Tesla is removing ultrasonic sensors from Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, Tesla CEO Elon Musk plans to use only cameras and software to support its advanced driver assistance system.
Starting this month, all Model 3 and Model Y vehicles sold in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Taiwan will no longer be equipped with the 12 ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear bumpers. Ultrasonic sensors, which measure distance using ultrasonic waves, are generally used in parking systems and other low-speed applications as proximity sensors to prevent collisions.
Tesla announced the changes about 17 months after it said it would remove radar from its cars.
In contrast, the rest of the industry is adding sensors to its vehicles to support ADAS rather than eschewing radar or ultrasonics.
ADAS features like adaptive cruise control, which adjusts a car’s speed based on traffic around it, as well as lane keeping and automatic lane changes are typically delivered using radar, cameras, and now lidar.
In 2021, Tesla removed radar from its North American Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, followed by its Model S and Model X vehicles in 2022. As of this year, Tesla began shipping Model Y and Model 3 vehicles to customers in Europe and the Middle East. Initially, Tesla said it would remove ultrasonic sensors from Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. By 2023, it will include the Model S and Model X vehicles.
Furthermore, the company said it will release a “vision-based occupancy network,” which will replace USS inputs in Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta software – the $15,000 package that enhances Autopilot but is not self-driving. According to Tesla, this approach improves Autopilot, giving it a longer range of visibility and the ability to identify and distinguish objects.
The company said that any vehicle delivered to a customer without USS, initially, will have limited or inactive features, such as park assist and summon, which can be utilized via the Tesla app to move a vehicle forward or back. The company said that over-the-air updates will eventually restore these features.