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Tesla To Bring Back Updated HD Radar And Launch Autopilot HW4 In Mid-January Suggests FCC Finding

Tesla recently removed radar from the company's vehicles and moved to a camera-based pure vision system. However, today we have gotten conflicting information that suggests, Tesla is planning to bring back updated HD radar to the company's vehicles with the upcoming Autopilot Hardware 4 upgrade.

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 for self-driving purposes, used to rely on radar to offer 160 meters of forward protection.

However, now Tesla has moved to a pure camera system 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.

Related news: Tesla Shows Design Of The “Smaller, Tight Wolverine package” Cybertruck Meant For International Markets

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 to an engineer who adds a line of code but two points to 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 a couple of months back, 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.”

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This is well and good however, today we have received conflicting information that suggests Tesla is looking to bring back an updated HD radar to its vehicles. This information comes via an FCC filing Tesla made with the regulatory agency.

A few months back Tesla had already registered a new high-resolution radar with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) FCC. At the time, details about the new radar were sparse as Tesla requested the FCC to not publish the details of the component.

At the time Tesla requested the FCC to withhold this information until December 7. However, in a filing dated November 18 but made public today, Tesla has requested the FCC to withhold details of the new radar until February 6, 2022.

In a letter the EV maker sent to the FCC, Tesla says it requested the delay because “this device will not be marketed until mid-January 2023. To avoid any unnecessary disclosure and competitive harm before our product launching, we would like to request the above exhibits to be held for another 60 days.”

Given Musk’s and Tesla’s previous statements regarding the move to a pure vision system and the redundancy of radar, today’s information suggesting Tesla is planning to bring back an updated HD radar to the company’s vehicles as soon as next month is a bit of a head-scratcher.
However, in more positive news, this has also fueled speculation that Tesla will likely add the updated HD radar to the company’s vehicles with Autopilot hardware 4 (HW4). Meaning Autopilot HW4 will be launched next month.

If you happen to be unfamiliar, Autopilot HW4 is an upcoming major upgrade to Tesla’s autopilot hardware.

Among other changes, Autopilot HW4 is expected to bring a new self-driving chip to Tesla vehicles that is significantly more efficient and powerful. Musk has previously said Autopilot HW4 will be launched together with the Cybertruck.

As of now, this information is only speculation and it’s also difficult to wrap our heads around Tesla’s decision to bring back radar. However, we will be sure to keep you posted once we learn more about Tesla’s plans. Until then, make sure to visit our site regularly for the latest update.

So what do you think? Surprised to learn that Tesla is planning to bring back an updated HD radar to the company’s vehicles? Also, what do you think this says about Tesla’s pure vision approach to solving level 5 autonomy? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

For more information check out: The Tesla Model Y - The King of All EVs

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.


David (not verified)    December 13, 2022 - 6:35PM

No PR, vague promises, ridiculous price increases, poor build quality. Tesla needs competition. How well will their vehicles fare when lower priced quality EV's become reality?

Will (not verified)    December 14, 2022 - 12:13PM

I think you meant:

"Tesla has requested the FCC to withhold details of the new radar until February 6, 2022."

to be: "Tesla has requested the FCC to withhold details of the new radar until February 6, 2023."