Tesla Motors Inc. will equip all models it builds from now on with hardware that enables fully autonomous driving, says CEO Elon Musk.
The technology will not be deployed immediately, but will be switched on gradually by Tesla over the air as validation is completed.
Tesla vehicles in production, including the upcoming Model 3 sedan, will now have eight camera sensors (an increase from one) and 12 ultrasonic sensors, Musk told reporters last week in a conference call. Vehicles on the road will not be upgraded.
The hardware will disable certain functions of Autopilot, Tesla's semiautonomous software.
"This is different from Auto-pilot," Musk said, adding that the new system enables the "highest level" of autonomous technology.
After "millions" of miles of real-world testing, he said the upgrades will be delivered to vehicles over the air every two to three months beginning at the end of this year.
Much of the research will be done while the hardware is in "shadow mode" -- evaluating driving situations while the driver is in control of the vehicle.
"It'll take us some time in the future to complete validation of the software and get the required regulatory approval," said Musk.
He said the added cost of the new hardware is about $8,000, compared with $3,000 for Autopilot.