Safety technology has become commonplace in automobiles, and you no longer need to buy an expensive luxury vehicle to get a top-quality safety system. There are many affordable vehicles that offer safety technology to help keep their drivers protected, minimize accident damage, and give them peace of mind when driving on the road.
Both Tesla’s Autopilot and Subaru’s EyeSight assist drivers with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, but Autopilot has more impressive software features. However, Subaru’s driver’s assistance safety technology is standard for most vehicles while many of Tesla’s extras cost extra.
Driver’s assistance safety technology supports the driver during all types of situations, from relieving driver stress and fatigue to helping avoid accidents. Each system performs differently depending on the car company and model of the vehicle. This does not mean the cars are self-driving, but just safer when it comes to driving on the road. Read on to learn more about the differences between Autopilot and EyeSight.
About Subaru EyeSight
There is a reason why Subaru has sold more than one million vehicles that include the Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology standard with the vehicle. EyeSight gives drivers an extra set of eyes, an extra foot on the brake, and an extra sense of confidence and safety. It was even found to reduce rear-end crashes up to 85 percent.
The heart of Subaru’s EyeSight system is a set of dual color cameras that are positioned inconspicuously near the rearview mirror. These cameras examine the road for unexpected and unforeseen dangers that the driver may come across for added safety and peace of mind. Some of the features that are monitored include the following:
- Monitors the movement of traffic
- Warns the driver if the car moves outside of the lane
- Enhances and augments cruise control
- Pre-collision braking feature and throttle management
The adaptive cruise control makes sure the car is at a safe distance from the cars in front of them, while pre-collision braking helps the drivers avoid or lessen frontal impacts. The braking feature will either alert the driver or apply full force braking in an emergency situation and pre-collision throttle detects objects in front of the vehicle.
The pre-collision throttle management also reduces the power from the engine to further avoid or minimize frontal impact force and damage. Since the EyeSight monitors the car’s position on the road, it will alert the driver if the car sways out of the intended lane with a “sway warning,” which can be extremely helpful for drivers who may be tired.
The main difference between Subaru’s EyeSight and Tesla’s Autopilot is that you are getting EyeSight in a $23,000 new vehicle. Tesla’s cars could never be purchased for that price and much of Tesla’s Autopilot features come at an additional $10,000 cost. The only two features included in a Tesla are adaptive cruise control and autosteer.
You will get many more functions standard with the Subaru EyeSight. For example, on-board cameras will scan for visual signs, like other vehicles or lane markers, inserted sensors are used to sense close objects, and then the data goes into the software so that the technology can make the safest decision of how to proceed.
It may not be unique that EyeSight keeps your vehicle centered with lane monitoring or helps you maintain a safe distance with adaptive cruise control. But, it can literally sense if a collision is about to occur and the driver is not braking as needed. Warning sounds, flashing visuals, and then hitting the brakes for you will occur to avoid a crash.
That is the main difference between the EyeSight and Autopilot, as more benefits come standard in a less expensive Subaru. There are some things that cost extra with the EyeSight, such as having the collision monitoring while going in reverse or an optional driver monitoring system that watches your head to see if it droops from being tired.
EyeSight Ranks Well with Professionals
How does EyeSight rate with the professionals with the cruise control and braking features? When the run of the 2019 Subaru models was tested while being equipped with the Subaru EyeSight technology, they ended up receiving the highest achievable rating for preventing front crashes by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).
The IIHS also discovered that the Subaru EyeSight reduced pedestrian-related insurance claims by an impressive 35 percent, saving Subaru drivers money on their insurance. In addition, the Subaru EyeSight has also received the highest safety scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
However, Subaru did not come out on top in a Consumer Reports analysis. Although still in the top ten, there were other companies that were rated higher than the Subaru EyeSight. Yet, it should be noted that some of the companies that did get higher ratings also charge extra for some of the features that come standard in a $23,000 Subaru.
Subaru is also not satisfied with their ratings, as notable as they may be, and has declared that it will use its EyeSight safety to reach the remarkable feat of having zero traffic fatalities in its vehicles by 2030. This may be why they are currently working on a next-generation version, called EyeSight X, which should be even more impressive.
Consumer Reports: Autopilot vs. EyeSight
The driving systems examined by Consumer Reports are not self-driving systems, and the drivers still need to be aware and responsible behind the wheel. Knowing this upfront, Consumer Reports conducted nearly forty tests with each of the seventeen vehicles it chose to determine which was the best based on five pieces of criteria:
- Capability and performance
- Keeping the driver engaged
- Ease of use
- Clear when safe to use
- Unresponsive driver
The Cadillac Super Cruise was the overall winner because of its direct driver monitoring system that warns drivers who may have appeared to have stopped paying attention to the road. The Subaru EyeSight has a similar feature, but it comes at an added cost. The Tesla Autopilot came in second overall and the Subaru EyeSight was ranked seventh.
Consumer Reports also rated the capabilities and performance of seventeen different driving assistance systems and Subaru’s EyeSight came in sixth with a rating of seven out of ten. BMW was also rated a seven out of ten and then three manufacturers were ahead with an eight out of ten. Only one manufacturer received a nine out of ten: Tesla.
- Tesla’s Autopilot – 9/10
- Audi Driver Assistance Plus – 8/10
- Cadillac Super Cruise – 8/10
- Lincoln/Ford Co-Pilot 360 – 8/10
- BMW Active Driving Assistance Pro – 7/10
The Subaru EyeSight can in a close sixth with a 7/10 rating, but what does this mean exactly? On one hand, Subaru’s EyeSight comes standard in the new Forester, Legacy, Outback, and Ascent, and Crosstrek with CVT automatic transmission, while Tesla’s Autopilot has a pricey upcharge to enjoy all the benefits. Is Autopilot worth the extra?
Consumer Reports evaluated how each system kept the automobile in the center of the lane and how smoothly it adjusted speed behind other vehicles. It specifically reviewed the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance to see how steering and braking were controlled. These are pretty similar between Tesla and Subaru.
About Tesla’s Autopilot
Tesla’s active driving assistance system is called the Autopilot and helps control the car’s speed and steering to support the driver’s safety on the road.
In terms of capabilities and performance, Tesla’s Autopilot scored the best in capabilities and performance and was the only manufacturer to receive a nine out of 10 rating.
AutoPilot is Constantly Changing
There is a reason why Tesla’s Autopilot is one of the leading driving software systems on the market today. However, if you are comparing the Tesla Autopilot and Subaru EyeSight, you need to read the fine print on what exactly comes standard and what may cost extra depending on your vehicle, as Tesla does charge for the best software.
Many Tesla drivers have maintained that they did not need the expensive extras to feel safe, and the cars have numerous safety features that Tesla engineers continue to improve upon to maintain confidence in their customers. However, constant changes – four different hardware and software versions have been released – comes confusion.
Autopilot Hardware Has Many Versions
Tesla has touted the hardware in its Autopilot safety system for years and has continued to improve using the data it gathers from the computer systems. In fact, the latest computer hardware is supposed to support “Tesla Vision,” which is image processing software that manages end-to-end images for the driver.
Any Tesla that was manufactured in September 2014 or earlier, such as the Model S and the Roadster, does not come with the Autopilot software installed. They also cannot add it into the system. If you have a Tesla after that date you are in luck and will have cameras, sensors, and computers. However, this is where some confusion comes into play.
Since 2014, Tesla has already gone through four different versions of its hardware system. This means constant changes with the cameras, sensors, and computer hardware that collects the data and makes the safety decisions. Some earlier Tesla vehicles can obtain a hardware upgrade, but other older vehicles are at a loss.
Tesla’s latest Autopilot hardware package contains eight cameras, one radar, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and what they call a “supercomputer.” Below is an overview of where Tesla’s Autopilot started, what changes and additions have been made, and how those hardware changes compare to less-expensive vehicles on the market today.
Autopilot Hardware 1.0
This is the first version of Autopilot hardware and can be found in vehicles built between September 2014 and October 2016 and was incorporated into all of the Model S and Model X Tesla vehicles manufactured during that time frame. This version only uses one front-facing camera supported by a radar system to track speed and cruise control.
There is a Bosch radar sensor with a 525-foot range and then 12 sonar sensors with a 16-foot range to detect any obstacles that are nearby. The sensors also help with traffic when making lane changes or parking the vehicle.
The computer for this version is a Mobileye EyeQ3 Processor that compiles the data and basically tells the car what to do in driving situations. However, this first-generation computer system is handled by a third-party software company. This will change with the later versions when the computer systems are brought in-house to Tesla.
Autopilot Hardware 2.0
Tesla vehicles that were built between October 2016 and August 2017 received the most impressive upgrade in the Autopilot hardware with this version. First, the number of cameras jumped from one to eight, a change that is still seen in the latest hardware versions today. Now, every angle of the vehicle is protected by cameras:
- One camera facing the rear
- Two side cameras on either side, between the front and rear doors
- Two cameras facing the side and rear, placed under the front fender
- Three cameras in the rearview mirror facing the front
The main forward camera has a distance of 150 meters maximum with a 50-degree field of view, the narrow forward camera has a distance of 250 meters maximum with a 35-degree field of view, and the wide forward camera comes in at a distance of 60 meters maximum with a 150-degree field of view.
The cameras are equipped with heaters so that snow and ice are never an issue. The number of sensors stated the same, but the range of the 12 sonar sensors was upgraded from 16 to 26 feet. In addition, there were numerous components in the computer system that radically increased Tesla’s computing power:
- One Nvidia Parker System-onChip
- One Nvidia Pascal GPU
- One Infineon TriCore CPU
The added computing power was needed since the amount of data increased from one camera to eight cameras sending data needing to be processed.
Autopilot Hardware 2.5
Vehicles that were made by Tesla from August 2017 through March 2019 received this somewhat incremental upgrade. The cameras stayed at eight, the computers were the same, and the radar still had 12 sonar sensors with the same range. The radar supplier, once Bosch, changed to Continental, adding a bit more range to that sensor.
Autopilot Hardware 3.0
This is the hardware the Autopilot uses for every Tesla made after March 2019 and, according to Tesla founder Elon Musk, has all of the components that are needed to be a fully self-driving featured vehicle. That being said, the only major change was exchanging the third-party computer system to an in-house two bespoke unit design.
Any Tesla vehicles that have the 2.0 or 2.5 hardware versions can upgrade to the 3.0 computer drivers if they buy a Full Self-Driving package.
Autopilot Software Features
Tesla has four different Autopilot software packages that were available during certain time periods. Today, the latest Autopilot is included with vehicles but only comes with adaptive cruise control and autosteer. If you want all the bells and whistles discussed below, you will need to spend a whopping $10,000 for the Autopilot additions.
- Autopilot 1 (October 2014-October 2016)
- Enhanced Autopilot (October 2016-February 26, 2019)
- Full Self Driving (October 2016-February 26, 2019)
- Autopilot (February 27, 2019, through today)
- Full Self Driving (February 27, 2019, through today)
Tesla’s Autopilot has impressive software features. The traffic-aware cruise control uses the radar components to match the speed of the vehicle in front and can have the Tesla stop and speed up again all on its own. The cameras track the lane lines and autosteer, it can make automatic lane changes, and even auto park – yes, hands-free parking.
Stop sign control helps drivers in the city by seeing and responding to stop signs, while traffic light control responds to traffic signals by slowing down, even if they are green, and then having the driver give confirmation to continue through the green light. Autopilot even allows semi-autonomous driving and navigation on and off the highway.
Probably the most unique feature of the Autopilot software is Summon, which permits the vehicle to move without anyone being inside of it. Tesla offers two versions, a Basic Summon that allows the car to move forward and backward in a straight line, and Smart Summon that actually allows the vehicle to move freely to actually find the driver.
Autopilot vs. EyeSight Safety Features
Tesla has many of the same safety features as Subaru, including lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking when the vehicle senses it may crash into something. There are also forward and side collision warnings and obstacle-aware acceleration that slows down the vehicle to keep it from hitting an obstruction.
Autopilot also features lane departure avoidance that helps keep the Tesla in its required lane and, for emergency cases, rapidly changes the vehicle’s direction if there is a risk of a collision with another vehicle or obstacle. If any of these features are annoying to you, you can toggle them off or on at your leisure.
It seems the Autopilot and EyeSight have similar safety features that really do not stand out as unique compared to all of the other vehicle assistance packages out there today. Autopilot does offer impressive software options, but they come at a price. A Tesla Model 3 starts at $36,990 ($49,000 fully loaded) plus $10,000 for full Autopilot features.
A 2020 Subaru Legacy sedan starts at $27,745 and comes with many more EyeSight features as standard with the vehicle, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, and automatic braking. If you do not need the bells and whistles of a Tesla and its Autopilot, you will be just fine driving your safe and reliable Subaru.