Tesla owners claim the radar apparatuses in their vehicles were unplugged during service visits, according to a report.
Tesla has been working to transition to a camera or vision-only approach to its self-driving efforts, and this was launched several years ago with Tesla Vision.
Tesla started building Model 3 and Model Y vehicles without radar, hoping only to use cameras for Autopilot and Full Self-Driving.
CEO Elon Musk once referred to radar as a “crutch” for autonomy and always planned on using a camera-based approach.
“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,” Musk said during the Q1 2021 Earnings Call.
In May 2021, it told drivers any vehicle built for the North American market after May 2021 would not be equipped with radar.
Model S and Model X vehicles had radar removed from new builds in February 2022.
However, there are still Model 3 and Model Y cars out there that have radar equipped and active. But owners on the Tesla Motors Club forum (via The Drive) state that their cars had radar systems unplugged and deactivated during service visits.
Tesla communicated the change in a service bulletin, according to the report, stating:
“Autopilot and Active Safety Features that were using front radar sensor data transitioned to using camera data (Tesla Vision), making the front radar unnecessary.”
Tesla notified owners that the change would be made within service invoice agreements, which people read and do not usually scan over the fine print.
While there is a change that was made that Tesla owners may not technically be aware of because they didn’t read their agreements, it should be known that the company has been moving away from radar for some time. Cameras are what Tesla is depending on for its autonomous driving development, and it’s been that way for over two years.
If radar systems are plugged in, they will be deactivated through an Over-the-Air update.
Another advantage to unplugging the radar system is it can help prevent battery drain, as the system still requires power, even though it is not contributing anything.
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