Tesla continues to amaze consumers with its evolving innovative technology in its vehicles every year. At the top of the list is Tesla’s Autopilot hardware types that allow the vehicles to assist you while driving and maintaining driver’s safety.
Previous and current Tesla Autopilot types you need to know about include:
- Autopilot Type 1.0 released in 2014
- Autopilot Type 2.0 released in 2016
- Autopilot Type 2.5 released in 2017
- Autopilot Type 3.0, or Full Self-Driving, released in 2019
Each of these Autopilot hardware systems developed by Tesla have their own features that optimize your vehicle’s function. Keep reading to learn how to tell which Autopilot your Tesla has, what features to expect in your current vehicle and future updates that will improve your vehicle’s performance.
The Ever-Evolving Tesla Autopilot Types
The Autopilot hardware designed by Tesla should be known as an advanced driver assistance system that makes your drive safer and more convenient. In the past 7 years, Tesla has released four different Autopilot types in each of its vehicles.
Each update sent out by Tesla is not released when the new model is produced. Instead, updates are released as quickly as possible when it is developed and ready for consumers. Each Autopilot has come with the three most important components, which includes:
- The Camera System
- The Sensor System
- The Computer System
Each of the Autopilot types is built on a neural network that uses a system of intricate cameras and sensors to monitor the environment around your vehicle. The Autopilot types have all been designed to heighten your awareness of your surroundings. Tesla achieved this with a computer system that can process this information to optimize your current driving conditions.
Before, there was no easy way of being able to tell what version of the Autopilot hardware you had in your vehicle. However, in 2020 Tesla released its most current update, 3.0 or Full Self-Driving System. This update implemented a new “Additional Vehicle Information” screen that allowed its drivers to know the type of system they had.
Within this section, drivers could then access the “Autopilot Hardware Computer” section to know which Autopilot hardware was in their Tesla. This was important since there were no visible physical differences between the latest hardware updates.
This new feature made updating your Autopilot type much easier by knowing what software your vehicle was equipped with. When looking for your type under this option, you can expect to see your hardware system described as either:
- Autopilot Type 1.0
- Autopilot Type 2.0
- Autopilot Type 2.5
- Autopilot Type 3.0 or “Full Self-Driving”
If your Tesla was built before 2014 and is not equipped with any of the Autopilot types, your computer system will not have anything listed under this category.
Autopilot Type 1.0
The first version of the Autopilot hardware, 1.0, was built and released by Tesla from September 2014 through October 2016. It was available in all Model S and Model X vehicles during this time.
The major advancement of this software was the front-facing camera. Even though it did have the backup camera too, it was not connected to the Autopilot system just yet.
The forward-facing camera was implemented to allow the vehicle to adjust its cruise control to go with the flow of the surrounding traffic. The camera was supported by the Bosch Radar system that had a 525-foot range with 12 sonar sensors for the best detection.
Autopilot Type 2.0
The first update to the 2.0 Autopilot hardware version was built and released by Tesla from October 2016 through August 2017. This update proved to be the biggest upgrade to Tesla’s Autopilot hardware even in 2021.
From one camera to eight, this Autopilot system is still built into every Tesla vehicle that is in production today. This camera system covers every angle around the vehicles entire body allowing it to tell you everything you need to know about your surroundings. The front-facing camera also had the Bosch radar system with identical detection capabilities.
This update was the first to give the Tesla vehicles the full sell-driving capabilities that so many consumers had waited for so long.
Autopilot Type 2.5
The next update to the 2.5 Autopilot hardware in August 2017 through March 2019 improved the camera’s radar system from the Bosch System to the Continental System. This upgrade increased the cameras range from 525 feet to 558 feet, while the sonar sensors remained the same.
These models now allowed its drivers to use the navigation system while also enabling the Autopilot hardware feature. This allowed your vehicle to make lane changes and navigate itself while also utilizing all the other Autopilot features as well.
Autopilot Type 3.0
Tesla’s update to the 3.0 Autopilot hardware is the biggest advancement to date. These vehicles entered production in March 2019 and is the current hardware being built in all Tesla’s today.
This update has all of the components necessary for the most efficient full self-driving features. The full self-driving computer is equipped to deliver intelligent performance and control at a new level of safety. Each vehicle is equipped with several active safety features, that will be discussed shortly.
The most enticing part about this most recent update is that it has not impacted the vehicles cost or driving range.
Autopilot Features and Capabilities
The Autopilot hardware comes with several driver assistance features that are now a standard with the purchase of any new Tesla vehicle. If you decide to opt-out of these features, you can add them later after you have purchased your vehicle by contacting Tesla directly, too.
The two available Autopilot packages that are available to consumers are:
- The Traffic-Aware Cruise Control
- The Autosteer Feature
The traffic-aware cruise control is able to match your vehicle’s speed to the surrounding traffic. It does this through the front-facing camera and its radar software.
To engage the traffic-aware cruise control in Model S and Model X, pull down once on the cruise control stalk on the left of the steering column. In Model 3 and Model Y, pull down once on the gear selector stalk to the right of the steering column.
The Autosteer feature assists drivers in steering, like the name implies. This component utilizes the traffic-aware cruise control by being able to distinguish the clearly marked lanes on the road. Although this feature only works for highway driving, an upcoming update will allow it to be used on city streets to increase vehicle autonomy.
To engage Autosteer in Model S and Model X, pull towards yourself twice using the cruise control stalk to the left of the steering column. You should see a grey steering wheel icon appear on your dash once it is engaged. In Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, pull down twice on the gear selector stalk to the right of the steering column. You should see a blue steering wheel icon appear on your dash once it is engaged.
Full Self-Driving Features and Capabilities
The full self-driving component comes with several new features in the most recent 3.0 Autopilot hardware update. Some of the most desired features include:
- Use of Navigation on Autopilot
- Auto Lane Change
- Smart Summon Technology
- Traffic and Stop Sign Control
The Navigate on Autopilot feature helps drivers get to their destination more efficiently. This feature allows the vehicle to:
- Make lane changes itself
- Navigate highway interchanges itself
- Take exits itself
In Model S and Model X, you can engage your navigation feature while on Autopilot by pulling the cruise control stalk towards yourself twice. In Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, you can engage this feature by moving the gear stalk twice downwards.
The auto lane change feature works when the Autosteer feature is enabled in your Autopilot controls setting. To utilize this feature, you must engage the turn signal in the direction you want to move. From there your vehicle will be able to navigate itself when its surroundings are free from other cars and obstacles.
The smart summon feature can allow your vehicle to drive to you or a location that you wish to visit. This feature equips your vehicle with the ability to maneuver around and stop for objects when necessary. This feature should only be used in private parking lots and driveways and can be activated by the COME TO ME button on your vehicle’s computer. It is important to remember; this feature does not equip your vehicle with full autonomy.
The traffic light and stop sign control feature allows your Tesla vehicle to identify stop signs and traffic lights. Upon recognition, it can slow your car to a complete stop while approaching a stop sign or traffic light only when the Autopilot feature is engaged. It is important to note that this feature is exclusive to those with the Full Self-Driving package.
Active Safety Features When Autopilot is Engaged
Tesla vehicles made after 2014 are equipped with any of the Autopilot type systems and have several safety features to ensure you are always protected. Amongst these features are:
- Automatic Emergency Braking
- Forward and Side Collision Warning
- Blind Spot Monitoring
- Lane Departure Avoidance
The automatic emergency braking feature is a consumer favorite. It allows your vehicle to detect any cars or obstacles that may make sudden stops in front of you and can apply your brakes when necessary.
Both collision warnings and blind-spot monitoring is featured to help recognize any cars or obstacles around your vehicle or when changing lanes. Both these features ensure you never miss a car in your blind spot again, thus preventing unwanted accidents.
Lastly, the lane departure avoidance feature utilizes the corrective steering of the Autopilot hardware to keep your car in the intended lane.
Do I Need to Pay Attention When Using Autopilot?
The Autopilot hardware was designed to assist a hands-on driver, and you must be attentive when driving. Unfortunately, none of Tesla’s vehicles are capable of being a full self-driving car or an autonomous vehicle yet.
When you enable the Autopilot feature, you will first have to agree to a prompt that states you will “keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times,” and you will “maintain control and responsibility of your car.”
You should also expect to see a number of visual and audio warnings from the Autopilot hardware as you begin your drive. If enough torque is not applied to the steering wheel, your vehicle will remind you to put your hands on the steering wheel to ensure you are in control of your car.
If you think you can ignore these warnings and fail to be attentive, your Tesla will lock the Autopilot capabilities for that trip.
Limitations of Autopilot Hardware in Previous and Current Updates
The Autopilot hardware does not come without its flaws. Many factors can impact the performance of your Tesla and its Autopilot features. Many of these factors include:
- Poor visibility
- Bright light
- Weather Conditions
- Objects Mounted on Your Vehicle
- Winding roads
Heavy rain, snow, mud, and fog can cover your cameras and limit their ability to recognize all your surroundings fully. Bright lights from oncoming traffic along with direct sunlight can also reduce your camera’s range. In any instance, it is important to remain completely attentive when utilizing the Autopilot features.
The best way to overcome any of these obstacles is to keep your cameras as clean as possible. It is good to clean the cameras with warm water and a cloth regularly to avoid any harmful dirt build-up. You also want to avoid any potential damage to the cameras with extra accessories on your vehicle.
Enhanced Autopilot vs. Full Self-Driving Options
You may now be wondering which Autopilot type is best for you and your Tesla. It ultimately comes down to what you are looking for in your vehicle and how much you want to spend on an upgrade. Either option will require you to have a vehicle with the full self-driving computer, along with the basic Autopilot or enhanced Autopilot capabilities.
If you decide on the enhanced Autopilot option, you can look to spend a little under $5000 for its features. However, if you decide on the full self-driving package, you can expect to pay around $10,000.
Essentially the main difference between each option is the enhanced Autopilot package comes with everything the full self-driving package comes with, minus the improved city autonomy in the full self-driving package.
No matter the package you choose for your vehicle, the packages should not be confused as a full autonomy option. Even with these advanced features, your full attention will be required when operating your Tesla.
How Can I Purchase the Autopilot or Full Self-Driving Upgrade?
If you want to update your current Tesla to the latest Autopilot type and full self-driving hardware, it should not take you very long.
You can purchase either capability any time through your Tesla account. By doing this, Tesla will be able to tell you which Autopilot software is required for your vehicle. Access the “Upgrades” menu on your account and select the vehicle you wish to add these features to.
Just recently, Tesla also released the option to subscribe to a monthly subscription to the full self-driving software. If your vehicle is equipped with a full self-driving computer, you can also subscribe through your Tesla account.
For the newest models with the full self-driving computer, you will be able to subscribe to the 3.0 version for $199 per month. If your vehicle has either the basic or enhanced Autopilot hardware, you can subscribe for $99 per month.
If you find the full self-driving feature is not for you, you can cancel your subscription at any time through your Tesla account, too. Your payment will not be prorated, so you will have the self-driving capability for the remainder of your current billing period.
All Tesla’s since 2020 are equipped with the Full Self-Driving computer. Instead of purchasing the $10,000 package upfront, the subscription package allows drivers to experience each of the self-driving features without being locked in forever.
Expect the Most Efficient Autopilot Hardware from Tesla in the Future
Tesla’s Autopilot feature still requires your complete attention when driving anywhere. It is advised by Tesla to read your Owner’s Manual for more safety information before using any of the Autopilot features.
When you think about the Autopilot types and full self-driving features, it’s better to think of them as an advanced cruise control system. In order for any of these vehicles to achieve full autonomy, Tesla will need to demonstrate complete reliability, even more than human drivers in its upcoming vehicles.
Even with these innovative features Tesla has been able to put in its vehicles, full autonomy is going to take a lot longer than you would hope. Out of all the previous Autopilot types updates, the full self-driving option has proven to be the best because it is equipped with all of the Autopilot features released by Tesla.
You can, however, expect the Autopilot features to evolve over the coming years. Your Tesla will be continuously upgraded through the over-the-air software updates and hopefully achieve full self-driving autonomy soon.