Tesla Reinstates Distance Measurements for Cars Without Ultrasonic Sensors

Tesla reinstates distance measurements for cars without ultrasonic sensors 6 photos
Photo: @greentheonly | Edited
Tesla already uses Vision for distance measurement on cars without ultrasonic sensorsTesla already uses Vision for distance measurement on cars without ultrasonic sensorsTesla already uses Vision for distance measurement on cars without ultrasonic sensorsMunro Live explains the implications of Tesla removing ultrasonic sensorsMunro Live explains the implications of Tesla removing ultrasonic sensors
One of the biggest mistakes Tesla made last year was removing ultrasonic sensors from the cars without offering an alternative. With the 2022.45.11 software update, cars without ultrasonic sensors will get the ability to "guestimate" distance to obstacles using Tesla Vision.
Tesla annoyed a lot of people when it decided to remove the ultrasonic sensors from its cars in October last year. According to some estimates, Tesla would save around $145 per vehicle by removing ultrasonic sensors. Although this sounds like a small gain, it's a lot of money, considering that Tesla plans to build 2 million cars in 2023. Still, we suspect many would gladly pay $150 more to buy a Tesla with ultrasonic sensors if asked.

Especially in Europe, the missing sensors are a big deal, considering that most parking maneuvers are done in tight spaces where every inch counts. According to a recent analysis, Tesla sales on the Old Continent suffered because of missing park assist functionality. Despite the price cuts operated by Tesla, inventory kept going up while people were waiting for the EV maker to bring back distance measurements.

Hopes went up when Green (@greentheonly) found in November 2022 that Tesla firmware might be able to offer a similar functionality starting with software version 2022.40.4. The update came, and still, no park assist functions were enabled on vehicles without ultrasonic sensors. Other people demonstrated that Tesla was already running Tesla Vision on cars with ultrasonic sensors, possibly to calibrate the camera-based system. A prospective Tesla owner who test-drove a 2023 Model Y in Poland also noticed that the car would detect distances without ultrasonic sensors.

People who got the FSD Beta V11.3.2 this weekend have another reason to celebrate. The software version 2022.45.11, encapsulating the latest FSD Beta update, also reinstates the missing park distance measurements for vehicles without ultrasonic sensors. According to Green, who discovered the feature, the update brings Tesla Vision Park Assist, providing visual and audio alerts of surrounding objects. It uses the occupancy network "to predict high-definition outlines of objects 360 degrees around the car."

This represents an improvement over the USS feature, which only provides measurements in front of the car and at the rear. According to Green, cars with ultrasonic sensors would not be offered this feature, presumably because USS measurement is more accurate. The update's release notes mention the Tesla Vision Park Assist only on USS-less vehicles.

For now, the new feature appears to be limited to people in the FSD Beta program. All those with a 2023 software version will have to wait until Tesla integrates the Vision Park Assist in the production (non-beta) branch. The fact that vehicles with ultrasonic sensors still use them instead of Vision Park Assist might change in the future. The same happened when Tesla turned off radars when Vision replaced their functionality.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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