Hacker Dissects Tesla’s Autopilot Module
Someone decided to see what makes Tesla’s autopilot system tickby Robert Moore, on
The Tesla Model S was the first vehicle to offer up some kind of dedicated autonomous driving with its autopilot feature. Like other cars currently on the market with some form of autonomous capability, the system uses a combination of radar and ultrasonic sensors to help the on-board system understand the surroundings around the vehicle. Another important component is the Bosch iBooster braking system, but none of these systems would be able to work without the heart of the system – the camera module.
The Model S garners a lot of attention from the hacking community because of the technology that makes it work. Jason Hughes, who is known for his Tesla Hacks, has taken it upon himself to remove the camera module from a Model S and dismantle it, just to see what makes the heart of Tesla’s autopilot system work. As it turns out, the case of the camera module is basically big heat sink. As Hughes put it, “This thing gets hot.”
Inside there is one major circuit board that houses the various memory chips, transistors, resistors, and the most important component – the MobileEye EyeQ3 chip. When the system is operational, the camera eye picks up everything ahead like traffic signs, vehicles, pedestrians, and lane markings. That information is sent to the MobileEye EyeQ3 chip where the information is deciphered so that the computer system can control the vehicle accordingly. Outside of a couple of smaller heatsinks, there are also a couple of testing ports that Hughes may play around with later on.
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Why it matters
Keep in mind, that while the camera module is rather simple with the camera eye and the EyeQ3 chip doing most of the work, that the system would be incapable of working with the other radar and ultrasonic sensors scattered around the vehicle. Plus, MobileEye is working on a new version of the chip that will be able to analyze information and video signals from up to eight cameras. That technology should find its way to cars by 2018, and should increase autonomous capabilities for all cars that utilize camera technology as a means for the car to see the area around it.
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