If Your Tesla Model S or Model X was Built Before 10-2016 It May Need Upgrades for Level 5 Autonomy
Does it mean Elon is breaking his promise or that he’s smart enough to have a backup plan?by Robert Moore, on
Tesla has been in the news a lot lately with the official delivery of the first Model 3s and its recent call to discuss the second quarter of 2017. We’ve learned a lot over the past couple of weeks, including the price of the Model 3, some specifications, battery size, and we even learned that it will lend its platform to the upcoming Model Y. However, word was that any Tesla vehicle built after October of 2016 would include hardware version 2.0 (dubbed internally as HW 2.0) and would be capable of Level 5 autonomy – think “look mom no hands” – via a simple over-the-air update once the software was compiled and ready to be put into service. That’s all cool and the gang, right? Well, maybe not as the kick off of Model 3 production also led to the introduction of HW 2.5, if reports from Electrek are to be believed. Word has it that this new computer features an extra GPU (graphics processor unit) for more computing power and has cut down on the number of wires found in HW 2.0.
No, the HW 2.0 hardware makes use of a single GPU and is fairly basic for a technology tasked with such a groundbreaking mission. Source say that Autopilot 2.5 uses a secondary node to increase the number of computations possible per minute which should come pretty close to what Nvidia – the maker of Tesla’s AutoPilot hardware – expects Level 5 autonomy to take. Of course, we didn’t even know what was going on with the HW 2.0 until one brave owner decided to tear his Model S’ computer a part to take a look for himself. And, as you would expect, Tesla is staying rather mum on the subject, simply saying that it’s not a major upgrade and should really be considered “HW 2.1.” Will the old 2.0 system really be enough for Level 5 autonomy, and what happens if it won’t be? Keep reading to find out.
Major Upgrades Could be Coming to Old Cars
All new Teslas now come with the HW 2.5 suite, but those built prior to now may need an upgraded computer by the time Level 5 autonomy becomes truly and safely possible.
Tesla has officially recognized the new hardware suite, however, it always keeps things close to the vest so it naturally tried to downplay the whole situation in a statement to Electrek:
“The internal name HW 2.5 is an overstatement, and instead it should be called something more like HW 2.1. This hardware set has some added computing and wiring redundancy, which very slightly improves reliability, but it does not have an additional Pascal GPU.”
And, of course, we know that the Model 3 gets an interior camera to monitor the driver, but it seems as if Tesla is trying to play something off. It could just be a backup plan, just in case. All new Teslas now come with the HW 2.5 suite, but those built prior to now may need an upgraded computer by the time Level 5 autonomy becomes truly and safely possible, should extra computing power be needed.
As such, Tesla has a plan in place to upgrade the computers on any car built with the old hardware for free, should it actually be needed. And, in the same statement mentioned above Tesla’s spokesperson said that full sell-driving capability should be possible with HW 2.0: “However, we still expect to achieve full self-driving capability with safety more than twice as good as the average human driver without making any hardware changes to HW 2.0. If this does not turn out to be the case, which we think is highly unlikely, we will upgrade customers to the 2.5 computer at no cost.”
|HW 2.0 Teardown courtesy of Kdday @ teslamotorsclub.com|
So, there you have it. It will work out either way, but if you own an older Model S or Model X, you may be forced to wait a while before you can truly go hands-free behind the wheel. So, what do you think? Is this really just a backup plan, or did Elon Musk promise something he couldn’t quite deliver? Let us know in the comments section below.
Read our full review on the Model 3.
Read our full review on the Model S.
Read our full review on the Model X.
Read our speculative review on the Model Y.