Since publishing our piece on the Autopilot 2.0 last week, there has been a lot of discussion about the possible availability of a retrofit for the new suite of sensors on the current Model S and Model X. A retrofit is indeed likely at some level, but not for all Tesla owners.
As we reported in our last piece, the Autopilot 2.0 will feature a new triple front-facing camera setup as opposed to only a single front-facing camera on the current setup.
A retrofit for this new camera setup is likely to be made available to all Model X owners and possibly to Model S owners whose cars went into production starting last week.
Again, as we discussed in our last piece, some wiring harnesses and the housing for the triple camera system on the rearview mirror cutout are already in those vehicles, indicating that a retrofit for the new camera wouldn’t be a labor-intensive process, which is often the bottleneck for offering a retrofit.
Since our report came out, a Model X owner removed the trim next to the one leading to the rearview cutout, which revealed the wiring harness for several cameras:
Everything is in place for a relatively quick swap of the front-facing camera setup. Now there are other components that need to be updated for Tesla’s Autopilot 2.0.
Tesla’s Autopilot 1.0 rely in part on the Media Control Unit (MCU) to relay information from the Autopilot to powertrain controls, but we are told that Tesla wants a dedicated computing channel for the new system, which the automaker seems to have taken into account when shipping the Model X, like it did for the front-facing camera setup. A swap or adding a computing channel would be relatively painless on the Model X and presumably on the new Model S.
The real difficulty would be to retrofit the additional radar antennas. They are installed in the bumpers, which means you’d have to take the front and back bumpers out to install them and then readjust everything for a good fit.
Depending on when the new hardware starts shipping in the vehicles, easily over 10,000 vehicles could be eligible for a retrofit, which could put a strain on Tesla’s service centers already nearing full capacity. Without the radars, it would be a much easier task and there are several improvements to the Autopilot that could be implemented just with a retrofitted triple front-facing camera setup.
In conclusion. Tesla has everything in place to offer a retrofit, likely at a cost, for the new front-facing camera setup, and if the company feels ambitious, it could also offer new radar sensors, but it is less likely.