Just last month Elon Musk said Tesla would start to remove radar sensors from its production cars, and now Electrek points out a post revealing that the process has begun. New Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built for North America no longer have radar onboard to enable driver-assist features like Autopilot and its “Full Self Driving” system.
As recently as 2016, Tesla was still focused on improving radar technology for Autopilot, but that was before reworking the team to focus on computer vision and deep learning. However, the change is happening so suddenly that buyers may receive vehicles with restrictions on the use of Autosteer, Smart Summon, and Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance. Software updates “in the weeks ahead” will re-enable those features.
As The Verge mentions, in materials released along with its Q1 earnings results, Tesla said “We believe that a vision-only system is ultimately all that is needed for full autonomy. Our AI-based software architecture has been increasingly reliant on cameras, to the point where radar is becoming unnecessary earlier than expected. As a result, our FSD team is fully focused on evolving to a vision-based autonomous system and we are nearly ready to switch the US market to Tesla Vision.” If you’re awaiting delivery of a Tesla, then the company says you will be notified of any change in your Tesla account before it arrives. Meanwhile, the Model S and Model X will continue to ship with radar onboard, at least for now.