Tesla's Autopilot Review: This is Bullshit
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
What is Tesla's Autopilot?
Tesla Autopilot is an autonomous driver assistance system. It allows a Tesla to see the cars and roads around it. Autopilot does not do not turn Tesla into a fully autonomous self-driving car. It is very useful though based on its feature but it still requires a very attentive driver.
Let us go over the different Autopilot features:
Basic Autopilot - a system that is installed on every modern Tesla as a standard feature. This system includes very basic features that let the Tesla automatically accelerate up to a pre-set speed, brake for other vehicles or pedestrians that it sees ahead, as well as minimal steering to keep your car centered in a lane. This Tesla Autopilot system is designed to “assist with the most burdensome parts of driving” — namely driving long distances on highways and other similar roads. These cars also come with emergency braking, collision alerts, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. Crucially, that last feature only controls acceleration and braking, leaving the driver to do the steering. Basic Autopilot includes the following features:
Red Light Warning, stop sign warning - if there's a stop sign or red light and you are not going to take over in time the car will yell at you to take over. The car does not do anything or take over it is just a backup emergency if the driver is not paying attention.
Lane departure avoidance - if you drift out of your lane the car will bounce you back into your lane. If the driver will keep on drifting to the other lane the car will remind the driver to closely pay attention.
AEB Automatic Emergency Braking - when the collision is imminent the car will slam on the brakes at the last second.
Obstacle-Aware Acceleration - if you press the accelerator and the Tesla detects something close in front of you it will delay the accelerator input
Blind Spot Monitoring - when you change lanes and there is somebody in your blind spot on the display the car will turn red and the lane line will turn red on the display to show that it's not time to go and wait until this person is out of the way.
Full Self Driving or FSD Autopilot - an optional extra, only available as a $12,000 add-on or a $ 200-a-month subscription for Model S and Model X drivers in the United States. This is essentially a more advanced version of the Basic Autopilot system, with more features to assist your driving. FSD Autopilot has 5 main features that could be very helpful when driving:
Automatic Lane Changing - handles merges, exits, and overtaking Navigate on Autopilot - takes you from on-ramp to off-ramp during your journey
Auto parking System - the car will park by itself
Traffic Light and Stop Sign Recognition
Summon- navigates your car out of a parking space and straight to you.
Autosteer on city streets - will be coming late this year
Tesla will also allow drivers to opt into the Full Self-Driving beta program, which gives drivers access to new features and updates before they roll out to other drivers. However, Tesla will only give you access if its insurance system, which tracks your driving, considers you a good driver.
Enhanced Autopilot - this feature is available in the UK but not in the US. This is the middle-ground option for certain regions only. It gives a lot of the best FSD features for a fraction of the price. It includes all FSD features except for the traffic light or stop sign recognition.
Why Is Tesla's Autopilot Feature So Controversial?
Tesla as the leading EV manufacturer has launched Autopilot and FSD as part of the Have package since 2015. They have the number of technologies has been expanded and refined over the last seven to eight years. The basic Autopilot software enables certain driving functions to be executed by Tesla software in place of the driver, though the Tesla website does say that the features require active driver supervision and do not make the car autonomous.
Tesla's ADAS ( advanced driver assistance systems) software and its true capabilities versus how it is used by drivers has been a controversial subject for the company, generating criticism from the public, researchers, and safety advocates who say that the technology behind it isn't fully realized and poses a danger to the public.
In a 2021 interview with CNBC, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said that the technology was mislabeled, saying that the way the company talks about Full Self Driving is misleading. "My biggest concern is that Tesla is rolling out full self-driving technology in beta on city streets with untrained drivers," she explained.
What sets Autopilot/FSD apart from other ADAS?
Most manufacturers use a combination of sensor types for their ADAS technology, along
with a multitude of cameras. Tesla doesn't.
Currently, the NHTSA is investigating 12 Tesla Autopilot/FSD-related incidents. There are reports indicating that drivers have been observed falling asleep and driving under the influence in the past. Tesla has since installed driver monitoring systems to ensure that drivers are paying attention to the road. Cameras embedded in the dashboard in front of you keep track of your eye movements, alerting you when you take your eyes off the road for a significant amount of time.
Using the Tesla Autopilot or FSD depends on the driver's comfort level. Before making any decision you need to familiarize the technology and study each feature. Though there are people claiming that the label itself could be misleading or misrepresented it is still best to read the manual and do research as each feature has been clearly explained.