Tesla told FCC that it plans to add a new radar to its self-driving package starting next month. While an update would have been usual, requiring the need to update the hardware suit raised concerns. Since 2016, the automaker claimed to have all the hardware required for achieving full-self driving.
However, now the change comes unexpectedly, especially since Tesla was known in the past year to have achieved a lot without the requirement of hardware updates. Tesla cars used cameras instead of radars-based sensors and were often claimed to be enough to achieve full-self driving. It appears that after multiple updates and modifications, the automaker finally decided to shift to upgrade with a new radar.
Tesla already had to upgrade its onboard computer and cameras in earlier vehicles, and it has yet to achieve self-driving capability. Its Full Self-Driving (FSD) software is still in beta and doesn’t enable fully autonomous driving. The automaker not only had to upgrade its hardware in some cases, but it even removed some hardware. First, it was the front-facing radar and more recently the ultrasonic sensors. It’s all part of its ‘Tesla Vision‘ approach where the automaker believes that the best way to achieve self-driving capability is through cameras being the only sensors. The logic is that the roads are designed to be operated by humans who operate cars through vision (eyes) and biological neural nets (brain).
No official announcement
Regardless of the statements, the statements are not official. It is just known that Tesla submitted documents to add new radars. It could also be possible that the automaker is considering it and has not confirmed yet. But a next month’s modification would mean Tesla is on the move. According to Electrek, the CEO, Elon Musk stated, “The probability of safety will be higher with pure vision than vision+radar, not lower. Vision has become so good that radar actually reduces signal/noise. A very high-resolution radar would be better than pure vision, but such a radar does not exist. I mean vision with high-res radar would be better than pure vision.”
Tesla believes that the best way to replicate that is through cameras to replace the eyes and neural nets running on a computer to replace the brain. The company removed the radars on its vehicles last year and the ultrasonic sensors earlier this year. That’s why it was surprising earlier this year when we reported on Tesla’s filing with the FCC to use a new radar in its vehicles. The FCC had granted a confidential treatment to Tesla in order not to release the details of the new radar. Those confidential treatments are generally good for 6 months and it was coming up, but Tesla has filed an extension.