This post describes what upgrade options are available to replace the Tesla autopilot computer and upgrade to a newer version. The Tesla Autopilot has been continuously improved since its release in 2014. Not only the software is continuously optimized and equipped with new functions, but also the hardware in the vehicles has been revised several times in the last few years. In addition to changes to the number of cameras, the performance of the computer, which is responsible for analyzing the camera images and calculating the route, has also been greatly improved.
The different computer generations are also abbreviated with AP1, AP2, AP2.5 and AP3. The latest generation AP3 or HW3 (Hardware 3) is now officially only called “FSD Computer”. It is installed in vehicles from about April 2019. The different functions of the various autopilot computers are compared in this table.
What is the “FSD Computer” (AP3/HW3)?
The “FSD Computer” is a direct replacement for the previous AP2/AP2.5 computer from Nvidia. Tesla developed its Autopilot computer after being dissatisfied with the general computer performance offered by even the best vendors like Nvidia on the market.
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Functions that are only possible with the FSD Computer Hardware (AP3/HW3)
With the software update 2019.40.50, Tesla released the first functions at the end of December 2019, which only work with the “FSD Computer” (AP3/HW3) hardware.
Stop sign and traffic light detection only work with “FSD Computer” hardware. It can be assumed that new Autopilot functions will only work with the FSD computer in the future and some functions will only work with purchased FSD option. The “Smart Summon” function will still work with the old AP2 and AP2.5 hardware, but the “Enhanced Autopilot” Function (EAP) or “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) option is required.
Tesla Autopilot computer upgrade options
- The AP1 (10/2014 – 10/2016) cannot be upgraded to AP3 and there will be no possibility to upgrade a vehicle with AP1 hardware to a newer Autopilot computer in the future.
- For vehicles with AP2 (10/2016 to 08/2017) and AP2.5 (08/2017 to about 04/2019) buyers of the additional option “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) will receive the “FSD Computer” (AP3) free of charge.
- As several Tesla Service Centers have confirmed, when you purchase an MCU2 upgrade, older vehicles with AP2 and AP2.5 autopilot computers will also get the AP3 computer installed. However, its additional functions can only be used by purchasing FSD.
Which Autopilot hardware version does my vehicle have?
AP3/HW3 (FSD Computer) has been installed since about April 2019. Many Model 3 SR+ were equipped with AP2.5 until summer. Since the software update 2020.4, “Additional vehicle information” is also displayed in the vehicle settings under “Software”. There you will also find a note about the installed Autopilot hardware.
When will I get the Tesla Autopilot upgrade for my car?
As mentioned in Elon Musk’s Twitter Tweet, for a vehicle with AP2.5 hardware, only the replacement of the computer unit is necessary to get AP3. The AP2 cameras are also AP3 capable. Date overview table at Tesla. If you have a vehicle of a type that is already released on this page, you can make a service appointment for the upgrade via the cell phone app.
Tesla Autopilot computer upgrade from AP2 to AP3
Meanwhile, vehicles with AP2 hardware are also being converted to AP3. An upgrade from AP2 with MCU1 to AP3 without the MCU2 upgrade is also possible. As you can read in this report of a Model S owner from the USA, with AP3 the guard mode including video recording on USB stick works perfectly with MCU1. But watching the videos and the traffic cone visualization does not work because of MCU2.
Upgrade from AP2 to AP3
Meanwhile, vehicles with AP2 hardware are also being converted to AP3. An upgrade from AP2 with MCU1 to AP3 without the MCU2 upgrade is also possible. As you can read in this report of a Model S owner from the USA, with AP3 the sentry mode including video recording on USB device works perfectly with MCU1. But watching the videos and the traffic cone visualization does not work because of MCU2.
Meanwhile, Tesla also offers a paid upgrade from an old MCU to MCU2.
My USB Flash Drive recommendations for Sentry Mode and Dashcam: