Today, Tesla finally unveiled the second half its big Model 3 reveal. Shortly after 5 p.m., the company announced that all new Tesla vehicles will include the hardware needed for full self-driving capacity, effective immediately. While this includes the Model 3, older vehicles like the Model S and Model X will also include the new hardware — in fact, the vehicles are already in production and available for purchase.
In a blog post today, Tesla said: “We are excited to announce that, as of today, all Tesla vehicles produced in our factory – including Model 3 – will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.”
The company has received criticism in the past for its Autpilot. Tesla says that they are being cautious to make sure the program is safe. “Before activating the features enabled by the new hardware, we will further calibrate the system using millions of miles of real-world driving to ensure significant improvements to safety and convenience.” All updates to the system will be delivered wirelessly through the company’s over-the-air software updates.
The announcement, which launched promptly at what Tesla fans are now calling “Elon o’clock,” followed days of mystery. With the announcement, we finally know what CEO Elon Musk mysteriously teased about in a tweet just 10 days ago. Originally scheduled for October 17 and then bumped to October 19, the announcement didn’t come with the usual set of hints and clues that Tesla is known for letting out into the wild. The secrecy surrounding this unveiling drove the rumor mill for days, with speculations ranging from the launch of Autopilot 2.0 to “Tesla Glass.” Turns out Tesla fans are pretty smart, since the Model 3 reveal centered around their new Autopilot, which will come with every new Tesla.
The new vehicles will include eight surround cameras, which provide 360-degree visibility around the car for a range of up to 250 meters. For even greater safety, all cars will include 12 updated ultrasonic sensors, which can detect both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of Tesla’s previous system. Rounding out the hardware is a forward-facing radar with enhanced processing which can see through heavy rain, fog, dust, and even the car ahead on the road.
This cutting-edge tech goes far beyond the ordinary senses of a human driver, which the company argues will make the car’s autonomous capabilities far safer than traditional vehicles. The shift appears to be part of a larger strategy to provide on-demand mobility services to those who are unable to drive or simply can’t afford to purchase a personal vehicle.
The weeks leading up to this announcement were a little unusual, even for an outlandish entrepreneur like Musk. One day before the original announcement date, the CEO tweeted an update, pushing the Tesla news to October 19. It “needs a few more days of refinement,” he said, without specifying whether he was referring to the unveiling or the product itself. In the absence of any hints from the company about the “unexpected” new product, Electrek conducted a poll of its readers last week and the majority guessed the announcement has something to do with Autopilot 2.0 or some sort of integrated augmented reality technology.
In other Tesla news, the company quietly updated the marketing webpage for the upcoming Model 3, the $35,000 all-electric sports car. Musk originally promised that deliveries on preorders would begin in late 2017, but the website has now been updated to reflect that “production begins” late 2017 and “Delivery estimate for new reservations is 2018 or later.” While it seems that this represents a delay in Musk’s original timeline, the company has insisted that it doesn’t, telling The Verge that customers who have already reserved a Model 3 will still receive delivery in 2017, but all future reservations will be fulfilled in 2018 or later.
Images via Tesla
Cat DiStasio contributed to this report.