This Is Why Tesla’s Autopilot Is Worth It (Or Is It?)


This Is Why Tesla's Autopilot Is Worth It (Or Is It?)

Tesla makes some pretty boastful claims regarding the safety and efficiency of their vehicles along with their Autopilot technology. It all sounds great when you read the data produced by the studies. However, you may be wondering if Tesla’s Autopilot technology is worth it or not.

Overall it appears that Tesla’s Autopilot is in-fact worth the investment. However, there are many factors to consider when coming to a final conclusion. The full advantages and disadvantages of Tesla’s technology versus traditional gasoline vehicles will be more clear over time.

If you, like many others, are wondering if this technology lives up to the hype and is really worth the money, then continue reading for potentially beneficial information that may ease your decision-making process.

How Autopilot Works

For those of you who may not be familiar with Tesla’s Autopilot technology, this section will help you to understand how it works and what it means for the future of driving.

Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capabilities are software packages that can be purchased and added to any Tesla vehicle. As technology improves, the vehicles can be updated through over-the-air technology, so they always have the latest information.

Although the term Autopilot gives the impression that you can simply sit back and read a magazine while the vehicle does all of the work, this is not the case.

Continue reading to learn what each feature controls and what it means for you as the driver.

Autopilot Functions

Autopilot comes standard on all new Tesla’s (at no extra cost). Autopilot still requires that the driver remain attentive while behind the wheel in the event they need to react to an obstacle or some other unexpected situation while on the road.

Any Tesla Model that was manufactured before 2014 is not equipped with Autopilot and may not be able to be upgraded. However, all Teslas manufactured after 2014 come standard with Autopilot or can be upgraded with these functions:

  • Trafic-Aware Cruise Control – This feature allows your vehicle to monitor the speed of the vehicles around you and keep the same pace so you can easily travel with the flow of traffic.
  • Autosteer – This feature can steer your vehicle as long as it is within its lane. Autosteer works in conjunction with the Trafic-Aware Cruise Control to ensure that you have a safe ride.

Full Self-Driving Functions

Full Self-Driving is an additional add-on that you can add as an upgrade to a Tesla. Although some features are still undergoing beta testing, this technology is intended to drive the vehicle entirely for the human and does so quite well.

This tech does not come inexpensively, though. If you choose to add the Full Self-Driving software to your Tesla, you had better be ready to fork out around ten thousand dollars.

There are many factors that can cause issues with this technology, and they will be discussed further along in the article.

The Full Self-Driving technology from Tesla allows the vehicle to:

  • Accelerate
  • Be summoned from a parking spot
  • Brake
  • Change lanes
  • Detect and react to traffic signs and lights
  • Navigate with GPS
  • Park itself in a tight parking space
  • Steer

As of now, this technology still requires a person to be present and focused on the road in the event that something unplanned happens and you need to react.

The next section will discuss the factors that can be challenging for self-driving technology.

Factors that Cause Issues with Self-Driving Technology

As previously mentioned, some factors can cause issues with self-driving technology. The following list will give some of the most prominent things that can cause issues for this smart technology.

Unpredictable Human Activity Is Problematic

You never know when someone is going to suddenly switch lanes or jump out in front of you while they are walking down the street. Perhaps an animal runs into the road.

Studies have shown that over 80% of vehicle accidents are caused by human error.

There are so many unexpected things that can happen while driving, and there is no way to list them all, but it makes the point that it is important for the human driver to remain attentive while operating the vehicle because these events do happen.

Humans Versus Technology – Neither is Perfect

Although this technology is highly advanced, prevents many accidents from happening, and reduces the severity of many accidents, it is not perfect. Consider how many times your computer freezes or experiences some crazy glitch.

If it can happen to your computer or your other devices, then why can’t it happen to the technology used in self-driving cars? Humans are not perfect either. Therefore it is key that the human and the machine work together for the best outcome.

Keep Sensors Clean in Dirty Conditions

Lastly, there are always unpredictable weather conditions or dirty cameras and sensors to consider as well. If a camera or sensor becomes obstructed by dirt or other debris, it can affect the accuracy of the Autopilot features, which could result in an accident if the driver is not alert.

These are all valid reasons for drivers to pay attention to what is going on in their surroundings. If something malfunctions, you can react more quickly if you are focused on the road.

The next section will give further detail about Tesla’s Autopilot technology so you can make your own judgment on the subject.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Tesla’s Autopilot Technology

As with anything, there are always advantages and disadvantages. Tesla’s technology is no different. The following table will list the details on the positive and negative aspects of the technology, which will allow you to make a more educated decision about which option you feel is best.

Advantages of Tesla’s Autopilot
A reduced number of traffic violations would allow for police officers to focus more on serious crimes and issues rather than mundane traffic control stops

Can reduce the number and severity of accidents

Computer technology can remove the threat of human error

Computers cannot become distracted by anything, unlike humans who are distracted by nearly everything

Computers have a faster reaction time than humans in most situations when equipment is working properly, and sensors have a clear view

Fewer maintenance requirements

Gives those with disabilities or who don’t like to drive a way to get out of the house without having to rely on another personIt is less expensive to recharge a Tesla vehicle with Autopilot, approximately $7.00 versus a traditional gasoline vehicle which can average $40.00 or more for every fill-up

No need for oil changes and fluid top-offs, and other things required when owning a gasoline vehicle

Once testing is completed and approved for use on roadways, this technology will allow the vehicle to park itself, be summoned, steer, accelerate/brake and navigate with the state-of-the-art GPS technology

Reduced fossil fuel usage over time

Some states offer an electric vehicle tax credit to help offset the purchase

The reduced number and severity of accidents can eventually cause a reduction in medical and insurance costs

The technology can be upgraded as it improves, which means you don’t have to purchase a new vehicle every time a new feature or function is introduced

This technology can eventually help increase traffic flow and reduce congestion and issues because vehicles will be communicating with each other to keep the traffic flowing efficiently and safely

Quieter than a traditional gasoline vehicle  
Disadvantages of Tesla’s Autopilot
Although there are fewer maintenance requirements, the things that do require maintenance or fixing can be quite costly

As anyone who has used a GPS knows, sometimes they can lead you astray. Many people are not ready to trust the full navigation features of this technology for that reason

Eventually, the fossil fuel industry could take a hit if this technology takes off and is adopted by the masses

Have to find charging stations if on a long tripIn the event that there is a human directing traffic, the vehicle cannot read hand signals

Just as self-checkout registers have taken away the cashier’s job, this technology has the potential to eliminate many public transportation jobs. Many people are not ready to trust a computer with their life, and it may take years before the masses jump on board with this technology

Many people like to drive and would rather not have a computer taking control of the wheel

May have issues with detours or local driving regulations; for instance, some areas allow a right-hand turn on red, and others require that you wait until the light has turned green

More difficult to find a skilled mechanic who has experience with these types of vehicles and softwareOne cannot simply hop in and start driving. There is education needed for the driver to fully understand how the vehicle operates and what part they play in the operation of said vehiclePoor weather conditions can negatively affect the way the vehicle operates and handles

Since it will be an unknown period of time before this technology is adopted by all drivers, there will still be the same safety risks on the road until all cars are automated

The cost of this technology is more than the average person can afford, which makes it less feasible that this will be a widespread way of transportation any time soon

There is the legal issue of who is responsible in the event of an accident, the driver or the manufacturer? This technology has the potential to be hacked by unscrupulous characters who may try to get personal information or even try to remotely take control of the vehicle

With this technology, there is a risk that over time people will “forget” how to drive, and the new generation will never learn because they are born into a world where computers do everything for them

The next section will discuss the ins and outs of owning and operating traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Regular Gasoline Vehicles

Now that we have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of Tesla’s Autopilot technology, we will take a look at the positive and negative aspects of owning and operating a traditional gasoline vehicle.

Advantages of Gasoline VehiclesDisadvantages of Gasoline Vehicles
Gas stations are readily available, whereas Tesla charging stations are not as easy to locate at this time

Gasoline vehicles do not have to be charged and can generally travel farther on a full tank of gas than a Tesla can on a full charge

It is easy to find a mechanic to work on a gasoline vehicle as opposed to the newer technology of a Tesla, where there are fewer skilled mechanics available

Maintenance and repairs are generally much less expensive than that of a Tesla

Less technology to learn

The human has complete control over the vehicle

Vehicles that operate on gasoline are generally more affordable when initially purchased  
Costs more to fill up a tank of gasoline than it does to fully charge a Tesla’s battery

Gasoline vehicles require more frequent maintenance such as: Fluid top-offs, Oil changes, Regular tune-ups

Gasoline vehicles require more maintenance which costs more in the long run

Have a more harmful impact on the environment due to fumes and other non-green emissions

The next section will give a quick side-by-side comparison of the two different approaches to automobiles and driving.

Comparing Gasoline Vehicles to Tesla’s Autopilot Technology

This section gives a quick side-by-side comparison of the two different technologies. Is one better than the other? After reading this article, you will have the necessary information you need to make that decision for yourself.

Perhaps time will prove one theory over the other, but for now, all we can do is go by the information at hand to make the most educated decision.

While the advancement of technology can be a wonderful thing, we have to ask ourselves, are we really ready for machines to take control of our lives, or is it too late to ask that question?

Statistics Indicate that Autonomous Vehicles are Safer

If you go only by what this particular study says, then it would appear that semi or fully autonomous vehicles are the safest way to travel.

It is important to remember that this is a new technology, and it has not had the chance to be tested to its fullest capacity to truly determine how safe and efficient it is.

Accidents Per Mile Driven – Gasoline VehiclesAccidents Per Mile Driven – Tesla Vehicles
According to data provided by Tesla’s studies, gasoline vehicles experience an accident per every 978k miles.According to Tesla’s study, their Autopilot vehicles experience an accident every 2.05 million miles, and their vehicles with the Full Self-Driving capabilities are said to experience an accident for every 4.19 million miles driven.
Average Cost of a New Gasoline VehicleAverage Cost of a Tesla with Autopilot Added
Medium Sedan $25k

Medium SUV $33k

Pickup Truck/Large SUV $41k

Small Sedan/Compact Vehicle $20k

Small SUV $26k
Cybertruck $39k – $69k

Model 3 $36k – $55k

Model S $79 – $139k

Model X $89k – $119k

Model Y $48k – $60k

Roadster $200k – $250k

Semi $150k – $200k

As briefly mentioned above, if you wish to have Full Self-Driving capabilities, you will have to pay an additional $10k to have it installed in your Tesla.

As you can see, even at the least expensive Tesla is still at the top-end of what it costs to purchase a new gasoline vehicle, which is certainly something to consider when budgeting.

Having said that, when you consider some of the other costs associated with a gasoline vehicle, you may find that in the long run, you are better off with a Tesla.

The next section will discuss some of the Luxury that Tesla has to offer.

Setting Safety Aside to Explore the Tesla’s Luxury Offers

We have explored the many aspects of safety and efficiency between Tesla’s Autopilot and traditional gasoline vehicles, but we have not yet touched on the simple fact that with the name Tesla comes an image of luxury. Add Autopilot to that mix, and you may as well be on a spaceship.

Although Tesla is technically categorized as a premium vehicle, it is commonly considered a luxury vehicle and remains highly ranked among other luxury brands.

If you are looking for a vehicle that is as stylish as you are, then a Tesla may be the perfect fit. The following list will discuss all of the luxurious features that Tesla has to offer.

  • Autopilot/Full Self-Driving Capabilities – As discussed in detail above, these features allow the driver to relinquish some or all of the driving tasks as they travel down the road.
  • Bioweapon Defense Mode – This sounds intimidating. However, it is simply a fancy way of saying that in the event that the outside air becomes unsafe to breathe, Tesla’s hospital-grade filtration system will kick in, so its occupants have clean air to breathe. This has come in handy in areas that experience wildfires in their area.
  • Caraoke – This feature serves no other function than to entertain its occupants while traveling. Tesla appropriately named this feature Caraoke since you are singing in a car. This has become a favorite feature for families as they take long rides.
  • Central Touch Screen – The centralized touch screen in a Tesla is the most important part of the vehicle. This screen allows you to control every aspect of the vehicle down to opening the glove compartment. There is no longer a traditional dash cluster with gauges. It has all been replaced with one clean touch screen that displays everything you need to know.
  • Dog Mode – Need to run into the store real quick, but your pooch is riding shotgun? No problem, Tesla has a super cool feature that keeps the car cool and comfortable for your pup while you run your errands. If someone passes by the car while in Dog Mode, it will notify them that the owner will return shortly to prevent the law from being called for animal cruelty.
  • Easter Eggs – Tesla includes what they refer to as Easter Eggs when they send software updates. These are simply fun little things for the driver and passengers to find hidden in the software, varying from games to finding random images, or even playing miscellaneous songs
  • Fart Mode – While this may not sound very luxurious, it can certainly provide entertainment for those who possess a slapstick sense of humor. Fart Mode is actually a feature that tests the vehicle’s emissions system but can be made to produce the giggle-inspiring sounds on command, which can catch some passersby off guard and possibly brighten their day for a moment.
  • Free Software Updates – If your software becomes out of date, no worries! Tesla offers free over-the-air updates for all of its vehicles.
  • Frunk and Trunk – We all know what a Trunk is, but how about a Frunk? Since there is no combustible engine in a Tesla, there is a lot more room for storage which allowed Tesla to create a “Front trunk,” aka the Frunk. Now you can keep all of your clutter neatly stored out of sight.
  • Keycard Access – Similar to a hotel room key, Tesla can use a personalized card to allow you to gain access to the vehicle
  • Ludicrous and Plaid Mode – If you are feeling the need for speed and quick acceleration, then choose one of these modes. Hold onto your socks! When using Plaid Mode, you can reach speeds of 60 mph within two seconds and a top speed of 200 mph.
  • Minimalistic Design – Another thing that adds to the luxury feel of a Tesla is that it has a highly minimalistic design full of clean lines and smooth textures.
  • Navigation System – Tesla’s built-in GPS will get you wherever you need to go. When in Full Self-Driving Mode, the navigation system will do all of the driving, including entering and exiting highways and changing lanes.
  • Netflix™, Hulu™, and Youtube™ Streaming – Need to take a break from the road? Once you have the vehicle in park, you can stream your favorite movies and shows via Netflix, Hulu, or Youtube.
  • Sentry Mode – Forget about a traditional car alarm that nobody pays attention to anymore. If you want true security for your car, enable Sentry Mode. If someone gets too close to your vehicle for too long, it will begin recording and play a message letting the person know that it’s recording. It will then begin to play classical music to deter any wrongdoings from ill-intentioned people.
  • Supercharging – All Tesla’s now come with the capability of supercharging. If you can locate a Tesla charging station on your route, you will be good to go for another couple hundred miles.
  • Tesla’s In-House Audio System – Rather than partner up with an outside satellite audio company such as Sirius XM™, Tesla has created their own audio system for its drivers and passengers to jam out to while on their adventures.
  • Tesla’s Smartphone App – If you own a Tesla, you will have the benefit of using an app on your smartphone to keep you notified on how the vehicle is running and allow you to control certain functions as well as receive updates.
  • Leather Interior – The interior of a Tesla looks even more luxurious with its soft, smooth leather. It is easy to clean and will hold up surprisingly well to family life.

You may be thinking, “that’s great,” but what you’re really wondering is how Tesla’s Autopilot stacks up against its competition?

Tesla on the Cusp of Major Competition

Although Tesla is certainly at the forefront of this automated technology, they are not the only ones trying to take a bite out of the proverbial autonomous pie. After reading this article, you may be wondering who else is manufacturing electric vehicles with semi or fully autonomous features and what that may mean for Tesla as a company.

As the competition rises in this high-tech industry, Tesla is racing like a lost soul trying to escape the hounds of hell in order to stay on top of this competitive market. Over 20 manufacturers are creating semi/fully autonomous vehicles; how will Tesla respond to this competition?

Continue reading if you, like many others, are wondering about Tesla’s competition and what it means for Tesla as a company.

Tesla’s Competition – What You Need and Want to Know

As briefly mentioned above, Tesla is not the only company manufacturing vehicles with semi or fully autonomous features, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon.

The following section will give information about Tesla’s top competitors. This list is not all-inclusive.

Note: These companies are listed alphabetically, not ranked by statistics.

  • ABB
  • Airty
  • Carmera
  • Cloudmade
  • Cruise
  • Deep Scale
  • Embark Trucks
  • HAAS Alert
  • Lumotive
  • Nauto
  • Nodar
  • Ouster
  • Reality AI
  • SEEVA
  • Swift Navigation
  • Unity Technologies
  • Voyage
  • Waymo
  • WiTricity
  • Zoox
  • Zscaler

So as you can see, there are plenty of fish trying to catch the proverbial worm, but what does that mean for Tesla as a company? How will it affect their sales? Will they be forced to lower their prices in order to stay competitive?

These are all questions that will have to be answered as time passes, but for now, you have a lot of information to help you decide if you think Tesla’s Autopilot feature is worth it or not.

Coolness Counts for Something

If you can put aside the hubbub about safety and having a smaller environmental impact, it needs to be said that from a coolness standpoint, Tesla wins some points. They are bringing reality to what was once a fantastical notion made for the big screen to fuel our imaginations and now look where we are.

Before we know it, we will be flying around like the Jetsons™, but for now, it’s kind of cool to sit back and appreciate how far man has come on a technological level.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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