Tesla Autopilot Buddy Explained

Have you ever wished that your car could drive itself? Or at least man your cruise control for you? Well, you might want to keep on wishing. Also, it should be mentioned that this specifically applies to your Tesla. The Tesla Autopilot Buddy, to many, would’ve been the answer to their sci-fi dreams, a step closer to making the future of self-driving cars a reality. Now, that piece of technology, that step closer to the future, is Illegal.

Tesla Autopilot Buddy (TAB) it’s a piece of technology that creates the impression that the driver actually has their hands on the wheel. More specifically, the unit is made from magnetic plastic that you would essentially attach to your steering wheel to simulate constant pressure on the wheel.

The device doesn’t allow you to take a nap during your morning commute to work or to play games on your phone while your car maneuver’s you through traffic, but it does keep you at a certain speed, in your lane, and on the road. Not as advanced as you may have been thinking? It’s still quite impressive, even given the fact that it’s now deemed dangerous and has been made illegal. Keep reading to find out why.

How Does It Actually Work?

The Tesla Autopilot Buddy is a weight that you would attach to one side of your steering wheel. The way it works is pretty simple; its functionality is solely based on resistance and a good bit of trickery. The autopilot buddy tricks the car into thinking that someone is actually paying attention.

The issues, however, in some live reviews, consumers have said that the device feels too light to apply an appropriate amount of pressure to work how it should. Other consumers had different thoughts and said that the device seems like it’s pretty heavy. Click here to see a consumer reaction.

Here’s the thing; the autopilot models or the “Full Self-Driving” capabilities that they have are not truly self-driving at all. If you own a Tesla, you may already be aware that before you can engage the autopilot that you have to agree to keep your hands on the wheel at all times. Throughout the flow of the autopilot taking over, the system still sends the driver different warnings pertaining to visuals or audio.

The system will essentially keep reminding you to pay attention to the road. How is a car fully self-drivable if you technically can’t take your hands off of the wheel or your eyes off of the road for extended periods of time? Well, the answer is that the car isn’t really self-drivable; the more appropriate term would be highly advanced.

What Are the Problems with the Tesla Auto Pilot Buddy?

The Tesla autopilot itself is an innovative system for an automobile, and the buddy model is a prime example of innovative thinking. Although it’s not available for legal use as it was originally made, there may be additional potential for the company to roll out with a safe and effective version. The issues with the buddy model are that weight can’t replace the human eye.

There are simply some things that the autopilot extension cannot do. If you click here, you can see that although the system keeps you going in the same direction and within your lane, it cannot anticipate traffic quickly merging into your lane. There is also the question of whether the system can monitor your blind spot, make actual turns or veer into other directions.

With all of those unanswered questions, you can see that there is still a long way to go before we as a society are laying back in our cars taking a nap while it drives us home after a long day of work.

Overall, the buddy model proved to be more dangerous than safe. Although Tesla reports that in 2019 there was only “one accident for every three million miles driven in a Tesla with Autopilot engaged.” The national rate was “one accident for every 498,000 miles driven in 2017, according to NHTSA.”

It might interest you to know that the NHTSA, regardless of the safety statistics, presented the manufacturing company of the Tesla APB with a cease-and-desist order. In more ways than one, the buddy model has proven to be too unsafe to continue on the market.

How Much Does It Cost?

With something like this, the idea of your car doing a lot of the heavy lifting for you must cost a pretty penny. Well, to put your curiosity at ease, it does. Or rather it does if you think $10,000 isn’t expensive. Some could argue that the price is well worth it for what you get, which in fact, isn’t farfetched considering the $10,000 price tag is for the entire “self-driving” software that includes autopilot.

The autopilot can be thought of in the way that you would think of an aircraft. You have to admit that $10,000 may not be so steep after all, but given the downfalls of the buddy model, should it be considered?

The entire system can’t be to blame for the failure to initially keep the buddy model on the shelves or in the Tesla manufacturers’ warehouses, which may be why the public still has an interest in the product and is still utilizing them under its new name; a mobile phone holder.

If you were considering a simple upgrade for your Tesla that may have been released before the autopilot feature, you’re going to be looking at a bill of $3,000 just for the APB (before the initial ban of the product). For the fully enhanced autopilot system, it would’ve been $6,000. The entire software is more expensive now, as previously mentioned.

Is Tesla Going to Fix the Issue?

Here, you’ll find it interesting to know that Tesla is, or already has, begun to fix this issue. The Tesla APB has been welcomed back into the market by potential consumers but not by its original name. The buddy model has come back into the spotlight but as a “phone holder.” This more than likely is how Tesla has tried to get around the legality issues concerning the product.

Tesla APB In the Future

CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, regardless of any fails is still persistent and drives to enhance the various Tesla models, using previous endeavors as examples. The newer models of the autopilot feature are also equipped with driver monitoring software. That is exactly as it sounds, software built into the vehicle to monitor the attentiveness of the driver while the autopilot is activated.

Tesla considered at some point to include special software that monitored the drivers’ eyes while using autopilot, but the feature has not gone live due to it lacking reliability in regard to results.

The autopilot buddy is now considered to be illegal. It’s an aftermarket product that is just a collector’s item at this point. In addition to trying to move through the hurdles of attempting to make the autopilot feature itself more marketable, the company has made it possible for Tesla vehicles to handle intersections and even stop signs; this is only with models that are already equipped with the autopilot feature.

Even though the car can stop at intersections and halt at stop signs to let pedestrians pass by you as the driver would still have to make the car move through the light or sign once you have the right of way, the models aren’t at the level of advancement to where they can tell when the light has turned green again yet, but with the consistent innovations presented by Tesla, who knows, maybe that’s coming soon.


The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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