Tesla Autopilot With Convenience Features Explained

Tesla Autopilot With Convenience Features Explained

One of the most popular reasons to buy a Tesla brand vehicle is because of all the awesome features cars made by the company contain. From a sweet all-inclusive dash screen to the self-parking feature, Tesla has it all. But many people wonder just how many capabilities the Tesla autopilot with convenience feature has.

If you are interested in purchasing the Tesla autopilot with a convenience upgrade, it is important that you take the time to explore all of the many features and benefits of this service before you buy. This upgrade contains features that can not only make driving easier for you but safer as well.

Whether you are just curious about how this technology works or wondering if the upgrade is worth it for your vehicle, keep reading to learn all about the Tesla autopilot with convenience.

How Does Tesla Autopilot with Convenience Features Work?

The Tesla autopilot works on a combination of hardware and software being uploaded to the vehicle. Elon Musk, the creator of Tesla, has specified that all Tesla vehicles have the hardware installed to one day drive themselves completely. It is simply the software that is undergoing frequent updates.

Do note, however, that some of the earliest Tesla vehicles are missing some of the cameras needed to make driving completely autonomously possible. If this is the case, it is highly likely that you can take your vehicle to Tesla to have the necessary hardware installed. But by the time full self-driving vehicles hit the road, you might be ready to upgrade to a new model anyways.

The Tesla autopilot mostly relies on a system of cameras. These cameras work in conjunction with ultrasonic sensors and radar to navigate the roads. There is eight cameras total, placed in numerous spots around the car to provide the vehicle with a 360 view of the road and obstacles. The radar on the front helps Tesla to see through weather conditions that may exist.

The main function of the ultrasonic sensors is to assist with parking, but these sensors also help contribute to letting the car know when there are obstacles or severe weather in the way. All three of these work in conjunction with a powerful computer with AI that enables it to learn from its surroundings.

What Are The Convenience Features?

As mentioned above, almost all Tesla’s come with the basic autopilot package. But if you would like your car to do more than what is listed above, you will need to upgrade the software of the computer that is controlling the autopilot system. You can do this when you buy the car or add it on later—usually for a hefty fee.

Below are the four different software versions of autopilot currently available for Tesla vehicles. They each have their own convenience features and their own cost. The autopilot version that will work best for you will generally depend on how often you drive, how much you want to drive, and how much you are willing to pay for convenience.

There are also two additional upgrades that can be purchased alongside your autopilot package, and these are listed after the autopilot versions.


AP1, or Autopilot 1, is the basic autopilot package that comes with all Tesla vehicles. This package includes adaptive cruise control—for use in stop and go traffic, automatic steering on straight or relatively straight highways, and a radar range of 525 feet. In addition, this car does have an auto park and summon features which can help you to park when in a busy parking lot.

Although you will still need to have your hands on the wheel, this means you can put the car on cruise control, and it will adjust the speed based on the vehicle in front of you. This saves you from constantly having to adjust the cruise control settings.

Auto park and auto summon can help you with some of the trickiest parts of driving. They can help you pull in or out of a space, as well as parallel park on a busy street without you even having to try! The auto summon feature can have your car drive up to you where you are holding the key. This feature currently has range issues, so it doesn’t work in an exceptionally large or busy parking lot just yet.

You can identify that your car is equipped with AP1 by looking at the side panel indicators. If there is a camera there, your vehicle does not have AP1. If there is no camera, then your model might be AP1, and to verify, you will need to look at the rearview mirror on the front windshield.

If there is a camera there (but remember, not on the side), you have AP1 in your vehicle. If this area is lacking a camera as well, then you have no autopilot installed in your vehicle at all. The cameras and computer integration for AP1 were provided by a third-party company known as Mobileye.

Convenience Features

These are the features that come with the basic AP1 package:

  • Traffic-Aware Cruise Control
  • Autosteer (Only Works On Freeways)
  • Auto Park
  • Auto Summon
  • Auto Lane Change (Driver Initiated)


AP2 or Autopilot 2 is the second generation of autopilot hardware and software that can be found in Tesla vehicles. Unlike the previous AP1, this generation of autopilot only uses Tesla hardware and software—in order to give the company more control over future updates. This autopilot version started being installed in all models starting in late 2016.

What changed with this update, though, is that buyers would have their car equipped with the autopilot hardware but would have to pay an additional fee for the software for it to function. This is quite strange when you consider that the hardware is only slightly better than AP1 but comes at such a steep price.

Not only that, but Tesla decided to cut one corner and got rid of the rain sensor for the windshield wiper system. And as of the writing of this article, this sensor still has not been tested or placed in any Tesla vehicles released in 2016 or later.

The capabilities of this system include the traffic-aware cruise control that is a lifesaver in stop and goes traffic, autosteer for highway driving, auto lane changing with the driver initiating, navigation for an autopilot on highways (this is new to this generation), and the auto park and summon features that everyone has come to know and love.

The autopilot navigation convenience feature included in the AP2 can navigate your car almost completely hands-free from on-ramp to the highway to off-ramp (but of course, your hands should still be on the wheel for safety). This makes long drives easier than ever before!

You will know your Tesla is equipped with AP2 by looking at the side panel indicators. If there are cameras there, then you have a vehicle equipped with AP2.

If you are looking to buy a Tesla, it is important that you get a vehicle equipped with AP2. This is because Tesla has guaranteed that these vehicles will be able to receive the software updates for at least the foreseeable future up to AP5. While they do provide updates that work with AP1, these take significantly more time to create and will have you lagging behind.

Convenience Features

Just like you’d expect, AP2 has the same standard features as AP1, with the addition of a few extras:

  • Traffic-Aware Cruise Control
  • Autosteer (Highways Only)
  • Auto Lane Change (Driver Initiated)
  • Navigate On Autopilot
  • Auto Park
  • Auto Summon


Speaking of upgrades for the autopilot system, there already is one that has been in place since 2017. This upgrade helped improve upon the forward radar so that it has a longer range for sensing obstacles. Because this sensor is the only change, it is almost impossible to check to know if your vehicle has this update unless you look at the manual for the sensor number.

But don’t worry about trying to figure out if your vehicle has this update because it doesn’t really matter. The capabilities are generally the same as AP2, and there is no discernable difference in performance as of now. This may matter with future updates, but for now, don’t worry about AP2.5.

Convenience Features:

In true Tesla fashion, things are just a little bit different. Instead of a full jump to the next option, there’s an “in-between,” known as AP2.5:

  • (Same as AP2)
  • Traffic-Aware Cruise Control
  • Autosteer (Highways Only)
  • Auto Lane Change (Driver Initiated)
  • Navigate On Autopilot
  • Auto Park
  • Auto Summon


AP3 or Autopilot 3 is the most recent update to Tesla’s self-driving software. Produced in 2019, this software pretty much allows your car to drive by itself. This update provides all of the previous autopilot features, as well as stoplight and street sign recognition. This car is truly the first step to a vehicle that drives itself.

This vehicle looks the same on the outside as AP2, and the only way you will know if your car is equipped with AP3 or not is by going into the menu of your Tesla screen and looking at the software version installed. If you see software version 2020.4 or greater, then your car is running on AP3. It will also say “Full Self-Driving Computer” to make it easy to distinguish.

If you purchased FSD when you bought your Tesla that was equipped with AP2, then your vehicle will be upgraded to AP3 free of charge. If you did not buy this package, however, then you will need to pay an extra fee to have them installed. Sometimes, FSD and AP3 are used interchangeably to describe the AP3 system.

Convenience Features:

AP3 comes with all of the bells and whistles you’d expect from a car with autopilot:

  • Autosteer
  • Traffic Control Handling
  • Automated Lane Changes
  • Point-to-Point Navigation (Coming Soon, Currently Only Highway Capable)
  • City Driving (Another Update Coming Soon)
  • Perceiving Road Markings And Signs (Another Update)
  • Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control Feature
  • Perception Of Other Moving Objects(Cyclists etc.)
  • Intersection Navigation (Pending)
  • Handling Of Sharp Turns And Roundabouts
  • Parking Lot Navigation
  • Auto Summon
  • Auto Park (Parallel And Perpendicular)

Because there are so many new features with this generation, it’s important to explain a few of the ones that will eventually be installed but don’t currently function on the AP3. All of the features listed are in beta testing, however, meaning they could be released and uploaded to your Tesla any day.

The main features that are new with AP3 are the perceiving of things on the road. Tesla’s current autopilot has an automatic safety feature that will lead it to stop if there is an object in front of it. This feature, however, does not include objects on the side of the vehicle like cyclists or pedestrians. This update will make it so that your vehicle knows how to handle them.

One of the hardest parts about driving is navigating intersections. This is because there is a lot going on, even for the human mind to handle. Tesla has its hands full for conquering this aspect of a fully self-driving vehicle, and so far, there has been no update on this feature that would be necessary to take the autopilot from highway driving only to around town comfort.

Being able to use autopilot in the city is, of course, the ultimate goal of autopilot driving. Although AP3 includes all the building blocks to install these features, the software for the sign, stoplight, and other city driving technicalities is still in testing.

The final feature that is new that should be noted is the handling of sharp turns and roundabouts. Currently, the Tesla autopilot works best when on a straight road. This is because there is a lot of information a driver has to use to navigate a turn. With the new updates, the vehicle should be able to do this with ease, including the power shift changes.

Basically, the AP3 system is almost all the way to a completely self-driving car, and Musk says that it is coming and that he believes within the next few years, his company will produce the first completely self-driving car using the current AP3 hardware.

Enhanced Autopilot

Enhanced autopilot was a previous upgrade that was offered for all Tesla drivers. It was a software update that would allow the vehicle to make automated lane changes and autopilot navigation on highways. This update was discontinued the release of AP2 because it is just better to upgrade your system to AP2 entirely rather than continue to drive on AP1.

Full Self-Driving (FSD)

Full Self-Driving, referred to as FSD, is a current upgrade that you should consider purchasing with your Tesla. Although not all features are currently available, this upgrade guarantees that you will get every update that Tesla releases on its way to becoming a fully self-driving vehicle.

Currently, if you purchase this upgrade, you need to have at least an AP2 system installed on your vehicle, and it will give you the AP3 upgrades as they come out. The updates that have been released as of the writing of this article are Traffic Light and Stop Sign control, safer cruise control overall, and the ability to make sharper turns than the basic AP2.

What Safety Features Are Included?

The autopilot features such as autosteer, auto park, and auto summon are mostly convenience features. This means that while you can use them, they aren’t necessary to having a great experience while driving a Tesla. There are some safety features that come with the Tesla autopilot, however, and these features are important to keeping you safe on the road.

Automatic Emergency Braking

This feature, which is standard in most new vehicles, will bring the car to a stop if it senses a vehicle in front of it. This significantly lowers the chances of you rear-ending someone while driving.

Lane Assist

With this feature, the vehicle will alert you when you begin to drive outside of your lane. Most Tesla’s will give you a visual indication, while all Tesla’s will have the steering wheel begin to vibrate and intervention if the car drifts too far out of the lane. This can help keep the driver’s attention on the road and wake someone up who has fallen asleep at the wheel. 


Tesla’s autopilot, no matter which generation is installed in your vehicle, can do amazing things to make your life more convenient! From parking to cruise control to helping out in traffic, Tesla’s autopilot does it all.

It will be interesting to see all the pending updates that are coming to turn Tesla autopilot into a truly self-driving vehicle, but for now, you will have to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel! And maybe consider upgrading your vehicle to AP3 or FSD if you haven’t already, so you will be ready for all the updates that are just around the corner.


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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