While the hardware – an array of all-seeing cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar – will be fitted to the Model S, Model X and more affordable new Model 3 cars, the self-driving mode won’t be enabled until new software arrives. Tesla says that until then some of the current Autopilot functions, such as automatic emergency braking and collision warning, will be disabled.
“Before activating the features enabled by the new hardware we will further calibrate the system using millions of miles of real-world driving,” says the company. Tesla says it expects to roll out the enhanced software via wireless updates from December, though it adds it is all subject to “regulatory approval, which may vary widely by jurisdiction.”
Apart from a new onboard computer said to have 40 times the computing power of the previous generation model, all future Teslas will come with eight cameras providing 360 degree visibility at up to 250m; 12 ultrasonic sensors and a forward-facing radar that Tesla says can see through heavy rain, fog, dust and the car ahead.
“Together, this system provides a view of the world that a driver alone cannot access, seeing in every direction simultaneously and on wavelengths that go far beyond the human senses,” says Tesla. Ultimately, the company says, the full self-driving capability will have “a probability of safety at least twice as good as the average human driver”.