Tesla has made a decision about its autonomous driving (and it does not go through radars or sensors)

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Tesla doubles down on software by removing ultrasonic sensors from its cars. The company has confirmed that the next models will bet everything on the cameras to guarantee the operation of their Autopilot. The industry is torn between two antagonistic trends regarding autonomous driving.


Goodbye radars. Last April, Tesla confirmed that in the transition of its Tesla Vision it would gradually eliminate the radars of its Tesla Model 3 and Model Y sold in the United States. Later it would be the turn of the Model S and X. The company then assured that its Tesla Vision would be supported by software development, eight external cameras and twelve ultrasonic sensors.

and sensors. Half a year later, we have a new victim: ultrasonic sensors. Tesla has confirmed with an update on the support page relative to Tesla Vision that the new models that are arriving on the market will lack ultrasonic sensors, the twelve that are distributed between its two bumpers.

For now, the first affected will be, once again, the Tesla Model 3 and Y that are sold in the United States. Then will come those sold around the world and, finally, the Tesla Model S and X. The company’s autonomous driving systems will therefore trust everything to the operation of its cameras.

trimmed. The first users who receive vehicles without ultrasonic sensors will not be able to enjoy, for the time being, the following functionalities:

  • Park Assist: will not warn of surrounding objects when the vehicle is traveling below 8 km/h.
  • Autopark: you will not be able to park automatically neither in line nor in battery.
  • Summon: It will not be possible to manually move the vehicle forward or backward through the Tesla app.
  • Smart Summon: The car will not move to the location indicated in the Tesla app.

The company assures that these problems will be solved with a wireless update via OTA, but in the official statement they do not indicate what deadlines they handle. Similarly, they confirm that “at this time, we do not plan to remove the functionality of ultrasonic sensors from our existing fleet”, but they do not deny it outright either.

Radars, cameras and sensors. The combined use of radars, sensors and cameras seems to be the most suitable for autonomous driving, but some particulars must be taken into account. For example, ultrasonic sensors are very useful at low speedsas in parking lots, but its elimination is less critical than if we talk about speed cameras.

The combination of radars and cameras is, according to the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, for its acronym in English), the best method to avoid being run over, since the cameras are more effective during the day and the radars at night. However, his studies have shown that cars with both systems can also have significant problems detecting pedestrians when the light is insufficient.

all to the cameras. With this decision, Tesla makes it clear that its autonomous driving systems will bet everything on the use of cameras and software development. A completely contrary strategy to Volvo, which will include LiDAR radars in its next vehicles, ensuring that it will substantially improve its safety.

Elon Musk has already considered himself against the installation of this last type of radar. “It’s nonsense” and “anyone who bets on it is doomed,” he said at an investor talk in 2019. Shortly after, however, nuanced these words to insist that “to drive on roads in the real world, you have to resolve your vision of the environment and understand the objects around you”. Without a doubt, a confirmation of Tesla’s commitment to software.

The sale of second-hand cars is already a gigantic business.  And Tesla wants his piece of the pie

and cheaper. Another reason that may have driven the total commitment to software is cost savings. With no radars and no ultrasonic sensors to mount, Tesla will slightly reduce the volume of chips it will mount in its vehicles at a particularly difficult time for the industry.

Its scarcity has caused vehicle prices to skyrocket and firms like Ford to have tens of thousands of cars stopped for lack of a few chips that allow their vehicles to circulate on the street. In fact, the company itself has fallen on the stock market after announcing that deliveries for the last quarter will be lower than those expected by analysts, despite the fact that these are also the largest in its history.

Tesla doubles down on software by removing ultrasonic sensors from its cars. The company has confirmed that the next models…

Tesla doubles down on software by removing ultrasonic sensors from its cars. The company has confirmed that the next models…

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