The Tesla computer, a new custom chip designed to enable full self-driving capabilities, is now in all new Model 3, X and S vehicles, CEO Elon Musk said during the company’s Autonomy Day.
Tesla switched over from Nvidia’s Drive platform to its own custom chip for the Model S and X about a month ago and for the Model 3 about 10 days ago, Musk said.
“All cars being produced all have the hardware necessary — computer and otherwise — for full self-driving,” Musk said. “All you need to do is improve the software.”
Work is also already underway on a next-generation chip, Musk added. The design of this current chip was completed “maybe one and half, two years ago.” Tesla is now about halfway through the design of the next-generation chip.
Musk wanted to focus the talk on the current chip, but he later added that the next-generation one would be “three times better” than the current system and was about two years away.
The software caveat about full self-driving is an important one. Tesla vehicles are not considered fully autonomous, or Level 4, a designation by SAE that means the car can handle all aspects of driving in certain conditions without human intervention.
Instead, Tesla vehicles are “Level 2,” a more advanced driver assistance system than most other vehicles on the road today. Musk has promised that the advanced driver assistance capabilities on Tesla vehicles will continue to improve until eventually reaching that full automation high-water mark.
Tesla offers two different advanced driver assistance packages to customers: Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. Autopilot is ADAS that offers a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane steering and is now a standard feature on new cars. The price of vehicles has been adjusted higher to reflect the addition of Autopilot as a standard feature.
Full Self-Driving, or FSD, costs an additional $5,000. (And, to be clear, vehicles are not full self-driving driving.) FSD includes Summon as well as Navigate on Autopilot, an active guidance system that navigates a car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including interchanges and making lane changes. Once drivers enter a destination into the navigation system, they can enable “Navigate on Autopilot” for that trip.