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Tesla HW4
Credit:BLKMDL3/Twitter via Not A Tesla App


Tesla Quietly Introduces Hardware 4 Suite On New Model Y Cars

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Tesla has begun shipping Model Y cars that are equipped with its Hardware 4 self-driving technology package, according to Twitter user The Kilowatts (a former Tesla employee). Supposedly, the new hardware, known informally as HW4, uses sideview cameras that are larger and have a distinctive red tint to their lenses. The forward-looking cameras are also upgraded. HW4 first appeared on Model S and Model X vehicles earlier this year.

As usual with Tesla, there has been no announcement about the change in hardware by the company. Were it not for the inquisitive nature of some Tesla followers like The Kilowatts, this change would have flown completely under the radar.

Speaking of radar, The Driven is reporting that HW4 will feature higher-resolution cameras along with “an expected high definition radar.” That would be big news if true, as Tesla has backed away from using radar recently after relying heavily on it for years. However, no other sources are reporting the radar angle, so it may only be an unfounded rumor at this point. It has been something discussed as a potential change for several months, including due to some changes in the software code that some hacker sleuths have noticed.

The Kilowatts also has the scoop on what cars have the HW4 package installed. So far as anyone knows, the new hardware is only being installed in cars manufactured in Fremont. Although, it is a safe bet that it will be part of cars manufactured elsewhere shortly. For now, though, that suggests customers in Canada who take delivery of Model Y vehicles made in China will not be getting the hardware update.

Not A Tesla App says “the introduction of HW4 into the Model Y marks a remarkable stride in Tesla’s commitment to perfecting Full Self-Driving technology. As Tesla continues to develop and refine HW4, it’s exciting to envision the transformative potential this holds for the automotive landscape.

“While Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s ambitious vision of a Robotaxi fleet may still be some way off, the integration of HW4 in the Model Y undeniably represents a key milestone in that journey. As this revolutionary technology evolves, the world eagerly awaits the exciting advancements it promises to bring to the autonomous driving experience.”

Tesla HW4 & FSD

The upgraded HW4 package can be spotted by looking closely at the exterior of a Tesla vehicle. Look for the telltale red color in the camera lens. Preliminary reports suggest the new lenses cannot be retrofitted to existing cars, even though the mounting points in the sheetmetal are the same. Even if such a thing was possible, it is likely there are changes to the software that would not work on cars manufactured before the date when HW4 was incorporated on the production line.

Tesla has a culture of continuous improvements to its cars, which leads some people to question whether to buy a new Tesla today or wait. As Elon Musk has said in the past, the best time to buy a Tesla is today. That’s when all the latest upgrades are available and baked in at the factory.

That does sometimes lead to buyer’s remorse. No doubt some customers who took delivery of a new Tesla earlier this year may wish they had waited, but just because there may be something new in the Tesla universe doesn’t mean those older cars are obsolete. They were still the best cars Tesla ever offered on the day they were built.

Tesla HW4

Credit: BLKMDL3/Twitter via Not A Tesla App

The new HW4 package may be a sign that long awaited improvements to the company’s Full Self Driving suite may be in the offing. Once again, no one knows for certain, as Tesla is very close-mouthed about such things, but better hardware should lead to better software, which is a good thing.

Not A Tesla App also reports that Tesla will soon introduce enhanced monitoring of drivers to detect distracted, impaired, or drowsy drivers. The enhanced monitoring system will assess a driver’s ability based on multiple factors, including how well the car is centered and the number of lane keeping assist warnings and corrections made.

It will detect signs of driver fatigue or distraction by monitoring physical cues such as frequent yawning, extended periods of driving with eyes closed, and leaning of the head. By alerting drivers when such signs are detected, the system can potentially help prevent accidents caused by impaired driving.

This is perhaps the best possible way to reduce the scourge of drunk and distracted drivers. Deaths and injuries from traffic accidents are soaring around the world, and the likely cause is drivers who are drunk or who are attempting to text and answer emails while driving. Anything that reduces distracted driving will save more lives than FSD could ever do. Tesla should be congratulated for doing this and other manufacturers should follow suit as soon as possible.

Tesla & Privacy

There is one caveat, however. Tesla has a problem with security of customer data. There are reports of Tesla employees sharing videos that drivers assume are private with their colleagues and on the internet. Then there was the revelation by Handelsblatt this past week that data is so poorly protected by Tesla that virtually any employee can obtain private information, including billing records, with little difficulty.

That level of insecurity may cost Tesla dearly if regulators in Europe decide it has violated the terms of EU data security laws, which provide a penalty of up to 4% of a company’s gross revenues. The EU takes such data breaches more seriously than authorities in the US and have recently assessed a penalty of more than $1 billion against Meta, the parent company of Facebook. Tesla is going to need to ramp up its internal security procedures substantially if it is going to start collecting more personal data about its drivers.

The Takeaway

Continuous improvement is a feature of the Tesla experience, made possible by the ability to update the software in every car it builds wirelessly over the internet. Cars that are technologically up to date are worth more, which helps keep resale values high. It also eliminates the need for the model year changes that are the lifeblood of every other automaker, which also helps keep manufacturing costs low and profit high.

Tesla may not have the whole car manufacturing thing figured out, but for now it is way ahead of whoever is in second place. Staying in the lead will be the company’s biggest challenge.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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