All new Teslas will come with self-driving hardware, Musk says

In the future, Tesla vehicles will be fully capable of transporting passengers without a driver, company CEO Elon Musk announced Wednesday. 

Benoit Tessier/Reuters/File
A Tesla logo is seen on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, September 30, 2016.

Every Tesla car and crossover built at its factory will have self-driving hardware capable of transporting passengers without a driver, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced Wednesday.

The cars, including Model S, Model X, and Model 3, would include eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a forward-facing radar system to achieve what Musk called "Level 5" autonomy. According to the NHTSA, Level 5 autonomy doesn't have a steering wheel or any driver controls, and Musk said his goal would be for a self-driving car to leave LA and park in New York without any driver input next year, but it's unclear if that demonstration run would be in a car equipped with a steering wheel.

According to Musk, cars that could drive themselves could be coming soon, but if they were made this year, they'd almost certainly include a steering wheel and pedals, which would make them Level 4 cars.

Nonetheless, "the foundation is laid," Musk said.

Tesla is immediately rolling out new hardware for the cars capable of self-driving, Musk said. Until now, Autopilot-ready cars have been given a "Hardware 1" package that includes one front-facing camera, 360-degree ultrasonic sensors, and front-facing radar. "Hardware 2" cars, or cars that are going into production next week and capable of self-driving, will include eight cameras—including three forward facing cameras, 12 sensors, and an upgraded forward-facing radar.

Tesla didn't specify if the forward-facing radar system would be an upgrade over older cars, but said that the computing power would be roughly 40 times more powerful than current cars.

Musk said the automaker would roll out updates on its self-driving software every two or three months, and initially, "Hardware 2" cars would be less capable than "Hardware 1" cars. The automaker said that "Hardware 2" cars wouldn't be immediately capable of automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, or active lane control. Those features would be activated later in over-the-air updates.

Eventually, Tesla could sell two types of cars—cars equipped with Autopilot and cars that could drive themselves. Musk said the future self-driving technology wouldn't be called Autopilot, and would cost $8,000 to unlock on new cars. Autopilot is a $3,000 upgrade on current cars.

"Every car Tesla produces going forward will have the full autonomy hardware," Musk said.

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