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Differences between Tesla Autopilot 1, Autopilot 2, HW2.5 & Autopilot 3 (also known as HW2.5 and HW3) – Which MCU do I have?

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AP1 now discontinued on new cars (but still great)autopilot1

– Lane keep with centering
– TACC (Traffic Aware Cruise Control)
– Emergency collision avoidance and various warnings (more advanced AEB basically)
– Can tell the difference between a lorry, car, motorbike and even a person
– Lane change with indicator/signal movement
– AutoPark with Self parallel parking + parking space detection
– Automatic high/low beam headlights
– Vehicle Lane avoidance (cars moving into your side)

The AP1 system

– Front Facing Camera
– Forward-facing radar
– 360° ultrasonic sensors
– GPS and high resolution digital maps comprise a mutually reinforcing system (e.g. car knows a big corner is coming up off the motorway so will slow the car to a safe speed).
– Tesla fleet (all cars are linked to the web) ensures the system is continually learning and improving upon itself.

AP1 in action

AP2 (also known as HW2) built into all cars from October 2016

Optional extra to switch it on, split into Advanced Autopilot £4800 (or £5,700 after delivery) & Full Self-Driving Capability £2900 (£3,800 after delivery) – Prices may vary but that is what it was at launch.


  • – All of the above AP1 features
  • Eight 360° surround cameras (60M-250M range)
  • Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors (8M range)
  • Detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system
  • Improved forward-facing radar (160M range)
  • See fast approaching vehicles in adjoining lanes
  • Reads additional road signs like ‘Stop’ etc (at some point)
  • Processing Power Increased 40x compared with AP1
  • Automatically change lanes without requiring driver input, transition from one motorway/freeway to another, exit the motorway when your destination is near, self-park when near a parking spot and be summoned to and from your garage.
  • Tesla will navigate tighter, more complex roads.
  • Full Self-Driving Capability (awaiting law changes & system learning, estimated 2019 in some areas) – Tesla has made it clear (in the past) that all cars have the hardware needed for FSD, so there are no FSD boards or extra equipment required (at the moment)… however Tesla have also said those that wanted FSD would be upgraded if they couldn’t get full self-driving capability on HW2 hardware. Those that have purchased FSD will have their HW2 board swapped out for presumably HW2.5 or HW3 at some point for no extra cost, those that haven’t paid for FSD would need to pay for it before the car is upgraded to HW2.5 or HW3.
  • Capable of 200 frames per second of data
  • Based on a new neural network

Autopilot 2 but with HW2.5 (also known as AP2.5 or Autopilot 2.5) built into all cars from ~21st August 2017 build dates onwards

  • All of AP2 above, basically the main difference is a new secondary custom built GPU for more computing power and redundancy.
  • 3 GPU’s instead of 2
  • 6GB to 8GB GDDR5 SDRAM (RAM aka short term memory)
  • Dash camera recording

Which MCU (main computing unit) do I have?

MCU1 = Prior to February 2018
MCU2 = Late February 2018 to current

It does look like it’s possible to upgrade to an MCU2 from MCU1, although it’s not an easy process and will cost a fair chunk, an out of warranty MCU1 replacement costs $2250 so we would expect it to be at least that + several hours of labour + additional parts like Bluetooth and Wifi Antennas.

MCU2 improvements include:

  • Newer Intel Gordon Peak board instead of Nvidia
  • Faster rendering speeds
  • Smoother zoom and touch
  • Updates are faster
  • 5 GHz WiFi
  • The Bluetooth changes may allow keyless operation using your mobile phone

 HW3 (also probably going to be known as Autopilot 3 or AP3) – in all cars build from April 2019 onwards

  • Supposedly giving HW3 the ‘world’s most advanced computer for autonomous driving’
  • Custom built AI Chip
  • New computer that will replace the existing computer in the vehicles with Autopilot hardware 2.0 and 2.5
  • Capable of 2000 frames per second of data with redundancy
  • Available at some point in 2019

How do I know which Autopilot I have?

The difference between Autopilot 1 and Autopilot 2 is easy, your external side indicators/signals will have a camera built into them if it’s AP2 and no camera if it’s AP1.

The difference between Autopilot 2 with HW2.5 and Autopilot 2 is a little more complex to work out, but basically, the cut off date for being built was August 2017. For HW3/AP3 the cut off date for build was April 2019, if you want to know exactly follow these steps:

  1. If you have V9 firmware or above, on AP2 cars you won’t have dash camera functionality. On AP2.5 cars you will see this icon.
  2. Failing that you can contact Tesla who will confirm

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