Tesla has registered its updated Model Y in China with an optional radar, according to regulatory filings with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The Model Y features on two pages of the catalog, and supports options for radar, newly styled wheels, and front fog lights, Cnevpost reported.
Tesla introduced the Model Y update to China on October 1 this year, and deliveries have reportedly started, with prices remaining unchanged. This update is not to be confused with a significant refresh that’s reportedly under development, with an apparent internal codename of “Juniper.”
Radar, or radio detection and ranging, is a sensor that enables features like cruise control and autonomous emergency braking among others. It also helps the vehicle’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) recognize the environment around it.
Tesla’s relationship with radar has ebbed and flowed over the years. In 2021, the Elon Musk-led brand began removing radar from the Model 3 and Model Y, followed by the Model S and Model X in 2022, to transition to Tesla Vision, a camera-based Autopilot/Full Self-Driving (FSD) system.
The brand also went on to remove ultrasonic sensors, devices that emit ultrasonic waves to measure the distance between the vehicle and nearby objects and are widely used across all vehicle categories for precise parking.
Musk reiterated that Tesla Vision was better than the combination of cameras, radars, and ultrasonic sensors, as it relies on a human brain-like neural network, making driving decisions based on what it sees.
Tesla engineers had warned Musk of the potential consequences of removing radar, a Washington Post investigation from March 2023 revealed. “Without radar, Teslas would be susceptible to basic perception errors if the cameras were obscured by raindrops or even bright sunlight, problems that could lead to crashes,” the investigation stated.
The report also alleged that there was an uptick in crashes, near misses, and “embarrassing mistakes” involving Tesla vehicles after they were deprived of a critical sensor.
After taking that bold decision, Tesla has circled back to the radar, and industry watchers speculated that the brand might be working on a more advanced 4D imaging radar with twice the detection range of its previous version.
A teardown of a Model X equipped with the Hardware 4 package also revealed the presence of a radar module, and the brand will likely use data from the cameras and the radar to continue improving its FSD and the neural network.