The V.9 version of FSD shall have ‘Pure Vision’. Pure Vision is the new direction towards which Tesla is moving. Tesla cars will now rely only on camera-based data for the Autopilot and eventually the FSD features. Till now, Tesla used radar and cameras together for these features. However, Elon said during the Q1 2021 Earnings call:
I think with the elimination of radar, we’re finally getting rid of one of the last crutches. Radar was really — it was making up for some of the shortfalls of vision, but this is not good. You actually just need vision to work.”
Elon Musk Announces Latest FSD V9 with “Pure Vision’, Here’s What You Should Expect from Pure Vision & New Update
Tesla plans on unveiling a few more Pure Vision vehicles next week before releasing the V.9 update after two more weeks. Tesla stopped fitting radar tech on the Model 3s and Model Ys that was manufactured in May 2021, further cementing the move away from radar tech.
This move is due to the reduction of the safety rating for 2 cars by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The increased number of Autopilot-related accidents are to blame for this. The ratings could change again, once the cars with pure vision are tested.
One more production release of pure vision this week, then FSD beta 9 a week or two later. V9.0 FSD is also pure vision. Foundational improvements are immense.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 6, 2021
What is Pure Vision
Until now, Tesla cars relied on a combination of data from radar and cameras for the Autopilot and FSD systems. However, the inaccuracies that plague radar caused a lot of problems for Musk and Tesla. Tesla couldn’t achieve its vision of a Level-5 self-driving car with radar tech. All the issues surrounding radar kept cropping up in Tesla’s analysis. To further prove their point, most of the Autopilot-related accidents were happening due to some sort of mistake in the radar-based data. The reduction in safety ratings seems to be the last straw for Musk and Tesla.
The camera-based Tesla Vision system raised some concerns about its safety. It couldn’t detect more than one car ahead of it. This meant that all the reactions given by the system would be dependent on the car in front. However, some of the owners of the Tesla Vision-equipped cars have said that their Autopilot systems are functioning better than the older combined systems.
Concerns raised by experts
It is a well-known fact that systems dependent on the radar are better at identifying distances than camera-based systems. Radar is also invulnerable to weather. This further boosts its image.
Ram Machness, the chief business officer of radar specialists Arbe Robotics said that the removal of radar could reduce the effectiveness of the emergency braking systems. This is down to the earlier mentioned point. Radar is better at judging distances.
A research engineer from Berkeley University, Steven Shladover, said that without radar, the driver-assist system will become unusable in adverse weather conditions. Radar’s ability to function in poor weather conditions gives it an extra edge.
However, Musk brushed off all concerns by saying that due to Tesla Vision’s development Tesla doesn’t require radar anymore.
This plan from Tesla is definitely against the flow of the industry. The consensus in the industry seems to be that the best way to employ driver assists is to use a combination of cameras, radar, and Lidar. Elon’s rather public rejection of Lidar means that it will never be seen in a Tesla. The removal of radar might seem like a step in the wrong direction. But Elon and Tesla feel that their camera-based tech is solid enough to perform better than a radar-assisted system. This could be a rather big risk that Musk and Tesla are pretty confident about taking. What remains to be seen is whether it pays off. It is going to be a very interesting few weeks.