Tesla’s full self-driving computer is now in all new cars and a next-gen chip is already ‘halfway done’

The Tesla computer, a brand-new custom chip designed to enable full self-driving capabilities, is now in all brand-new version 3, X and S vehicles, CEO Elon Musk said during the company’s Autonomy Day.

Tesla switched over from Nvidia’s ride platform to its own custom chip for the version S and X about a month ago and for the version 3 about 10 days ago, Musk said.

“All cars being produced all have the hardware necessary — computer and otherwise — for full self-driving,” Musk said. “All you need to do is upgrade the program.”

Work is also already underway on a next-generation chip, Musk added. The design of this current chip was completed “maybe one and half, two years ago.” Tesla is now about halfway through the design of the next-generation chip.

Musk wanted to focus the talk on the current chip, but he later added that the next-generation one would be “three times acceptable” than the current system and was about two years away.

The program caveat about full self-driving is an important one. Tesla vehicles are not considered fully autonomous, or stage 4, a designation by SAE that means the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving in certain conditions without humankind intervention.

Instead, Tesla vehicles are “stage 2,” a more advanced chauffeur assistance system than most other vehicles on the street today. Musk has promised that the advanced chauffeur assistance capabilities on Tesla vehicles will continue to upgrade until eventually reaching that full automation high-water mark.

Tesla offers two dissimilar advanced chauffeur assistance packages to customers: Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. Autopilot is ADAS that offers a combination of adaptive cruise command and lane steering and is now a grade feature on brand-new cars. The price of vehicles has been adjusted higher to reflect the addition of Autopilot as a grade feature.

Full Self-Driving, or FSD, costs an extra $5,000. (And, to be clear, vehicles are not full self-driving driving.) FSD includes Summon as well as Navigate on Autopilot, an active counsel system that navigates a vehicle from a freeway on-ramp to off-ramp, including interchanges and making lane changes. Once drivers enter a destination into the navigation system, they can enable “Navigate on Autopilot” for that trip.


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