Monday, November 05, 2018

AutoPilot v9 Impressions

One of the most exciting options with Tesla vehicles is the optional Enhanced AutoPilot functionality.  All cars manufactured include the hardware, so this is a software option to enable the package of driver assist software functions.  This includes traffic aware adaptive cruise control, auto steering controls to maintain your lane, auto lane change with blind spot detection when engaged with your turn signal, auto park both parallel and perpendicular in scenarios that it can detect, and with the most recent update (2018.42.3 as of this posting) limited Navigation on freeway and interstates was added.  There is also limited support to "summon" the car using the app, moving the car in or out of your garage or parking space without someone in the car driving, but this is VERY limited at present and only mildly useful.

I use AutoPilot heavily, keeping it on whenever possible.  This is both for my own benefit and to benefit the fleet learning aspect of Tesla AutoPilot.  I disable the system to handle all stop signs and traffic signals manually, those aren't recognized and handled by the system yet.  This lends itself well to freeway and interstates since there are no stop signs and no traffic signals, but as long as you are monitoring as closely as you should be it's easy to see the upcoming intersections and disable the system until you pass through them.  This manual handling is a small price to pay when the car can handle 90% of the rest of the driving.

The system is not perfect, and in the week and a half of heavy usage I've had a few situations where I didn't feel comfortable and disabled the system.  This is the job of the "co-pilot," the system is NOT ready for prime time self driving and WILL require interventions from time to time.  That said, it's pretty damn good at what it does do and I try to use it as much as possible. :)

AutoPilot is an amazing feature and a MUST HAVE for your new Tesla vehicle.  Go in with reasonable expectations, and know that more will be coming via software updates when you least expect it.  I've had my car a week and a half, and last week it did not have Navigation support with AutoPilot. Now it does.  Simply unheard of in the automotive industry, and I LOVE IT!


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