PALO ALTO, California — In yet another bid to stay ahead of its competition, Tesla announced today that all of its models will be equipped with hardware that allows for an enhanced level of autonomous driving. This includes Model S sedans and Model X SUVs that are currently being built in its California factory, along with the Model 3 sedan due out next year.
"Tesla prides itself on being ahead of the technological curve, and by installing hardware that will one day make all its vehicles fully autonomous, the company is keeping that legacy alive," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds.com.
Tesla calls the new suite of equipment "Hardware Two" and it includes 12 ultrasonic sensors, eight cameras and a forward-facing radar. The new equipment will not be immediately functional. Tesla said it plans to roll out various levels of functionality over the next year or so as it acquires more test data.
In the meantime, current vehicles with Tesla's Autopilot system will gain enhancements that allow for exiting a highway, a greater degree of steering assistance and an improved ability to park itself.
What does this all mean for Tesla customers? If you have a Tesla that already has Autopilot, it will work better than ever before — but never as well as the new system that's being added to cars still in production. For those with a Model S or Model X on the way, you'll get the most advanced system of its kind on the road today. It's still not an autonomous car by any means, but it'll be the closest thing you can buy for the time being.