Tesla’s Autopark is making headlines this morning as the Full Self-Driving suite capability has transitioned to a “vision-based” approach for operation.
Tesla hacker @greentheonly tested the new operation of Autopark and posted the results to his Twitter feed, where he regularly updates owners on what the automaker is working on through his savvy software decrypting skills. Interestingly, there are several differences between the new Autopark and previously-used versions of the feature that were standard with anyone who had the FSD Suite. The differences are operationally-based and depend on the vehicle’s external cameras instead of radar and “ultrasonic-only implementation,” as green called it.
The new system uses painted parking lines on the ground to align the car directly to the middle of the spot. After the cameras pick up the lines, the vehicle will essentially use them as a guide, slowly and carefully backing the vehicle into the space.
Green stated that the behavior of the functionality is currently slow and reminiscent of Tesla Summon operation, which is extremely deliberate with its movements. Seeing that this is a new approach for the Autopark feature, it is likely that the FSD characteristic will operate in a relatively timid fashion until more confidence is gained. New semi-autonomous functions that Tesla has released over the years behave this way during their first few months of operation.
There are also several new safety features that Autopark will pause for, including bikes, pedestrians, moving objects, and poor visibility.
Currently, the feature is only available in the Model S Refresh. While the vehicle green is driving does not fit that description, his hacking skills may have contributed to his ability to test the feature in his car.
The transition to the vision-only approach aligns with Tesla’s recent decision to scrap radar in some of its vehicles. Coined as “Tesla Vision” by the automaker, the decision was based on CEO Elon Musk’s belief that radar was a crutch for the vehicles equipping FSD to operate. According to Musk, it was always the plan to switch to a camera-only approach because the vehicle’s eight external cameras would work more accurately than any other system.
The CEO said during the Q1 2021 Earnings Call:
“When your vision works, it works better than the best human because it’s like having eight cameras, it’s like having eyes in the back of your head, beside your head, and has three eyes of different focal distances looking forward. This is — and processing it at a speed that is superhuman. There’s no question in my mind that with a pure vision solution, we can make a car that is dramatically safer than the average person.”