Tesla seems to be laying the preparations for its transition to a vision-only Autopilot and Full Self-Driving approach. The shift was hinted at in the company’s official US website for the Model 3 and Model Y, both of which have now been updated to remove references to radar.
Previous iterations of the Autopilot section of Tesla’s webpages for its vehicles indicate that the driver-assist system features 360 degrees of visibility, 160 meters of Forward Protection (radar), and 12 ultrasonic sensors. With the update, Tesla’s Autopilot section on its website now lists 360 degrees of visibility, 250 meters of Powerful Visual Processing, and 12 Ultrasonic Sensors.
Elon Musk announced the removal of radar from Tesla’s sensor suite earlier this year. In March, Musk explained that Autopilot’s shift to a pure vision approach was the way to “real-world AI.” He also noted that Tesla’s vision-only system would be deployed on the FSD Beta V9.0 update, which should present a notable improvement over the system’s current performance.
When asked about the rationale behind Tesla’s removal of radar, Musk explained that vision simply has much more precision. He also stated that sensors are bitstream and cameras have several orders of magnitude more bits per second than radar. With these in mind, vision is on track to leave radar far behind as it gets progressively better.
Interestingly, Elon Musk did provide some new details on the upcoming FSD Beta V9.0 update earlier this month, noting that the difference between the driver-assist suite’s v8 and v9 would be “gigantic.” He also stated that issues such as phantom braking would likely be solved by shifting to a vision-only approach.
It remains to be seen if Elon Musk’s vision-only approach is wise, though his points about the advantages of cameras are notable. However, radar has long been a useful part of Tesla’s sensor suite, and it has played a part in keeping vehicles safe on the road, especially when visibility is low. At this point, it appears that the Tesla community could only see and test for themselves if Elon Musk’s idea of a vision-only driver-assist system is really feasible.
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