Tesla to save US$114 in ultrasonic sensors per car with risky Vision-only move
After removing the LiDAR from its cars, Tesla recently announced that it is ditching the ultrasonic parking sensors as well, and will be solely reliant on its Tesla Vision cameras for both parking and self-driving duties. Elon Musk keeps insisting that autonomous driving can count only on Tesla Vision's quality camera kit, for which Samsung recently won an exclusive supply deal valued in the billions:
When your vision works, it works better than the best human because it’s like having eight cameras, it’s like having eyes in the back of your head, beside your head, and has three eyes of different focal distances looking forward. This is — and processing it at a speed that is superhuman. There’s no question in my mind that with a pure vision solution, we can make a car that is dramatically safer than the average person.
While some testers imply that Vision-only autonomous driving sometimes has trouble telling objects apart in certain situations, including not detecting child-sized mannequins, the setup of these tests has been put into question. Removing the parking sensors can also be risky, especially against shiny surfaces or with small animals whilst maneuvering to park. Tesla, however, has the advantage of the oodles of data that its cars constantly upload to its supercomputers to have run the scenarios and concluded that cameras will be enough to deal with those.
One fact about removing the parking sensors on its future cars is unequivocal, though, and it's that the Vision-only move will save Tesla a bundle. The car engineering analysts from the one and only Munro Live channel made a cost savings breakdown and found out that the ultrasonic kit removal saves Tesla up to US$114 per vehicle. That's for the sensors, harness, sealed connectors, integrated circuits and all other accoutrements that come with Tesla's parking kit.
Considering that Tesla is projected to hit 2 million vehicles sold next year, and has bold plans for 20 million by 2030, declaring the ultrasonic sensors redundant would save it hundreds of millions annually in part and assembly costs alone.