As is now customary, the tech and automotive world ground to halt, waiting, breathless, for Elon Musk’s latest announcement about the future of Tesla. And, as is also customary, that announcement came via blog post. (In a welcomed departure from tradition, said post actually arrived on time.) The big news? All Tesla vehicles produced at the company’s California factory, including the forthcoming entry-level Model 3, will “have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability.”
Tesla's new self-driving hardware suite will consist of:
- Eight cameras, providing 360-degree visibility at up to 250 meters of range
- Twelve new ultrasonic sensors, allowing for “detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior [current] system.”
- New forward-facing radar system, replete with “enhanced processing” that offers additional data on a redundant wavelength. This, says Tesla, will be capable of “seeing through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.”
- New onboard computer for parsing all that data, which Tesla claims has more than 40 times the computing power of the current system.
That new computer uses Tesla-engineered radar, vision, and sonar software. The electric automaker claims that with all of this new technology, its cars will be safer and more aware than any human driver.
"In writing some article that’s negative, you effectively dissuade people from using an autonomous vehicle, you’re killing people," Musk said during a press call Wednesday. He added that the new hardware is fully capable of “Level 5 autonomy.” That's a big deal.
Still, new Model S and Model X vehicles built with Level 5 hardware will initially have some Autopilot features limited for calibration purposes. These include automatic emergency braking, lane holding, active cruise control, and collision warning. Tesla says that, over time, those features will be enabled remotely using the automaker's over-the-air update system.
You can read the blog post in its entirety on Tesla's website here.