The first deliveries of Tesla's hotly-anticipated Model 3 'Highland' were received by European customers last week and they've been quick to take to the web to divulge what they like… and what they don’t.
Inside EVs discovered a thread on the r/TeslaModel3 subreddit that saw customers giving their early impressions of their recently acquired, updated Highland models. It was typical subreddit stuff, with insights into the comfort and general build quality all appearing fairly positive.
However, a common thread of discontent surrounded the Tesla Vision system, which has already drawn criticism from certain circles after Musk made the decision to remove ultrasonic sensors for short-range object detection and instead rely solely on its cameras.
One Reddit user explained how the new Model 3 told him to stop immediately, even though there was nothing in front of the car. Another time it said there was a 19.6-inch (50cm) space in front, when in fact there was just 3.9 in (10cm).
Of course, it is very difficult to verify the purchases and user experiences of Reddit posters, but the removal of ultrasonic sensors has already proven a sticky issue.
According to the website Notebookcheck, a number of Tesla owners took to Reddit (it seems to be the soapbox of choice) after their front cameras fogged up and stopped working in cold weather, leaving several features, including the $10,000 Full Self Driving Beta, inoperable.
Tesla is one of the only automotive companies to do away with ultrasonic sensors, as these now ubiquitous devices are found on pretty much any car with parking sensor capability, as they allow the vehicle’s onboard computer to effectively 'see' and measure distances between objects.
Plus, any vehicle with any level of autonomous functionality features some combination of sensors and radar to operate safely.
Addressing the issue
Tesla's original Autopilot suite featured eight cameras, forward-facing radar, and a host of ultrasonic sensors, but Musk decided to strip the system back to the basics, as he believed the various pieces of tech sometimes contradicted one another.
He said in a recent Tweet on X: "Vision became so good that radar actually reduced SNR (signal to noise ratio), so radar was turned off.
"Humans drive with eyes and biological neural nets, so [it] makes sense that cameras and silicon neural nets are [the] only way to achieve generalized solution to self-driving."
As a result, the company announced last year that all Model 3 and Model Y cars built for certain regions would no longer be built with ultrasonic sensors and instead rely solely on Tesla Vision. This included North America, Europe, Middle East, Taiwan and Korea.
Tesla then had to roll out a software update to allow Tesla Vision to offer Park Assist, Autopark, Summon and Smart Summon functionality – options that were available on cars fitted with ultrasonic sensors.
The Model 3 Highland has yet to go on sale in the US, so it is difficult to say whether Tesla will only offer its Vision package or a more sophisticated radar system in the final production cars.
But if the Reddit forums are anything to go by, Musk might want to rethink his camera-only strategy.
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