Owner Finds Tesla Is Already Using Vision to Replace Ultrasonic Sensors

By Lennon Cihak
Tesla detecting distance without ultrasonic sensors
Tesla detecting distance without ultrasonic sensors
salvagEV's/YouTube

Tesla owner and EV mechanic Occupy Mars shared a video of their salvaged 2018 Tesla Model 3 detecting distances without its ultrasonic sensors (USS).

Occupy Mars shared a 10.5-minute video explaining how they discovered this anomaly. Even though the vehicle was running version 2022.28.2, which was released in September 2022, the vehicle managed to measure distances without the use of USS.

Occupy Mars moved the vehicle out of their garage without the front bumper and confirmed that all ultrasonic sensors were disconnected. However, they noticed that their Model 3 was accurately detecting a vehicle next to it and displaying the appropriate distances on the screen. This appears to confirm that Tesla is testing Tesla Vision to detect nearby objects and display distances, but only on vehicles with USS.

Confirming Camera Detection

Interestingly, Occupy Mars' vehicle only detected the distances while in reverse, although a lot of the car is taken apart, so this could have been due to early software or hardware issues. When pulling up closer to the garage, Occupy Mars noticed the Model 3 was not showing the distance between the car and the garage. Instead, it was detecting objects at the corners of the vehicle. This would make sense given the blindspot in front of the vehicle where cameras can not see.

To confirm that the vehicle was using its cameras to determine distances, Occupy Mars covered the front-facing and B-pillar cameras with tape. Once the vehicle's cameras were covered, the car immediately stopped displaying the arcs and distances from nearby objects.

Occupy Mars went a step further to rule out radar use and physically unplugged the vehicle's radar and with the cameras uncovered, the vehicle continued to detect objects and display distances.

Video Showing USS-like Detection Using Vision

The video below by Occupy Mars shows their vehicle detecting distances without utilizing any ultrasonic sensors or radar.

Running Vision in Shadow Mode

What appears to be happening is that Tesla is actively testing and collecting data from vehicles that are equipped with ultrasonic sensors, and it appears they've been doing so for several months. Previously, the USS were fully responsible for detecting distances for nearby objects, but it appears Tesla is now using an updated version of Tesla Vision in shadow mode. This lets Tesla run code in the background to assess its accuracy before having the vehicle or driver rely on it. Tesla then uses the vision-detected distances and compares those values to the output of the vehicle's ultrasonic sensors, letting them assess the new system's accuracy before releasing it publicly.

The Removal of Ultrasonic Sensors

On October 4th, 2022, Tesla announced that they were removing ultrasonic sensors from their vehicles and beginning the transition into their own proprietary “Tesla Vision.” According to Tesla’s announcement, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built in October 2022 and beyond no longer included the USS. Later, Tesla removed USS from the Model S and Model X as well.

This came as a bit of a shock to drivers and automotive experts, namely the team from Munro Live. The USS are standard in modern vehicles. They’re used to detect distances in tight spaces to enhance the safety of the vehicle. But Tesla believes they can maintain a similar level of safety and accuracy without the USS, despite some outcry from the Tesla community and experts.

Savings Due to the Removal of Ultrasonic Sensors

Tesla is saving an estimated $114 per vehicle by removing the USS, equating to roughly 100 million dollars per year based on Tesla’s volume, per Munro Live. This effort makes sense as Tesla is revamping its Model 3 to cut costs so prospective buyers can take advantage of the new federal tax credit.

Front Blindspot

Will Teslas have a blind spot directly in front of the vehicle?
Will Teslas have a blind spot directly in front of the vehicle?
Munro Live

As pointed out in the Munro Live video, there is a three-foot blindspot in the front of the vehicle. Tesla’s rumored solution for the three-foot blindspot is to have the vehicle remember what it sees when driving toward an object. But if the vehicle is parked for an extended period and something is placed in front of it, how will the vehicle know where it’s placed or if it has moved?

Tesla could continue processing camera data while parked as they do in Sentry Mode, but this would cause significant battery usage over time.

Tesla may also just leave out the ability to detect objects in front of the vehicle when the vehicle is first started.

Upcoming Update

More recently Tesla owner and hacker GreenTheOnly found code of Tesla testing vision-based USS-type detection in update 2022.40, so it's clear that Tesla plans to address the lack of USS, but it appears the fix is taking longer than expected. Although nothing has been officially communicated by Tesla, we could be close to receiving the long-awaited update that restores USS-type detection.

Sweet Move: Tesla Shifts from Creating EVs to Making Candy

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla has filed four new trademarks recently, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office. These trademarks aren’t exactly what you’d expect from Tesla – they’re not for cars, not for batteries, and not for any cool new software features.

They’re for sweet, sweet, candy!

Candy Trademarks

Tesla has filed 4 distinct trademarks in its filings with the USPTO, for the following four names.

  • Supercharged Gummy

  • Cyberberry

  • Mango Bolt

  • Dog Mode Chill

The trademarks don’t come with any particular logos, art, or renderings, or it doesn’t reveal anything besides the names of the candy or candy-like items. Tesla filed these trademarks last month on June 25th.

While we’re not quite sure exactly what type of candies these will be, there is one thing we can knock off the bat – given how premium Tesla’s food products have been, these will likely include high-quality ingredients with a matching price point.

Elon Musk previously hinted that he wanted to start a candy company, and claimed he was super serious. Given his usual 2-week timeline, starting it 7-years later under Tesla seems fairly fitting. Jokes aside, we hope that the candies will launch sometime before the Tesla van, otherwise you can expect some more jokes on that front.

Tesla is well known for designing and selling non-vehicle merchandise. In the past, they’ve sold a glass decal that makes your window look like it was shattered with a metal bearing, Tesla Tequila, the Cybertruck whistle and many others.

Maybe we’ll hear more about Elon’s candy ambitions during Tesla’s upcoming earnings call, which will be taking place this coming Tuesday, July 23rd.

Tesla Looking to Hire 800 New Employees After Recent Layoffs, Large Focus on Energy

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Just three months after Elon Musk fired the entire Supercharger team, and laid off many employees at Tesla, the company is now looking to hire 800 new employees.

This comes after many members of the Supercharger team were hired back after their initial layoffs.

New Hirings

Tesla’s careers page now has more than 800 open positions today, and positions go from anywhere between engineers for artificial intelligence or batteries, ADAS testers in local communities, or service and desk employees for service centers.

Most of the new jobs focus on engineering positions, and many positions in Legal Affairs, Business Support, and vehicle software positions have not been posted or renewed. Those sections remain empty, at least in North America.

Tesla Energy Focus

Interestingly, quite a few of the new positions focus on Telsa Energy and its role in the company. There are several positions for supporting the deployments of Powerwall and Megapack, as well as doing further engineering work on these types of stationary battery systems.

Just recently, Tesla secured a $375 million Megapack contract in Australia – to build one of the biggest 4-hour battery banks in the world. This comes just days after the announcement of a $256 million Megapack contract to expand a different Australian facility.

We’re expecting Tesla to bank more towards its energy business – which has really just started getting off the ground with recent factory expansions and new business. Tesla Powerwall also recently hit some spectacular milestones – 100MW in California delivered to the grid, and 200,000 hours of backup power after Hurricane Beryl in Texas.

Powerwall and Megapack are going to be defining features of Tesla’s business – and we hope to see Tesla Solar – both Solar Panels and Tesla’s Solar Roof, also become more available to the mass market, just like Powerwall is today.

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