Tesla has announced that all Tesla vehicles produced in its factory – including Model 3 – will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level it says is substantially greater than that of a human driver. Eight surround cameras provide 360 degree visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system. A forward-facing radar with enhanced processing provides additional data about the world on a redundant wavelength, capable of seeing through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.
To make sense of all of this data, a new onboard computer with more than 40 times the computing power of the previous generation runs the new Tesla-developed neural net for vision, sonar and radar processing software. Tesla states that together, this system provides a view of the world that a driver alone cannot access, seeing in every direction simultaneously and on wavelengths that it claims go far beyond the human senses.
Before activating the features enabled by the new hardware, Tesla says it will further calibrate the system using millions of miles of real-world driving to ensure significant improvements to safety and convenience. While this is occurring, Teslas with new hardware will temporarily lack certain features currently available on Teslas with first-generation Autopilot hardware, including some standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking, collision warning, lane holding and active cruise control. As these features are validated, Tesla says it will enable them over the air, together with a rapidly expanding set of entirely new features.