Tesla announces the end of ultrasonic sensors hidden in bumpers

Tesla has just made a major new announcement around the Autopilot system. From the outset, we regret to inform you that the most advanced fully autonomous Driving software is still in beta for the time being. But the manufacturer announces Wednesday, October 5, 2022 that cars with fully autonomous driving option will no longer carry ultrasonic sensors.

Tesla had already removed other sets of sensors in order to simplify and therefore (eventually) lower the price of the device making it possible to make cars autonomous, in particular the radar. At the time, this deletion had raised some controversy. Especially since several reports of unexpected activation of the emergency braking system (AEB) on recent vehicles have prompted the American highway authority (HTSA) to open an investigation.

Tesla no longer needs radar or ultrasonic sensors for Autopilot

But according to the company, however, no negative impact on security has been observed since. Tesla indicates, quoted by our colleagues from Arstechnica, that its vehicles have even “either maintain or improve their safety ratings in the United States and Europe, while delivering better performance in terms of activation of the automatic emergency braking system” meant to protect pedestrians.

Over time, Tesla continues to power the machine learning models that enable Autopilot to work. At this stage, the manufacturer seems to have driven its cars for enough kilometers to base the actions of the assistance system only on real-time analysis of the video stream from the many cameras installed all around the vehicle.

The immediate interest of this announcement for customers remains to be seen. Indeed, we learn that the removal of ultrasonic sensors will cause some collateral victims – which may displease some customers. Tesla explains that the first Tesla without ultrasonic sensors will no longer be able to deliver “parking assist” (in other words parking assistance), automated parking, summon or smart summon.

The ultrasonic sensors, hidden in the bumpers, have the main function of indicating to the car the precise proximity of obstacles such as a wall or another vehicle. Without this element, it is difficult to ensure the continuity of these functionalities. But all is apparently not lost: Tesla says these features will return as AI improves to the point where they no longer need data from these sensors to perform the same tasks.

Initially, the Model 3 and Y will be the first vehicles to be delivered without ultrasonic sensors. The manufacturer indicates that the Model S and X will be the next concerned by 2023 after all the new Model 3 and Y will be offered, everywhere in the world, without these sensors.

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