Elon Musk Reveals the First Details About Hardware 5 Autopilot Computer and Sensors

Elon Musk reveals the first information about Hardware 5 Autopilot computer
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Photo: Tesla, @greentheonly via Twitter

Tesla will launch the fifth generation of its Autopilot computer in the first half of 2026, as Elon Musk confirmed during the 2024 Cyber Roundup. The new hardware computer and sensor package, called AI 5, is purpose-built to support autonomous driving, with a tenfold improvement in processing power and AI capabilities compared to Hardware 4.

Tesla launched the Hardware 4 Autopilot computer and sensors in January 2023 on the refreshed Model S and Model Y. Thanks to a teardown by well-known white-hat hacker Green (@greentheonly), the details leaked online excited everyone. However, despite many new features, HW4 didn’t prove as revolutionary as people hoped. The HD radar included was never used by Tesla, and it was eventually physically disconnected during regular service visits. Second, Tesla lacked the processing power for the much larger data set.

Hardware 4 includes higher-resolution cameras, and Tesla chose to downsize the images so they could run on the same neural network models designed for Hardware 3. This ensured compatibility across different hardware versions without retraining. Even today, there’s no advantage to HW4 that owners could perceive, and everything consumers see is basically Hardware 3 data and capabilities. As Musk revealed during Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, we are far from reaching the limits of HW3.

However, this should change as the EV maker develops and releases new hardware configurations. Tesla could either follow the same path (downsize Hardware 5 images to make them compatible with HW3 neural networks) or train multiple models tailored for specific hardware configurations. This would require additional computing resources, which Tesla is already building, but that may not be enough in the long run.

Musk offered a hint about Tesla’s approach to supporting various hardware configurations. Specifically, Tesla will release a Hardware 4-specific model trained at Gigafactory Texas, where it builds a new data center and supercomputer. The new neural network model should unlock the full potential of HW4 Autopilot computer and offer a leap in Autopilot and FSD capabilities.

Tesla’s CEO also offered details about the next generation of Autopilot Hardware, which he called “AI 5.” This is already in development, with the company having completed the design. When it ships to consumers in about 18 months, AI 5 should be 10 times more powerful than the Hardware 4 computer. For reference, Hardware 4 is 3-8 times better than Hardware 3.

The AI 5 hardware will be much more energy-hungry, reaching 700-800 watts at peak load. This is much more than the Hardware 3 and Hardware 4 computers, which are about 300 watts. However, the AI 5 computer would consume a lot less most of the time, being very energy efficient. This information tells us that Tesla will probably use HW5/AI 5 exclusively on vehicles with a 48-volt architecture.

If you think of waiting for the new vehicles with the upgraded hardware configuration, this is probably not the best idea. When Tesla launched Hardware 4 vehicles last year, they were not compatible with the FSD software, and many functions were missing. It took Tesla six more months before the first Vision-based features launched on the refreshed Model S and Model X. AI 5 will be operational in the second half of 2026 at the earliest and probably still use HW4 models.

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