The autonomous driving software that powers Tesla vehicles will be getting a huge upgrade once Tesla rolls out the second iteration of its Autopilot software. Not only will the software itself be smarter, but it will be bolstered by enhanced hardware that will come in the form of additional radar units and camera systems all around the car.
Tesla’s updated Autopilot software is reportedly in beta testing at the moment and will also accompany an updated UI on the dash that will more accurately display other cars on the road along with the direction and angle they are moving in. Other rumored features include the ability to identify and react to both stop signs and traffic lights.
All that said, current Tesla owners with Autopilot enabled vehicles may naturally be wondering if they’ll soon be left using outdated, and in turn, riskier hardware once Tesla vehicles fitted with the company’s latest and greatest hardware begin rolling off the line.
Taking a closer look at this question, Electrek recently examined the likelihood that current Tesla vehicles with first-gen Autopilot hardware might be retrofitted with Tesla’s more advanced suite of hardware sensors.
The good news is that doing so appears to be technically feasible. Now as for how it might all be accomplished, the report details that much of the requisite wiring to handle new Autopilot hardware already exists in current vehicles. The only potential speed bump, however, might lie in adding new radar sensors to older models.
… some wiring harnesses and the housing for the triple camera system on the rearview mirror cutout are already in those vehicles, indicating that a retrofit for the new camera wouldn’t be a labor-intensive process, which is often the bottleneck for offering a retrofit.
The real difficulty would be to retrofit the additional radar antennas. They are installed in the bumpers, which means you’d have to take the front and back bumpers out to install them and then readjust everything for a good fit.
All that said, it remains to be seen if Tesla has plans to offer an official retrofit program for existing customers, and if so, how much it will charge for the improvements. While we can’t envision Tesla offering the program for free, we’d imagine that Tesla would want to do everything in its power to ensure that every Tesla on the road is using the most advanced incarnation of its Autopilot software as possible. Especially with Tesla’s Autopilot software being criticized at every turn, it stands to reason that Tesla will make such a retrofit program as relatively affordable as possible.
As a final point, a Model X owner recently posted a YouTube video highlighting that his SUV is already wired for dual cameras, thereby suggesting that “we may be able to retrofit or add a camera for the Model X in the future.”