Tesla surprised many people earlier this year when they announced their plans to ditch radar and move to a pure vision approach to Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD).
Many of those people questioned whether using cameras alone would be the correct path to take to solve the extremely difficult problem of autonomous driving.
While the automaker has made significant strides and continues to improve their camera-based FSD beta software, they have now started turning their attention to cars still equipped with radar.
FSD Beta V10.2
The biggest switch happened over the weekend with the launch of FSD Beta V10.2. With the release of the 2021.32.25 software update, around 1,000 Tesla cars had their radar turned off.
CEO Elon Musk provided some background on why it was turned off, saying vision has become superior to radar. He added that the approach makes sense because that is how humans operate a vehicle.
Vision became so good that radar actually reduced SNR, so radar was turned off.
Humans drive with eyes & biological neural nets, so makes sense that cameras & silicon neural nets are only way to achieve generalized solution to self-driving.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 11, 2021
The decision to turn off radar hasn’t been limited to FSD beta testers. Tesla has also begun switching to using cameras for their Autopark feature in radar-equipped cars.
Vision-based Autopark first appeared on the refresh Model S earlier this summer, and now it has arrived on the Model 3 and Model Y in software update 2021.36. According to the release notes, Autopark now uses cameras and “identifies perpendicular parking spots using painted markings and road edges.”
As the company does more testing and improves their vision-based approach, they will eventually turn off radar in their entire fleet. It is not a matter of if, but more a matter of when.