Is this why Tesla working on a cheaper electric car?
The manufacturer is about to launch a new set of sensors for its electric cars. The HW4 hardware is a major change in the way your Autopilot ‘sees the world’.
Tesla promised several years ago that its electric cars would leave its factories with all the necessary hardware to support fully autonomous driving in the future.
All of the required devices would be on board in the case. It decided to acquire those functions later, regardless of whether they were enabled or not, which is due to the configuration selected at the time of purchase.
A tactic that, in principle, should have allowed for the reduction of production costs but didn’t.
Over time, Tesla has been seeing that some of these devices were becoming obsolete and that they needed more advanced ones, such as computers or cameras.
The firm is planning to release a new set of Autopilot HW4 sensors, as evidenced by documentation submitted to the FCC (US Federal Communications Commission) last year.
Although there is currently no information indicating that any units with the new configuration are in circulation, the paper states that this new hardware will be offered to start in “mid-January.”
According to this document, the implementation of a high-definition radar is quite clear, which is a notable change from the current approach based only on the vision of the cameras.
Beyond the radar: the changes ahead
A prototype of a disguised Tesla Model 3 was spotted driving about in Santa Cruz, California, in December of last year.
It showcased several changes on its front end that proved to be both fascinating and divisive.
The additional sensors could not be seen well in the photographs, but the headlights looked to have a peculiar black dot that many mistakenly thought was a camera.
The images in the tweet also demonstrate how the viewfinder on the front cameras has been improved. They now have a fan to keep them cool in the daytime, and perhaps a heater as well to keep the fog from forming.
The B-pillar cameras also have these heating devices, although the implementation of this function will be evaluated “after feedback from the project”, according to the leaked document.
Due to these adjustments, the conflict between the brand’s ardent supporters and adversaries has flared up once more in accusations and insults.
The latter argues that Tesla not reduces costs but also security to lower the price of its electric cars.
Arguments supporting the contentious decision to abandon ultrasonic sensors in favor of cameras were made public in October of last year.
The Autopilot computer should experience a significant improvement in processing capability because of the eight high-resolution cameras giving it data.
That raises fresh concerns about whether Tesla vehicles equipped with HW3 hardware or what the company refers to as FSD (full self-driving), would still allow fully autonomous driving when it eventually becomes available.