Is Tesla ready to add high-resolution radar to its vehicles?

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla appears ready to add a high-resolution radar to its vehicles
Tesla appears ready to add a high-resolution radar to its vehicles
Tesla

An unidentified part has appeared on Tesla's Parts Catalog, and the internet is confused. Twitter user, and popular Tesla hacker, @greentheonly spotted the item on a diagram.

This mysterious item is marked but suspiciously not given a name, a part number or description. However, given his experience with the inner workings of these vehicles, Green believes it is a new Tesla radar. In a follow-up tweet, he doubled down on his stance, saying the part matches the high-resolution radar Tesla registered with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in June.

This latest twist has left hundreds of Reddit users on Tesla's unofficial community scratching their heads. The comment voted up the highest is by iphoneman321, who posted: Radar is dead, long live radar.

A year ago, Tesla announced it was transitioning to Tesla Vision, which is camera-based technology without a radar's assistance or perhaps interference. The support section of Tesla's webpage reads: Beginning with deliveries in May 2021, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built for the North American market will no longer be equipped with radar. Instead, these will be the first Tesla vehicles to rely on camera vision and neural net processing to deliver Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, Full-Self Driving and certain active safety features.

Elon Musk clearly prefers the cameras to collect data to maneuver the vehicle, not radar. In April of 2021, he responded to a tweet from @WholeMarsBlog that questioned the removal of radar. It read: Can you tell us more about your thinking behind the pure vision approach? Lots of people arguing no radar is a step backwards. Why did you guys decide it was better not to use it? Musk responded: When radar and vision disagree, which one do you believe? Vision has much more precision, so better to double down on vision than do sensor fusion.

But in an interview with Electrek later that year, he left the door open to bring radar back to Tesla. Electrek quoted Musk saying, "A very high-resolution radar would be better than pure vision, but such a radar does not exist. I mean vision with high-res radar would be better than pure vision."

Musk reiterated that comment in February through Twitter: Only very high resolution radar is relevant.

Tesla's AI Day Part II is on September 30, and Musk has promised "many cool updates." He has also said that Tesla's work on Full Self Driving has been ground-breaking in artificial intelligence. Therefore, it is conceivable that the CEO introduces a new high-res radar to the world during the next AI Day.

Tesla releases FSD Beta 10.69.2.3

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla now has more than 100,000 FSD Beta testers
Tesla now has more than 100,000 FSD Beta testers
Not a Tesla App

Elon Musk has promised more Full Self Driving improvements, and a 10.69.3 version of FSD Beta is coming soon.

Many speculated the enhancements would roll out immediately after Tesla's AI Day 2022. An update did appear to some of the 160,000 FSD Beta users, but it's a minor one. However, any advancements in a system already completing 144 trillion operations per second are worth a deeper look.

Update 2022.20.18

FSD 10.69.2.3
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Last updated: Oct 4, 10:08 am

Tesla has started to roll out FSD Beta 10.69.2.3 (version 2020.20.18), but it has only appeared for a handful of testers so far. It may go out to all 160,000 testers in the near future.

In Beta 10.69 Tesla introduced a new deep lane guidance module that produces a 44 percent lower error rate lane topology. This new module that works with the vector lanes neural network uses video, map data, lane counts and connectivities. According to Tesla's release notes: This provides a way to make every Autopilot drive as good as someone driving their own commute, yet in a sufficiently general way that adapts for road changes.

Despite Chuck Cook's rave reviews of the latest FSD 10.69.2.2, Musk promised even more improvements to address the now infamous Chuck's corner, also known as an unprotected left turn.

Chuck's Turn with Beta 10.69.2.2

Last month Musk tweeted: "Car will move on tighter gaps as we enhance NN (neural networks) velocity predictions for crossing traffic. 10.69.3 next month has some step-change improvements."

In a separate tweet last month, he committed to the vehicle speeding up more quickly in high-speed traffic situations. The program will better navigate the unprotected left turn in high-speed cross-traffic situations. The latest update states that FSD will use "the appropriate speed profile when approaching and exiting median crossover regions." Basically, the car will speed up much quicker when it must get in front of traffic that is moving fast, so we expect Tesla to make further improvements in this area.

This latest update should make the overall FSD experience even smoother. With all the expected improvements in FSD Beta 10.69.3, we can't wait to see what it'll offer. Beta 10.69.3 is still expected this month.

Everything we know about Optimus, the Tesla Robot

By Kevin Armstrong
Optimus carrying a package using Tesla Vision
Optimus carrying a package using Tesla Vision
Tesla (Edited by Not a Tesla App)

Elon Musk started Tesla's AI Day 2022 by saying, "I want to set some expectations with respect to our Optimus Robot," just before the doors opened behind him. A robot walked out, waved at the audience, and did a little dance. Admittedly a humble beginning, he explained, "the Robot can actually do a lot more than what we just showed you. We just didn't want it to fall on its face." Musk's vision for the Tesla Robot, "Optimus is going to be incredible in five years, ten years mind-blowing." The CEO said other technologies that have changed the world have plateaued; the Robot is just starting.

Tesla's CEO envisions Optimus eventually being like Commander Data, the android from Star Trek the Next Generation, except it "would be programmed to be less robot-like and more friendly." Undoubtedly there is a long way to go to achieve what Doctor Noonien Soong created in Star Trek TNG. What was demonstrated onstage wasn't at that level, but several videos throughout the presentation highlighted what the Robot is capable of at its very early stage in development. The audience watched the Robot pick up boxes, deliver packages, water plants and work at a station at the Tesla factory in Fremont.

Development over 8 Months

The breakdown of some of the systems of the Tesla Robot
The breakdown of some of the systems of the Tesla Robot
Tesla (Edited by Not a Tesla App)

The first Robot to take the stage at AI Day was not Optimus, but Bumble C, another acknowledgement to The Transformers, as Bumble Bee played a significant role in that franchise. However, Bumble C is far less advanced than Optimus, who did appear later but was on a cart.

Several Tesla engineers took turns on the microphone describing some of the most complex elements of the project that was first announced one year ago. Perhaps the best description of the project was the company moving from building a robot on wheels to a robot on legs. However, that may be oversimplifying. For example, the car has two motors, and the Robot has 28 actuators.

Overall Design and Battery Life

Tesla's brightest demonstrated how the production has come to life over the past eight months. It seems this group of computer masterminds had to become anatomist experts as Tesla took hints from the human body to create a humanoid robot. That is an essential factor in creating Optimus. Everything people interact with is made usable by a human, with two legs, two arms, ten fingers etc. If the Robot differed from what the world is already designed for, everything would have to change. However, recreating the human body and its countless movements would take far too long, so Tesla has stripped it down to less than 30 core movements, not including the hand.

Like the human torso contains the heart, the Robot's chest holds the battery. It's projected that a single charge would provide enough for a full day's work with a 2.3-kilowatt-hour battery. All the battery electronics are integrated into a single printed circuit board within the pack. That technology keeps charge management and power distribution all in one place. Tesla used lessons learned from vehicle and energy production to create the battery allowing for streamlined manufacturing and simple and effective cooling methods.

Autopilot Technology

Tesla showed what the Robot sees, and it looked very familiar. That's because the neural networks are pulling directly from Autopilot. Training data had to be collected to show indoor settings and other products not used with the car. Engineers have trained neural networks to identify high-frequency features and key points within the Robot's camera streams, such as a charging station. Tesla has also been using the Autopilot simulator but has integrated it for use with the Robot programming.

Tesla shows off what the Optimus robot sees
Tesla shows off what the Optimus robot sees
Tesla (Edited by Not a Tesla App)

The torso also contains the centralized computer that Tesla says will do everything a human brain does, such as processing vision data, making split-second decisions based on multi-sensory inputs and supporting communications. In addition, the Robot is equipped with wireless connectivity and audio support. Yes, the Robot is going to have conversations, "we really want to have fun, be utilitarian and also be a friend and hang out with you," said Musk.

Motors Mimic Joints

The 28 actuators throughout the Robot's frame are placed where many joints are in the human body. Just one of those actuators was shown lifting a half-tonne nine-foot concert grand piano. There have been thousands of test models run to show how each motor works with the other and how to effectively operate the most relevant actuators for a task. Even the act of walking takes several calculations that the Robot must make in real-time, not only to perform but also appear natural. The robots will be programmed with a locomotion code; the desired path goes to the locomotion planner, which uses trajectories to state estimations, very similar to the human vestibular system.

Human hands can move 300 degrees per second and have tens of thousands of tactile sensors. Hands can manipulate anything in our daily lives, from bulky, heavy items to something delicate. Now Tesla is recreating that with Optimus. Six actuators and 11 degrees of freedom are incorporated into the robot hand. It has an in-hand controller that drives the fingers and receives sensory feedback. The fingers have metallic tendons to allow for flexibility and strength. The hands are being created to allow for a precision grip of small parts and tools.

Responsible Robot Safety

Musk wanted to start AI day with the epic opening scene from Terminator when a robot crushed a skull. He has heard the fears and people warning, "don't go down the terminator path," but the CEO said safety is a top priority. There are safeguards in place, including designs for a localized control ROM that would not be connected to the internet that can turn the Robot off. He sees this as a stop button or remote control.

Musk said the development of Optimus may broaden Tesla's mission statement to include "making the future awesome." He believes the potential is not recognized by most, and it "really boggles the mind." Musk said, "this means a future of abundance. There is no poverty. You can have whatever you want in terms of products and services. It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it." All of this at a price predicted to be less than $20,000 USD.

Tesla Shows Off its First Robot at AI Day 2

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Although we share official Tesla release notes, we are not affiliated with Tesla Motors. We are Tesla fans and supporters.

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View the release notes for the upcoming version 2022.36.

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Take a look at features that Elon Musk has said will be coming soon.

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