Why Tesla Will Add Internet-based SiriusXM streaming to Model 3, Model Y and Others

By Nuno Cristovao
Is Tesla developing a SiriusXM streaming app?
Is Tesla developing a SiriusXM streaming app?

Tesla's Model S and Model X vehicles offer SiriusXM radio through dedicated hardware that includes an antenna to receive the satellite-based signals. This is a premium feature that Tesla only offers in their Model S and X line. The Model 3 and Model Y, unfortunately, lack the SiriusXM hardware and are not capable of streaming the service.

Many fans of the satellite-based network are forced to either buy a car unit and hook it up via the auxiliary jack or stream audio from their phones to the car via Bluetooth. Although, neither situation is ideal.

Cost Cutting

Over the past few years we have seen Tesla take several cost-cutting measures on the Model 3 and Model Y to help keep the cars more affordable. Some design choices have always been there for cost reasons, while others were changed due to efficiencies or to streamline manufacturing. Tesla is extremely agile and always looking for benefits that pay off in the long term. While some of their choices have paid off, some have not.

For example, Tesla chose not to include a dedicated rain sensor in their vehicles and instead relies on cameras and AI to detect rain. Unfortunately, this is one area where Tesla's solution has fallen short. While the vehicle's automated wipers have improved in the last couple of years, they're still not as reliable as a dedicated rain sensor.

It’s a similar case with Tesla’s automatic high beams, where the vehicle turns on and off its high beams automatically based on how dark it is and whether there are any oncoming vehicles. This feature performed rather poorly for several years and only recently has Tesla's auto high beams become more accurate and reliable.

Another cost-cutting choice Tesla has made along the way has been the removal of HomeLink garage door support on the Model 3 and Model Y. Adding HomeLink on these vehicles costs extra and needs to be performed by Tesla service after delivery. However, Tesla now supports some WiFi based garage door openers through myQ.

SiriusXM Internet Streaming Solution?

Tesla has always had a long-term vision for their vehicles and has bet heavily on software to be able to make up for missing hardware in the future. With the automatic wipers, Tesla chose to skip a $4 sensor because they felt they could save money and do the same or better job with a software-based solution.

And how does this relate to SiriusXM? When Tesla designed the Model 3, they needed to make a lot of cost-based decisions. The Model S and Model X included SiriusXM hardware, but they chose to exclude it in the Model 3 and Model Y. It’s clear that the hardware was not being provided by SiriusXM for free. There’s no doubt they needed to cut costs to offer the Model 3 at $35,000, but did they remove SiriusXM hardware because Tesla thought they could provide a software-based solution? Maybe. After all, they did it for their automated windshield wipers, high beams and garage door opener support. Why not SiriusXM?

Tesla offers a variety of music streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. In 2019 their v10 update, Tesla added the ability to stream Spotify. In 2020, Elon Musk announced that the Tidal streaming service would also be coming to Tesla vehicles. More recently, at the end of 2020, Tesla enthusiast, GreenTheOnly, started spotting references to other music services such as Apple Music, Pandora and Audible in Tesla firmware. Apple Music was finally added in Tesla's 2022 holiday update.

So the question is, why would Tesla leave out the SiriusXM streaming service when it could save them millions of dollars per year by not including the SiriusXM hardware in their more expensive vehicles? Although SiriusXM hardware provides some advantages, such as not requiring an internet connection, it could also fail in certain situations such as when traveling through tunnels. We think we’ll see Tesla add support for SiriusXM's streaming service to all vehicles in a future update.

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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