Tesla recently updated its service manuals, which it provides for free to anyone who wants to view them. The updates were specific to the Model S and Model X, and one portion of the manual reveals that Tesla's new Hardware 4 includes an unused camera slot in the forward-facing camera assembly.

The updated Model S and Model X service manuals now have references to Tesla's new Hardware 4 (HW4). The automaker shared that HW4 has two forward-facing cameras rather than the three cameras that are currently in Hardware 3 vehicles. However, it also notes that the "bi-camera assembly has cutouts for three camera lens assemblies," though one of the assemblies has a "dummy camera."


There are still many unknowns regarding Tesla's HW4, and some of it could also still be a work in progress, as the automaker has been known to make changes on the fly. The new hardware system was supposed to officially debut later this year in the Tesla Cybertruck, and some folks speculated it may also be a part of the upcoming Model 3 Project Highland refresh.

That said, HW4 is already popping up in some new Teslas, and people have noticed an extra camera, but a closer look proves it's not actually a real camera. There has also been discussion on social media and in various related forums about the company bringing back some type of radar or other sensors, though nothing has been officially confirmed.

At any rate, the updated service manuals have a section related to cleaning the windshield, and it revealed the "dummy camera." Tesla's HW3 EVs have what is referred to as a "Tri-Foward Facing Camera," rather than HW4's "bi-camera assembly." To be clear, current models use three forward-facing cameras and HW4 models will have two, though there's a spot for a third camera that's not populated with the hardware.

Teslarati notes that Tesla's self-driving computer required three cameras in the past, but thanks to HW4's higher-resolution equipment, there may not be a need for all three. The publication writes that HW3 cameras have a resolution of 1.2 megapixels as compared to HW4's 5-megapixel units.

So, is the third slot simply unfilled because it's no longer needed? Or, is Tesla aiming to further future-proof its hardware setup so that it can add another camera later if needed? Perhaps some future models will require the third camera for one reason or another, such that eliminating the slot would be costly and it might later need to be restored.

This topic deserves a conversation, and we're eager to know what you think. Leave us your take on this in the comment section below. 

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