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 breaking 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.
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 a few days 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.”
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 @greentheonly who is the most famous Tesla white hat hacker.
While looking through Tesla’s online Electronics Parts Catalog (EPC), Green discovered a new radar has been added to Tesla’s online EPC. Following, by comparing pictures provided by Tesla on the EPC with a previous FCC filing by the EV maker, Green was able to confirm the added Tesla part is indeed an updated HD radar.
Green also shared his belief that Tesla will likely add the updated HD radar to the company’s vehicles with Autopilot hardware 4 (HW4).
yes— green (@greentheonly) September 13, 2022
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.
Nonetheless, going back to the issue at hand, given Musk’s and Tesla’s previous statement 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 is a bit of a head-scratcher.
As of now, this information is difficult to wrap our heads around. 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 torquenews.com/Tesla 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 solve level 5 autonomy? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Image: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
For more information check out: Tesla Needs a Lower Cost Model
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.