It appears that Elon Musk’s goal of achieving Full Self-Driving is getting closer to reality, with reports from members of the Tesla community indicating that the electric car maker is starting to retrofit selected vehicles with its custom-designed Hardware 3 computer. Tesla considers HW3 as a key to achieving autonomous driving, as indicated by the company in its Autonomy Day event this past April.
Tesla owner-enthusiast Sofiaan Fraval mentioned on Twitter that his vehicle was given the HW3 retrofit after he took in his 2018 Model S P100D for a voluntary HEPA filter replacement. Upon receiving a report for his vehicle’s service, the Tesla owner was pleasantly surprised to see that service center had installed its HW3 Full Self-Driving computer on his Model S. “Performed the retrofit for the Full-Self Driving computer. Test drove and verified operation,” Tesla wrote.
Prior to its HW3 retrofit, Fraval’s Model S P100D was equipped with Hardware 2.5. The vehicle had a build date of 04/2018 and was equipped with Tesla’s faster, upgraded MCU. It should be noted that Hardware 3 retrofits are reportedly exclusive for Model S and Model X vehicles for now, and are performed only for selected vehicles. Thus, at this stage, it is pertinent to note that Hardware 3 retrofits are not available on request yet.
Elon Musk has been pretty open about the idea of retrofitting older vehicles with the company’s custom-designed Full Self-Driving computer. Prior to the company’s Autonomy Day event, Musk had emphasized that HW3 retrofits will be simple, considering that the new computer has the same footprint as its NVIDIA-powered predecessor. The Tesla CEO initially remarked that retrofits will be performed at a service center, though later tweets have indicated that the upgrade could be accomplished by the company’s mobile service team.
Tesla’s Hardware 3 computer is specifically designed to achieve Full Self-Driving. Discussing the custom hardware during an appearance at ARK Invest’s For Your Innovation podcast, Musk estimated that Hardware 3 could provide the company’s electric cars with a 1,000% improvement in processing capability compared to the NVIDIA components equipped in Tesla’s HW2 and HW2.5 cars.
“We can process on the order of 100 frames a second and we really need to do a lot of work in terms of cropping the frames, and sort of bending the pixels, and not going to full resolution on all cameras, that kind of thing with the current hardware. We’re at full frames, full resolution with the Tesla hardware. All cameras, at full resolution, full frames, and it still hasn’t tapped out,” Musk said.