The roll out from Tesla Autopilot 1.x to 2.0 has been, uh, less than smooth. The program is still very much in beta, and out of the car's eight cameras in its new hardware suite, only one actually gets used in the new Autopilot software, as one intrepid owner armed with painter's tape discovered.
We've seen the new 2.0 system struggling on the road already, something that we didn't worry about too much, as Elon Musk tweeted that for the programming to work right, all of the hardware had to be right, too. A Tesla's eight cameras needed adjustment:
Autopilot for HW2 rolling out to all HW2 cars today. Please be cautious. Some cars will require adjustment of camera pitch angle by service.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 21, 2017
That certainly sounds weird now that one Model S owner covered up his car's cameras one by one only to find that only two had any effect on the car's self-steering performance, as Electrek reports:
A Model S owner in Arizona recently put this to the test and gradually covered the camera and used the Autopilot's Autosteer feature to see if it was affected. He posted the results to the Tesla Motors Club:
He found that the Autopilot only used two out of eight cameras, but Electrek can actually confirm that Tesla currently only uses one out of the eight cameras of the new hardware suite: the main front-facing camera. The tape covering the other front-facing cameras could have affected the main one which could have led his test results, but there's really only one camera in use when Autosteer is active.
Of course, Tesla keeps using the front-facing radar in addition to the camera, but it goes to show that the new hardware suite by Tesla is not really being utilised right now and the goal is really to bring those first generation features to parity on the new 'Tesla Vision' image recognition system.
Basically, the new software for Autopilot still uses the same hardware as the old Autopilot. The company wants to eventually get both software and hardware running, but when that's gonna happen could be months from now. Until then, Tesla will limit speed in line with the cars' capabilities.
When Tesla announced last fall that an updated Autopilot was set to roll out, company founder Elon Musk turned heads when he said new vehicles would be equipped with fully-autonomous hardware. The update's here, but it's being implemented with less-pizzazz and more caution; Tesla enthusiasts may be wondering what's going on. Only a 72km/h max for Autosteer? Here's what's going on.
Here's Tesla's official response on when Autopilot's fuller form will be reached, per Electrek:
"To reiterate, if you are at all uncertain about activating the new Autopilot hardware and software, we recommend waiting until at least a few hundred million miles or more have been accumulated. For a short time, we are placing lower limits on the top speed at which the new Autopilot may be used. These will gradually increase to normal levels over the next few months."
It's weird to see this all happen in very, very public developmental stages, but that's how Tesla operates. I can see how the pace of advancement that's so thrilling to Elon and his crew would be more than a little frustrating to actual owners. I would not want to be wondering why expensive high tech parts of my car are indefinitely offline, particularly as there are already unanswered questions of the car's potentially fatal blind spot still floating around.