Tesla’s US$144 ultrasonic sensor cost savings lead to a parking functionality gap for frustrated new owners ↺
Tesla recently removed the ultrasonic parking sensors from its new car batches, the last remaining component for scanning its cars’ surroundings that is not part of its Tesla Vision camera-only self-driving solution. Previously, it had given the boot to radar on its cars, convinced that Autopilot and the paid Full Self-Driving Beta feature could only do it all with a set of high-res cameras.
The world's most profitable per-vehicle automaker saved about $144 per car by removing the ultrasonic sensors, but, unfortunately, even if relying solely on cameras for Park Assist would work flawlessly, the feature has not arrived on the software side of things just yet. Tesla does warn future owners that there are several things missing from its Vision-only solution in the transitional period, though:
For a short period of time during this transition, Tesla Vision vehicles that are not equipped with USS will be delivered with some features temporarily limited or inactive, including:
- Park Assist: alerts you of surrounding objects when the vehicle is traveling <5 mph.
- Autopark: automatically maneuvers into parallel or perpendicular parking spaces. Summon: manually moves your vehicle forward or in reverse via the Tesla app.
- Smart Summon: navigates your vehicle to your location or location of your choice via the Tesla app. In the near future, once these features achieve performance parity to today’s vehicles, they will be restored via a series of over-the-air software updates.
Still, this leaves Tesla buyers who don't follow the EV maker's whims too closely, surprised to discover that they'd have to rely on the good ol’ common sense and their eyes while parking, after taking delivery from one of the new batches that don’t have parking sensors installed. As can be expected without the ultrasonic sensors, the system can’t detect objects lying low, like the pile of snow in the test video below, and can’t give warnings while backing up to another car, for instance, as the owners still have to wait on a software fix for that.
Hopefully, the fix will be coming in the next few weeks with the much touted single-stack FSD v11 update which should bring Elon Musk’s promised true autonomous driving that Tesla can’t or won’t get regulatory approval for nonetheless. Tesla has the unsurpassed advantage of a mapping database that has collected real-time info from real drivers for millions of miles – something that no other car manufacturer will be able to replicate soon – so its hubris to insist on a camera-only solution may be warranted.
The lack of simple parking sensors in the new batches of its expensive electric vehicles and no alternative released prior to removing them, however, can’t be good for its dropping brand loyalty metrics.
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