural network processing of the flows in. real time they generate. In April, the company wrote in a press release that “a vision-only system is ultimately all that is needed for full autonomy.”
“Our AI-based software architecture is increasingly dependent on cameras, to the point where radar becomes unnecessary sooner than expected,” Tesla wrote. The company said at the time that it was “almost ready to switch the US market to Tesla Vision.”