10 days with car: Autopilot thoughts

10 days with car: Autopilot thoughts

I've had my Model 3 for 10 days, and it is fantastic. I can already say it's the best car I've ever owned. I have autopilot and I believe it is a great driver assist tool. But my limited experience so far also leaves me dumbfounded that anyone can feel confident enough in the system to play with their phones for an extended period of time, watch movies, read a book, etc.

My experience is that it is great on a freeway, and in stop & go traffic really reduces my stress level and makes my afternoon commute more enjoyable. It does give me the confidence to briefly take my eyes off the road (only in the right circumstances) to change the music, or adjust a setting. But I would never feel confident to fully immerse myself in something else. A couple details:

1. Merging. The system does not seem smart enough to effectively merge, or allow others to merge. In merging situations I typically take over.
2. Splitting lanes. When the right lane splits into two for the period of time when there is just one really large lane the system centers in between it. When the lane divides into two, now the car is driving right over the dividing line and has "analysis paralysis" and can't seem to decide where to go... eventually abruptly going to one lane or the other (much to the annoyance of drivers behind me). Again, I now just take over in these scenarios.
3. Surface roads. I don't know how people do this. It makes me especially nervous if there are cars parallel parked on the street. The worst is when you're in a wide lane for street parking but no car are parked. The car centers in this large lane. But then as you approach parked cars I get extremely nervous what the system will do, and I take over.

These are just a few examples. But my point is that autopilot is a great assistance feature. It reduces the stress from highway driving. But in only 10 days I've seen the obvious limitations. I really question how anyone can reach a level of comfort to be fooled into thinking they can watch movies, read books, etc.?

ReD eXiLe ms us | 2018年5月19日

Pay attention at all times. This is not Level 4 or Level 5 Autonomy at all.

1 & 2: Do not use EAP in the 'slow lane' during heavy traffic, only in the lanes that do not have merging traffic at onramps or offramps.

3: Do not use EAP on surface streets with oncoming traffic at all, only on divided highways without cross traffic.


WardT | 2018年5月19日

I agree and am a little surprised it is not more reliable at this stage of implementation. Tesla has been talking about this for several years and, really, one of the reasons I wanted a Tesla. It is no where near Level 5. The cruise control with auto stopping is pretty fantastic! And, I’ll remind you of the story when my M3 "emergency" braked for me on the way home from delivery when I was distracted by the Pacific ocean.

EVRider | 2018年5月19日

@WardT: EAP is Level 2 and is never going to be Level 5; FSD will be the Level 5 feature. Although Tesla has been working on AP for years, they had to start over in some ways when switching from the AP1 to EAP platform, so the feature regressed.

CASEMAN | 2018年5月19日

Someone metioned in another post that EAP learns as you drive, making it more effective in these imstances. Is there any truth in that?

Mike83 | 2018年5月19日

After tens of thousands of miles with AP2 and EAP the car and the driver learns more. Get experience as it is fun.

Daryl | 2018年5月19日

My wife's Honda Accord has ACC and Lane Keeping. When driving in Tempe on our nice wide 4-6 lane divided surface streets I sometimes enabled her Lane Keeping, but it would lose the lanes and shut off every time the lines went away, such as at an intersection. This is where the Tesla really shows an advantage, since it can reliably find its way across the intersection either by seeing the lines on the other side, by following the car in front, or by dead reckoning, I'm not sure which it uses.

There are no parked cars along our main streets, so that helps a lot; that would make me nervous.

The main problem I encounter on city streets is when it decides to follow the left-turn guide lines at an intersection, suddenly jerking towards oncoming traffic. That's pretty serious and I have to stay on top of it in those cases. Otherwise I find it pretty reliable.

Randy | 2018年5月19日

Not sure if this is the right place ask (and this is my first post), but I am very excited (and waiting) for a Model. I've been told that it doesn't have right lane changing blind spot assist from the rear and side cameras, which I currently have on a 2017 Accord Hybrid, and just love it. It is so trustworthy that looking over the shoulder simply isn't safer or necessary. The left mirror on the Honda, they saved money and they eliminate the left side blind spot with a vertical split left mirror that also works flawlessly. I've tested it many times before trusting it. Wondering if it is true that the Model 3 has neither. Not a deal breaker, but I would love to know.

John | 2018年5月22日

OP, I've been wondering the same question... my post here and no responses yet (it's new though). And can anyone use self park yet on an M3?

maintreqd | 2018年5月22日

I second @randy's question. As a current Civic Si owner with LaneWatch (camera on the right side view mirror that displays your blind spot on-screen when you initiate right turn signal or touch button at the end of turn signal stalk) and someone who has also driven a Model 3 (albeit only for about 15 minutes), I am definitely going to miss the LaneWatch feature. I do see the curved lines surrounding the on-screen car image on Model 3's screen, but just couldn't get to the same place of comfort that the LaneWatch's actual camera image provides. Maybe it takes some time to build that trust, but I definitely was looking over my right shoulder to check that blind spot before changing lanes.

With all the cameras on Model 3 it seems crazy to me that this isn't something that was given more attention, especially since my 2014 Civic (and I assume earlier models of many cars) have this so well thought out.

And in defense of anyone who might call me a troll for this, I'm obsessively eager for my Model 3 and have no misgivings about getting rid of the Civic for it. I just know that this one specific thing is going to be a learning curve sticking point for me, and a feature I'm going to absolutely miss for some time, if not forever, based on my current knowledge of and experience with Model 3's handling of the right side blind spot.

RIP ICE | 2018年5月22日

@randy -

I agree. The right side camera on my CR-V is such a huge improvement over a non-camera setup that it is difficult to understand why it isn't an industry standard on every vehicle. I find it at least as valuable as the backup camera. I'd vote for it to be available for the left side as well.

I'm going to miss it on my Model 3.

SamO | 2018年5月22日

Anyone who thinks Autopilot is the end-state vs part of the transition to Full Self Driving should familiarize themself with Tesla Fleet Learning.

maintreqd | 2018年5月22日

While I would love it, I don't see them addressing this blind spot camera item. There are no rear-facing side cameras on Model 3 currently I'm pretty sure, and with their future vision being fully autonomous driving, as well as Elon's position that "you won't care about that once the car drives itself," I doubt they're going to "design backwards" to address any perceived lack of blind spot visualization

SamO | 2018年5月22日


There is a camera on each side, beneath the Tesla logo on the front quarter panel, facing backward.

maintreqd | 2018年5月22日

@SamO I know of these, but was under the impression they were forward facing cameras. This article does not confirm your statement that they are rear-facing anywhere I can find.

slasher0016 | 2018年5月22日

@maintreqd I have circled the rear facing side camera in the model 3. There's one on each side.

ervic | 2018年5月22日

@maintreqd, the fender cams point backwards, the B pillar cams point forward.

Bri | 2018年5月22日

@OP “But my limited experience so far also leaves me dumbfounded that anyone can feel confident enough in the system to play with their phones for an extended period of time, watch movies, read a book, etc.”

It’s pretty strange! But then when you consider all the idiots who do all that stuff while driving WITHOUT Autopilot, it’s not so surprising.

Haggy | 2018年5月23日

I think what the OP is describing is accurate and typical of the new user experience. That's why I can't stand it when people say that users are confused and users think that autopilot does more than it does or is full self driving, or that the term "autopilot" is misleading and that's why somebody had an accident. Every first time user is skeptical and pays extra attention. Complacency is the enemy, not ignorance of how it works.

Merging works well in general but you need to set an appropriate following distance. I set mine to 5. You need to get over the misconception that if you leave too much following distance, people will keep cutting you off. Yesterday I drove from Fremont to San Francisco over the Bay Bridge in heavy commute traffic. On the way to the bridge, I had exactly three cars change lanes in front of me, and in all three cases, they eventually left, leaving me behind the car I was following before they entered my lane. Before I got to the bridge, the car I was following left my lane too. but more importantly, if you don't let cars in, there's just as good a chance that they will enter your lane several cars ahead as there is that they will enter several cars behind.

Use autopilot as designed, meaning it can decide things like following distance, and make sure to set it to the one that your state tells you to use, such as the one that gives you a three second following distance.

Splitting lanes got a lot better over time, but probably has more work to go because the car won't know which lane you really want to be in. It works well for me, but I have a feeling it knows how to work better with roads near Fremont than with roads in more remote (relative to Fremont) areas.

I can't believe how well it works on surface roads, at least in my area. It used to be that at intersections where the lane lines disappeared, the car was confused, while now it seems to treat it as if the lane is continuous. I assume that as Tesla gets more data, it will continue to improve.

Uncle Paul | 2018年5月23日

Tesla system does the easy stuff really well, but struggles with the tough stuff like poorly painted lines. merging of two roads, construction zones etc.

Their system required the operator to keep their hands on the wheel and engaged at all times. For people that are aware of this, it is the finest system available anywhere in the world today.