Bosch is showing off its self-driving car prototype in Australia this week, and it could give us a glimpse of Tesla’s Autopilot 2.0 plans.
Bosch, the largest supplier of automotive components, has released the self-driving car for the ITS World Congress in Melbourne, Australia. It marks the first time a self-driving vehicle has driven on Australian roads.
Bosch has been working on a vehicle automation system for five years that can be used on any car, Gavin Smith, President of Bosch Oceania, told Business Insider in an email. For this demonstration, Bosch used a Tesla Model S, but it stripped the car of its Autopilot hardware and replaced the sensors with its own technology.
It’s worth noting that Bosch is Tesla’s only known components supplier for its Autopilot system.
Promising call today with @BoschGlobal, maker of our radar sensor. Looks like significant improvements possible via OTA software update.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 17, 2016
Mobileye, an auto tech supplier, stopped providing Tesla with its driving-assistance chips and software earlier this year after a fatal Tesla crash occurred while Autopilot was activated.
“Our work is systems based so any vehicle could have been used as the donor,” Smith said of Bosch’s prototype vehicle. “A Tesla Model S was chosen because it represents our mobility solution well, it is connected, electric, and automated.”
Sources familiar with Tesla’s Autopilot 2.0 project told Electrek’s Fred Lambert that the Bosch Model S prototype has similar autonomous features to the upcoming Autopilot 2.0.
In a separate article, Electrek’s Lambert also reported that Tesla Autopilot 2.0 would include significant hardware changes, such as adding more radar sensors and a new front-facing camera to the car.
When asked whether the Bosch prototype had to do with Autopilot 2.0, Smith said “the purpose of this vehicle is to demonstrate highly automated driving and inform regulation in Australia for when these type vehicles become commercially available.”
“As an engineering project, there are always learnings and part of this demonstration includes an advanced human machine interface (HMI) that can detect the driver, configure that drivers vehicle settings and monitor if the driver is distracted,” Smith continued.
The Bosch prototype comes with six radars, six laser sensors (lidar), one stereo video camera, and one high precision GPS.
Bosch says the prototype demonstrates level 4 autonomy, which means the car is fully driverless in certain environments and conditions and does not require a driver to take over. However, Bosch does have a safety driver behind the wheel. Tesla’s Autopilot system currently is capable of level 2 autonomy, meaning that the car has automated functions, but still must be supervised by the driver.
As for when we can really hear more about Autopilot 2.0, it may be sooner than we think. Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased a new product announcement for October 17. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not it involves releasing details about Autopilot 2.0.