Tesla Looks Like Wobbling on Camera-Only AV Tech

Tesla may be finally admitting its camera-only approach to its automated driving system may not be up to the job as it makes an application to reinstall radar sensors on its cars.

Despite Elon Musk’s repeated insistence that a car only needs the same visual assets of a human to drive autonomously, the automaker has now filed an application with the US’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to use a radar sensor for possible production models from January 2023. Since removing radar from its cars in 2021, the automaker has been completely reliant on its Tesla Vision camera suite to monitor the vehicle’s surroundings.

Even earlier this year, Tesla removed even ultrasonic sensors from its cars as it doubled-down on the camera-only technologies. Yet, mounting criticisms of this approach coupled with US safety regulator investigations into reliability of the automaker’s Autopilot automated driving system appear to be taking its toll on both the automaker’s and consumer’s confidence in the technology.

At the same time, all of its main rival automakers have invested heavily in hybrid suites of sensors including cameras, radars and LiDARs while, naturally, driving up the cost of vehicle production but improving their reliability to spot objects in the road ahead. Now Tesla has requested the FCC withhold publication of any drawings or details of its new radar until after it enters production suggesting to many insiders that the sensors could be a new generation of high-definition radar yet to be seen on the market.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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