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Tesla Model 3 prototype features different sensor suite than Autopilot 2.0 with more cameras

Yesterday, we posted pictures of the first sighting of a Tesla Model 3 release candidate in the wild. It seems to be the same prototype as the one in a video released by CEO Elon Musk last month, but the higher resolution of the new pictures from the sightings show more details and we can see new sensors.

When Tesla unveiled its Autopilot 2.0 hardware suite that they claim will eventually enable fully autonomous driving, it said that all future vehicles will be equipped with the suite – including the Model 3.

It features 8 cameras, 1 radar, and ultrasonic sensors all around. 3 of the cameras are front-facing, 2 are inside the B-pillars, 2 more are in the front fenders hidden inside the Tesla badges and the last one is rear-facing.

The latest Model 3 prototype spotted this week seems to have all the same cameras:

But the vehicle also features 2 more sensors – one in each of the two the C-pillars:

Now it doesn’t mean that it will be on the final version of the vehicle. As we reported when Tesla first started producing the Model 3 release candidates, they are testing prototypes at different stages of readiness.

Nonetheless, it’s interesting that they are testing the Model 3 with additional sensors. It’s especially interesting with Elon Musk’s recent comments indicating that the Model 3’s user interface appears to have been designed with self-driving in mind.

While Tesla claims that the current Autopilot sensor suite will enable fully self-driving, they never said that there’s no room for improvement. But the company also made it clear that the Model S and Model X, Tesla’s flagship vehicles, will always have the latest technology available. Therefore, if new sensors make it to the Model 3, which as previously mentioned is not confirmed yet, the Model S and X should get them first.

It will be something to keep an eye on for the Model S and X in the next few months leading to the start of Model 3 production.

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