Tesla Can't Seem To Make Up Its Mind About Radar Technology

Electric Vehicles / Comments

New documents show the Texas-based EV brand will revert to radar instead of cameras from January 2023.

Tesla is reportedly adding radar to its vehicles from next month, according to a report from Electrek.

Unearthed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) documents reveal that the "device will not be marketed until Mid-January 2023." This development comes as Tesla finds itself embroiled in the midst of Autopilot controversies and the Full-Self Driving (FSD) feature that still has plenty of kinks that need ironing out.

Through its Tesla Vision strategy, the automaker elected to remove radar from its entire lineup for a camera-based Autopilot and FSD system. Tesla has backed this radar-free setup for some time, believing it could achieve fully autonomous driving without LiDAR or radar.

Earlier this year, filings indicated that Tesla would return to using radar technology. A confidentiality agreement meant the FCC could not divulge any information until this month, but Tesla has requested a confidentiality extension.

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Earlier this year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told Electrekthat "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." However, he added that "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."

So it seems there's a real possibility that Tesla is preparing to implement a more advanced radar system into its vehicles from next year. If this radar system is to be used for superior Autopilot/FSD systems, it would leave owners of existing vehicles in a quandary. As a reminder, radar was removed from Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in 2021 and Model S and Model X variants in 2022.

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2021-2022 Tesla Model S Side Perspective Driving
2021-2022 Tesla Model S Side View Driving
2021-2022 Tesla Model S Sunroof

There's a chance this new radar system could be used to improve current driver assist systems. We recently spotted a camouflaged Model 3 test unit, and it's possible the new radar-based features could debut on the facelifted model.

If that's the case, Tesla may still continue to develop full self-driving on the existing camera-based hardware and just introduce the radar system for the driver assistance safety suite. This idea is backed up by Steven Hong, VP of semiconductor company Ambarella, who told TechCrunch that "from the frequency of operation (76-77GHz) as well as the mechanical design of the sensor from Tesla's FCC filing, it appears that this radar would be utilized in ADAS applications."

Of course, we could see an entirely new variation of FSD/Autopilot arrive next month. We'll just have to wait and see until Tesla (hopefully) makes an announcement in January.

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2017-2023 Tesla Model 3 Driving Front Angle
2017-2023 Tesla Model 3 Driving Back View
2017-2023 Tesla Model 3 Dashboard
2020-2023 Tesla Model Y Front View Driving
2020-2023 Tesla Model Y Driving Back View
2020-2023 Tesla Model Y Infotainment System

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