Tesla Announces New Autopilot System With Full Self-Driving Capabilities
It was worth the wait, right?by Kirby Garlitos, on
After more than a week of frenzied speculation, Tesla’s “unannounced” product launch finally took place, and lo and behold, the electric car maker pulled the curtains to reveal the launch of its new Autopilot 2.0 hardware suite. In other words, it was what a lot of people, including some here at TopSpeed, had anticipated – albeit with the added caveat that nobody expected Tesla to jump straight into level 5 autonomy when the hardware is fully operational by 2018.
That’s really the big news here. Level 5 autonomy means that Tesla’s future lineup of vehicles, including the Model 3, will be able to drive by themselves without any sort of physical driving aid from the drivers. Long night at the office and you just want to sleep on the way home? Cars with level 5 autonomy can do help you there. Want to catch up on Mr. Robot on your streaming devices? Go right ahead. Your Teslas will get you where you need to go without you even having to glance up to look at the road.
All of those things are what Tesla’s promising with Level 5 autonomy and while it’s going to take some time to get the hardware fully equipped to perform those functions, the important thing is that the foundation (Autopilot 2.0) is on its way. Tesla’s Model S and Model X units will receive the hardware moving forward and once the Model 3 is released, it too will be equipped with the same equipment. It’s worth noting too, based on previous reports, that Tesla has already made plans to fit the new equipment into Model S and Model X units that were in production before today’s announcements. Those models already had the mounting hardware and wiring to accommodate the equipment when it becomes ready and available.
So where does this leave is in the short term? Well, Tesla says that tech still isn’t ready to maximize its full potential. That will happen by 2018. In the meantime, the company will continue to “further calibrate the system,” which essentially disables certain features already attributed to the current Autopilot system already on the road. This is an important piece of information that Tesla owners should heed because abilities like automatic emergency braking, collision warning, lane holding, and active cruise control will be disabled until Tesla brings them back up live through over-the-air-updates.
Slowly, but surely, these OTA updates will allow the Autopilot 2.0 system in Tesla models built in 2016 to advance to level 3 autonomy in the coming months, before moving on to level 4 autonomy and then to level 5 autonomy in two years’ time.
Not too bad for an “unannounced” product launch, but we have to admit, we’re a little salty that we didn’t at least get more information about the Model 3.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
The technical gist of Tesla’s new Autopilot hardware suite
So we know what Autopilot 2.0, or Tesla Vision as the company calls it, is capable of when it functions to its maximum capability. The question now is how is it going to do it, or better yet, what is Autopilot 2.0 made out of. The new hardware suite is basically made up of eight cameras, three of which are front-facing. These eight cameras can provide a 360-degree view around the car at distances of up to 250 meters, or about 820 feet. The photo above essentially shows what that’s going to look like.
Speaking of the photo, notice those 12 dots around the front and rear of the car? Those are 12 “updated” ultrasonic sensors that allows Tesla to pick up any hard or soft objects at twice the distance of the old sensors fitted into the cars. The new suite will also feature a forward-facing radar that comes with enhanced processing, allowing the car to see through “heavy rain, fog, dust, and even the car ahead” and a “neutral net” that’s based on an Nvidia GPU Titan supercomputer that’s supposedly 40 times more powerful than the last onboard computer installed into the Tesla models.
All told, the new Autopilot hardware suite amounts to $8,000 worth of sensors, cameras, and computers. That amount is expected to be tacked on the price tags of upcoming Tesla units, although there is a cheaper option available, one that has four active cameras instead of eight and with a price tag amounting to $5,000. The good news is that the system’s safety features enabled through OTAs will be standard on all cars, and will come at no cost to owners.