Tesla warns of restrictions on autopilot

From now on, Tesla does without radar sensors in the autopilot. Drivers are warned of some restrictions. With the Model 3 and Model Y, Tesla is now relying exclusively on the evaluation of camera images for the autopilot and full self-driving technology. So far, radar signals have also been evaluated for orientation. The innovation initially only applies to vehicles built in the USA.

The new technology is called Tesla Vision and affects deliveries from May 2021. According to the blog Electrek, radar sensors are not used. Anyone who ordered before May 2021 will be informed of the change.

The automaker warns that the move to Tesla Vision has some limitations. The lane guidance assistant (Autosteer) and the Smart Summon function for calling up the vehicle without a driver will be changed. Autosteer is limited to a top speed of 120 km / h. In addition, the distance to the vehicle in front is increased. The Smart Summon calling function is initially deactivated. According to the report, improvements in the software will remove the restrictions later.

In the future, Model S and Model X will also be switched to Tesla Vision. The vehicles built in China will also receive the new system later. Tesla did not reveal when that would be.

2016: Radar is good

In September 2016, Tesla had a completely different attitude towards radar sensors: “We will use the data from the radar sensor much more effectively,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the time. “In addition to a dozen smaller changes, the radar image will take center stage.” An emergency stop could be triggered on the basis of the radar data without the camera having to confirm the sighting of an obstacle, it was said at the time under the impression of a fatal accident. At that time, the driver of a Model S with an active autopilot got under the trailer of a semi-trailer truck that was standing across the road. The cameras did not recognize the obstacle as such. The camera had interpreted the white structure of the trailer in the sunlight as a motorway sign and did not trigger any braking. The radar recognized the metal object correctly but was not allowed to overrule the camera’s decision.

2021: You don’t need radar

Musk is now arguing the other way around : 

“If radar and cameras do not match, who do you believe? Camera systems are much more accurate, so it is better to reinforce camera detection than to rely on sensor fusion.” 

The resolutions for cameras are many times greater than for radar and lidars. Since the image processing of cameras is getting better, the radar remains far behind.

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