Update: adding to the skepticism in our article, a source familiar with the matter refutes Cleantechnica’s report.
Last week, we received a tip that Tesla is about to introduce a new trifocal Autopilot camera and a system to emit a noise to alert pedestrians for the updated Model S released just last month. We were not able to confirm it and therefore left it on the back-burner.
Now Cleantechnica is running it as an “exclusive” and a done deal though without specifying how they confirmed it (or even if). It looks like they received the exact same tip since they are not adding any new information. So I would take all this with a grain of salt.
We asked Tesla if they wanted to comment now that it’s out in the open, but I wouldn’t expect much. We will update if a representative gets back to us.
Update: A spokesperson refused to comment and referred to the report as speculation.
With this said, Tesla is set to introduce the new 75 kWh battery pack to the updated Model S before the end of the month. It’s not impossible for the company to add new features at the same time.
It’s not clear if a new trifocal camera would be part of the upcoming next generation Autopilot hardware, which is expected to include cameras all around the vehicle, or sort of Autopilot 1.5 hardware to improve on the current system which consists of a forward-looking camera, radar and ultrasonic sensors around the vehicle.
Adding to the speculation. Mobileye, one of Tesla’s main suppliers for the Autopilot system, offers an autonomous driving technology based on a trifocal camera setup. Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly visited Mobileye to test tech for next gen Tesla Autopilot as recently as last month.
As for a system to emit a noise to alert pedestrians around the very quiet Model S at low-speed, a ruling on this issue has been in the works since 2013, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that the odds of an electric or hybrid vehicle being involved in a crash with a pedestrian are 19% higher compared with a louder gas-powered vehicle.
The ruling has been delayed several times, but it is said to be imminent. Once regulators approve the rule, auto manufacturers will have 18 months to implement the audio alert in their vehicles based on the current proposal. It would make sense for Tesla to have a plan ready to implement such a system.
Featured Image: Model S by Bjørn Nyland – A close look at the updated Tesla Model S with new front fascia [Gallery & Video]