As reported in this thread on TMC (Tesla Motors Club) forum, there is a new update being pushed to the fleet that enables automatic wipers on Tesla Models S and X with Autopilot hardware 2.x. Cars with AP 1.0 already had that feature (using rain sensor, just like many other higher-end cars). The difference is that the newer Tesla cars don’t have a dedicated sensor anymore. Instead, the car was supposed to use some of the cameras that the car is equipped with. The feature has been long promised by the automaker. So much so that it has became a number two complain on the list by the unsatisfied Tesla owners feeling cheated and lied to by this omission. Number one would have to be the promise of Autopilot and Full Self Driving (FSD) capabilities, but I guess it depends on whom you ask in particular. I know, First World Problems from the people that already own and drive the best car on the planet ;).
I think there were numerous valid reasons for the delay. Not an insignificant one being the parting of the ways between Tesla and Mobileye, the latter of which was responsible for most of the developments around autonomous driving until then. Assembling a new team and starting to develop your own know-how in a discipline which is not exactly as old as bread baking takes time. Creating the software algorithms that would allow for the cameras to detect precipitation without interfering with the rest of the functionality designed around EAP/FSD poses a great challenge and most likely was not on a priority list, either.
The feature is available in software release 2017.50.3 as a beta. As far as I know, it is also the industry-first implementation that uses cameras and neural network bits instead of traditional sensors. There’s a number of companies holding patents or having technology around vision-based rain sensing, but seems that Tesla is the first to actually implement it!
How does it work? Is it better than the systems in other cars currently on the market? Is it capable to replace human intervention with manual adjustments of sensitivity/speed? I will be happy to report as soon as my car gets the update!