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Another "Long Trip Using 8.0 AP" Thread

Discussion in 'Model S: User Interface' started by Rockster, Oct 12, 2016.

  1. Rockster

    Rockster Active Member

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    Note: If you're not interested in hearing the details of a 1,000 mile round trip from Dallas to Kansas City using AP in 8.0, you can skip this thread.

    Last week, I drove from Dallas to Kansas City on Monday and returned on Tuesday after a late Tuesday afternoon meeting. I upgraded to 8.0 just a few days before departing, so I was understandably apprehensive about using 8.0 on my journey. I had already experienced the huge step backwards in the entertainment system, so that was a known quantity, but I wasn’t sure if autopilot was going to be worse, better, or neutral.

    Because I was driving alone and my return trip began at 4:00 pm and lasted until 3:30 am after charging stops and weather slowdowns, I was heavily dependent upon autopilot. Not so that I could nap or be inattentive, mind you, but just so that I would have an extra pair of eyes, as it were, to help avoid mishaps. My typical posture when driving was to support my left arm with a pillow wedged between the seat and the arm rest (for whatever reason, I can’t really make use of the arm rest in the Model S—it’s just not placed well for me). I gripped the wheel with my left hand, just below the 9:00 o’clock spoke, and I used my right hand in various positions on the wheel, or rested my right hand in my lap. This was during open road with no traffic around. If there were any cars, concrete barriers, oncoming traffic without a divider, or any other reason to be more responsive, I held the wheel with both hands while keeping the autopilot engaged.

    Even though there were times when lane markings were insufficient (or lanes were modified by construction barriers) or conditions were just too squirrely for autopilot, I still managed to use it about 98% of the time during the 1,000 so miles.

    In general, my typical philosophy in using autopilot is to steer the car as I would were AP not engaged, thereby forcing AP to disengage if my steering differs sufficiently from the car’s. This way, my steering choice is always primary, not the autopilot’s. That said, I still let autopilot "lead" for huge stretches of open road and I took both my hands off the wheel for brief periods to perform such tasks as putting eye drops in (my eyes get dry on long trips), stretching my neck and shoulders, or opening a water bottle. I did this a number of times during the 20 hour or so total round trip and I’d estimate that any given task required my hands to be off the wheel for less than a minute or so.

    I was worried when starting out that I would be nagged to death every time I took my hands off the wheel for even an instant or, even worse, I’d be nagged even though I was holding the wheel with one hand.

    Amazingly, however, at no time during the entire trip was I nagged to return my hands to the wheel. Not once.

    I’m certain I would have been nagged if I had pushed it by keeping my hands off the wheel for more than I did but admittedly I was compelled by reports of increased nagging to keep my hands on the wheel more than I might have.

    I truly have mixed feelings about autopilot. It’s a great benefit on a long road trip like this, helping reduce fatigue considerably; however, it’s annoying that various forms of stupidity in today’s society make nagging even necessary at all.

    All in all, though, during this 1,000 mile trip, I found that autopilot enabled me to take my hands off the wheel when I really needed to without any nagging, all while reducing my fatigue considerably during 98% of the journey. The pragmatist in me applauds Tesla for finding this balance and I think that in today’s world, with this level of technology, that’s about the best we can expect.

    p.s., I’m not convinced that autopilot itself works any better overall under 8.0 (some subtle aspects are better, some are worse) but its strength is clearly on straight, boring, stretches of open road, which one might argue is when autopilot is most useful.
     
    • Informative x 7
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  2. Pollux

    Pollux Member

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    @Rockster, thanks for a very informative post.

    I was particularly struck by the statement I quoted above. When I buy my next S, I may treat AP exactly as you've done. That makes a lot more sense to me than to have my hands hovering nervously on or near the wheel, waiting and wondering when exactly to jump in to override AP.

    Thanks,
    Alan
     
  3. Boatguy

    Boatguy Member

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    Reading other posts, watching some posted videos and comparing to my own experience with AP 8.0 it seems 8.0 does better than 7.1 when there are other vehicles around for the radar to detect, and worse when there are none.

    During your trip, did you have the road to yourself much of the time, or were you more or less in the constant company of other vehicles?
     
  4. Rockster

    Rockster Active Member

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    For most of the trip, I had the road to myself. I found AP no better in its occasional ping-ponging within the lane. I found it smoother in accelerating and decelerating, however. "Truck lust" seemed intermittent: sometimes better, sometimes not.
     
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  5. jeffro01

    jeffro01 Active Member

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    Curious, did you take the Kansas Turnpike all the way to KC or did you get off at Emporia? Just wondering from a curiosity standpoint since I used to live in Wichita and have always wondered if an S would be practical there...

    Jeff
     
  6. u00mem9

    u00mem9 Member

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    Steering in sync with Autopilot seems like a good idea? for 1000mi of freeway? Are you people crazy?!?

    Sorry, but if you are really going to do that, I don't understand why you would even purchase / engage autopilot. That would actually increase the number of things the driver must manage rather than being a net reduction.

    I totally understand why some people may be paranoid to use this type of system. But if you are that nervous about being able to respond when the system makes mistakes, why bother?
     
  7. GTIceman

    GTIceman Member

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    I am picking up my Model S in Cleveland on Sat. We will be doing a drive back to Tampa, FL and I fully intend to use AP large portion of the time. Like @Rockster I plan on keeping at least one hand on the wheel, I don't know if I will ever be comfortable with full autonomous when it comes. I am hoping AP, based upon my limited uses will make the trip easier. Posts like this are very helpful and show many are using the system as designed.
     
  8. GTIceman

    GTIceman Member

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    I am not paranoid but keeping a hand on the wheel and steering in sync could also mean letting the car drive but you can squeeze down or direct if you don't agree. Many people don't know how to drive properly as it is. As a race car driver and instructor for Teen Street Survival I know I have great reaction time, but that second of trying to grab the wheel if hands-off is equivalent to looking down for a text or to grab something and can result in the difference of avoiding a collision or having one more severe. The system is good but it is still limited and learning. If it were a Class 4 I would have more faith, but even the Google self driving car has an accident. I also trust my instincts better than a car in the event an emergency situation were to come up. does that mean I won't go hands off at least a few times, no and anyone that says they have never done that is likely not telling the truth.
     
  9. Apricot

    Apricot The waiting... the waiting...

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    When I use Autopilot, I keep a hand touching the wheel and my right foot on the floor near but not over the pedal. Then I watch the road to see that the car is going where I would have steered it. I pay casual attention for the parts that AP is good at - flat, well marked lanes that are not sharply curved.

    I pay much closer attention when passing a truck, hill crests, bad marked roads. For sharp curves at high speeds I steer myself along with AP since I don't trust it. I always hold the wheel when driving near an exit/fork (or exiting of course).

    I expected to pay more attention when following a car or when cars were cutting in, but AP 8.0 has made zero mistakes in detecting both, so I just keep one eye on it.

    So the end result is that I'm more mentally and physically rested just having the car steer (easier to check it's okay than to always be measuring and turning the wheel) and especially having it brake/accelerate (rest those legs instead of riding the accelerator, and AP is pretty good at following cars). I often just set the speed to be above the traffic flow and let AP follow the fast lane.

    If I were more actively driving then I wouldn't even bother to use AP. But it's a great idea at the start while getting the feel for how to use AP.
     
    • Informative x 1
  10. RobW2428

    RobW2428 Member

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    No Tesla for me yet, but I think what will make my wife happiest is having the car brake/accelerate in highway traffic. The way I brake drives her nuts. Oops.
     
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  11. GTIceman

    GTIceman Member

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    So for hurdle 1 my commute is about 50 ft from bedroom to the office. No excuses there.
     
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  12. Rockster

    Rockster Active Member

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    On the way there I veered NE from Emporia over to a friend's place in Lee's Summit. On the way back, I went from Independence, MO to Topeka, then down to Wichita. Going from Wichita to Lee's Summit required that I watch my speed a bit, staying around 65. Coming back, speed was no issue.
     
  13. jeffro01

    jeffro01 Active Member

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    Roger that, thanks!!!

    Jeff
     
  14. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    I would think OP has been lot more conservative by keep the hands the wheel and guiding AP to speak. In open well marked roads, you can really take both the hands off and relax for extended periods of time, (except of course nagging without beeping really bugs the hell out of me in 8.0)

    Often you get the feeling you are a passenger in cab, except you are sitting in the driver seat.
     
  15. Pollux

    Pollux Member

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    Yes, I question whether AP makes sense for me. I will learn whether it makes sense for me once I try it out for real. Even if it turns out not to be useful to me, I don't automatically make the assumption that it's not useful for anyone else. It's a tool, it has its own designed-in properties and undoubtedly a quite lengthy bug list. I shall see for myself.

    Alan
     
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