Tesla made the cameras more helpful when it launched the Dashcam and Sentry Mode features in 2018 for Autopilot 2.5 and newer vehicles. This way, the car can record videos from the cameras like a stand-alone dash camera would, whether it's parked (Sentry Mode) or in motion (Dashcam). More recently, you can also see the video streams from your onboard cameras in the Tesla app.
What Tesla owners really want is for Tesla to offer a bird's eye view using the many cameras on a Tesla EV. This is available on many car models, including volume models, helping drivers during parking maneuvers. The best Tesla can offer is Multi-Camera View, a feature introduced with the Tesla 2023.26.1 update this summer. It is not a bird's eye view, as you can only see separate video streams from the main cameras and not a stitched-together picture of the car and its surroundings.
Tesla owners have asked for a 360-degree camera view (bird's eye view) for years now. However, there's an important reason why Tesla cannot offer it with the current setup. All cameras on Tesla vehicles have a narrow field of view and cannot cover the 360-degree surroundings. The bird's eye view doesn't require high-definition cameras, as proven on other car models that offer it. Instead, they need a "fish-eye," 180-degree field of view camera. This means that Tesla would need to add four more cameras to its vehicles to offer a bird's eye view, and I don't see this happening.
If Tesla can leverage Tesla Vision to offer this feature, it will significantly enhance the ownership experience. You can see in the picture shared with the 2023 Holiday Update release notes that the computer 3D-mapped areas that are not visible from the car's current position. This implies that the image was composed of video frames taken earlier while the car was reversing, with the computer "remembering" the objects when it assembled the scene.
However, such a feature might not be as useful as people think, at least not from the driver's perspective. Let's not forget that Tesla is working on a driverless future, and it's made decisions based on that. Tesla removed the ultrasonic sensors in 2022 because it considered them redundant in a driverless car powered by Tesla Vision. It also replaced the steering wheel with a yoke in anticipation of Full Self-Driving becoming widespread and removed the stalks.
While the FSD Beta is still advertised as a "Level-2 driver assistance system," it proved it could offer "supervised autonomy" on city streets. Tesla's automated driving systems can now cover driving on highways and in city traffic, so it's time they learn how to park. Tesla offered a "Smart Summon" feature before, but it wasn't that smart, and it also disappeared when the ultrasonic sensors were removed. Now, it needs a better version of it.
Musk said that Teslas will be able to identify viable parking spaces and park themselves after the drivers confirm the spot. "You tap on one, exit the vehicle, and it parks there," Musk explained. This sounds like a simplified "Reverse Summon," a feature that Tesla promised a year ago. With Reverse Summon, the car would enter "seek mode" at the destination, automatically searching for a spot and parking itself. The "tap to park" feature seems like a regression, as the driver still needs to find the parking space before leaving the car.
The High Fidelity Park Assist feature offered with the Holiday Update may be a sign of what's to come. However, Tesla Vision needs to be significantly improved before it can support reliable autonomous driving. Last but not least, the legislation needs to be updated to allow truly autonomous vehicles to move without a driver, even on the fenced premises of a parking lot.
True.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 8, 2023
We are working on a feature where the car identifies probable viable parking spaces. You tap on one, exit the vehicle and it parks there.