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What sensors does the Model S have? I'm surprised that Tesla sold a car with enough sensors for semi-autonomous operation without the actual software until now.

For those with more knowledge about cars, how does the sensor array in the Model S compare with similar models from companies such as BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz? I'm interested in knowing if it's software or the already installed hardware holding back recent luxury cars from similar capabilities.

Also, does anyone know anything about the (digital) security features of the Tesla? This announcement from Tesla makes it clear that the actual control of the vehicle can be modified by an over the air software update. With the recent Jeep hack[0] in mind, does any know if something similar is possible on a Tesla, or if there are some safeguards such as signed updates? As one of the most computerized cars on the market, I tend to think that the Tesla cars might also be some of the most (maliciously) hackable cars on the market.

[0] http://www.wired.com/2015/07/hackers-remotely-kill-jeep-high...

Long story short, it's both hardware and software holding things back. On the hardware side, there is a lot going on with solid state radar and lidar sensors improving by the minute, while prices are down a factor of 10-100 from even 5 years ago. There are now sensors available for research and product development that in 5 years time will allow a semi high-end production car to robustly drive all traffic conditions on a highway.

Car makers (and suppliers) have to learn how to make software to make optimal use of the existing hardware, but they've got a long way to go, still. Every major player nowadays has a research center in Palo Alto or whereabouts, seemingly trying to learn how to do this via osmosis, but it will take some time until they really understand how to keep pace with information technology, and how to bring it into their mammuth manufacturing and legal frameworks. Nevermind the necessary mindset to pull it off.

The software exists today to allow a production VW Golf with stock sensors to self drive on the highway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHyw58hn4sM

This stuff is coming fast...

It's no problem to autopilot on the highway today, 90-95% of the time. But that number needs to go even higher, still, before it can be unleashed on the public. And for that last edge, sensors and software have to get better. As a guess, going from 90% to 99% is the same effort as going 0% to 90%, software and hardware wise. Luckily, these diminuishing returns are (somewhat) offset by more resources being poured into development, and hardware costs coming down due to volume manufacturing.

The way that steering wheel twitches would make me very nervous.

Any estimate of how much the sensors as well as compute infrastructure cost in something like the Model S? $100, $1000, $10k, more?

I'd love to learn more about the increasing "computerization" of cars. Do you know of any good publications, blogs, etc for someone to learn about the computer systems powering cars?

It's under $5K for cameras, radar, and onboard processing gear.

The great point is, Tesla probably tested the sensors in shodow mode for years. What would the computer have done? vs What did the human driver do? They probably registered that the computer driving was 110% accurate compared to a human before enabling the feature.

Er, do you think that's all spelled out in Tesla's privacy policy?

They recently had a model update that shipped with a fairly extensive set of sensors (I have a family friend who recently updated his Model S for these features). The initial model didn't have these.

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