Tesla is ditching radar in favor of its Tesla Vision Autopilot system on the Model 3 and Model Y in European and Middle Eastern markets. It is part of the company’s planned transition to its vision-based Autopilot technology that was originally rolled out to the same two models in 2021. The Model S and Model X made the transition from radar to Tesla Vision in February 2022 in the U.S.
In May 2021, Elon Musk said that Tesla would soon start implementing ‘Pure Vision Autopilot’ in its cars sold in North American markets. The system, which the company calls ‘Tesla Vision,’ ditches the forward-facing radar from the Autopilot hardware and uses just cameras and neural net processing for navigation. The system is built on technology by chipmaker Nvidia, and powers the latest generation of Tesla’s Autopilot and self-driving technology.
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Tesla has announced that it has begun transitioning its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to Tesla Vision in Europe and the Middle East. In an official support post, the company said that vehicles with the new technology will be delivered to buyers in April 2022. The transition, however, will have some temporary limitations. According to Tesla, Autosteer will be limited to a maximum speed of 80 miles per hour, while the minimum following distance will be longer. Apart from that, there will be no other changes, and all Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) features will be active right from the start. As for the two limited features, Tesla says those will also be restored via OTA updates “in the weeks ahead.”
Tesla Vision Does Not Impact Crash Safety Compliance
Tesla claims that the transition to Tesla Vision does not affect the vehicles’ crash safety compliance with European regulations. According to the company, “Vehicles equipped with Tesla Vision retain the legally mandated crash safety compliance as vehicles equipped with radar.” It is worth noting, however, that Consumer Reports temporarily dropped the Tesla Model 3 as a top pick in 2021 after a few of its safety features were temporarily rescinded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) following the Tesla Vision transition in the U.S. Those features, including the forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, remain unaffected in the European and Middle Eastern context.
Elon Musk is one of the biggest proponents of the cameras-only approach and has claimed that the Tesla Vision system is safer than the company’s combined radar and vision-based navigation. According to a New York Times report, Musk has also repeatedly asserted that the cameras-only technology will be the closest thing to actual human drivers because cameras work similarly to human eyes. However, that analogy has been dismissed as a fallacy by multiple autonomous driving experts, and even some Tesla employees have advocated for an autopilot system that combines cameras with radar and other sensors to improve navigation during challenging weather conditions.