Tesla quietly boosts Autopilot hardware, inches towards full autonomy

Tesla has quietly rolled out a new version of its Autopilot hardware, seemingly bringing Elon Musk’s firm closer to its goal of fully-autonomous capability.

Electrek reports the new hardware suite is internally called “HW 2.5.” It is said to introduce a more powerful version of the on board computer, with a secondary GPU.

All new versions of the Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles will now ship with the new hardware.

Related: What is Tesla Autopilot

In a statement, a Tesla spokesperson played down the significance of the new computer. However, they did confirm its presence in new Tesla vehicles ordered today.

The spokesperson said: “The internal name HW 2.5 is an overstatement, and instead it should be called something more like HW 2.1.

“This hardware set has some added computing and wiring redundancy, which very slightly improves reliability, but it does not have an additional Pascal GPU.”

Originally, it was thought the only change to Autopilot hardware for the new Model 3 was the addition of a driver-facing camera.

It’s not yet clear whether this feature is coming to the Model S and Model X too.

Path to full autonomy

Telsa is still insisting there is a path to ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ with the current Autopilot 2.0 hardware.

When it was rolled out last year Musk said: “All Tesla vehicles exiting the factory have hardware necessary for Level 5 autonomy.”

However, HW 2.5 could upset the apple cart for users who paid for the privilege.

Now the company is pre-empting a potential backlash. It has promised to provide an upgrade to the HW 2.5 at no additional cost, should HW 2.0 prove inadequate.

In the statement, it added: “We still expect to achieve full self-driving capability with safety more than twice as good as the average human driver without making any hardware changes to HW 2.0.

“If this does not turn out to be the case, which we think is highly unlikely, we will upgrade customers to the 2.5 computer at no cost.”

The e-car pioneer’s eventual goal is full Level 5 autonomy for all Tesla vehicles. A level 5 vehicle would be able to equal the performance of a human driver in every scenario.