Bosch's engineers took a pair of Model S and fitted them with autonomous technology to allow them to drive themselves.
That technology consisted of 50 new components, including (brace yourselves) a front stereo video camera to watch the road markings and identify obstacles, six (non-Bosch) LiDAR laser scanners for 360º coverage around the car, two long-range (200m) and four mid-range (120m) radar sensors facing forwards and backwards, inertial sensors, a GNSS GPS navigation antenna, backup braking (both Bosch’s iBooster and ESP boxes) and ECU systems and a massive great PC in the back to hold hi-res maps and crunch the incoming data via bespoke algorithms.
In total, 1400 human-hours, 1300 metres of cable and an estimated €200,000 went into the car.
The result looks almost like a normal Model S - no pirhouetting Velodyne ‘Christmas tree’ on the roof here, just a few dark panels, a flying saucer GNSS antenna on the back and some industrial-looking buttons - and it’s so effective that it’s almost prosaic.
At the winding Boxberg test track, a Ford Fiesta drove around in front of us to show how smart the Tesla now is. Stopping quickly, driving at snail’s pace, accelerating into the distance: the Tesla reacted to the lot in a considered, sedate, measured manner. (Bosch tells us it can also swap lanes, overtake and merge with traffic on its own, but we didn’t get to check that out.)