Just yesterday Tesla Motors unveiled a new Autopilot hardware capable of providing level 5 autonomy. Each and every Model S and Model X leaving the Tesla factory now are equipped with this type of hardware. Read further for the detailed look on equipment making Teslas fully self-driving.
Autopilot hardware 2.0 includes 8 cameras, ultrasonic sensors, the radar and a powerful Nvidia computer.
3 front-facing cameras are located at the interior mirror. The main unit has 150 m of range and 50 degrees field of view. Additionaly, there are a narrow forward camera (250 m, 35 degrees) and a wide forward camera (60 m, 150 degrees).
Then, the side forward-looking cameras at the center pillars between the doors has a 90 degrees field of view. Those units record cars entering the Tesla’s lane and are used while crossing intersections. Two more side cameras placed at the front fenders are rearward-looking, checking blind spots on both sides, thus providing safe lanes changing. Finally, there is one rear-view camera at the back of the car. By the way, the cameras are equipped with heaters.
The radar and ultrasonic sensors also play an important role – the first one recognizes any obstacles in 160 m in front of a Tesla, while the sensors are working at 8 meters distance.
All this hardware is managed with a neural net developed by Tesla, which interpretes the images from cameras and sensors with a help of Nvidia GPU Titan supercomputer. By the way, the managing unit uses an independent channel and is not somehow connected with UI or media center.
According to Elon Musk, the autopilot with upgraded hardware would be getting a software updates every 2-3 months. At first, there would be new versions of Autosteer and Summon with a broader functionality. And afterwards – approximately, in a year or so – Tesla electric cars would be able to drive any distance and roads without any driver’s assistance, including the whole parking process and charging. Expectedly, a new era of self-driving cars is coming at the end of 2017, somwhere near the Model 3 production start.