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Auto Pilot tips and tricks....

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by TrafficEng, Oct 2, 2016.

  1. TrafficEng

    TrafficEng Member

    Oct 2, 2016
    Hi everyone. I've just joined the community, and so hope to contribute as a traffic technology engineer who is really enjoying his Tesla 90D with Auto Pilot (AP). After about 4,000 miles on AP, I thought I'd share some of the 'tips and tricks' that I have learned in this the 80 hours or so behind the wheel on AP.
    1) It takes time to understand Auto Pilot: You need at least 1,000 miles on AP under a variety of weather and different road to get fully comfortable when the care will drive well, and when it will drive badly.

    2) The real benefit may be to older drivers: As an older (58 years) driver the main benefit of AP to me is the reduction of work load, and increased safety, on longer drives. I can now do long cross county drives without feeling exhausted. It has made a HUGE difference.

    3) Make sure the windscreen over the camera is spotlessly clean: I have just completed a drive into rural Georgia on rural roads, and for a while was convinced that v8.0 did not drive as well as v7.1 (my car updated this week). It would regularly lose the right hand line, and wander more than usual. I then noticed some windscreen streaks in the sun, and stopped to clean the area over the camera with some wipes. It made all the difference! The line recognition was back to normal, and it showed that very subtle streaks on the windshield over the camera was enough to impact the AP line recognition.

    4) Get comfortable with AP gradually: Start with freeway driving. This is the easiest environment for a new driver to get comfortable with AP. Then progress to 'stop and go' traffic, which AP also handles very well. Finally experiment with rural roads, where you have to watch out for bad lines, traffic lights, and stop signs (which AP does not process). You can get some frightening experiences coming around corners, to discover stopped traffic ahead. Don't put yourself in these kind of situations until you are experienced with AP.
    • Like x 2
    • Helpful x 1
  2. roblab

    roblab Active Member

    Jul 15, 2008
    Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
    A few comments.

    Beginners, and experts, should always drive with a hand or hands *holding* the wheel. The idea of just touching it is not enough. If you hold the wheel, the torque sensor can tell and you won't get nagged. Also, as a pleasant by product, you can quickly recover when AP gets confused and darts toward a barrier, bridge abutment, or semi truck. YOU are the driver.

    Everyone should note that there are things the camera doesn't see, as well as the human eye coupled with human imagination. On a curve, it is easy to see what's going on and imagine what's probably going on, but the camera only sees a few dozen feet ahead. On slight rises or bumps, the camera cannot "see" where the road goes and will often start looking for the lane.

    The car sees metal objects with the radar. Tesla is working to allow radar to see non metallic objects with radar. The AP part is the camera, and it only sees lines. In the beginning, it would not recognize road dots lined up as lines. It does not like three lines, as in double yellow with a white between diamond lanes.

    The car does NOT like barriers, and it cannot see semi flatbed trailers as you pass, and may tend to weave toward the truck. This is just one of many reasons that you must always and ever drive with a hand holding the wheel. Even after a year with autopilot, I still get surprised. I routinely go off AP when I see things I know will cause confusion to AP, like road repair that covers a line, or tar in cracks that reflect, or wet roads that reflect and confuse the cameras. This will all get better, but the key is, it's still beta. Be alert, and, in case I didn't mention it, keep your hand(s) on the wheel.
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