So, I finally had the opportunity to thoroughly see what Tesla Model 3 autopilot can and cannot do. I took a trip from Tampa, FL to Key West (455 miles). On the scale from 1 to 10, as much as I would love to, I cannot give it more than 5.
Here are some observations:
- Reading STOP signs. Yes M3 can read the stop signs but it is not worth much because most of the roads the STOP sign is on are either unmarked or marked very badly, and Autopilot cannot engage.
- Traffic lights reading is fine until M3 sees the flashing yellow light. Then it goes crazy, and berserk, even when following the car in front of it (the distance setting was set to 1). The car doesn't know what to do and it keeps jerking like crazy, despite me pushing the gas pedal to tell it to go thru it. Until it finally starts screeching, tells me to take over and comes to a halt. This is very dangerous if there is a car behind you. State Road #1 to Key West is full of these flashing yellow lights and there were multiple times where I almost got hit from behind because of the constant breaking and jerking.
- When Autopilot sees the car crossing the road in close proximity, it breaks too late! The car slams on breaks very hard, but by the time it does, the car has already passed, and there was no danger anymore. All it does was doing a number on my kidneys.
- Seeing pedestrians very close to the road, the Autopilot starts screeching and tells me to take over. Isn't it supposed to stop by itself??? Granted, there was no imminent danger to the pedestrians because they were still waiting for the car to pass, but this does not give my much confidence that the car will stop if it sees an obstacle, like people in front of it.
- Changing Lane Assistant is a very dangerous thing! It is a danger to me and to everyone else on the road.
+ On average, it takes about 10-11 seconds for autopilot to switch lanes and that is too long, especially in Florida where everybody is driving like it is a competitive sport.
+ Lane switching is smooth, but it should also be swift. I almost crashed 2 times because of how long it takes to switch lanes from the moment Autopilot turns on the signal to when it actually switches lanes.
+ When Autopilot turns on the signal to switch lanes, it is waiting for the safe conditions, I get that. However, when the driver behind me sees my blinker flashing, he guns it down so I don't get in front of him. Two timers it was a very close call. Tesla Autopilot turns on the signal intending to switch the lanes. The jerk driver behind, in the passing lane sees my signal and hits the gas pedal to not let me in front of him. Then my Tesla started switching lanes but by then it was already too late and not safe anymore, so the car jerked, started screeching, however, the driver behind me, in my lane was already too close because he assumed I was going to depart the lane much earlier. It created a very dangerous situation.
+ Another time, when Autopilot signaled it wants to switch lanes (I was in the middle lane), the driver next to me in the right lane saw it and he assumed that was going to switch lanes swiftly, he started switching to my lane and my Tesla hasn't even departed yet because of that long waiting time. Again, there was screeching for me to take over, which I did, but still, I was literally inches away from crashing at 75mph.
+ I would like to suggest, when switching lanes, the car should be programmed to do it faster. It should first determine that it is safe, then turn on the signal, and do it swiftly in a safe manner. This was it creates many dangers.
The biggest question is: How is Tesla going to solve the most challenging problem about the autopilot - idiot drivers? And if you want to work on this, believe me, Florida is the most perfect place for it.
On a positive note, the 455 miles trip back and forth went great and smooth as far as battery consumption and recharging is consumed. The calculations to the next supercharging stations are incredibly accurate. It calculates exactly how much battery you need to your next stop so you don't have to charge the battery to 100% every time, thus your charging time is much, much shorter. It took me on average 15 - 20 minutes to recharge. That is almost equal amount of time the gas cars are using on such a long trips - stretch your legs, go to bathroom, etc. It takes about 8 hours from Tampa to Key West without any stopping other then just filling the gas tank. It took us 9 hours to get there with 3 stops for recharging, and lunch. I could have gotten away with only 2 stops for recharging, but I could not resist the temptation - floring it to 143mph thru Everglades.
I hope somebody will read it and give a crap about it as I am only trying to share my observations from my experience with Autopilot while using it. You cannot get this kind of data from the logs shared by the fleet.