Tesla will release the latest version of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software in coming weeks, with the new version completely ditching the use of radar, said Elon Musk on Tuesday (Australia time).
The “pure vision” release of Tesla’s FSD beta software will use only cameras instead of a combination of radars and cameras.
The new release comes just weeks after Tesla introduced pure vision Autopilot, its advanced driving assist suite, to new Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in the US.
“One more production release of pure vision this week, then FSD beta 9 a week or two later. V9.0 FSD is also pure vision. Foundational improvements are immense,” Musk said in response to a tweet on Tuesday morning.
Tesla’s autonomous driving software has been in beta testing with a small number of private Tesla owners and staff members since October last year.
The latest version, which Musk has previously said will “blow your mind“, was intended for release by mid-May. In typical “Elon time” this has blown out by some weeks as the FSD team tweaks the system before its release to ensure optimum safety.
Musk first announced Tesla’s intention to ditch radar from its self-driving tech in late April at the company’s first quarter 2021 earnings call.
“Radar was really — it was making up for some of the shortfalls of vision, but this is not good. You actually just need vision to work,” he said at the time.
“And when your vision works, it works better than the best human because it’s like having eight cameras, it’s like having eyes in the back of your head, beside your head and has three eyes of different focal distances looking forward.
“This is — and processing it at a speed that is superhuman. There’s no question in my mind that with a pure vision solution, we can make a car that is dramatically safer than the average person.
“So — but it is a hard problem because we are actually solving something quite fundamental about artificial intelligence, where we basically have to solve real-world vision AI.”
The rollout of Autopilot with “Tesla Vision” commenced in May. At the time, Tesla published a blog post saying that US customers who ordered their vehicles before May 2021 and had not yet taken delivery would be notified of the change to Tesla Vision in their Tesla account prior to delivery.
During the transition, Tesla said that cars with Tesla Vision might be limited to a maximum speed of 75 miles per hour (120km/hr) and longer minimum distance, and that features like smart summon (which is an FSD feature) and emergency lane departure avoidance might be disabled on delivery.
“In the weeks ahead, we’ll start restoring these features via a series of over-the-air software updates. All other available Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features will be active at delivery, depending on order configuration,” the EV maker wrote.
All Model S and Model X vehicles at this point in time, as well as vehicles built for markets outside of the US continue to come equipped with radar, until further notice.
This means that the “army” of Tesla Model 3s currently lined up on the dock at Port Kembla will operate using both cameras and radar sensors.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.