Teslas with LIDARs and no radar -- it's not what you think.


Some buzz has arisen due to photos of a Tesla with a LIDAR on it, and hints that Tesla is dropping radar from their cars in a hurry. Is this a major change of heart, par for the course, or a response to the chip shortage.

See analysis of that at this new Forbes site article:

Teslas with LIDARs and no radar -- it's not what you think.


Cars without radar have fewer features, and the higher end models are not removing radar.

Seems clear to me that they're being forced to do this for some reason, and trying to play it up like it's a good thing.

This "humans only have eyes" argument is annoying. It's not even true that we only use our sense of sight to drive; our sense of sight is better in some ways (worse in others) compared to cameras; and most of all, the goal should not be to mimic humans.

I really don't understand it.

I think this is fairly simple and plausible.

  1. They had a plan to eliminate radar, and were working on it
  2. A radar shortage developed, and so they released that plan earlier than they would otherwise have done, losing some features
  3. They believe they will get the features working soon.

I think you're right on all of that.

What I don't understand is how they can be so dumb (especially with regard to 1, but 3 is probably naive). Even if they get the features working again, it won't be nearly as good.

At this point, I think they should even be looking at adding lidar. Not relying on it as heavily as the others are, but putting in a low cost forward facing lidar sensor (and maybe a couple more to check for cross traffic) would likely help a lot with FSD.

Even iPhones have lidar sensors nowadays.

Tesla's design makes it a bit harder to add a LIDAR. You could have a simple one as you describe in the rear-view mirror, but there's no place to put one on the roof. Some are designed to go in headlamps so that might be an option for them.

But actually, for the simple function Tesla would talk about, an imaging radar could do the job.

I’m waiting on delivery of my Model 3. I’m torn on this, as radar brings more things to the table. I’m sure at some point when Pure Vision is implemented, existing cars with radar, will have a software update disabling the radar. My main concern is if Elon changes his mind about this, and they restore the radar function, my car won’t have the hardware. Would they do a recall to install it? My other concern is that the promised updates to restore full Autosteer function, well, Elon’s promises about software timeframes don’t exactly have a good track record. He’s saying a couple of weeks, I’m guessing months.

It's a tough decision. Also there's probably a big tax credit coming soon, but maybe they'll make that retro to January 1.

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