Tesla Adds Fully Self-Driving Hardware to All Models, But You'll Still Do The Work

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
tesla adds fully self driving hardware to all models but youll still do the work

Yesterday, after a brief delay and weeks of teasing, Tesla Motors said it will equip all of its new vehicles with the hardware needed for fully autonomous driving. Starting yesterday, the technology comes standard on every model, including the upcoming Model 3 sedan.

But that doesn’t mean you can use it anytime soon.

Tesla Motors announced that every new car coming out of its Fremont plant will possess the eight cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and updated GPS required for the vehicle to operate without a human driver — but without the software needed to activate the system. At least, not before some additional testing and regulator approval.

The Wall Street Journal reports that company CEO Elon Musk hopes to show off this hardware on a driverless cross-country road trip by the end of next year. That’s something the previous incarnations of Tesla’s assisted driving system couldn’t dream of. “It will do this without the need for a single touch, including the charger,” says Musk.

The current generation of Tesla’s Autopilot is essentially cruise control with some bells and whistles. It can keep the car in its own lane, follow the road, and stop itself from driving into the trunk of the Honda Accord ahead of it. But it is incapable of taking you down an off-ramp and onto the streets of a major metropolitan area. Nor can it navigate the mundane cross-traffic of a small town.

However, Teslas equipped with the new hardware will be losing that functionality anyway. The company’s website says that upgraded cars will temporarily lack certain features available with first-generation Autopilot hardware, “including some standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking, collision warning, lane holding and active cruise control.”

This could be a sly way of reevaluating some the previous tech that may have caused a fatal collision in Florida last May, while also preparing the new autonomous mode for regulator approval. The Model S involved in that crash was operating in Autopilot mode and collided with a tractor-trailer that the Autopilot system failed to recognize.

“It will take us some time into the future to complete validation of the software and to get the required regulatory approval, but the important thing is that the foundation is laid for the cars to be fully autonomous at a safety level we believe to be at least twice that of a person, maybe better,” Musk said on Wednesday.

Tesla released a software update for its Autopilot system in early September, with improved cameras, radar, and the computing power needed to perform more involved tasks than the previous incarnation. This served to make the semi-autonomous technology in the existing Tesla fleet safer. Model S and Model X sedans are currently in production with the fully autonomous hardware, with the Model 3 set to arrive late next year.

[Image: Tesla Motors]

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  • Tinbad Tinbad on Oct 20, 2016

    Genius move by Tesla to start collecting the real world data needed to implement autonomous systems at scale. This will give them the much needed competitive advantage over other manufacturers who only have a limited amount of test mules out there doing the same at n thousand of the scale. I can only admire Musk and his baldness for doing this, while most here are discussing the situations where this may not work (today), he is setting out a vision, building the company and investing in infrastructure needed to execute. Nothing is more American than that. Can't we have him run for president instead of that spoiled daddy's boy building slightly fancier versions of holiday inns?

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Oct 20, 2016

    Another gimmick. Musk is a master at this stuff. Nobody could possibly know what all of the hardware requirements are, given that the technology isn't close to being refined to the point that this knowledge is possible. But there a lot of gullible fanboys who will buy a story that is so lacking in credibility as is this one, simply because they want to believe it.

    • See 9 previous
    • Pch101 Pch101 on Oct 21, 2016

      @tinbad Autonomous cars are being extensively researched. But other automakers, which are better funded and staffed for the effort, aren't pretending that the technology is ready. You dupes don't realize that Musk is hyping the stuff and claiming leadership because (a) he is trying to make his old-fashioned loss-producing manufacturing company appear to be a high-flying tech company and (b) he doesn't have the money for a proper research effort. There is nothing innovative about launching a product before it's ready. But other automakers know better; they are well aware that they are not tech companies.

  • Arthur Dailey Is most of your driving in stop and go urban traffic?Do you have kids, who you have to drive to and from their activities? Sometimes with their friends/teammates.Do you have pets? Do you have some mobility issues?Can you perform maintenance yourself?Do you have a discretionary fund for unforeseen repairs?Do you have another car, so that you only need to use this on weekends or rural/highway trips?Check your answers to the above. They may tell you that as nice as this car is, you might be better off with a new, boring but more practical SUV.
  • DungBeetle62 Before everyone dumps on California and their tax structure and Gavin's hairstyle, my recent road trip (which didn't get to California) was as follows when tanking up Super Unleaded.Texas - Fort Worth area Costco : $3.36Texas - Amarillo Sam's - $3.46New Mexico - Albuquerque Costco - $3.75Arizona - Flagstaff Sam's - $4.25Nevada - Henderson Costco- $4.72Oil is oil is oil is oil. State taxes vary, transporting the refined product varies, but a friggin BUCK AND A HALF more a gallon (and we're talking Costco to Costco here) ain't passing the smell test as you get out west. No, count me in with thinking someone out west is going for a bigger bite of the apple and figuring people will blame Newsom.
  • Tassos Whoever pays $23,000 for this 15 year old unreliable car will regret it. I would not pay half that.Go get an excellent E55 AMG, also 2008, and pretty close HP-wise, with far higher Torque, and a proper luxury interior..
  • VoGhost Why would anyone want to save a car dealer? No really - what actual value do they provide?
  • FreedMike Really nice example, but these are LEGENDARY for being money pits.