2023 Tesla Model 3 Found Detecting Distances Without Ultrasonic Sensors

By Lennon Cihak
Model 3 detected using Tesla Vision in Poland
Model 3 detected using Tesla Vision in Poland

A Tesla Model 3 used for test drives in Poland has been found displaying distances without ultrasonic sensors (USS). The prospective owner who did the test drive of the Model 3 without USS noticed it was detecting distances and snapped a photo. Tesla replaces demo vehicles every three months, which means that this vehicle wouldn't have ultrasonic sensors. The odometer in the photo shows that this vehicle only has 2,800km. The driver also provided the VIN to the vehicle which confirmed it was a 2023 Model 3.

We previously reported on a video shared by Occupy Mars of their salvaged 2018 Tesla Model 3 detecting distances without USS. In the 10.5-minute video, Occupy Mars shows the vehicle displaying distances from objects with its USS and radar sensor unplugged. The Model 3 was running version 2022.28.2, which was released in September 2022.

Occupy Mars’ Model 3 only detected distances while in reverse, despite a large portion of the car having been taken apart. They further tested their findings by covering up the front-facing and B-pillar cameras with tape. Once the cameras were covered, the vehicle immediately stopped displaying distances and arcs from nearby objects.

Tesla Vision May Be Close

Based on Occupy Mars’ video and now this demo vehicle, an update to display distances to close-by objects may be arriving soon.

We don't know what software version this new vehicle was on, but it's unlikely that it was running an internal build. The vehicle may have been on new factory firmware, which Teslas are usually delivered with. Tesla could also have a configuration that enables this new feature, and that may have been enabled on this vehicle.

Will Ultrasonic Sensors Stop Working On Current Vehicles?

We don't know if Tesla will eventually transition vehicles that include USS to its vision system, but that is unlikely to happen soon. Instead, Tesla may continue to use the data from ultrasonic sensors to continue to improve their vision system. If there are any plans to transition to vision only, Tesla will hopefully wait until the new detection is on-par or better than what ultrasonic sensors provide.

When Tesla launched Tesla Vision for vehicles without radar in 2021, it didn't transition vehicles with radar until more than a year later. A similar transition could happen with ultrasonic sensors as Tesla's vision replacement improves.

360-Degree Measurements

If Tesla continues to improve its replacement for USS, Tesla Vision may eventually exceed the capabilities that ultrasonic sensors provide today - at least in some areas. One area where this could happen is with additional coverage around the vehicle. All Teslas, except for the Model X, which also has sensors on its doors, include ultrasonic sensors only in the front and rear of the vehicle. With vision, Tesla can theoretically increase its coverage to a full 360 degrees, letting the vehicle detect and display distances to the side as well.

Update: Tesla has officially started to roll out update 2023.6.9, which has support for vision-based Park Assist. We took a look at its availability and accuracy in several videos.

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Tesla Superchargers, Patents, and Autopilot Opened Up for Competition

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla is offering up its patents in exchange for other manufacturers' patents
Tesla is offering up its patents for an exchange

Tesla has signaled a more open approach by allowing other automakers to access its Supercharger network. This move, spurred on by a groundbreaking deal with Ford, is more than a simple act of corporate benevolence. Superchargers, now a significant profit center for Tesla, could potentially revolutionize the electric vehicle charging infrastructure by making it universally accessible.

Patents Unleashed: A Closer Look

Tesla has also made strides in the world of intellectual property, opening up select patents to other automakers. This move echoes a similar step taken nearly a decade ago when Tesla announced an open-source approach to its patents. However, the details warrant attention. Tesla isn't giving away these patents out of pure altruism. There's an important caveat; Tesla requires a cross-license deal, effectively asking for access to the other automakers' patents in return. Critics argue that this does not constitute "free" access. It's a strategic maneuver aimed at mutual growth rather than unilateral generosity.

FSD and Autopilot: A Bold Proposition

Adding to the mix, Tesla's CEO Elon Musk announced the possibility of licensing Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) technologies to other automakers. This move could transform the landscape of autonomous driving by making Tesla's advanced technologies more widely accessible. However, the practical implementation is a complex process. Past discussions about licensing self-driving technology to other automakers have not materialized, indicating potential hurdles ahead.

An Industry Gamechanger

While the recent developments have generated much buzz, the long-term implications for Tesla and the electric vehicle industry remain unclear. Directly licensing technologies and working with companies that have designed them is a viable way to accelerate technological adoption. Tesla's moves could pave the way for more partnerships akin to its early collaborations with Daimler and Toyota. However, the willingness and ability of other automakers to integrate Tesla's technology remain to be seen.

The overarching narrative here aligns with Tesla's mission statement to help accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. By allowing broader access to its technologies, Tesla stands to propel the entire industry forward, even if it potentially narrows its competitive edge. But as Musk stated, "Patents do not define technology leadership...but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world's most talented engineers."

Whether this bold gambit will yield the intended results or backfire remains a question only time will answer. For now, Tesla continues to push boundaries, challenging the status quo in its relentless pursuit of a sustainable future.

Tesla Gears Up to Enhance Service Mode: New Features Unveiled in Upcoming Software Update

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla is making improvements to its Service Mode
Tesla is making improvements to its Service Mode

In the ongoing quest to deliver advanced vehicular technology, Tesla never fails to surprise. Tesla enthusiasts have new reasons to rejoice as a host of features are set to augment Service Mode in an upcoming software update.

Pioneering Enhancements: From Diagnostics to Calibrations

With every update, Tesla's futuristic touch becomes more evident. Michal Gapinski, creator of the Tesla Android Project, which famously enables Apple CarPlay in Teslas through a web-based solution, has shared some upcoming features to Tesla's Service Mode with us. In a forthcoming software update, Service Mode will house new diagnostic screens for seat belts, the HVAC system, and what appears to be a new window calibration screen. These screens promise to provide a comprehensive, accessible system check-up that offers valuable insights into your Tesla's health.

Sealt Belt Service Menu

Tesla is making improvements to its Service Mode
Tesla is making improvements to its Service Mode

The first new Service Mode menu appears to display details about Tesla's seat sensors, seat belts and the restraint control module (RCM). The car's visualization is displayed from the top with various areas are highlighted around the vehicle including what appears to be the seat sensors, seat belt buckles and retractors. Tesla displayed how they're tied together and how they communicate with the RCM.

New Window Calibration Menu

Tesla is making improvements to its window calibration system
Tesla is making improvements to its window calibration system

But that's not all. Tesla also appears to be adding a new menu for calibrating vehicle windows. This updated window calibration menu features a new visualization, lets you easily calibrate each window individually and displays the generation of the hardware installed.

HVAC Visualization

A particularly intriguing feature in the upcoming update is a dedicated service mode for Tesla's HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system. This unique feature will display fan RPM and temperatures in various areas, seemingly allowing a multi-angle view of the HVAC system's visualization.

Though Service Mode is tailored for technicians or Tesla owners with a deep understanding of their vehicle, it offers a new level of engagement, providing detailed insights that can help troubleshoot, reset, calibrate, and even configure new parts.

Accessing Service Mode

To access Service Mode, navigate to Controls > Software, and tap and hold on the vehicle's model name that appears underneath the car's image until a water ripple appears. Then release and type 'service' in the dialog box before hitting 'ok'. It is crucial, however, not to make changes unless you understand the implications fully, as they could negatively affect the vehicle. Moreover, DO NOT drive with Service Mode activated, as it disables critical safety features like traction control.

While the new Service Mode features are not in production yet, they are expected to debut in an upcoming update. As we eagerly await these enhancements, one thing is clear - Tesla continues to push the envelope in providing owners with an unparalleled, comprehensive understanding of their vehicles.

Stay tuned for more updates on these exciting developments as they're expected in an upcoming software update.

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


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