Teslas are known for their innovative technology and advanced safety features, so it's no surprise that they come equipped with multiple cameras onboard.
But how many cameras does a Tesla have? In short, all new Tesla vehicles (Model 3, Model Y and, 2021 refresh Model S and Model X) have nine cameras – eight exterior cameras strategically placed around the car, plus one in-cabin camera. The pre-2021 Model S and Model X have eight cameras in total (with no internal camera) up until the original HW1 variants that came with only one (front-facing) external camera.
In this blog post, I'll provide more information about the different cameras installed on Teslas. We'll cover where they're located, and also go into the brief history of how many cameras Tesla cars have had over the years.
So keep reading to learn all about Tesla's array of cameras!
How Many Cameras Does a Tesla Have?
The current in-production Teslas come with a total of nine cameras onboard – eight on the outside and one inside the cabin. As part of the Autopilot suite, the cameras work along with one Radar sensor and twelve Ultrasonic Sensors (USS) to detect and monitor the vehicle's environment. The cameras can be used for features like Autopilot, Autopark, Summon, Sentry Mode, and Dashcam.
Here's how the current line-up stacks up in terms of the number of cameras:
|No. of Cameras
|Tesla Model S
|Tesla Model 3
|Tesla Model X
|Tesla Model Y
|Tesla Model S (Pre-2021 refresh)
|Tesla Model X (Pre-2021 refresh)
How Many Cameras Does a Tesla Model 3 Have?
Tesla Model 3 has nine onboard cameras; 8 external cameras and one camera inside the cabin.
How many cameras does a Tesla Model Y Have?
Tesla Model Y has 8 external cameras and one camera inside the cabin just like like its little sibling, the Model 3 which is where it draws many of its design cues from.
How many cameras does a Tesla Model S Have?
The current Model S has nine cameras (eight external and one in-cabin). I'm referring to the 2021 refresh which has a Model 3/Y-like horizontal touchscreen).
The older variants (Oct 2016 to 2020) had eight cameras (no internal camera) and the ones produced between Sep 2014 to Oct 2016 had one front-facing camera. Model Ss built prior to Sep 2014 had no cameras or Autopilot hardware included.
How many cameras does a Tesla Model X Have?
The current Model X vehicles (2021 refresh onwards) have nine cameras onboard as well just like the Model 3, Y and the new Model S.
All Model X cars built before October 2016 had just one forward-facing camera. After the HW2 hardware version was introduced in Oct 2016, Model X incorporated eight external cameras – something which has been maintained since then. The new internal in-cabin camera was only added in the refreshed version.
How many cameras are in the Tesla cabin?
There is one camera inside the Tesla cabin just above the rearview mirror. It's used to monitor driver attention and prevent distracted driving when Autopilot is engaged.
The in-cabin camera is only available in Model 3, Model Y and the 2021 Model S, and Model X refresh versions.
Tesla Cameras: A Brief History
As I have mentioned already, the “eight exterior plus one in-cabin” camera setup refers to the Autopilot suite on current vehicles but it's not always been this way. Previous Tesla vehicles had fewer or no cameras at all. The current eight (exterior) camera config was first introduced in late 2016 Models S and X. Let's take a look at how things have changed over time.
Tesla Model S and Roadster (Pre-2014)
All Tesla Roadsters and Model S vehicles built before Sep 2014 didn't have any cameras. They didn't come fitted with any Autopilot Hardware. You can easily identify these variants by the missing camera housing behind the windshield (above the rearview assembly).
2014-2016 Tesla Model S/X
The Models S and X produced between Sep 2014 and Oct 2016 began to include one front-facing onboard camera as part of the Autopilot Hardware 1.0 (AP/HW1). This promised automation of some braking, steering, cruise control and Autosteer functions in the future that would work in tandem with the car's radar and ultrasonic sensors. These features were then activated on the HW1-equipped cars a year later in October 2015.
Over time, as the Autopilot suite further developed and improved, more cameras have been added to enhance the driver assistance features. Let's look at them.
Late-2016+ Tesla Model S/X
Autopilot Hardware 2.0 (AP/HW2) upgraded the onboard cameras to eight on Tesla Model S and X produced between October 2016 and August 2017.
This was later upgraded with Hardware version 2.5 (AP/HW2.5) for cars manufactured between Aug 2017 – Mar 2019.
Model 3/Y and 2021+ Model S/X refresh
In March 2019, Tesla introduced the HW3 hardware upgrade on their Tesla Model 3 with nine cameras (8 external and 1 interior). HW3 with 9 cameras is now shipped on Model Y and the Model X and S refresh.
All Teslas on HW2 and HW2.5 that bought the Full Self-Driving package got an opportunity to upgrade to HW3 for free.
Where Are All the Cameras on a Tesla?
The nine cameras on a Tesla are located as follows:
Forward Cameras (3)
Three of the eight exterior cameras are forward-facing located just behind the windshield above the rear-view mirror module.
- Wide-angle camera: Fisheye lens with a 120 degrees field of view and max distance of 60m. Captures traffic lights and any obstacles like pedestrians, cars or cyclists cutting into the path of travel at close range.
- Main camera: max distance of 150m
- Narrow-view camera: max distance of 250m
Rearward-looking side cameras (2)
There are two rearward-looking side cameras located on the left and right fenders covering the rear blind spots. Max distance 100m.
Forward-looking side cameras (2)
Two forward-looking side cameras are mounted on each door pillar. Max distance 80m.
Rear View Camera (1)
The last camera is mounted above the rear of the vehicle above the rear car reg (licence) plate with a max distance of 50m.
In-cabin Camera (1)
The in-cabin camera is located above the rear-view mirror assembly and covers the inside of the car.
To summarize, all new Tesla cars (Model 3, Model Y and 2021 refresh Model S and Model X) have nine cameras – 8 exterior and 1 interior as part of the HW3 Autopilot suite.
Historically, the Autopilot hardware went from no cameras to a single onboard camera on AP/HW1 cars and then increased to eight external cameras with the HW2 version.
I hope you now have a better understanding of how many cameras a Tesla has and how this has evolved over the years.
If you have any questions, drop me a comment below and I'll be happy to help.