Tesla Model X spotted equipped with LiDAR sensors in the wild

Credit: William Conner

A Tesla Model X equipped with LiDAR sensors was spotted in Los Altos California last week. Teslarati reader William Conner shared photos of the Model X after reading the article about the Tesla Model Y seen sporting similar equipment. Another reader, Tyler Wellman, spotted the Model Y in Santa Cruz, CA while biking to work. 

As noted in the previous article, these sightings are not the first time a Tesla vehicle has been spotted with LiDAR sensors. A Model S was spotted with a sensor suite in Palo Alto back in July. A Model 3 has also been seen with similar equipment in the wild. 

Credit: William Conner

Based on the sightings, its seems that Tesla has a collection of S3XY cars equipped with sophisticated imaging equipment, including what seems to be several Luminar Hydra LiDAR units. Elon Musk has been open about his opinion on LiDAR in relation to autonomous vehicles. As such, the Tesla community may be more than a little puzzled by a Model X and Model Y sporting LiDAR equipment. 

In September, @DDotJ found a patent that might explain the recent Model X and Model Y sighting. “In various embodiments, a machine learning model trained using auxiliary sensor data can accurately predict the result of an auxiliary sensor without the need for the physical auxiliary sensor.  

“For example, training vehicles can be equipped with auxiliary sensors…for collecting training data. The training data can then be used to train a machine learning model for predicting the result of an auxiliary sensor, such as radar, LiDAR, or another sensor,” the patent read.

Twitter user @DDotJ speculated that Tesla may be using the LiDAR sensors to validate its 3D distance estimation systems. Tesla released its limited FSD beta late October, and Musk has noted that a few more revisions to the advanced driver-assist system would have to be implemented before releasing it to more early access members. The recent sightings suggest that Tesla may be conducting ground truthing, or perhaps gathering more data for Autopilot and Full Self-Driving’s wider release. 

Tesla LiDAR Sensor Patent US20200265247A1 by Maria Merano on Scribd

Big thanks to William Conner and Tyler Wellman for reaching out to Teslarati. The Teslarati team always appreciates hearing from you. If you have any tips, email us at or reach out to me at

Tesla Model X spotted equipped with LiDAR sensors in the wild
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