Tesla Vision Park Assist: Bringing Back Distance Measurements for Cars without Ultrasonic Sensors

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla restores Park Assist using vision for vehicles without ultrasonic sensors
Tesla restores Park Assist using vision for vehicles without ultrasonic sensors

Tesla has taken another significant step forward in its commitment to vision-based technology by introducing Tesla Vision Park Assist. This new feature reinstates the Park Assist distance measurements for Tesla vehicles without ultrasonic sensors (USS).

In October 2022, Tesla removed USS from Model 3, Model Y, and later, Model S and Model X, as part of the shift to its camera-based Autopilot system, Tesla Vision. However, the accompanying software to measure distances to nearby objects wasn't ready at the time, leaving owners of cars without USS to estimate their distance to surrounding things while parking.

The Latest Update Gets Even Bigger

The wait for a solution is finally over with the release of software version 2022.45.11, which includes the latest FSD Beta v11.3.2. As confirmed by well-known Tesla hacker @greentheonly, Tesla Vision Park Assist has been added to this update for vehicles without USS.

Improvements Over Ultrasonic Sensors

Although Tesla's vision-based approach is expected to not be as accurate as having ultrasonic sensors, at least initially, it does offer one improvement for the hardware-based solution.

The vision-based Park Assist system not only measures distances to objects at the front and rear of the car but also detects objects on the sides where there is no USS, providing 360° coverage around the vehicle.

It's not clear whether Tesla plans to add vision-based object detection to the sides of vehicles that have ultrasonic sensors in a future update.

The current release is limited to cars testing FSD Beta without USS, while vehicles with USS continue to operate with their sensors enabled. Although it might take some time for the feature to be deployed fleet-wide, Tesla Vision Park Assist demonstrates Tesla's progress in refining vision-based technology for parking assistance.

Who Will Get It

According to @greentheonly, the new Park Assist system is currently only available to customers in the United States and Canada who have purchased FSD and applied for access to the FSD Beta program. It is also currently limited to the Model 3 and Model Y. However, with visual and audio alerts of surrounding objects and the use of the occupancy network to predict high-definition outlines of objects around the vehicle, the vision-based system could eventually prove superior to Tesla's previous USS-based solution.

The release notes for Park Assist in 2022.45.11 state:

Tesla Vision Park Assist provides visual and audio alerts of surrounding objects. This feature uses the occupancy network to predict high-definition outlines of objects 360 degrees around the car.

Note: Tesla Vision Park Assist is for guidance purposes only and is not a substitute for an aware driver. Please be attentive and avoid obstacles as required.

Last year, Tesla's shift to a vision-only approach resulted in temporarily limiting or disabling some features, such as Summon, Smart Summon, Autopark, and Park Assist. Park Assist, which alerts drivers to nearby objects when traveling at less than five mph, appeared to be the easiest to implement. Now that Tesla has released Park Assist for vision-only vehicles, it is likely that Autopark, Summon, and Smart Summon will follow suit for Teslas without ultrasonic sensors in due course.

With Tesla Vision Park Assist, Tesla owners without ultrasonic sensors can now enjoy improved parking assistance, making it easier and safer to navigate tight parking spaces. As the feature continues to roll out and improve, Tesla demonstrates its dedication to advancing its vision-based technology for the benefit of its customers.

Tesla Vehicles Spotted With LiDAR: What Do They Use It For?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently hit the news for purchasing approximately $2M in LiDAR sensors from Luminar, one of Tesla’s long-term suppliers. You’ve probably seen photos of Tesla’s Semi and various Tesla models, including the Model 3 and Model Y sporting LIDAR equipment on the roof. These cars drive around with manufacturer plates scanning streets and highways.

However, many people confuse Tesla’s purpose in purchasing LiDAR equipment with using it for FSD versus testing. So, let’s look at what LiDAR is, and why Tesla uses it on its Fleet Validation Vehicles.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detecting and Ranging – essentially using lasers to measure distances. A laser pulse is sent out, and the time it takes to return is measured – providing extremely accurate distance measurements.

Some companies working on self-driving vehicles, including Waymo and BYD, use LiDAR as part of their self-driving suites, but Tesla is one of the few stand-outs that does not. Even Rimac’s “Verne” Robotaxi – which uses self-driving technology from Mobileye, also uses LiDAR.

While LiDAR can produce extremely accurate and high-quality 3D environments, it comes with its downsides as well. Not only is LiDAR costly and requires large gear strapped to a vehicle, but it also can not be used in bad weather and can have interference issues if there are other strong light sources present.

Why Does Tesla Use LiDAR?

A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
Not a Tesla App

At Autonomy Day in 2019, Elon Musk mentioned that LiDAR isn’t the solution for self-driving cars – it's just a crutch. Thus, Tesla hasn’t used LiDAR for any production self-driving software.

Instead, Tesla uses it exactly how it's described – they use it to gather ground-truth data. This data is then used to feed Tesla’s Full Self Driving system – which helps validate its vision-only system's accuracy. LiDAR provides very accurate measurements to help ensure that FSD’s perception of space is accurate – and is only used by Tesla to ensure that its AI technology which is the brains of FSD is capable of accurately interpreting depth from just visual data.

Tesla’s vision-only system has been seen to be extremely accurate, with Vision-only Autopark being able to park in even narrower and tighter spaces faster than the previous version that relied on ultrasonic sensors.

We’ll likely continue to see Tesla purchase LiDAR systems, as well as use them for validation well into the future.

Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi Event in August Delayed, According to Bloomberg

By Karan Singh
Sugar Design

In a report from Bloomberg, it is claimed that Tesla will be delaying its much-anticipated 8/8 Robotaxi event by two months to October 2024.

While sources other than Bloomberg haven't confirmed this report, Bloomberg has a positive track record of reporting on financial decisions. We’ll be sure to update the article if there is confirmation on X from Elon Musk or another Tesla senior official.

Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly 8.5% over the day, ending back-to-back gains over the last two weeks. It closed yesterday at $ 241 after hitting a peak of $270 earlier in the day before the news broke.

Why the Delay?

The delay – of approximately two months – has been communicated internally, but not publicly announced just yet. Bloomberg goes on to mention that the design team was told to rework certain elements of the Cybercab, necessitating the delay.

If Bloomberg’s report is correct, it sounds like Tesla’s unveil event will be largely focused on showing off the vehicle, instead of demoing how it will work. Of course, it could still be both, but given past events, Tesla has always shown off the vehicle years before it hits production.

Rimac recently showed off their version of robotaxi vehicle named Verne, and surprisingly, it could almost pass for Tesla’s own robotaxi. A lot of design cues in Rimac’s version are elements we have already seen or expect to see in Tesla’s autonomous taxi.

A recent Tesla patent revealed that Tesla is incorporating a sanitation system into their robotaxi that will be responsible for analyzing and cleaning the vehicle’s interior, although the delay itself is likely tied more to a physical feature rather than software.

Another element we know almost nothing about is how Tesla plans to charge these robotic taxis. Will they rely on the existing charge port and adapt a solution like the robotic charging arm (video below) we saw almost eight years ago, or will wireless charging or a dock finally become realized?

While the delay for Tesla’s event appears to be related to the vehicle’s design itself and not further development of FSD, Tesla is wasting no time in getting FSD working for the upcoming vehicle. Model 3 vehicles have already been spotted with camera locations that resemble a robotaxi.

Is the Delay Accurate?

We expect that this delay might actually be true – Elon Musk usually takes to X within hours of such news breaking if it's false to refute it and hasn’t done so yet.

Tesla has delayed several of their events in the past, and a delay of a couple of months seems plausible. We should hear from Musk himself soon on whether this report is accurate.

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