Promising safety “substantially greater than that of a human driver,” today Tesla announced all its cars will come equipped with fully autonomous capable hardware.
The hardware is aimed at ultimately permitting these cars to drive without any intervention from a human driver, comprehensively enough controlled, CEO Elon Musk has previously said, for one to go to sleep in the back seat, if desired.
That is how he explained what by SAE standards is called level 5 autonomy, and currently Tesla’s Autopilot system is level 2, and the new cars – including future Model 3 – are to be festooned with sensors.
In all eight surround cameras enable 360 degree visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range.
Additionally, 12 updated ultrasonic sensors add to the camera input, which Tesla says will permit detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system.
Further, forward-facing radar with enhanced processing adds to the data about the world on a redundant wavelength, and can see through “heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.”
Processing all this real-time data is a computer 40-times more powerful than in prior generations. Tesla says it runs new Tesla-developed neural net for vision, sonar and radar processing software.
Ironically, the new cars will lack for now some of the first-generation Autopilot hardware. These include some standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking, collision warning, lane holding and active cruise control.
And, now, the hardware is just in place, but the cars are definitely not activated for level 5 autonomy.
“Before activating the features enabled by the new hardware, we will further calibrate the system using millions of miles of real-world driving to ensure significant improvements to safety and convenience,” said Tesla in a blog post.
According to Electrek, plans are to get the new system validated and up to level 3 in a few months, and levels 4 and 5 should be in place by 2018.