Washington DC

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AutoPilot Impressions - George Washington Parkway to Beltway, Inner Loop to Silver Spring

edited November -1 in Washington DC
Last weekend I used AP to take the Falcon up the George Washington/ Mt Vernon Parkway to the Beltway, then clockwise around the Inner Loop to Georgia Avenue, then back the same way. I used AutoPilot most of the way. My observations:

Pluses:
- 1. It worked better than I was expecting on the Parkway, especially the northwestern area between Key Bridge and 495. Handled the tight, climbing right-hand curve just as you approach Rt 123 pretty smoothly. Auto lane changes were good.
- 2. At the same point in both rides, the car suddenly jerked a bit right, apparently to avoid a large repair patch on the road surface. Maybe AP has some sort of object-avoidance programming built in? This only happened where it was a dark patch contrasted against a light road, not the other way around.

Minuses:
- 1. The in-out-in-out jerkiness on curves I noted in my previous posting was still there, and definitely more pronounced in right-hand curves than left-hand ones.
- 2. During the northbound portion of the PKWY as you pass the airport -- where the metal divider comes right up almost to the edge of the road -- the car tended to shy away from it and hug the right edge of the lane, even if there was another car to my right. i think the Falcon's sensors maybe thought I was driving parallel to a big truck or something.
- 3. AP tries to keep the car centered in its lane. Unfortunately, most other cars try to do the same thing, so the portions of the lane where most wheels ride gets worn out and potholed soonest. In places where the road is poorly-maintained, I often hit a string of holes and/or patches in rapid WHAM-WHAM-WHAM-WHAM-WHAM succession. Maybe an update can include some sort of "trim tab" to allow the driver to manually drift a foot or so to avoid upcoming holes?

Great Big Flashing Red Danger Signs:
- 1. FORKS AND MERGES! AP starts to lose its marbles if the road ahead either splits or joins another road, I think due at least partly to the lane markings diverging beyond its field of view. It can slew sharply in one direction, start jerking back and forth, or something else. Probably best to go manual, especially if you're approaching a fork. Maybe an update can include a feature that lets you indicate which fork you want with a tiny wheel movement?
- 2. EXIT LANES! On the Beltway, I was heading clockwise on the Inner Loop, in the right-hand lane with AP set to 70MPH; I had a solid white line on my right, and dashed white lines to my left. The cars ahead of me had slowed me down to about 55. When I reached Exit 39 (River Road), the car suddenly leaped into the exit lane and rapidly accelerated until I grabbed control back and re-entered the Beltway. What I think happened is that the car followed the solid line on the right, and since the exit lane doesn't have a left-hand line at first, it didn't realize that it was changing lanes.
- 3. SUN GLARE! On the way home, I was headed west on the Outer Loop and passing through that wide, multi-lane left-then-right curve at the Rockville exit when suddenly the car started weaving and signaled me to take over. First of all, the lane divider lines are worn and faint there. however, I also realized that I was headed almost due west in the late afternoon, and the sun was shining brightly right into my face. I'm pretty sure that the glare dazzled the camera so it couldn't see what little lines there were.

More impressions as I get them. Enjoy! JohnRob in VA

Comments

  • Tesla programmed to: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it!" (Yogi Berra)

    Yes, I also had what appeared to be an issue with sun glare.
  • edited November -1
    I've been afraid to try it yet. Excellent discussion, thanks.
    I can imagine some of that and i would say hal, Hal HAL!!
  • edited November -1
    +1 on the sun glare. I was on the ICC going from 270 to 95 in early morning, figuring that on a brand new road it should have clear markings that were easy to see. It was awesome until I was headed into the sun, around a curve that was on a bridge (so the pavement was white concrete) and the autopilot asked me to take control immediately because it couldn't see the road markings. That was really a worst case scenario (I think) and otherwise the only issues I've had were at exit ramps.

    My favorite place to use it was on the highway in stop-and-go traffic. Not having to touch the pedals was terrific and the steering at slow speeds was particularly effective. At slow speeds and heavy traffic my car tended to lock onto the car ahead rather than using the road markings, an interesting aspect I hadn't realized was one of the features of AP.
  • I do stop and go on 270 every day. I just get to HOV, click on autopilot, and sit back for the next 20 minutes as Tesla does the rest. It's designed to do that perfectly, and it does.
  • edited November -1
    +1 on the off ramps/forks. The first night after the autopilot release, I was on GW parkway south and it tried to follow the white line on the right onto an off ramp. I've done some experimenting with it and I think if it has a strong view of the white line on the left, it will follow that. It seems to have a "whichever is dominant" programming.

    The other one I'd add to watch out for is a hilly road. As you crest a hill, the cameras are pointing up which means it loses sight of the lines. it immediately gets scared and starts jerking around.
  • edited November -1
    Seems we may be losing a good thing because of some people's stupidity and risk taking.
    See this and other reporting on the next software release:
    http://www.carscoops.com/2015/12/tesla-reportedly-restricts-autopilot.html
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