Tesla Autopilot Without FSD Explained

Tesla Autopilot Without FSD Explained

Tesla’s vehicles have become the gold standard for people conscious about reducing carbon emissions. They come complete with excellent features that keep your journeys flowing smoothly, and one of the most sought-after features is the Tesla Autopilot.

It is possible to use Tesla Autopilot without Full Self Driving. They may sound similar, but they are two very different features. Keep reading. We’re going to take a deep dive into Tesla Autopilot without FSD so that you know everything there is to know about the features.

What Is Tesla Autopilot?

Tesla Autopilot was introduced by Tesla to help take out the most cumbersome parts of driving. The beauty of the service is that it continually improves to give drivers the peace of mind that they are being kept well aware of changes.

Here are some of the features of Tesla Autopilot you should be aware of:

  • Autopilot allows the car to accelerate, brake automatically, and steer in the lane. This helps when it comes to safety and simplifying your route. The purpose is to avoid being stuck behind cars while traveling.
  • Navigation on Autopilot allows the vehicle to automatically steer towards highway interchanges and exits based on your desired destination. This is especially helpful if you struggle with directions, and it takes the stress out of paying attention to where to turn.
  • Autosteer+ uses cameras, sensors, and computing abilities to help with more complex roads. Have you ever worried about long and winding roads in the middle of nowhere? If so, this feature is fantastic.
  • Smart Summon helps when it comes to parking your vehicle because it can tell if objects will obstruct your car from getting into a slot.

All of these features come together to give drivers a seamless experience when they are on the roads, but don’t expect to take your hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the road.

Is the Vehicle Autonomous Thanks to Tesla Autopilot?

While the features are cutting edge, you still need to pay attention to the road and, of course, the vehicle. Tesla Autopilot does not make your vehicle autonomous and has never been designed to do so.

It is merely a way to help take the most frustrating aspects of driving out so that you can pay more attention to the roads and not have to worry about changing lanes, picking the proper exits, and other things that bug you about driving.

Active driver supervision is crucial to the safety of anyone in the car, so the person behind the wheel has to continue to pay attention to everything happening. There are significant benefits to Autopilot, but there’s a common misconception that it means you do not need to pay attention to the road.

You should always pay attention to the road, and there’s a good chance any commercially available cars that do not require the user to look at the road are still a long way off.

What Happened to Tesla Enhanced Autopilot?

Initially, there were two versions of Autopilot for Tesla vehicles. They were:

  • Standard: Still available and includes features such as Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Enhanced: Many of the features now included in Tesla Full-Self Driving, like summon, auto park, Navigate-on-Autopilot.

The different tiers available with Tesla are somewhat confusing due to the company continuing to change them. For example, the Tesla Enhanced Autopilot was taken away well over a year ago, only to return in September 2020 for a limited time.

The company appears to now be phasing out Enhanced Autopilot in favor of the FSD option, but that could change down the line. You can’t predict what’s coming next with Tesla, but the superior technology behind their products continues to be highly coveted with people switching to cars associated with renewable energy.

The current offerings are more streamlined in that if you purchase a car at the moment, it will have Standard Autopilot, but if you want to take advantage of the additional features, you will be able to get them by bumping up to an FSD-enabled plan.

Do All Tesla Cars Have Access to Autopilot?

The standard Autopilot comes as standard on all Tesla vehicles released in 2020 and beyond, but it’s possible in some instances to add the features to older cars through software updates.

Unfortunately, Tesla vehicles built before September 2014 have access to a very basic iteration of Autopilot, which is dubbed 1.0 and was available on S and X models.  It lacks several features you would expect from the more recent iterations.

Here are the features of Tesla Autopilot 1:

  • Traction Aware Cruise Control
  • Lane Keep/Autosteer
  • Lane Change
  • Summon
  • Auto Park

While these features are certainly helpful, they pale in comparison to the newer versions of Autopilot.

Here are the features of Extended Autopilot:

  • Traction Aware Cruise Control
  • Lane Keep/Autosteer
  • Lane Change
  • Summon
  • Auto Park
  • Smart Summon
  • Navigate on Autopilot

As with any product, the features have only improved with time, meaning that if there’s a feature you need that is not a part of the product, it could be added down the line. Tesla cars are constantly being upgraded over the air.

New features tend to take longer to hit the cars because of the number of checks they have to go through before getting the green light. This could be attributed to the fact that there are safety protocols the car must adhere to.

How to Tell What Version of Autopilot Your Tesla Vehicle Has

Whether you’ve lost the packaging or if you’ve purchased a second-hand Tesla, you may be wondering how to tell what specific version of Autopilot your vehicle is running.

  • If there is one camera, you’re running Autopilot 1.0, which is the more limited offerings out there.
  • If there’s an eight-camera setup, then you’re good to go with the latest features. These upgraded cameras arrived on the scene with the vehicles that came out after October 2016.
  • You can also check your software from the settings of your vehicle. Tesla’s are well-known for being user-friendly, so you can keep up to speed with all the finer details of your car by entering the settings.

It’s pretty simple, but it’s always good to know what features you should expect and whether they can be upgraded.

What Is Tesla Full Self-Driving?

Tesla Full Self-Driving is a supplement to the Tesla Autopilot. It gives riders access to a suite of advanced features not typically available in vehicles, taking even more of the cumbersome activities associated with driving out of the equation.

The purpose of this particular feature set is to give the user the ability to go on both short and long-distance trips with no-to-minimal action from the individual in the driver’s seat. It is still a relatively new feature, meaning that it will improve with time.

New features for this service will be added over the air, but there are various hurdles for Tesla as these features are subject to regulator approval and may not be able to be launched in all jurisdictions at one time. It’s a similar scenario to the Autopilot over the air updates.

Is the Vehicle Autonomous With Tesla Self-Driving?

The answer might surprise you, but no, the user is still expected to keep their full attention on the road to make sure there are no hiccups. Tesla notes that this could change down the line, but it will come down to many variables.

Whether the feature is worthwhile for every Tesla driver is up for debate but will come down to your individual needs. People will consider the cost, as well as whether it is that much different from Tesla Autopilot.

What Is the Cost of Tesla Self-Driving?

As you would expect, there is a cost involved with upgrading your vehicle to Tesla Self-Driving.

These are the general costs:

  • If your vehicle has a basic Autopilot, Tesla Self-Drive will set you back about $200 per month
  • If your vehicle has Enhanced Autopilot, Tesla Self-Drive will be nearly an additional $100 per month
  • One-time purchase of approximately $10,000 instead of the monthly fee

Tesla Self-Driving was once a one-off fee, but monthly subscription fees were recently brought in as a way to make it more accessible to everyone. Not everyone has the ability to spend thousands at one time.

Another big thing to consider is that you cannot move a Full Self-Driving subscription from one car to another. This means if you paid a lump sum when you bought the car to get access to the features, you cannot transfer them to a new car down the line if you upgrade.

The monthly subscription to Tesla Self-Drive could make this easier, but for people who had their car when it was solely a lump sum deal, it could present significant issues down the line and could even stop people from wanting to upgrade.

On top of that, you might need to spend up to $1,500 to upgrade a vehicle that was once deemed compatible with the FSD.  Yes, any Tesla vehicle manufactured prior to 2019 will require an upgrade to the computer.

These upgrade prices are not included in the subscription fees, meaning that they will be in addition to the fees. Tesla was promoting cars manufactured as far back as 2016 to be compatible, but this is not the case without the computer upgrade.

The company has also revealed that you can upgrade the car to the new computer for free if your car has Autopilot Computer 2.0 or 2.5. The upgrade is easy to book by going into the Tesla app and arranging a convenient time to upgrade.

The Different Levels of Vehicle Autonomy

The easiest way to distinguish just how independent a vehicle is, is to look at the different levels of vehicle autonomy.

The Society of Automotive Engineers says there are six levels of driving automation, from 0 to 5, which help to define what level of autonomy the vehicles have. This helps if you’re looking for a more independent car.

  • Level 0 is manually controlled. These are the typical vehicles you would expect on roads today. Yes, they could have access to things like an emergency braking system, but there’s no way for the car to be controlled without user input.
  • Level 1 could have a feature such as Cruise Control, but the driver monitors most aspects of driving.
  • Level 2 means the vehicle has features that allow it to control steering, accelerating, and decelerating. This level calls for a human to be in the seat to take over these features at any given time.
  • Level 3 vehicles are available to do the thinking for themselves, perhaps by taking over a vehicle that is moving slow. These vehicles do still call for a human to be present, meaning that you can’t take your eyes off the road.
  • Level 4 vehicles allow the car to take control if things go wrong. They still have the option for humans to manually override, though.
  • Level 5 takes the human away from driving. Yes, they’ll be in the vehicle, but the car will be doing all the work. This type of car is not commercially available at present, but they are in the works.

It’s easy to believe that we will reach Level 5 autonomy at one point, especially when you consider the consistent rise in technology. With Tesla taking center stage in the headlines for its advancements, it also makes sense to look at how they fit in on an autonomy scale. 

Where Does Tesla Fit in Terms of Autonomy?

Tesla has been the topic of much debate for the way it describes its levels of autonomy, with many believing the vehicles to have a higher level than they do.

You’re probably surprised to find out that Autopilot and the Tesla Self-Driving only come in at Level 2 autonomy. Higher levels of autonomy are being tested, but it doesn’t look like that level will be changing any time soon.

Elon Musk said in early 2021 that Tesla would achieve Level 5 autonomy by the end of 2021 with the use of FSD, but the company subsequently refuted those claims, recognizing that Level 5 is a goal in the distance.

While Tesla has proven to have these great features, we probably shouldn’t expect Level 5 autonomy any time soon. The testing for these types of vehicles could go on for a very long time because should they malfunction, they pose a risk to many individuals.

It’s good that the company has been keeping fans in the loop about what is happening in terms of the level of autonomy, but there appears to be a long road ahead for the company to reach the full potential of these devices.

Do Other Manufactures Have Higher Vehicle Autonomy?

While Tesla is both a reputable and popular brand, there are other options out there when it comes to vehicle autonomy.

The Honda company managed to develop a Level 3 automated vehicle, and it was approved in Japan in the first quarter of 2021. However, the company only produced 100 of the vehicles that had control of the brakes in an effort to see how well-received they were.

The car can read the environment and make decisions based on what it deems fit.

All of the other companies are around Level 2 autonomy, but this is likely to change in the years to come, thanks to the significant technological advancements in recent years.

That being said, it’s likely higher-level vehicles could be in the works but are being kept under wraps. The Honda announcement took the tech world by surprise, likely because nobody knew they were working on such a vehicle.

Do You Really Need Tesla Autopilot?

This really comes down to personal preference. The cars are great because they run on electricity, meaning they are much better for the environment, but if you plan on using the vehicle as you would any other car, it may not be worthwhile to get models with the latest Autopilot.

Yes, the features would be advantageous, but it would all come down to whether you want to use them. The beauty of most Tesla cars is that they can be upgraded down the line, and with the company’s goal to become fully autonomous, it would be wise to consider whether you would want access to those features down the line.


Think about the future when picking your Tesla vehicle. If you are dead set on always being in control, then you do not need to worry about Autopilot, but if you think you could add it, make sure to pick the right vehicle for your needs.

Then again, many people do prefer to have the option of upgrading down the line, and if Tesla has taught us anything, it’s that you should consider all options before making that final decision. You wouldn’t want to get a vehicle without FSD or the level of Autopilot you want, only to learn you can’t upgrade down the line or that you’ll have to pay a lot more money than you expected.

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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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