As of now, all Tesla vehicles will include the necessary hardware to enable full autonomy. In other words, hands and feet free driving as Tesla’s video demonstrates. The caveat? The vehicles don’t have the software yet. Tesla is still working on fine tuning and plans to do a cross-country demonstration come late 2017.
To accommodate for full autonomy, Tesla has gone from 0 to 60 on vehicle hardware. Produced as of now, the Model 3, S, and X sport 8 built-in cameras ranging from the side, rear, and front; viewing distances range from 50 to 250 meters. In addition, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a front-facing radar are included. Ultrasonic is said to cover each vehicle with up to 8 meters of sensing whereas radar can sense obstacles up to 160 meters. Rain, fog, and even dust can be picked up as well. To handle the computational requirements for full autonomy, Tesla boasts a processor 40 times as powerful as their previous.
A pitfall with the brand-spanking new Tesla vehicles is they currently offer fewer Autopilot features than their predecessors. It won’t be until Tesla’s “Enhanced Autopilot” update when the vehicles can keep speed, change lanes, enter/exit freeways, self-park, and be “summoned” with the tap of a button. Tesla expects rollout this December, but it could take longer if testing and regulatory approval dictate so.
Of course, if you want this autonomous technology, you might have to sacrifice an arm and a leg. The cost of Tesla’s cheapest vehicle, Model 3, is upwards of $35,000 in cash, and the Enhanced Autopilot upgrade will run you an additional $5,000. Enabling full autonomy will double the number of cameras in use from four to eight, but it’ll cost another $3,000.