Elon Musk announced in a press conference today a hardware package with cameras, sensors and a processor that allows each Tesla model to drive autonomously. The hardware and the algorithms go far beyond today’s Autopilot, which can only be used on highways under driver supervision.
The kit includes eight (instead of the current one) cameras that create a 360 degree view around the car up to 250 meters. Also included are 12 ultra sound sensors that allow to recognize soft and hard objects. A forward pointing radar brings additional data that allows to see through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the front car. The on-board computer is 40 times more powerful than current systems
The software will be gradually improved and it is to be expected that more functionality will come. What’s missing right now are certain features that are already available in the current Autopilot versions. That includes emergency braking, collision alerts, lane control and active cruise control.
Tesla had announced in a surprise move two weeks ago that they will reveal new mystery products. With today’s announcement Tesla is pushing forward the most of all car makers. The package shall also be included in all Model 3.
End of next year Tesla will drive for the first time a fully autonomous vehicle from New York to Los Angeles. With that announcement Tesla is three years ahead of BMW that announced autonomous drive for 2021.
Tesla has come under scrutiny and criticism in the past months. The driver assistance system Autopilot was involved in at least two fatal accidents in the US and China. Also the German Bundeskraftfahramt has issued an unofficial warning for using Tesla’s Autopilot and recommends deactivating the system.
The autonomous hardware kit will be built into all Tesla models starting today.