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Tesla removes ultrasonic sensors from its electric cars

Recently, Tesla announced that it will be removing ultrasonic sensors from its vehicles. Yet, their vehicles will continue to transition with a full vision-based system. Any Tesla owner will be able to detect if a vehicle is equipped with ultrasonics from the front of the car, near rear bumpers.

Ultrasonic sensors are removed, the automatic parking function is  lost

Image credits- Hellas Posts English

However, as observed by longtime Tesla owner and veteran FSD Beta tester @brandonee916, signs that Tesla is about to remove ultrasonic sensors on its vehicles have been around for some time now. In fact, prototypes of the Cybertruck, the first vehicle that will be using Tesla’s Hardware 4.0 computer, do not seem to have any ultrasonic sensors at all.

This could be seen in images of the Cybertruck that have been shared online, and this also seems to be true for both the original hulking prototype unveiled in late 2019 and the newer prototypes that have been sighted in multiple events this year. The bumpers of both vehicles do not seem to be equipped with ultrasonics, and both also have a camera on their bumper.

Production vehicles

Possibly some may argue that Tesla could have just equipped the production Cybertruck with ultrasonic sensors, later on. This would have been quite a challenging endeavor considering the pickup truck’s thick steel exoskeleton. Considering this, or based on the Cybertruck prototypes at least, it appears that the all-electric truck was not designed with ultrasonic sensors in mind at all.

Regardless, Tesla does seem to be working very hard on the Cybertruck’s camera setup. In late August, a rather beat-up but updated Cybertruck prototype was spotted being unloaded from a truck. The vehicle in question was equipped with what appeared to be camera calibration equipment, suggesting that Tesla is finalizing the all-electric pickup’s camera setup.

This move is expected to increase Tesla’s safety ratings and also lead the way in driver safety technology. The Model 3 and Y will have ultrasonic sensors pulled this year, while Model S and X will lose the sensors by 2023. This means that instead of using a front-facing radar and network of cameras for its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) packages, the vehicles will now depend entirely on camera-oriented computer vision.​​​

While it’s been established that the transition is meant to enhance its driver assistance and safety systems, why remove ultrasonic sensors? It’s an important question seeing as how automakers like General Motors now equip EVs with radars and sensors. Tesla believes that this decision will upgrade the performance of Autopilot, thereby providing it with longer visibility and proficiency in detecting different objects. While Tesla hasn’t confirmed this, it’s believed that this move will help it save money on the installation of ultrasonic sensors in its body panels.

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