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Vision Only vs Radar - Observations from a 3 year owner

Tha_Ape

Member
Jun 15, 2021
372
289
Washington, DC
I made a decision to get a radar MYLR7 the minute I learned about the radar removal. I ended up modifying my order and getting one from existing inventory since my order would have been VO.

I don't like taking risks and at that time, the VO cars were severely limited in capabilities (they have since made advancements) and were no longer an IIHS safety pick (they have also regained that). The fact that they were keeping radar on MS/X as well as overseas 3/Y also played into my decision making. I suspected, right or wrong, that this was a supply issue and that they were doing this to keep up with demand and betting SW could fix their HW deficiencies.

I probably over reacted, but I'm content with my decision and still think more sensors are better than less, even if only to fill in gaps in edge cases (fog, low light, etc).

They may eventually make my radar vestigial. and that's fine, but I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
 
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Dante

Member
Apr 3, 2016
285
140
Canada
Have a 2018 model 3. One of the things that impressed me most about autopilot was how well it navigated in heavy rain. Seemed to see better than I could (and did not drive erratically despite pretty bad conditions). Yesterday was driving in what eventually became very heavy fog. Autopilot freaked out very early on when it was just light fog and was not available for the rest of the drive. I assume the radar containing cars have now had their radar disabled? Kind of disappointed in the downgrade, but pretty confident Tesla will retrofit all the cars they are delivering without radar once they can get their hands on some more radar units. I remember their big claims about radar benefits many years ago. Now they got rid of it in the lower priced cars… why keep it in the S/X if you’re writing it out of the software programming? I suspect because they will bring it back eventually
 
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Tesomega

Member
Sep 28, 2017
382
274
Pittsburg, CA
I purchased a Model 3 in December 2018. I have taken it on about 15 road trips over 300 miles in that time frame. I was one of the first to receive a Vision Only Model Y in June of 2021. I took that vehicle on the first road trip this past weekend. 850 miles round trip. 50% interstate / 50% highway.

Based on my experience with Autopilot in these two cars, there is no comparison. The radar system is not only far ahead of the current vision-only system, but the December 2018 version of the radar system is also significantly ahead of the current vision-only system.

In 850 miles of driving, I was subjected to 13 phantom braking events. In addition to those 13 events, I also had 2 events where a truck was just on the lane line and instead of the Tesla utilizing the space in my lane to avoid the vehicle (was obvious that they were not coming all the way over), again we were subjected to hard braking. One incident nearly resulted in a rear-end collision. 3 of the phantom braking events resulted in other drivers giving me angry hand gestures.

In addition to the phantom braking, we also had to endure what I would call "a general lack of confidence". The car would consistently slow down 3-5 mph for no valid reason. Examples: Car coming the other way on a 2 lane highway fully in their lane. Car stopped at a stop sign at an intersection. Etc. No human would consider braking in the situations that VO was consistently braking.

Another "feature" that is significantly worse than in my radar car is lane-centering in a situation where turn lanes appear or lane lines move. The VO car behaves much more like the 2018 incarnation of AP where the car seems to only take into account the next 10 feet of the roadway into its decision making. IE, the car seems to think "I must center myself in this lane immediately" despite the clear fact that the "wide" lane only exists for the next 30 feet. Once the lane narrows back up, the Y then aggressively recenters itself in what I would deem an erratic way. So aggressive that oncoming cars were moving toward the ditch to make sure I didn't enter their lane.

Bottom line, I find AP in my Vision Only Model Y to be both dangerous and embarrassing. I will test it periodically to see if this has improved but I have asked my wife to not use it at all until I have more confidence in it. If I had it to do over, I would not have purchased the VO MY. I am hopeful that Tesla *can* fix this, but I'm not 100% sure that these issues can be addressed without some sort of retrofit. It would not surprise me if NHTSA forces Tesla to retrofit these cars with radar if they cannot address these issues soon. Once Tesla is forced to provide AP data to NHTSA in October, there will likely be questions asked.
Have you reported this NHTSA?
 
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Tesomega

Member
Sep 28, 2017
382
274
Pittsburg, CA
Have a 2018 model 3. One of the things that impressed me most about autopilot was how well it navigated in heavy rain. Seemed to see better than I could (and did not drive erratically despite pretty bad conditions). Yesterday was driving in what eventually became very heavy fog. Autopilot freaked out very early on when it was just light fog and was not available for the rest of the drive. I assume the radar containing cars have now had their radar disabled? Kind of disappointed in the downgrade, but pretty confident Tesla will retrofit all the cars they are delivering without radar once they can get their hands on some more radar units. I remember their big claims about radar benefits many years ago. Now they got rid of it in the lower priced cars… why keep it in the S/X if you’re writing it out of the software programming? I suspect because they will bring it back eventually
I doubt retrofit to Vision only cars anytime soon. Tesla might most likely revise (change) how they deliver FSD in 3-4 years if they are unable to fix these issues. I personally doubt 8 cameras are enough to rely on VO model.
 

novox77

Active Member
Nov 25, 2017
2,380
5,133
NH, MA
I have a radar Model 3. This thread made me super paranoid and vigilant when I first got early access FSD beta. I have to say that my experience with vision only has been comparable with the old radar/vision combo. Some things it does a bit worse, some things it does a bit better. I no longer have phantom braking due to overhead signs or overpasses. The times it has braked gently on the highway were due to unpredictable moves from neighboring cars. I find that acceptable. That's the car being cautious and not a total false positive. This will get fine tuned with more training.

One of the biggest "disadvantages" of losing radar, according to what I've seen people say, is the inability to see in front of the lead car, leading to slower reaction times when traffic suddenly slows. I've not seen any situation where my car is slower to react than with radar. It's about the same. It slows way too late for my taste and brakes too hard, but it's more or less the same behavior. I'm still covering the brakes just in case.
 

Twiglett

Single pedal driver
Oct 3, 2014
3,233
3,472
Austin
Another 2018 radar Model 3 here that has FSD Beta so switched to Vision.
We have been an many road trips over the years and found AP to be pretty relaxing and a real help.
However, we went on a short road trip with the vision based FSD/AP and found some detail improvements with things like turn lanes etc - but overall vision is nowhere near as good. Near the end of our trip as i was getting tired I drove manually instead of waiting to keep taking over.
Constant, short interruptions where the car would slow down for no reason then speed up again, almost like it takes its foot of the gas and immediately back on again - on roads that where previously flawless with radar.
Technically it was probably OK, but it makes it very uncomfortable for the occupants with the unexpected forced head bob forwards & backwards.
It was no better just using TACC which used to be the fall back when AP was having issues.

TDLR - its better at some things but significantly less smooth and definitely keeps you on edge waiting for the next unexpected brief slow down.
However, as radar AP got better and better I expect vision to do the same. Vision feels like radar did two years ago.
 
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hellocar

Member
Jan 26, 2020
227
167
New Jersey
Have a 2018 model 3. One of the things that impressed me most about autopilot was how well it navigated in heavy rain. Seemed to see better than I could (and did not drive erratically despite pretty bad conditions). Yesterday was driving in what eventually became very heavy fog. Autopilot freaked out very early on when it was just light fog and was not available for the rest of the drive. I assume the radar containing cars have now had their radar disabled? Kind of disappointed in the downgrade, but pretty confident Tesla will retrofit all the cars they are delivering without radar once they can get their hands on some more radar units. I remember their big claims about radar benefits many years ago. Now they got rid of it in the lower priced cars… why keep it in the S/X if you’re writing it out of the software programming? I suspect because they will bring it back eventually
I hadn’t heard that radar was disabled in the public software for radar equipped cars. Maybe something else was going on for you.
 
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Dante

Member
Apr 3, 2016
285
140
Canada
I was going to ask: do you only lose radar if you get into the FSD beta then? I’ll have to pay more attention to see if my car is still seeing 2 cars ahead like it used to. I think that was a radar feature? But it has freaked out in light fog 2x in the last month. Whereas it used to power through torrential downpours like it could see everything. I don’t know what else has changed… I’d imagine fog is no worse than heavy rain, if not easier to see through.
 

novox77

Active Member
Nov 25, 2017
2,380
5,133
NH, MA
I was going to ask: do you only lose radar if you get into the FSD beta then? I’ll have to pay more attention to see if my car is still seeing 2 cars ahead like it used to. I think that was a radar feature? But it has freaked out in light fog 2x in the last month. Whereas it used to power through torrential downpours like it could see everything. I don’t know what else has changed… I’d imagine fog is no worse than heavy rain, if not easier to see through.

I have radar, and right before FSD beta, my car could see past the lead car. once on FSD beta, it has a much tougher time detecting the car in front of the lead car. Pretty sure non FSD beta cars with radar are still using radar.
 
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PDX-Y

Member
May 24, 2021
247
312
Portland, OR
vision only AP is unusable at night now, as it requires hi-beams AND it'll still freakout/brake when oncoming headlights (not even on hi-beams) blind it
I just drove 100 miles at night (and in the rain) on production AP. Why do you people post this kind of hyperbole on an owner's forum? You think the people here don't drive their cars and don't know this is wrong? Talk about specific experiences if you like, there are plenty in this thread. But ridiculous and easily falsifiable generalizations like this are just silly.
 
I still think the reason radar was removed was the lack of access to parts. Cars from China have radar, lumbar support, and not least all USB ports. This was a panicky act, and was implemented too quickly. So we can only hope that it will return when access improves.
 

PDX-Y

Member
May 24, 2021
247
312
Portland, OR
I still think the reason radar was removed was the lack of access to parts. Cars from China have radar, lumbar support, and not least all USB ports. This was a panicky act, and was implemented too quickly. So we can only hope that it will return when access improves.
The FSD branch has abandoned radar even for cars that have it. It's not coming back. Lumbar might. USB is being addressed on current cars as a post-sale repair, it's not strictly "removed".
 

novox77

Active Member
Nov 25, 2017
2,380
5,133
NH, MA
I still think the reason radar was removed was the lack of access to parts. Cars from China have radar, lumbar support, and not least all USB ports. This was a panicky act, and was implemented too quickly. So we can only hope that it will return when access improves.

are you suggesting that China is monopolizing random things like radar, lumbar support, and USB ports so that Tesla can't source them? This makes no sense. If you're suggesting parts shortages, then why would all this stuff still be available in Chinese cars?
 

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