Tesla Robotaxi Mule Vehicles Sighted

By Karan Singh

A Tesla with manufacturer plates and a unique camera system – one that we’ve seen at least once previously, was spotted in Northern California recently (Thanks, Joey!).

Today, we’re just 29 days away from Tesla’s upcoming Robotaxi event, where we expect to see more details on the Cybercab itself, as well as Tesla’s Robotaxi app and process.

What’s a Mule and What Does It Do?

Tesla internally calls these vehicles with these odd camera locations “mules” and uses them to test future vehicle camera locations. Previously, Model 3 mules were spotted with the cameras in a slightly altered arrangement before the launch of the Model 3 refresh – primarily to prepare the vehicles for Full Self-Driving and Autopilot functionality.

These vehicles gather visual data that’s used to feed Tesla’s supercomputers and prepare its AI models to be able to drive a vehicle with different camera locations. This specific mule is likely to be set up for Robotaxi.

The B-pillar cameras on the Model 3 mule
The B-pillar cameras on the Model 3 mule

Unique Camera Locations

Of note with this specific Model 3 mule is the very different camera locations. There is a heightened rear bumper camera, and the B-Pillar (located between the front and rear doors) camera is offset with an angle not previously seen on Tesla vehicles. The side repeater camera is pushed out and away from the body of the vehicle as well.

The mule also doesn’t have any side mirrors, but most interesting is a low-to-the-ground front bumper camera, similar to the front camera for the Cybertruck and the one recently spotted on the upcoming refresh Model Y. This means that there is a good chance that Robotaxi – and future hardware iterations, could be bringing a front bumper camera to all vehicles.

It appears that the front camera cluster (now reduced to two cameras with HW4) will remain the same or be very similar to today based on these new images.

Note the B-Pillar, Side Repeater, and Rear Cameras here. Also, no side mirrors!
Note the B-Pillar, Side Repeater, and Rear Cameras here. Also, no side mirrors!
Not a Tesla App

The Bumper Camera

The new bumper camera will be extremely useful – and is a feature we’ve previously heard could be coming to the Model S and Model X as well. Beyond providing additional information, especially in tight quarters, this could also help with Tesla Vision Park Assist and navigating in densely populated locations, like a parking garage or parking lot.

We hope to see the front camera come to more vehicles as time goes on, but we’ll have to wait and see how the rollout of Hardware 5/AI 5 goes for that.

Tesla Continues Rollout of FSD 12.4.3; Resets Strikes [Update: Another Wave Going Out Now]

By Not a Tesla App Staff
Not a Tesla App

Tesla FSD 12.4 has yet to go out to most eligible customers, but last night it took a big step toward achieving that. FSD v12.4.3 went out to the largest batch of FSD vehicles in North America so far, more than tripling the number of users on the latest Tesla FSD software.

Update: Another wave of FSD 12.4.3 just started going out this evening. This wave just started and it’s already the largest wave for this release. It’s estimated to be about 12% of FSD users.

Most vehicles with FSD in North America are now on update 2024.14.9 which includes FSD 12.3.6. However, these vehicles have been on this FSD version since it was first introduced with update 2024.3.25. About 25% of the Tesla fleet is on update 2024.14.9, which is almost exclusively vehicles that have bought or subscribed to FSD.

Update 2024.14.9

FSD Supervised 12.3.6
Installed on 21.9% of fleet
0 Installs today
Last updated: Jul 17, 6:50 am UTC

Before yesterday’s rollout, FSD 12.4.3 stood at about 1.3% of the entire fleet (not just FSD vehicles), but after yesterday’s release, about 3.3% of the fleet now has access to FSD v12.4.3. That appears to be about 10% of FSD users that now have access to FSD 12.4.3. If Tesla doesn’t see major issues with this wave, this could be the point where FSD 12.4.3 finally goes into wide release and becomes available to most users in the next week.

Roll Out and Eligibility

We should hopefully see another rollout of FSD 12.4.3 later today or tomorrow. This latest FSD release is update 2024.15.15, which means that it’s available to anyone on a 2024.14 update or earlier. Users who have recently subscribed or resubscribed to FSD and are on update 2024.20 won’t be able to receive FSD 12.4 or later until it becomes available on a branch that is higher than 2024.20.

Tesla doesn’t merge FSD software with the main Tesla branches often so historically speaking, it could be another month or even two before that happens.

Update 2024.15.15

FSD Supervised 12.4.3
Installed on 5.3% of fleet
1 Install today
Last updated: Jul 17, 6:55 am UTC

Strike Reset

With FSD 12.4, Tesla has not only removed the steering wheel nag when the cabin camera can clearly see the driver, but it has also introduced a new strike system. Tesla will now remove one strike from the vehicle’s record (strikes are shared for all drivers of the vehicle), for every week the drivers’ of the vehicle go without receiving an Autopilot strike.

However, with the release of FSD 12.4.3, Tesla is also resetting all vehicle strikes to zero so that drivers’ have a clean slate to start with.

Vision-Based Monitoring

In place of the steering wheel nag is the improved vision-based monitoring, which tracks the driver with the cabin camera. In update 12.4.2, Tesla specifically updated the release notes for vision-based monitoring to mention that the driver’s arms also need to be visible to the camera. Tesla also changed some language around when it uses the vision-based camera and when it relies on steering wheel torque.

Whenever vision-based monitoring is active, the Tesla screen will display a green dot to alert the driver that the cabin camera is tracking them visually.

Prefer Update 2024.20 Over FSD 12.4?

Users who subscribe to FSD can sometimes pick whether they remain on the FSD track or the feature track of Tesla updates. If you subscribe to FSD and prefer to receive update 2024.20 instead of waiting for FSD 12.4.3, then you could let your FSD subscription lapse and Tesla will push update 2024.20 to your vehicle within a day. Keep in mind that your subscription needs to completely expire, not just be canceled.

The reason your vehicle remains on update 2024.14 is so that it remains eligible for FSD 12.4.3, however, when your FSD subscription expires, Tesla will send you the latest update your vehicle is eligible for. Right now that should be update 2024.20 for just about everyone. If you unsubscribe, you can immediately subscribe to FSD after you receive the latest update. However, doing so will mean that you won’t be eligible for FSD 12.4.3 or higher until the main FSD updates are based on a branch 2024.20 or higher, which may not be anytime soon.

Unfortunately, if you have bought FSD, then this isn’t an option for you. Hopefully, it won’t be long before another large wave of FSD 12.4.3 goes out.

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