Tesla has been in the headlines and making quite a stir with its Autopilot. With CEO Elon Musk claiming that Teslas will soon be completely self-driving, many people have the impression that Tesla Autopilot is the pinnacle of automated driving technology. But is it really as far away from the competitors as Tesla wants people to believe?
While Tesla is the only car with the branded Autopilot system, most other major automotive companies now offer similar automated driving systems. Tesla’s Autopilot still takes first for ability, but there are alternatives that rank higher in terms of safety and feel.
If you are dazzled by Autopilot but not ready to get behind the wheel of a Tesla, then you need to be aware of the Autopilot alternatives. You should explore not only what those alternatives are but how they stack up against Autopilot and each other. Keep reading to learn about all the best semi-automatic driving systems available today!
Is Tesla the Only Car with Autopilot?
Technically, Tesla is the only car with Autopilot because Autopilot is the copyrighted name of Tesla’s automated driving system.
There are also no other brands that have an exact copy of Autopilot. Automated driving systems are a collection of features, such as adaptive cruise control, auto-steering, and automatic lane changes, and those features differ from system to system.
What you thus have are a lot of similar but unique systems with features that are sometimes identical and sometimes very different.
You will only be getting Autopilot with a Tesla, but there are a variety of other semi-autonomous vehicles that are wowing drivers.
Comparing Tesla Autopilot Alternatives
When it comes to examining the different alternatives to Tesla Autopilot, there are several key aspects you want to examine:
- How it works: Tesla Autopilot works through the use of cameras and sensors combined with an internal computer with high processing power. Take note of how the alternatives make automated driving possible.
- Safety features: None of these systems are even close to making fully self-driving cars, and thus how they encourage drivers to stay focused and stay safe is a major concern.
- Pricing: To access all of the automated driving features Tesla offers, you will need to pay an additional $10,000. Other automated systems also often come with some additional fees to the price of the car.
- Pros and Cons: Tesla Autopilot is known for having a bevy of features, but its reputation for safety could be better. To wrap up your look at each alternative, examine what, both good and bad, makes each system stand out.
Cadillac Super Cruise
When it comes to stiff competitors with Tesla’s Autopilot, Cadillac is a major contender. Cadillac named its automated driving system Super Cruise.
Super Cruise is widely regarded as one of the best-automated driving systems for both its smooth human-like handling and its unique safety features.
How Does Super Cruise Work?
Super Cruise stands out from other semi-automated driving systems because it works differently. Although it does make use of cameras and sensors to keep the car aware of its surroundings, Super Cruise also uses LiDAR map data.
LiDAR maps create detailed and accurate maps that capture the topography of the landscape. With this data, Super Cruise knows the exact shape and movement of the road. It is this information that allows a Cadillac controlled by Super Cruise to follow the road smoothly and expertly.
The only downside to Cadillac’s approach is that the LiDAR map data is not yet available for all roadways, which means that you cannot use Super Cruise everywhere. You can only enable Super Cruise on roadways that Cadillac has data for, which right now includes major highways, but the number of available roads is continuing to expand.
On compatible roadways, Super Cruise operates by using Advanced Cruise Control (which allows a car to brake and accelerate on its own) along with Cadillac Connected Services to access LiDAR maps. The Cadillac can then steer itself along the road.
Safety Features of Super Cruise
Cadillac’s Super Cruise is one of the only automated driving systems that allows for hands-free driving, but this amazing feature does not come at the price of safety. Instead of requiring drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, Cadillac uses a camera mounted to the steering wheel to track driver eye gaze.
If drivers look away from the road the system warns them and will cut itself off, forcing drivers to take back over.
Cadillac also includes OnStar Emergency Services on all cars equipped with Super Cruise.
How Much Does Super Cruise Cost?
Cadillac’s Super Cruise comes on the following Cadillac models:
- 2018-2020 CT6
- 2021 CT4
- 2021 CT5
- 2021 Escalade
- 2023 LYRIQ (upcoming)
The system itself costs nothing, but it does require a Cadillac Connected Services subscription to work. Each car with Super Cruise comes with three free years of Cadillac Connected Services after which it costs $25 a month.
Pros and Cons of Super Cruise
There is no doubt that Cadillac Super Cruise is one of the best-automated driving systems on the market. Many would argue it outshines Tesla Autopilot. Why exactly is that?
Pros of Cadillac Super Cruise include:
- It is not a significant extra cost
- It provides a smooth ride
- It comes with a fantastic safety system
- It has many hands-free features
Cons of Cadillac Super Cruise include:
- It is not available on all roads
- There are not as many features as some other systems
Overall, Super Cruise controls the car with a feel that is hard for other automated systems to match.
Ford Co-Pilot 360
Ford has been around for a long time, but that does not mean they are living in the past. The Co-pilot 360 system is full of the latest and greatest driving technology.
Co-pilot 360 is all about making driving more convenient and safer with numerous features to assist you in multiple situations on the road.
How Does Co-Pilot 360 Work?
Similar to Tesla Autopilot, Ford’s Co-pilot 360 is a collection of automatic driving and safety features. Here are the numerous features of Co-pilot 360 technology:
|Blue Cruise||Hands-free driving. Only available on certain roads. Uses a small camera to make sure your eyes stay focused on the road. An upcoming feature that will be available in late 2021.|
|Blind Spot Info System (BLIS)||Warns you about vehicles in your blind spot during lane changes and lets you know about traffic behind you when backing.|
|Lane-Keeping System||Alerts you when you drift out of your lane.|
|Pre-Collision Assist||Alerts you to obstacles and even applies brakes in emergencies.|
|Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control||Cruise control adapts to speed limits and brakes and accelerates in response to traffic. Can also keep you in your lane.|
|Evasive Steering Assistant||Does not take over steering your vehicle, but does help out in situations where you need to avoid another vehicle.|
|Active Park Assist 2.0||When engaged, your car can park itself, even in parallel spots.|
|Auto High Beam Headlamps||Keep your hands on the wheel while your lights automatically dim to adjust for oncoming traffic.|
|BLIS with Trailer Coverage||Goes beyond alerting you to vehicles in your blind spot to inform you of vehicles beside your trailer when towing.|
|Pro Trailer Backup Assist||With the turn of a knob, you can easily control the direction of your trailer while backing.|
|Hill Descent Control||Designed to make traveling down steep inclines safer, especially when towing. It applies the brakes when needed to maintain a set speed.|
|Rearview Camera||Gives you a clear view of what is behind you.|
The exact features you get depend on the model of the car you purchase, and the different vehicles also have different standard and optional features.
Safety Features of Co-pilot 360
Like Super Cruise, Co-pilot 360 has opted to use a camera on the steering wheel to keep drivers alert when using their upcoming Blue Cruise. This method has notably better success than requiring drivers to have their hands on the wheel.
Many other features of Co-pilot 360, such as automatic emergency braking and blind-spot information system, are designed specifically to make driving safer. Ford has put their focus into advancing safety features first, and now is moving towards more automated driving with Blue Cruise.
How Much Does Co-pilot 360 Cost?
Co-pilot 360 consists of 12 different features, and they are not all packaged together with different features being available on different models. As such it is impossible to fix an exact price on the system.
Still, you can expect to pay up to around $3,000 to add on the most advanced features of Co-pilot 360 to vehicles that do not have it standard.
Pros and Cons of Co-pilot 360
Co-pilot 360 is right up there with Tesla Autopilot in the number of features, and the number of different models with different feature options means that there is something available for a far wider range of customers.
See below to break down what Co-pilot 360 gets right and what it gets wrong.
Pros of Ford’s Co-pilot 360 include:
- It includes lots of features
- It has systems to help with towing, which is perfect for truck owners
- It includes safety features on numerous models
Cons of Ford’s Co-pilot 360 include:
- The features and vehicle models can be confusing
Because of all the features Co-pilot 360 can be difficult to navigate for those seeking to buy a Ford. You will need to do extensive research into the exact model to know exactly what you are getting. The Blue Cruise feature is also a bit behind Super Cruise and Autopilot in terms of release date, so this hands-free driving is not as widely available yet.
Still, Co-pilot 360 has every advanced safety feature you could want. This system constantly has the driver’s back, so co-pilot seems a fitting name.
Audi Pre Sense
The name of this one can be a little confusing. Technically, Pre Sense refers to a particular set of Audi’s driver assistance features, which is the 360-degree sensor range to prevent collisions. However, some people use the term Pre Sense to refer to Audi’s full driver assistance package.
The name Pre Sense helps to distinguish Audi’s system from the other similar systems.
With Pre Sense Audi has created a master assistance program. This system does not claim to drive the car for you, but it will certainly ensure that you have an easy time doing it.
How Does Audi Pre Sense Work?
Like Tesla’s Autopilot and Ford’s Co-pilot 360, Audi’s Pre Sense is a package of separate features that turn the car into an assistant rather than just a machine, and Audi has some unique features.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Audi Pre Sense 360: This features four different types of pre-sense: basic, front, rear, and side. This system not only senses everything around the car to prevent a collision, but it also takes preventative measures like locking seatbelts if it senses a collision is imminent.
- Adaptive Cruise Assist: Adaptive Cruise Assist (ACA) combines the Adaptive Cruise Control, traffic jam assist, and active lane assist to determine and navigate a route in traffic. Depending on the model, this system can even slow the car in preparation for upcoming curves or speed limit changes.
- Remote Parking Pilot and Remote Garage Pilot: You can have your Audi pull into a parking spot or a garage after you get out of the car using your smartphone.
- Emergency Assist: This system can detect if a driver is inactive. If the driver fails to respond for a significant time, the car will slow and even bring itself to a stop.
- Night Vision Assist: Thanks to an infrared camera, your Audi can show you if people or animals appear in the roadway at night.
- Efficiency Assist: When you thought your Audi could not get any smarter, it can help you save money on fuel by being more efficient. When the driver is in control this system makes suggestions for better fuel efficiency. When adaptive cruise assist or adaptive cruise control are engaged, the car will do this itself.
Audi has some unique features that truly push the limits, and there are even more features that allow the car to do several things such as help with parking, warn about collisions, recognize speed limit signs, and much more. Here is what else an Audi can do:
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Audi Active Lane Assist
- Audi Side Assist
- Collision Avoidance Assist
- Crossing Assist
- Curb Warning
- Exit Warning
- High Beam Assist
- Hold Assist
- Maneuvering Assist
- Multi-collision Brake Assist
- Park Assist
- Parking System
- Speed Limiter
- Traffic Jam Assist
- Traffic Sign Recognition
- Trailer Maneuver Assist
- Turn Assist
Audi uses some slightly different technology to make all this possible. While Tesla Autopilot uses cameras and ultrasonic sensors, Audi’s Pre Sense uses a laser scanner, long-range radar, cameras, and ultrasonic sensors to monitor the car’s surroundings. This results in detailed information that is not restricted by visibility.
Safety Features of Audi Pre Sense
Besides the emergency assist, which will stop the car if the driver becomes unconscious, Audi does not have a system to make sure drivers are paying attention.
Like Tesla, Audi has been under fire for boasting too much about the abilities of their car. While Audi has officially said that drivers need to be paying attention and always have at least one hand on the wheel, they do not have the camera to enforce this like Super Cruise and Co-pilot 360.
Pre Sense allows your car to warn you and take preventative measures in all sorts of situations for added safety, but it may put too much faith in driver awareness.
How Much Does Audi Pre Sense Cost?
Like Ford, some Audi models come standard with these features. Others allow you to add it with what is called a driver assistance package.
What exactly you can get standard and what exactly you can add will depend on the model of the car. The price of adding the driver assistance package varies from around $1,800 to $2,700.
Pros and Cons of Pre Sense
Audi Pre Sense gives Tesla Autopilot a run for its money when it comes to the number of additional capabilities. It also takes some of that smart technology and applies it to areas other manufacturers have yet to consider such as night vision and fuel efficiency.
Pros include its many features and unique systems like night vision, emergency assist, and efficiency assist.
The one drawback is that there is no driver awareness system.
Audi Pre Sense is a top contender when it comes to automated driving systems. It does a lot to ensure that driving is stress-free.
Like most other Tesla Autopilot alternatives, Hyundai SmartSense is a collection of different systems which when combined give the car the ability to assist the driver.
Hyundai SmartSense is still a slight step behind the absolute best-automated driver assist systems today, but it is more than respectable and is a promising sign of this technology becoming more widely used and available.
How Does SmartSense Work?
Here are the features that come in Hyundai’s SmartSense:
- Blind-Spot Collision Warning
- Driver Attention Warning
- Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist
- High Beam Assist
- Highway Driving Assist
- Lane Following Assist
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning
- Rear Occupant Alert
- Remote Smart Parking Assist
- Safe Exit Assist
- Smart Cruise Control
Some notable standouts here are the rear occupant alert, which reminds drivers to prevent leaving children or pets in the back seat, and the highway driving assist, which combines various systems to allow the car to steer, brake, and accelerate on highways.
Safety Features of SmartSense
SmartSense does include a driver attention warning to monitor driver awareness, especially when using highway driving assist. This system is more like Tesla’s in that it requires a driver to have their hands on the wheel rather than monitoring through a camera.
You can take your hands off the wheel for a little while with SmartSense, but the system will soon begin to warn you and eventually cut off to force you to regain control.
How Much Does SmartSense Cost?
Hyundai SmartSense comes standard on its cars, but not all models have everything. There are around three different categories. The most basic versions include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning.
After that, the features may differ from model to model with the top models having things like highway driving assist and remote smart parking assist.
Thus Hyundai SmartSense does not cost anything itself, but you will need to buy one of Hyundai’s more expensive cars to get all the features, but even that remains far more affordable than many other cars with Tesla Autopilot alternatives.
Pros and Cons of SmartSense
Many people mistakenly think that driving assistance features can only be found in luxury brands and expensive models. Hyundai is proof that is not so with a system that rivals many more expensive options.
Here is a further look at the pros and cons of SmartSense:
Pros of Hyundai SmartSense include:
- Hyundai produces more affordable cars overall
- The rear seat alert is great for families or pet owners
A disadvantage of Hyundai’s SmartSense is that it is not quite as capable as some other systems.
Hyundai is bringing the advantages of driving assistance systems to the average family. Their system may not have as many features as Autopilot or Audi Pre Sense, but it is capable and creates a driving experience that feels great and is safer.
Subaru is another manufacturer bringing driver assistance technology to cars under the $30,000 range.
Subaru Eyesight is an effective system that has been proven to greatly reduce the likelihood of frontend crashes. You may not feel comfortable letting go of the wheel (which you cannot do with Tesla Autopilot anyway), but you will be more comfortable in your car because Eyesight is all about reducing collisions.
How Does Subaru Eyesight Work?
Subaru Eyesight relies most on two-color cameras mounted near the rearview mirror. These cameras are essentially another pair of eyes that monitor the road with the driver.
Besides monitoring the road to warn the driver and if necessary stop the car to prevent collisions, Subaru Eyesight also uses adaptive cruise control, and some models even have advanced adaptive cruise control that allows you to set the distance between you and other cars. There is also a blind-spot warning and lane-keep assist to provide warnings.
Safety Features of Eyesight
Eyesight does not have a system to monitor driver awareness, but it also does not have an autosteer function that makes this vital.
Besides reducing collisions, you also have the option of connecting your Subaru to Starlink Safety and Security to provide help in case of an emergency.
Pros and Cons of Eyesight
Eyesight is a much simpler system than a lot of the other ones on this list, but that does not mean it is not a serious and effective alternative.
Pros of Subaru’s Eyesight include:
- It comes standard on most models so no additional cost
- It has been proven to reduce frontend collisions
Cons of Subaru’s Eyesight include:
- It does not have many features
- It does not autosteer for you
Subaru Eyesight is proven effective and unlike a lot of other automated driving systems, it is not facing criticism for encouraging reckless driving as it lacks an autosteer function. If you simply want a system to back you up in case of emergencies, Eyesight is hard to beat.
Even More Alternatives to Tesla Autopilot
So far you have examined five of the best Autopilot alternatives available. All of these systems are fantastic, but there are even more systems that you did not explore. Almost all manufacturers have added driver assistance technology to their vehicles in some way. Here are some other alternatives to check out.
- Mercedes-Benz Active Driving Assistance
- Porsche Active Safe
- Honda Sensing
- Toyota Safety Sense
- Nissan ProPilot Assist
- BMW ConnectedDrive Active Driving Assistant
- Volvo Pilot Assist
- Chevrolet Driver Confidence Package
- Land Rover InControl
- Mazda i-Activsense
Whatever type of car you want and whatever your budget, in this day and age, chances are it includes some form of driver assistance. Tesla Autopilot is certainly a top system, but it is not even close to being the only one with this kind of technology.
You must remember that none of these systems make any car fully self-driving. That level of capability is still a long way off. They all require driver awareness. While these systems are meant to make driving safer, abusing them by putting too much faith in their abilities will do the exact opposite.
Tesla has intrigued many with its brand name Autopilot. While it may be the only company able to use that name, it is not the only place where you can find extensive driver assistance and semi-automated driving features.
If you are looking for a car and want something like Autopilot, your options are vast. Cadillac, Ford, Audi, Hyundai, Subaru, and many more have a lot to offer in this area. The car industry is fast approaching when such systems will be standard everywhere rather than a fancy addition.