Tesla announced on Tuesday that it will remove ultrasonic sensors from its automobiles starting this month, despite it deploying only cameras in its safety and driver-assistant capabilities.
Tesla vehicles now have 12 ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear bumpers, and short-range sound sensors are mainly used in parking situations and to detect close objects.
"It''ll save them a few dollars," said guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid, refering to ultrasonic sensors. "It''ll also save them some chips."
In the wake of a chip shortage, Tesla began dropping radar sensors.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, claims that Tesla can achieve complete autonomy only with cameras, but has missed his ambitions to produce self-driving taxis that require no drivers.
Following fatalities, the automobile manufacturer faces increasing scrutiny from the regulator, the legal, and the public.
Tesla has said that it will remove ultrasonic sensors from the Model 3 and Model Y globally in the next few months, followed by the Model S and Model X in 2023.
Tesla said the move will temporarily limit automated parking capabilities but does not affect crash safety ratings.
"It remains to be seen whether this will be ''two steps forward and one step backward,'' according to Raj Rajkumar, a Carnegie Mellon professor.
While self-driving tech firms and automakers employ multiple sensors, like expensive lidars, Tesla is dependent only on cameras and artificial intelligence to assist a vehicle understand the environment.
"The problem is how well cameras can see near the vehicle," said Professor Philip Koopman of Carnegie Mellon University.
On Tuesday, a widely-following Tesla researcher known only as "Green" a tweeted that ultrasonic sensors are also used in Autopilot as a "fail-safe" tool for changing lanes.
"Impact on the safety of autopilot is likely to be small," he added, adding that parking hazards aid people in avoiding hitting ground and other obstacles.