Tesla hasn’t installed forward-facing radar on its vehicles for a while now, but owners of cars in the US that already have the radar installed are reporting that it’s increasingly being deactivated during service visits.
A number of Tesla owners on Tesla Motors Club website, as reported by Driving, has stated that there is work at no additional cost to their service budget. Tesla customers must agree to this before work begins on their vehicle.
A person who posted on Tesla Motors Club the website asked Tesla to remove the work from the service estimate, but has automatically added it afterward.
Another customer at Tesla Motors Club asked for radar deactivation to be removed from vehicle worklist and was told by Tesla that while they could take it offline, it would be disabled by future over-the-air updates.
A Reddit the user posted a service bulletin to disable the forward facing radar, which said there was a “fake plug” attached to the sensor itself and the sensor connector.
This means that the radar unit itself is still attached to the vehicle, but not connected. This contradicts earlier reports that speculated the radar unit would be physically removed from the vehicle.
It is unclear at this stage if the radar disablement on Tesla vehicles is happening in Australia, or if it is limited to North America.
It is understood that Tesla only disables the radar unit on vehicles that have a camera system capable of using the Tesla Vision camera system only.
As noted above, Tesla began removing radar from its vehicles in 2021 and began phasing out ultrasonic sensors last year, which will result in some vehicles losing functionality currently supported by the sensor until camera-based systems can be upgraded to compensate.
The company said that with the removal of the sensor, it is simultaneously rolling out a “vision-based occupancy network” – previously only used in vehicles with Full Self-Driving Beta – which it claims gives its vehicles high-definition spatial positioning, greater visibility and the ability to identify and distinguish objects.
CEO Elon Musk told Electrek in June 2021 it stopped using the radar but would consider using it again if it was “very high resolution”.
“The probability of safety will be higher with pure vision than vision+radar, not lower. Visibility has gotten so good that radar actually reduces signal/noise,” Mr. Musk said.
“A very high resolution radar is better than pure vision, but such a radar does not exist. I mean vision with high resolution radar is better than pure vision.”
Tesla announced in 2016 that all of its future vehicles would “have the necessary hardware for fully self-driving capability at a level of safety far greater than that of a human driver”, citing the use of eight surround cameras, front radar and 12 ultrasonic sensors.
But Tesla’s efforts to achieve true Level 5 capabilities have yet to bear fruit – the goal has proven elusive for essentially all companies – and the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving systems are considered Level 2 or 2+.
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