Tesla finally rolls out new Autopark feature for cars that lack ultrasonic sensors

Tesla Tap to Park
(Image credit: Tesla)

A number of Tesla customers have started receiving revised Autopark functionality via a software update, which improves the self-parking abilities of those Tesla models that no longer come fitted with ultrasonic sensors (USS).

Tesla decided to remove ultrasonic sensors and radar from the new Model 3 back in 2022, citing cost-saving as a key reason. A number of customers voiced concern, seeing as USS technology generally allows for greater precision in park assist functionality.

Despite this, Elon Musk was confident its camera-based Vision system, alongside advances in AI, could match or improve upon the existing USS offering. Alas, it has taken several years for Musk's company to release this update, meaning customers have had to do without auto-parking functionality since then.

The software rollout appears to only be for Tesla employees at this time, according to the website Not a Tesla App, but it brings with it huge improvements in the automated parking system. A video posted on X, formerly Twitter, shows one user interacting with the intuitive and slick software.

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In the video, X user Space Cat, who drives a Model Y with Enhanced Autopilot (without ultrasonic sensors), can be seen slowly traveling along a car park with the vehicle scanning for available spaces on both the left and right-hand side.

The Model Y, which is only relying on a live feed from its multiple video cameras, then displays a 3D image of those available parking spaces on the infotainment touchscreen. The user selects the desired parking space by simply tapping on an available slot and then hits the 'Start' button.

The vehicle then autonomously pulls forward slightly, before reversing back into the selected space. Meanwhile, the infotainment system displays a live video feed from the cameras, as well as a top-down graphical simulation of the manouver.

According to Not a Tesla App, this version of Autopark is available as part of update 2024.2.11, although it is unclear when the software will be rolled out to wider customer groups.

Analysis: Patience is a virtue... when you own a Tesla

Tesla Infotainment

(Image credit: Tesla)

Understandably, some of those who placed deposits on the Model 3 were suitably miffed about the news that ultrasonic sensors were being removed from the vehicles. It essentially stripped those EVs of select advanced automated driving functionality.

Any customer that didn't cancel an order has had to wait over two years for Musk’s promised Vision-based 'Tap to Park' functionality, something that was said to arrive soon after those new non-USS Model 3s went on sale.

Similarly, those same models also lack Smart Summon and Summon features, where an owner can have the vehicle autonomously creep out of or back in to a space remotely via a smartphone app.

Musk promised these features would be reintroduced and restored once Tesla was happy the Vision-based technology was on a par with the previous USS system, but it is largely yet to be seen.

What is also unclear is whether the Vision-based Autopark functionality is still as good as those rival systems that harness the power of ultrasonic sensors. 

Should Tesla’s cameras become obscured by muck or poor weather conditions, it may well see the system rendered unusable – something Tesla admits to in its own documentation.

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Leon Poultney

Leon has been navigating a world where automotive and tech collide for almost 20 years, reporting on everything from in-car entertainment to robotised manufacturing plants. Currently, EVs are the focus of his attentions, but give it a few years and it will be electric vertical take-off and landing craft. Outside of work hours, he can be found tinkering with distinctly analogue motorcycles, because electric motors are no replacement for an old Honda inline four.