I tried to post this to the comments section over at the Washington Post but my post was rejected probably because I differ from their opinion on US politics and express my opinion in comments. Anyway here's my take on Autopilot after driving roughly 1,000 miles.
I own a Tesla 90D so my experience is based on just that, first hand experience and not conjecture.
First off Autopilot works amazingly well. Like millions of other people I commute to work every day in stop and go bumper to bumper traffic. In every other car I've owned heavy traffic is met with dread and leaves me feeling spent when I get to my destination. But now with my new Tesla, purchased expressly because of the autopilot feature, bumper to bumper traffic is no longer a cause for concern. My car drives itself with little or no effort on my part. I can literally feel the pressure released once I get settled into my lane and active autopilot. Calm is the best way to describe what once was road rage and frustration.
On open roads with regular fast moving traffic autopilot requires a bit more attention than it does when in bumper to bumper traffic as the car's sensors do not have the constant reference of other cars to help keep its lane but it still works brilliantly with a few caveats.
You need to be aware of your lane and its markings- lanes with faded paint markers or with dissimilar color surfaces like we have in Southern California where concert and black top meet can and do at times confuse autopilot requiring that you take over control. Think of this as standard non adaptive cruise control. When traffic slows you need to manually reset or disengage cruise control or even apply the breaks to keep pace with traffic. Tesla Autopilot is similar in that when lane markers change or when it cannot correctly interpret the lane it warns you to take control, just as you do when the pace of traffic changes with standard cruise control. And just as with standard cruise control, Autopilot alleviate some stress even if you do still have to pay attention.
After driving with Tesla’s autopilot for a few hundred miles most people will begin to understand it’s capabilities and limitations and this leads to successful utilization of its benefits. I think where many people are getting hung up is in the misguided idea that autopilot would allow them to completely check out behind the wheel. In time this will likely be an option but for now, autopilot is a useful tool to reduce stress while commuting, even if you still need to pay attention.