Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company had a big announcement for October 17. Unfortunately he didn't make that date and it got put back to Wednesday October 19 instead. What Musk had to announce was that all Tesla's produced from now will have heavily upgraded hardware that will give it full autonomous driving capabilities.

Tesla says the hardware that will be fitted to cars will give them a "level of safety substantially greater than that of a human driver".

The new hardware includes eight cameras placed around the outside of the car to give 360 degree vision at up to 250 metres in every direction and 12 ultrasonic sensors to detect hard and soft objects. Tesla says the 12 sensors can 'see' objects at nearly twice the distance compared to the sensors on current Tesla cars.

A new radar system has been designed for the front of the car to help the driver get information about the road ahead whether it be in fog, heavy rain or even in front of the car ahead.

Tesla has designed and produced a new computer to process all the extra information, saying the new one has nearly 40 times the processing power of the old one. The hardware upgrades are available on Tesla Model S and Model X cars as of today, so you can go out and buy one to be among the first to have a car with spidey senses.

Tesla has said it will be further testing the capabilities and safety of the new hardware over "millions of miles of real-world driving". Once the tests are complete, the company will activate the features via an over-the-air update to your car.

For now, Tesla has released a video showing a Model 3 with the upgraded hardware going on a drive. Someone has to sit in the driver's seat for legal reasons, but otherwise the car is doing everything. The car is able to recognise when it comes to a junction and stops to check it's safe to go, and also 'sees' traffic lights. 

The company has said that until the features are activated, cars with the new second-generation Autopilot hardware will be without some standard safety features of the first-generation hardware, such as automatic emergency braking, collision warning, lane holding and active cruise control. So perhaps it's best you wait until Tesla has fully completed its tests, just in case.

While the majority of new Autopilot features will rely on new hardware, Tesla hasn't forgotten about those with first-generation Autopilot hardware, saying it will make these cars "more capable over time" as well.

Sections Tesla Cars