Automobile

Tesla Model 3, Model Y Dropping Radar Sensors

  • The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y will no longer be equipped with front radar starting with deliveries this month.
  • The newly announced “Tesla Vision” will rely on the car’s cameras and onboard computer to control its Autopilot driver-assist system and functions included in the Full Self-Driving package.
  • The Model S and Model X and vehicles outside of North America will ditch radar at a later date.

    Tesla is dropping the forward radar sensor from the Model 3 and Model Y, beginning the rollout of what the company calls Tesla Vision, which will make Tesla’s driver-assist systems rely almost completely on the car’s cameras. CEO Elon Musk has been hyping “pure vision” for months now and seems confident that it will be able to eventually get Tesla to Level 5 autonomy.

    Also this week, Bloomberg reported that a Tesla Model Y was spotted in Florida testing lidar supplied by Luminar Technologies. The news service noted that Musk has previously disparaged the use of lidar as a driver-assist feature. According to unnamed sources, Bloomberg said, Tesla has a contract to use Luminar sensors for research and devlopment.

    Michael SimariCar and Driver

    Tesla’s Autopilot system currently uses eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and forward radar to read lane lines and detect nearby cars. The new cars will rely mostly on the car’s cameras and its computer’s processing ability to use Autopilot and the suite of features currently included in the Full Self-Driving (FSD) package. Other automakers use radar for their adaptive cruise control systems, and they benefit by being able to operate in inclement weather and direct sunlight.

    Tesla said earlier this year that “a vision-only system is ultimately all that is needed for full autonomy.” However, this change initially comes with a reduction in features, with Tesla warning that Smart Summon (part of the Full Self-Driving package) and Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance will be disabled. Autosteer, which helps keep the car centered in its lane, will be limited to 75 mph, down from 90 mph previously, and have a longer following distance. Tesla promises these issues will be fixed through future over-the-air updates.

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    Tesla CEO Elon Musk insists that the full production release of the long-awaited Full Self-Driving capability will arrive by the end of this year, but he has named release dates before that did not happen. He announced on Twitter that Full Self-Driving Beta V9.0 will be released in about three weeks, and the Full Self-Driving subscription will be available then, too. We tested the system as it stands currently and found that it is far from what its name promises.

    Deliveries of the updated Model 3 and Model Y will begin this month, and only in North America, Tesla noting that it chose to make the switch on its highest-volume vehicles first so that it would quickly get real-world data to make swift improvements to the system. The Model S and X will transition to radar-free later, presumably after much of the early learnings from the 3 and Y are incorporated. Those who ordered cars before this month will be notified if their car is one with Tesla Vision.

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