This Is What Tesla Autopilot Can Do (Really!)

This Is What Tesla Autopilot Can Do (Really!)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could sit back and let your car drive you? Would you take the risk? You would be amazed at what Tesla’s Autopilot can do. Tesla has improved their Autopilot, and you will not believe what they have done.

Autopilot empowers your Tesla to assist you with the cumbersome tasks of driving. Under the guidance of Autopilot, your car can steer, brake, and accelerate in its lane. Once enabled, Autopilot will use its cameras, radar and meet you in the parking lot when you request it.

If you are considering purchasing a Tesla so you can enjoy the ride, see the information below. If you are in doubt regarding what this car can do, read on. You will learn just what your new Tesla can do while you relax.

What Does Tesla Autopilot Have to Offer?

Tesla has different versions of Autopilot. Autopilot is a standard feature. Then, there is fully autonomous driving with independent elements, and you need to pay for this plan. There is a version called Enhanced Autopilot between the two, which you also have to pay for.

While Tesla Autopilot takes some of the load off the driver, the driver still must be alert and responsible. Tesla’s Autopilot requires the driver to make regular steering wheel or control inputs, which means drivers cannot yet let Tesla fully take over.

What Does the Onboard Navigation Equipment Do?

Autopilot has a hefty responsibility to navigate the vehicle. Tesla is loaded with navigation equipment such as:

  • Cameras – The Tesla comes equipped with eight cameras to help you see the road. They give the driver and the Autopilot a 360-degree view of their surroundings.
  • Ultrasonic Sensors – Tesla comes with twelve ultrasonic sensors. The sensors work in tandem with the cameras to detect both soft and hard soft and hard objects.
  • Onboard Computer – The computer analyzes the data provided by the cameras and the ultrasonic sensors so that it can build a detailed picture of its surroundings.

The above equipment works together to compile data so that the Autopilot can perform the requested tasks. Tesla works hard to keep its equipment and programs up to date, working its way towards future autonomous driving.

How Does Navigation Work with Autopilot?

The Autopilot’s onboard computer processes the data sent to it by the sensors and cameras. In turn, it relays the information to the vehicle’s components to respond to the data on hand. At this point, a solution is transmitted from the computer to the components of the car.

The Autopilot identifies:

  • Lane paint
  • Traffic lights
  • Road signs
  • People

When it comes to parking, the Autopilot can help you thereby:

  • Parallel and perpendicular parking
  • Retrieving your car remotely with Smart Summon

Autopilot is made to assist. The driver must still be able to help:

  • Navigate busy roads
  • Go through a green light rather than stop

Drivers still need to pay enough attention to be able to perform these tasks. For example, if the driver’s hand leaves the steering wheel for too long, the Autopilot will turn off. Since 2020, all new Teslas are equipped with fully automated driving computers. However, the driver must purchase a full self-driving package for $10,000.

What Makes Tesla Autopilot Unique?

Tesla’s sales model is distinctive in that there is no middle man. Tesla sells directly to the customer, and the showrooms are company-owned. Every aspect of the vehicle is cared for in-house and has technicians that can fix your car remotely.

Over Air Updates also make Tesla unique in that it is like updating your smartphone. It is continuously upgraded over time so that the most recent version becomes available to the user. Tesla is the leader of the pack with its OTC updates. They come out weekly to tweak some minor issues.

However, they provide extensive upgrades every 30 to 60 days. Others use over-the-air software updates; however, it is mainly for navigation updates. A few have attempted other upgrades, which have been misfires, and they go back to the drawing board.

These include updated user interfaces and Autopilot improvements. Every 30 to 60 days, the updates occur and are sent to the vehicle automatically. There are different kinds of Autopilot. These include Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, and the optional complete Full self-driving package.

  • Autopilot comes with all Tesla vehicles, offering complete automatic steering with stop-and-go adaptive cruise control.
  • Enhanced Autopilot used to be limited and a payment option. It offers automated lane changes and updates autonomous driving features such as Navigate through Autopilot, Smart Summon, and Autopark.
  • Autopilot Full Self Driving is a paid option that encompasses the Enhanced Autopilot features and traffic light and stops sign control. This program makes Cruise Control and Autosteer safer to use.

There are also special standard safety features that come with Tesla Autopilot. These include:

  • Lane Assist– Works to keep the car in its lane by keeping track of lane markers.
  • Lane Departure Avoidance – Alerts the driver if the car is drifting into another lane without a signal from the driver. The steering wheel vibrates in an effort to alert the driver.
  • Collision Avoidance – Detects if the vehicle is going to drive into another car. It detects an oncoming collision with another vehicle.
  • Assist – Tesla’s Autopilot that assists drivers through its cameras, sensors, and GPS.
  • Speed Assist – Uses the car’s cameras to see speed limit signs and shows them to the driver on the screen.

You can also purchase more advanced features with Full Self Driving, but it is more expensive. The main features of Autopilot include:

  • Automated Cruise Control
  • Automated Steering
  • Superior Capability in stop-and-go traffic.

Tesla autopilot is a unique system that comes with many features that will make driving more enjoyable and less taxing. You can choose how advanced of a design you want, and upgrades are available for purchase. There are also special standard safety features that assist the driver.

How Does Tesla Autopilot Work?

Autopilot utilizes cameras and ultrasonic sensors. These sensors detect the environment around your car. They make the driver aware of the surroundings that they would not usually see. There is a robust computer system that records these findings in milliseconds. This system includes:

  • Camera
  • Radar
  • GPS
  • Ultrasonic sonar
  • Auto-brakes
  • Other sensors

The above sensors help the car move automatically, and they can sense movement at 16 feet away from the vehicle. To begin, you must activate the Autopilot mode. Upon activation, Autopilot will be able to do its job.

There is a “stalk” on the steering column, and it looks like a gear shift. To activate your Autopilot, pull the stalk down twice. The front-facing camera will work automatically to see traffic ahead of you.

The sonar will detect objects near your car. The radar looks forward about 500 feet. The car’s speed will be adjusted according to the traffic and position of other vehicles around your car. 

The Tesla Autopilot system cannot operate when it is not authorized, and the roads are unclear. It does not perform 100 percent in residential areas and urban streets.

Can a Tesla Drive Itself Without a Driver?

New Tesla’s with Autopilot features need someone in the driver’s seat. The driver will need to be vigilant and supervise the vehicle even while Autopilot is being utilized. However, Auto Park and Smart Summon will perform without a driver, and please use caution.

Autopilot senses the driver’s hand on the steering wheel to indicate when the driver is present. If the driver receives too many warnings from Autopilot that they are inattentive, it will lock the driver out of using the function.

The Consumer Reports testing team suggested that Tesla use the front seat’s weight sensor to ensure that a driver is in the seat when Autopilot is used.

Consumer Reports also said that driver monitoring systems should be mandatory safety equipment. Tesla’s Autopilot also only requires a single lane line to engage, which can confuse the system. For example, it can see a tar strip or a curb and misinterpret it as a lane line.

What is the Difference Between Tesla Autopilot and Enhanced Autopilot?

Autopilot refers to assisted driving; however, Enhanced Autopilot is a step up with certain advanced functions. These functions were created while Tesla was looking toward full self-driving. The chart below shows the differences between Auto Pilot and Enhanced Auto Pilot.

Cruise Control  
Auto Park  
Navigate on Autopilot  
Auto Lane Change  

Autopilot has the basic features, whereas Enhanced Autopilot has additional features, including the Autopilot elements. This offering makes Enhanced Autopilot an attractive option for those who want more from their Tesla. 

What is the Difference Between Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-driving?

Enhanced Autopilot includes the basic Autopilot features and some bonus features. It can change lanes without needing the driver to steer the wheel. It also authorizes the car to be summoned to and from a parking spot. It is considered a driver’s assistance feature because the driver is still, ultimately, the one in charge.

Full Self-Driving includes all of the same features of Enhanced Autopilot, complete with some additional features such as smart summon, auto lane change, and navigation on Autopilot. The table below shows a list of similarities and differences.

Cruise Control  
Auto Park  
Navigate on Autopilot  
Auto Lane Change  
Smart Summon  
Traffic/Stop Sign Control  

At this time, Autopilot and Full Self-Driving require driver supervision and do not make the car self-governing. Furthermore, regulatory agencies have not yet approved actual Full Self-Driving; many miles will have to be traveled before that happens.

The Autopilot capability costs around $4,000 with Teslas after delivery or $3,000 when added at the time of purchase. The Full Self Driving feature costs around $10,000, which is the current market price.  

Does Tesla Autopilot Stop at Red Lights?

Tesla’s Full Self Driving Capability can accurately respond to traffic lights and stop signs. It can also:

Autopilot comes to a complete stop on its own when it comes to a red light.

The vehicle uses a combination of cameras and GPS data to detect all colors of stop signs, traffic lights, and road markings. It slows your car down to an eventual stop when utilizing Traffic-Aware Cruise Control or Autosteer.

This feature slows the vehicle for the lights, including:

It will also stop behind other cars that stop at red lights and continue driving when traffic starts moving again. When your car comes to the intersection, it demonstrates the action of slowing down and stopping.

With all Autopilot features, you should continue paying attention to the road and be prepared to act quickly if necessary because it may not stop for all traffic controls. This feature will gradually, and over time, take control more naturally.

What is the Tesla Autopilot Sight System?

Tesla’s Autopilot Sight System is a navigation system in Teslas that enables the car to change lanes, move through traffic automatically, and parallel park autonomously. The current Telsa Autopilot sight system permits you to do things such as:

Tesla’s Autopilot Sight System is an enhanced driver assistance system that utilizes cameras and radar to create the Tesla Vision Software. This system lets you drive with reduced effort. It utilizes different sensors and cameras to detect the surrounding area when driving.

The system makes minor modifications so that it can keep you at a safe distance from other cars. If there is anything in front of the vehicle, it will automatically stop by itself. This system makes sure you are safe by doing the following:

The system necessitates that you keep your hands steady and your eyes on the road. Compared to manual driving, it is far more convenient. This system also provides a fair amount of security for the driver and encourages active participation from the driver.

Tesla’s Sight System Gathers Data About Your Driving Habits?

As the driver develops a working relationship with the vehicle, Tesla becomes more competent concerning the driver’s habits and behaviors.

It learns as the relationship progresses. Information about the driver’s capabilities and attention is analyzed. This evaluation could mean everything from how the person drives to how many accidents they have been involved in.

Tesla only monitors the driver by identifying occasional torque forces on the steering wheel; when the driver’s hands are on the wheel. Newer Tesla vehicles have a camera that can observe the driver and is used to monitor the driver.

What are the Advantages of Autopilot? 

Tesla’s Autopilot uses innovative technology that allows the driver to enjoy their driving experience rather than being more like a chore. Tesla Autopilot offers unique features for the driver to utilize. Below are some of the advantages of Autopilot:

Autopilot comes standard on every new Tesla. It can make driving safer and less stressful. However, the driver must still pay attention to the road. It is more of a driver assistance system rather than being a completely self-driving vehicle.

What are the Disadvantages of Autopilot?

With all the advantages of Tesla’s Autopilot, there are certain disadvantages as well. The Autopilot system requires time and patience to become acclimated with it. It can be challenging for inattentive drivers. Some disadvantages include:

  • from the driver, and the driver cannot take their hands off the wheel
  • to detect pedestrians or other cars in blind spots
  • are often encountered on the road, such as animals or potholes

Drivers must remain attentive and awake while Tesla Autopilot is being used. When you are driving, unexpected events can happen at any time, so you need to be prepared. Tesla’s Autopilot may be a valuable system, but it does not replace the human driver.

What is Tesla’s Autosteer Feature?

Autopilot has a wide array of features, including the Autosteer feature. It uses the Tesla cameras to detect obstacles in the way, and it steers the car to thwart a potential incident. Autosteer decreases the pressure on the driver to perform and steer away from any issues.

Autosteer also enables lane departure warnings, automatic parking, and summoning of the car. Tesla can be transferred in and out of a garage without a person inside. Autosteer uses the cameras to track lane lines. The vehicle gives assistance in keeping the car centered and in the correct lane.

While the cameras can detect wildlife, the autosteer may have difficulty reacting to and avoiding the animal. This reaction is a timing factor that if the animal darts out and is not seen from a distance avoiding an accident may not be possible without driver intervention.

What is Tesla’s Vision Software?

Each Tesla has a robust set of vision processing tools that were manufactured by Tesla. Tesla Vision deconstructs the surroundings quickly. It uses both cameras and sensors to map the environment around the vehicle.

Tesla vision can see any object, even those that the human eye cannot see. Tesla’s vision software can also identify and read traffic signs and road signs that are not easy to find. The cameras also recognize potential danger from far away.

What is Tesla’s Smart Summon Feature?

Your Tesla will take commands from you, and it can park itself or drive to your location. It obeys Tesla’s safety systems, and it can park itself without you even being in the car. Tesla can even find a parking spot on its own or pick you up from a specific location near the parked vehicle.

Smart Summon does have some limitations. It cannot detect all traffic or curbs, so you are still responsible for directing your vehicle. It will only work within 200 feet of your smartphone, and it will not go more than six mph. As updates are available, smart-summon will improve.

Parking is part of the summon feature, and you can pair it with your home link on your smartphone. It will even operate your garage door. However, the car will only move unattended a length of 39 feet. You should either be outside of your garage or close to where you have parked.

What is Tesla’s Autopilot Adaptive Cruise Control?

Tesla’s Autopilot Adaptive Cruise Control system will adjust its speed based on surrounding traffic. Tesla’s adaptive cruise control works by using radar to detect your car’s distance from other vehicles and objects.

This feature is used to control:

  • Acceleration
  • Braking
  • Steering

The Tesla Autopilot system has a braking system that can examine its surroundings for movement and applies the brakes accordingly. This application makes it safer to travel on busy roads with less visibility.

Adaptive Cruise Control takes things a step further by slowing down when there is a curve in the road or during a turn. This feature responds to a turn by lowering speed to about 25 mph or less. 

What is Tesla’s Automatic Emergency Braking?

Sometimes when you are driving, you can miss something that is right in front of you, even if you take your eyes away for only a second. This system is why Tesla has the ability to warn drivers about potential hazards on the road. These threats include:

  • Other Vehicles
  • Pedestrians
  • Animals
  • Objects in the road

The automatic emergency braking system will be active on all new Tesla’s. The Automatic braking feature can help protect the driver from a collision, and it is not 100 percent safe. The driver still has to do their part. 

Which Autopilot Does My Tesla Have?

The only way to confirm which Autopilot you have is through the upgrades screen on your Tesla app. Tesla used to list the Autopilot version on the My Tesla Account, and they recently removed it.

Tesla comes with Autopilot as a standard feature.  The Autopilot Full Self-Driving package has to be purchased. The one you choose depends on the age of the Tesla. Autopilot comes standard with every new Tesla. As of May 2021, Tesla Full-Self Driving is being tested on a few thousand Tesla owners.

Is Tesla’s Autopilot Safer than Driving a Regular Car?

Tesla’s quarterly report for 2021 shows that one accident was recorded for every 4.19 million miles driven with Autopilot employed. An accident was recorded every 2.05 million miles driven without Autopilot involved.

In contrast, an accident was recorded every 978,000 miles without either Autopilot or other safety features employed. With this evidence, you can see that the Tesla vehicle is safer than an ordinary vehicle. Autopilot is almost ten times safer than human drivers.

Keep in mind that when Autopilot is engaged, human participation is still required, so is this like four sets of eyes monitoring the driving? Deductive thinking would answer yes because the Autopilot requires that your hands be on the wheel for it to work.

Are Self-Driving Cars Legal in Your State?

Self-driving cars have many sensors and control systems to make driving automated. However, self-driving vehicles allow drivers to take over. The intention of building these systems is to lower the risk of human error during driving.

At least 90 percent of accidents in the United States can be chalked up to a human error. Tesla Autopilot is designed explicitly for the driver to take over during emergencies.

At the onset of experimental self-driving cars, all trials were conducted on private property. Very few laws related to self-driving technology were in place because the concept was science fiction based.

Currently, states are passing legislation to regulate testing and driving these vehicles on public roads. There are some federal guidelines for automated cars, but no ruling has yet been made on the legal or illegal aspect of operating one of these vehicles.

Certain states have been debating authorizing self-driving cars on the roads. The states that have authorized self-driving vehicles are:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • Washington DC

The above states and Washington DC have enacted laws allowing these vehicles on the roads. However, it may not be illegal in other states; it just has not been authorized. Most states have kept quiet regarding the need for a human being holding the wheel.

The laws are vague, and there is an assumption that a human being will be in control. So, vehicles may be allowed to operate on the road providing a person sits behind the wheel.


If you think you would enjoy owning a Tesla, you have many options from which to choose. The Tesla Autopilot can do many things to make your driving experience a relaxing one. With new technologies upgrading consistently, eventually, you might be able to take your hands off the wheel.

Tesla Discounts:


The articles here on 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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