In May 2021, Tesla officially moved from a radar-vision hybrid self-driving system to one that solely relies on cameras.
Previous to this change, Tesla vehicles, in order to execute automatic emergency braking and self-driving maneuvers, used to rely on radar to offer 160 meters of forward protection.
However, now Tesla has moved to a pure camera system and the autopilot section of the EV maker’s website mentions “Powerful visual processing at up to 250 meters of range”.
This move is also consistent with Elon Musk’s vision for Tesla’s next-generation FSD system. Musk believes in order to solve real-world AI, Tesla must first solve driving using a pure vision system.
And once Tesla achieves this feat, Elon believes using other sensors such as LiDAR and radar will be redundant. And this core belief is why Musk believes Tesla has better AI hardware and software than Google Waymo.
Musk’s argument against sensors at a different sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum such as LiDAR and radar is two-pronged.
First, Elon believes our current traffic and road system is designed for a pure vision system - meaning the roads were designed for drivers to navigate using their eyes. And for any AI system to be meaningfully better than a human driver, it first needs to solve pure vision driving.
And second, for some who ask why not just have radar and LiDAR as support, Musk’s response is one, cost; and two, complexity.
Adding redundant sensors will add thousands of dollars to the cost of the vehicle ergo it will make Teslas less accessible.`
And two, these sensors generate a stream of data which will then have to be processed adding to the complexity of the AI system. This will then require more processing power and energy which makes the vehicles less efficient and more expensive.
Elon asked how many lines of code it takes to enable Teslas to drive autonomously, he answered saying that at Tesla they look at having hundreds of thousands of lines of code as a bad thing.
Musk then added that he gives one point for an engineer who adds a line of code but two points for someone who removes a line of code.
According to Tesla, the move to a pure vision system is the final hurdle before the company can release full self-driving to the wider public.
And today, Musk’s and Tesla’s conviction for a pure vision self-driving system was proven right as the latest Model Y, equipped with Tesla vision, has received the highest score on the automatic emergency braking test by the Euro NCAP.
Tesla, announcing this great achievement wrote “Model Y also received a leading score of 98 percent in Euro NCAP's Safety Assist category. This result was achieved with Model Y vehicles equipped with Tesla Vision, our camera vision and neural net processing system that now comes standard in all Tesla vehicles delivered in North America and Europe. This score was a result that many did not believe was possible without using radar.”
In addition to automatic emergency braking, the new Model Y also received the highest safety score in the Euro NCAP’s Adult Occupant Protection test and the highest overall safety score of all tested safety scenarios.
Model Y’s performance on the Euro NCAP’s new protocol is a testament to Tesla’s commitment to safety. However, despite the all-electric crossover receiving the highest safety point of all vehicles tested in its category, Tesla still says “our team is dedicated to improving driving safety. Achieving some of the highest safety scores ever awarded doesn’t give us pause—it motivates us to make some of the world’s safest vehicles even safer.”
Currently, it is not exactly clear in what ways Tesla plans to make the company’s vehicles even safer. However, we will be sure to keep you posted as Tesla makes those changes. Until then, make sure to visit our site torquenews.com/Tesla regularly for the latest updates.
So what do you think? Excited that Model Y was able to score the highest auto emergency braking score despite not being equipped with radar? Also, what do you think this says for the prospective of Tesla achieving level 5 autonomy using only cameras? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Image: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
For more information check out: Is There Really a 430 Mile Range Model 3 Battery?
Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.