Passing on radar and LiDAR may not be the best idea for the troubled Autopilot and FSD.
It seems not a day goes by without some Tesla news surrounding Autopilot and the Full Self-Drive (FSD) tech. At one time, the technology was apparently leading the way towards autonomy, but a string of incidents and NHTSA investigations has opened up criticism of the latest Tesla Vision. Now it seems Tesla is making a bold move by scrapping its future plans for radar tech and even replacing older cars using it with new Tesla Vision camera-based functionality.
The general consensus at the CarBuzz office was that a recent Tesla patent filing for radar might hint at the company reverting to the radar tech. But it appears the vehicles made since May 2021, like the insane Tesla Model S Plaid, will continue relying on the cameras to navigate highways, cities, and even narrow parking lots and laneways.
The changes are being rolled out with the latest over-the-air (OTA) Tesla update 2022.20.9 confirmed for Model X, Model S, and Model Y. The update is adding Tesla Vision to the older vehicles equipped with radar, but there is no explanation as to why. Considering many of the problems with a camera-based Tesla Vision system could possibly be prevented with radar or laser-based LiDAR.
Early on, Tesla Vision was playing catch up with the previous radar cars but has since surpassed the tech in terms of development and software updates.
But Tesla's latest update didn't stop there, making some significant changes for the 2022.20.9 update. The Tesla Vision gradually adapted features like Summon and Smart Summon to bring the car to you autonomously in a parking lot or have it follow you on a walk. The Autopilot and FSD maximum speeds were previously limited to 75 mph. However, Tesla has upped this limit on highways to 85 mph, which exceeds all interstate speed limits (well, except for a tiny 85 mph stretch in Texas).
The radar-equipped cars that enrolled in the expensive FSD Beta program would have had the Tesla Vision added at the time, and the radar deactivated. But now the tech is more widespread, adapting to all older cars.
There is a bit of grey area concerning if the Tesla Vision will be fully active or ignore the radar inputs altogether. It could be a soft launch of sorts where Tesla will gradually roll it out and closely monitor how the cars (and drivers) are managing with the switch.
Markets outside the US have been receiving additional updates for emergency braking and safety. The dynamic brake lights feature has been rolled out in European nations since 2020. The tech will flash the LED brake lights in extreme braking and hit the four-way hazard flashers when the vehicle comes to a complete stop. In this latest update, Australia and New Zealand got the tech, but it seems it has not yet rolled out in US Tesla models.