1,000 mile trip on Autopilot - WOW!

1,000 mile trip on Autopilot - WOW!

I L-0-V-E my Model 3!! I know there are many reviews about the car, so I want to share here my experience with Autopilot and Autosteer on our 1,000 mile trip. I have v. 2018.26.3

Most of the trip was on I-95, and almost the entirety of the time in the highway I was driving on autopilot +autosteer, and driving on center or left lanes.

Autopilot pros:
• It stays centered in the lane, and I must confess, it does a better job than I do! At least at 70ish mph, and with my first ever RWD, I stay centered but I make small corrections within the lane, especially when I check the mirrors. The autopilot, however, does a very smooth job! Even in Jacksonville, where the highway has very close turns, the car did a perfect job. I only took control when a lane opens into two (I did not want to wait for the car to choose), and when there was a very wide truck by my side (with most trucks I was happy with the side distance the Tesla chose).
• It chooses speed intelligently and smoothly. For instance, if a car pulled in front of me, it did not reduce the speed abruptly to maintain the safety distance (provided the distance was sufficient), but instead smoothly created the space. In general, it chose to accelerate and decelerate how I would have done it, which is great, because I almost forgot the car was driving!
• It hardly bothered me to show I was holding the wheel. And I did not have a tight grip at all! The car does not sense pressure, but resistance to turning. In my case, two things did the trick. First, I hold the wheel, but leave my arms naturally hanging, a bit heavy, not tense, and with that weight, the car was noticing some slight resistance on turning. Second, when there is a curve I do follow the car in turning… Now this is very subtle, because it hardly moves. But since I have my preference for tracing the curve, and the M3 does this slightly different, that slight difference on when I chose to go with the curve was enough to create some resistance. Every now and then, especially on long straight parts, it would ask me to give it a nudge, and I did this very subtly and was enough.
• Autolane change works great. First, I confess I forgot the turn signal on the left lane when there were cement blocks on the side, so the car chose not to move (thankfully). It was reassuring, and also a reminder that turn signals need to be used with precision! Other than that, I only signaled when safe, but once the Tesla didn’t feel it was safe enough and did not do it (also reassuring, since I admit was a bit tight). It changes lanes fast, which is the proper way to do it, without eternally moving from one to the other. I like that. I used this all the time o the trip.
• Overall, this was a very restful trip. Sure, I was vigilant (especially the first miles), and treating the Tesla like you would treat a kid who is still perfecting driving. You need to be aware of who is driving: I mean, I was “driving” all the time, but you need to be aware of who has the controls at that point. Still, way more restful than driving fully, at least for me.

There is room for improvement, of course. My main complaint with the autosteer is how to transition out of it. If you take control of the wheel, it gives you the control, but to me this was awkward. It always ended in me losing control of direction for a second, doing very fast Ss... Not fun at 70 mph. The best way I found to transition: tap the break, regain full control (pedal + wheel), do your thing, then reconnect both systems. I don’t like using the gear stalk, I am afraid to hold it too long and go into neutral. I think Tesla needs to work more on transitioning out of the system.