Tesla to Ditch Ultrasonic Sensors in New Cars: Tesla Vision Doesn’t Need It
Tesla has announced it will be removing ultrasonic sensors from its vehicles, the next step of its camera-based Tesla Vision Autopilot.
“Today, we are taking the next step in Tesla Vision by removing ultrasonic sensors (USS) from Model 3 and Model Y. We will continue this rollout with Model 3 and Model Y, globally, over the next few months, followed by Model S and Model X in 2023,” said Tesla.
Tesla says they have also launched their “vision-based occupancy network”, currently available in Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta, to replace inputs that would have been generated by ultrasonic sensors.
“With today’s software, this approach gives Autopilot high-definition spatial positioning, longer range visibility and ability to identify and differentiate between objects. As with many Tesla features, our occupancy network will continue to improve rapidly over time,” said the company.
During this transition away from ultrasonic sensors, Tesla says cars delivered without these sensors will see some features temporarily limited or inactive, including:
- Park Assist: alerts you of surrounding objects when the vehicle is traveling <5 mph.
- Autopark: automatically maneuvers into parallel or perpendicular parking spaces.
- Summon: manually moves your vehicle forward or in reverse via the Tesla app.
- Smart Summon: navigates your vehicle to your location or location of your choice via the Tesla app.
Tesla says in the “near future”, when these features have met performance parity to today’s cars, they will come back through an over-the-air software update. All available Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving capability features will be active at delivery, depending on order configuration, says the automaker.
“Given the incremental improvements already achieved with Tesla Vision, and our roadmap of future Autopilot improvements and abilities, we are confident that this is the best strategy for the future of Autopilot and the safety of our customers,” concluded Tesla.
Tesla says the removal of ultrasonic sensors does not affect crash safety ratings, noting those vehicles with Tesla Vision have the same ratings as cars with vision, radar and ultrasonic sensors. Existing cars with ultrasonic sensors will not have their functionality removed.
Beginning in early October 2022, all Model 3 and Model Y built for North America, Europe, Middle East and Taiwan will not include ultrasonic sensors. They will only rely on Tesla Vision for Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, FSD capability and active safety features.
This rollout will expand globally for Model 3 and Model Y over the coming months.
Ultrasonic sensors, where available on existing cars, are found on the front and rear bumpers, with 12 in total.
In 2021, Tesla started removing radar from its Model 3 and Model Y cars, then on Model S and Model X in 2022. Most regions worldwide now have vehicles with Tesla Vision Autopilot only.
Tesla has also updated its website to show Model 3 and Model Y without ultrasonic sensors on pictures of the cars (via @EndlessPlaid), along with Model S and Model X:
Now, for cars without ultrasonic sensors, with camera-only vision, it’ll be more important than ever to keep those lenses clean.