Tesla upgrades adaptive air suspension as news of 4D autonomy chip emerges


A new software upgrade being rolled out by Tesla to premium Model S and X vehicles will allow drivers to lock in ride heights and damping at chosen locations, while reports have emerged of a game-changing 4D chip being produced to drive forwards Tesla’s autonomy goals.

Additionally, the new upgrade, which comes with Version 2020.32.1, uses Tesla’s smart and adaptive air suspension, will also allow drivers to get real-time feedback on the car’s suspension system via a new visualisation feature.

The upgrades – which were flagged by Tesla boss and co-founder Elon Musk on Saturday as “significant improvements”, perhaps herald the dynamic air suspension that will adorn the Cybertruck, enabling it, as Musk said in April, to “kick butt in Baja“.

Source: Elon Musk/Twitter

The release notes on the suspension upgrade, as listed in Not a Tesla App, are accompanied by a slew of other upgrades such as dynamic brake lights, which flashes lights if a vehicle needs to brake suddenly when driving over 50km/hr, then turns hazard lights on automatically.

Also being rolled out to all Tesla vehicles is a “car left open notification” upgrade, which does what it says on the box, as does the addition of “close windows on lock” to the Model 3 and Model Y.

Riding high, or riding low

The details of the suspension upgrade are listed in the release notes as follows:

You can now see a real-time visualization of how the suspension system is dynamically adjusting each wheel’s damping to account for changing road conditions. Tap “Show Suspension Data” to get even more real-time information.

Adaptive Suspension Damping now has an ADVANCED setting that allows you to set custom levels of Ride Comfort and Handling in addition to the existing COMFORT, AUTO, and SPORT settings.

We have simplified the Tesla suspension control logic to better support both temporary and more permanent heights. If Ride Height is manually adjusted to High or Very High, your car now automatically lowers after you drive a short distance. For snowy or off-road conditions, tap “Keep” next to the Ride Height slider to keep the height at High or Very High until you reach the maximum allowed speed. For steep driveways or places where you repeatedly need a higher ride height, tap “Always Auto-Raise at this Location.” This feature will raise suspension to the saved height when re-entering the location.

Finally, the suspension system now automatically adjusts between Standard and Low ride heights to optimize ride comfort and range, depending on road type. If you prefer your car to remain lower to the ground, enable “Default Ride Height to Low”.

Possible 4D chip for full self-driving

While the new update gives another great example of how Tesla vehicles actually get better with time rather than being superseded by new models (as in the legacy car maker space), a new report out of China suggests that Tesla is working on a new hardware version 4 (HW4) computer chip that could be used for a new 4D autonomy system.

As The Driven reported on Monday, Musk also flagged on the weekend that Tesla is about to make a massive leap forward in self-driving technology.

One of these leaps forward, said Musk on Saturday, will “come as a quantum leap, because it’s a fundamental architectural rewrite, not an incremental tweak,” referring to a step up in architecture mentioned by Musk at the company’s Q2 2020 earnings call.

At the time, Musk flagged that Tesla would be releasing an “architectural change” which he said “has been under way for some time but has not really been rolled out to anyone in the production fleet”, but “is what really matters for Full Self-Driving”.

Now, China Times has reported that, “According to industry news, Broadcom and Tesla are cooperating to develop ultra-large HPC chips for automotive use.”

It is not clear from the report that this is definitely connected with the 4D upgrade mentioned by Musk but it is reasonable to deduce this is likely.

As reported, “Production of the new chips will begin in the fourth quarter, with an initial production of about 2,000 wafers. It is expected to enter the full mass production stage after the fourth quarter of next year.”

Additionally, the China Times report says that (translated from Chinese): “It is understood that the HPC chip created by Broadcom for Tesla will become the core computing special application chip (ASIC) for Tesla electric vehicles in the future, which can be used to control and support advanced driver assistance systems, electric vehicle power transmission, and automotive entertainment.

“The four major application areas of automotive electronics such as systems and car body electronic components will further support the real-time computing required for self-driving cars. The HPC chip jointly developed by Broadcom and Tesla should be an important cooperation project from electric vehicles to self-driving cars.”

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