Tesla’s Autopilot is About to get a Serious Hardware Update
Tesla and its AutoPilot system have fallen under a lot of scrutiny lately with all of the AutoPilot-related accidents and subsequent investigations. To be blunt, the company has seen a lot of negative headlines lately. It even broke down and changed some wording on its Chinese website after a recent accident in China. But, despite all the negativity, neither Elon Musk or Tesla as a whole is backing down from pushing the AutoPilot system. That brings us to our topic of discussion today: AutoPilot 2.0.
Apparently, the system is already well into development, despite the fact that Tesla and MobileEye have gone their separate ways. According to the guys over at Electrek, the upgraded AutoPilot system will feature new radar sensors on each corner of the vehicle as well as a new front-facing, triple camera system. Of the three cameras, one will be a wide-angle camera used to scan all lanes ahead, another will be used to scan directly in front of the vehicle, and the third is a backup that can be used by the system in a pinch should there be an unexpected failure.
The new hardware will help push the AutoPilot system into the next stage, and will enable what Tesla is calling “level 3 autonomous driving.” For now, no production vehicles have been fitted with the new hardware, but some sources are reporting that new models already have the proper mounts and wiring, which means the option of retrofitting is a possibility in the future. Even when the new sensors and cameras are installed on production models, it isn’t likely that they’ll go into use right away. Tesla will wait until software is perfected, then roll out over-the-air updates to activate the hardware. With this new hardware, it could be possible for full autonomy to be activated with a future OTA update, but something tells me we still have a while to wait on that one.
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Why it Matters
I’ve got to hand it to Musk and Tesla. Despite all the negativity around the AutoPilot system, the push to improve is strong. To be honest, that’s exactly what the company needs if it is going to survive all the bad news going around. The new hardware and subsequent OTA updates should, if nothing else, make the whole system that much better and ultimately safer. It is almost scary, though. Just think; once the new hardware is in place, a few OTA updates could make the Model S and Model X true, self-driving cars. Of course, that’s still a while away, but it just goes to show how close we might really be to having self-driving technology that is safe and works properly.
I’m not in favor of giving up my control to a self-driving car, but I am curious to see how things play out in the long run. It would be a great feature to have for road trips or when you’re just tired of driving. If Tesla plays its cards right, and really does manage to bring a cheaper model to the market – one that a majority of people can afford – it could be just a matter of time before self-driving cars are everywhere.