Tesla is committed to developing and refining the technologies that make it possible for self-driving capabilities. Their technological advancements are getting pushed to new heights, making Autopilot a key feature in these advancements. Autopilot is one way Tesla is advancing the new era of vehicles.
Tesla Autopilot is a good choice because not only is it convenient, but it also has augmented safety features that can help reduce driving deaths.
If you’re interested in learning how autopilot works and what makes it a great choice when purchasing a new Tesla, we’ll get into all the details.
What is the Purpose of Tesla Autopilot?
Tesla Autopilot is a feature that you can purchase separately, which will allow you to have an optional driver assistance system. This feature gives Tesla vehicles some level of autonomy by enabling your car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane.
Tesla Autopilot includes:
- Traffic-aware cruise control (TACC)
- Automatic lane changing
- Navigate on Autopilot
- Accident avoidance features
There are many reasons why Tesla Autopilot can make your driving life easier and safer. Take a look at the purpose of these features below and check out how they can benefit your driving experience.
Autopilot Lane Keeping Feature
Autopilot can understand the vehicle’s position in a lane using various front/side cameras and proximity sensors. This feature of autopilot knows what is drivable space and what is not.
Autopilot Autosteer Feature
Autosteer measures the amount of torque that you apply to the steering wheel. If it senses that your hands are not on the wheel, it will start alerting you again to remind you to place your hands there. This feature is essential because it helps ensure driving attention. If these warnings are ignored, Autopilot will stop for the remainder of the trip.
How Does Tesla Autosteer Work?
Autosteer will use the cameras of the vehicle to track lane lines. The system will allow the car to steer proactively to handle relatively significant turns. However, the driver is still required to keep their hands on the wheel and make fast corrections when taking intersections.
Autopilot Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC) Feature
Traffic-aware cruise control allows your vehicle to match the speed of the surrounding traffic. It can also determine vehicle spacing, steer, brake, accelerate, keep the lane, and navigate.
How Does Tesla Traffic-Aware Cruise Control Work?
TACC works by using Tesla’s radar to lock on to the car in front of it and match its speed. The system will bring the vehicle all the way down to a stop and back up to speed again without any input required by the driver.
Autopilot Self-Parking Feature
The Autopark feature helps your vehicle automatically parallel or perpendicular park your car with a single touch. The Autopark feature is excellent for those who need some extra help with parking, especially backing into spaces or parallel parking.
How Does Tesla Autopark Work?
Autopark will alert you if it sees a parking spot by displaying a grey ‘P’ icon on the left or right-hand side of your instrument panel, depending on the location of the space. Once you tap on the “P” on your touch screen and shift the gear selector into reverse, the Autopark feature will automatically take over control and park the car by steering and braking.
Automatic Lane Change
Automatic lane change can assist your vehicle in moving to an adjacent lane on the highway. As this feature has advanced, it now can change lanes automatically (sometimes without confirmation by the driver). It can also change multiple lanes at once.
How Does Tesla Automatic Lane Change Work?
After hitting the turn signal, your vehicle will perform the automatic lane-change maneuver without any steering input needed from the driver. An animation will pop on the screen to show you what direction your vehicle will move to. If you want to move and there is a car in the lane, Autopilot will wait until the vehicle passes.
Navigate on Autopilot
Autopilot’s navigation features allow you to set a destination, and your vehicle will follow the course.
In addition, Navigate on Autopilot can actively guide your car by:
- Taking the correct exit
- Navigate interchanges
- Guide your car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp
- Suggesting lane changes
- Automatically engaging in the turn signal
This feature is designed to make your driving more efficient and easier to drive on highways.
How Does Tesla Navigate on Autopilot Work?
Navigate on autopilot allows the driver to select that option after entering the desired destination that requires highways. After you choose that option, navigate on autopilot will take over and make all the necessary lane changes and exits.
Tesla Autopilot Accident Avoidance Features
Collision avoidance is another great autopilot feature. The accident avoidance feature helps you avoid collisions both from the front and side by giving the car the ability to sense:
If it senses any danger, the car will make evasive maneuvers such as steering the car away or applying brakes. Sometimes it will shake the wheel and alert the driver of any risk.
Autopilot Summon and Smart Summon Feature
Summon lets your car drive a short distance forward or backward without you having to be behind the wheel. It will maneuver around objects, and it is intended only for private parking lots and driveways.
The Smart Summon is also a more advanced feature that will allow you to move your vehicle to a location of your choosing.
The Smart Summon is a unique feature, but you still must monitor your vehicle and be very careful, especially if there are moving cars, bikes, or people.
How Does the Tesla Autopilot Summon Feature Work?
You can use this feature from your smartphone on the Tesla app. The Summon feature will allow you to direct the car slowly forward or backward into the spot you want by pressing the corresponding button on your phone or key fob. You can also program it to open and close your garage door.
Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control (Beta)
Autopilot has a feature that can identify stop signs and traffic lights which will automatically slow down your car when approaching them. The display can even show you upcoming stop signs, traffic lights, or road markings and intersections where you may need to stop.
The vehicle will always display a red line that indicates where the car would need to stop, even if all the lights are green.
You can review all these features in the Owner’s Manual for more information and instructions on how to use this in your car. You must always be in control of your vehicle, despite the advanced technology to make your driving more safe and convenient.
Autopilot is still in Beta, so you must be alert and careful when operating your vehicle.
How Does Tesla Autopilot Work?
Autopilot uses cameras and ultrasonic sensors to build a deep neural network and sense the environment around the car. The Autopilot system provides the vehicle, and the driver increased awareness of their surroundings with the powerful onboard computer that computes these inputs in a matter of milliseconds.
Pay Attention While Using Tesla Autopilot
You still have to pay attention while using autopilot, as this still does not make the car fully autonomous. It is intended to have the driver’s full attention because it is a hands-on driver assistance system.
You must agree to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times before enabling Autopilot. This is because you have to maintain control and responsibility of your car. Tesla Autopilot also delivers multiple warnings to place your hands on the wheel. If you ignore the warnings, the autopilot will lockout on you and keep you from using it for the remainder of the trip.
The cameras and sensors should be kept clean and free of damages to ensure that Autopilot can provide information as accurately as possible.
How Safe and Reliable is Tesla Autopilot?
Tesla claims to be one of the safest cars globally because of the technology compared to standard cars. Although there have been some misconstrued reports that autopilot on a vehicle caused two deaths of individuals, the reports have not been confirmed that autopilot is to blame.
Tesla remarks that their vehicles have the lowest overall probability of injury over “any vehicle ever tested” by the government. And from what they claim, autopilot and other safety features are reliable and safe. When people start engaging in risky behavior, some seem to think they do not need to pay attention to the road anymore. However, that is simply not true.
Although autopilot is a great hands-on approach to driving, Tesla cannot control what their drivers do. However, they aim to make their vehicles the safest cars on the road.
According to Tesla’s vehicle safety report, they stated that they could track billions of miles of real-world data, with one billion driven with Autopilot, to understand the different ways accidents can happen. Then, they use this data to develop better features and communicate to Tesla drivers how to mitigate or avoid accidents.
Augmented Safety Features
Tesla continues to advance their safety features, and so far, they have had success. In 2021, the Model S received the highest safety rating of five stars. The larger crumple zones that have been made possible in the vehicle have saved lives by absorbing impact energy during collisions.
Autopilot has reduced wrecks by 40% due to the Autosteer and adaptive cruise control feature. In addition, the brand announced that this system would continue to advance and have more sensors to make driving even safer.
Future Tesla ADAS Advancements
Tesla’s goal is to reduce crashes by up to 90% as ADAS advances to allow the vehicle to become fully autonomous. Therefore, Tesla continues to incorporate more sensors like the multi-sensor fusion. The multi-sensor fusion enables the car to have a complete picture of its environment from different sensors like:
- Passive visual
Passive visual gives the car detailed images, while radar allows the car to have a long-range vision in all kinds of weather.
The processing power is also becoming more advanced, which will allow the new Autopilot to make split-second decisions to save lives.
Active Safety Features on Tesla Autopilot
Tesla has made it clear that one of its goals is to make the road safer for everyone, which is why safety is a significant feature with Tesla Autopilot.
Here are some of the safety features of Tesla Autopilot:
Automatic Emergency Braking
This feature can detect obstacles or vehicles and will apply the brakes when it is necessary. The goal of this feature is to avoid the collision entirely. However, even if the crash can’t be avoided, slowing down the vehicle will still help reduce the severity of the impact.
Obstacle Aware Acceleration
The obstacle-aware acceleration feature will detect obstacles in front of your vehicle and automatically reduce your car’s speed. This feature is intended to stop “sudden unintended acceleration” incidents that may pop up every now and then.
Lane Departure Avoidance
The lane departure avoidance feature will apply corrective steering to keep your car in the correct lane. If the system detects that the vehicle has started to drift, it will nudge the vehicle back into the lane. If you don’t like the nudge, it can also be configured as a warning chime or turned off.
Forward Collision Warning
The forward collision warning feature will warn you and your vehicle of possible collisions with slower or stationary vehicles. You can set this feature to alert you early, medium, or late, depending on how conservative you want to be. You also have the option to turn it off entirely.
Slide Collision Warning
The slide collision warning will warn you and your vehicle of possible collisions with obstacles alongside your car.
Blind Spot Monitoring
Blind-spot monitoring will warn you and your car of other vehicles or obstacles when changing lanes.
Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance
The emergency lane departure avoidance feature will steer your vehicle back into your lane if it detects that your car is moving away from its lane. This will happen if it sees a risk of collision (crowded lane or into oncoming traffic). Your vehicle will rapidly change direction to try to avoid the collision.
Not only is Tesla making safer cars, but Autopilot makes them even more reliable. The goal is to make driving fatalities drop significantly, and the only way to get there is through multiple sensor fusion and AI.
Is Tesla Autopilot Worth It?
When appropriately used, Tesla Autopilot can have a dramatic effect on your driving experience. Although you can’t completely let go of control, the system will do most of the work as long as you let it know you are still there and paying attention. Most reviews declare Tesla to be the best at this kind of system.
Although it is not quite a “full self-drive” system yet, many people are highly impressed with the features and quality of this system. So, if you want an intelligent car that can increase your safety and convenience, Tesla Autopilot is worth it.
Does Tesla Autopilot Have Any Limitations?
There are a few things that can impact Tesla Autopilot’s function and performance.
Here are a few examples of how Tesla Autopilot can be impaired:
- Poor visibility due to heavy rain, snow, fog, etc.
- Bright lights from oncoming traffic, headlights, or direct sunlight
- Extremely hot or cold temperatures
- Interference from other equipment that generates ultrasonic waves
- Damaged or misaligned bumper
- Interference or obstruction by objects mounted onto the vehicle, like bikes or luggage
- Obstruction caused by applying adhesive products or paint, like wraps, stickers, rubber coating, etc.
It’s always important to wipe down any dirt or buildup on cameras and sensors with a soft cloth to ensure that Autopilot can perform properly and provide accurate information.
What’s Next for Tesla Autopilot?
Elon Musk won’t be stopping these upgrades and advancements anytime soon. Tesla is constantly collecting data from Tesla vehicles on the road and figuring out how to improve the software.
The next significant feature that should be coming out is Autosteer on City Streets; however, there is no firm date for it just yet.
The Tesla Autopilot Hardware 3.0 will be sufficient for Full Self-Driving when it is released. Customers that have both Self-Driving and Hardware 2.0 or 2.5 are still getting upgraded to Hardware 3.0.
Tesla Autopilot is the future of cars on the road. If you’re interested in experiencing what Tesla has to offer, it is a great way to be involved with the technical advancements moving forward. When you install Autopilot in your vehicle, not only are you making your life and your drive safer, but you are also sending information back to Tesla on how they can improve.
There are still many innovations yet to come. The sensors and machine learning in the vehicle will continue to become more complex and push technology to new heights.