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Autopilot cautionary tale

Billee

Member
Nov 28, 2020
15
16
Tampa
I made the mistake of turning on autopilot while changing lanes at 60 mph. The Owner's manual probably warns against this but I wasn't thinking. There were no other vehicles around but autopilot made an abrupt steering maneuver to get back into the lane before I could react. It seemed like way too large a steering correction for that speed and it scared the heck out of my wife.

I think it should be possible to program autopilot so that it will not engage unless the car is fully inside a lane.
 

glide

Active Member
Jun 6, 2018
2,829
2,805
USA
I don’t know if we know what the majority of owners want. I think if Tesla are trying to market to the mass, they would not want that behaviour.
Here’s what we do know; people who paid for autopilot/FSD do not want restrictions on when/where it can be used.

Why should others suffer for your admittedly irresponsible edge-case? You know you can also set your cruise control to drive off a cliff, right? Just don’t do it.
 

AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
9,294
11,112
San Diego
I think it should be possible to program autopilot so that it will not engage unless the car is fully inside a lane.

do not want restrictions on when/where it can be used.

I know the Internet is opposed, but this is not a binary issue. It should be possible for autopilot to calmly pick a lane and gently steer to the center of whichever one it decides is best (it would make sense for it to be the closest one presumably), without firmly jerking the wheel (as it does now).

Frankly, it is kind of annoying to need to be basically perfectly centered in the lane to avoid a jerky steering input on initiation of AP, and it’s a very odd design decision on Tesla’s part.

I would argue that not dealing with this gracefully actually is a restriction on AP use - you have to be centered in the lane to be able to get a drama-free takeover by the AP computer.

Is it a big deal? No, not to me. Could it be (easily) better implemented and in the course of doing so, mostly fix the issue the OP encountered? Absolutely.

I suspect that it is a design decision to ensure the user knows the vehicle is under computer control, but it still seems pretty odd, and is quite jarring. Could just be bad (incomplete) specification of the desired behavior though.
 
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Ampre Sand

Member
Nov 18, 2016
57
30
Seattle
I've experienced this myself. I unintentionally engaged Autopilot mid-lane change when all I was doing was trying to turn on TACC. I was surprised at the emergency steering and braking inputs the car made to get me back into the original lane.

Autopilot already refuses to engage in some situations, so seems to me this specific condition should be added to that list... the car should be stable and reasonably centered in a lane before the gray Autopilot wheel appears. Agreed that also the car should more gracefully center itself in the lane upon activation.
 
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Discoducky

P100DL, 2021 M3, 3 CT reservations and counting
Dec 25, 2011
3,424
3,282
Seattle
I made the mistake of turning on autopilot while changing lanes at 60 mph. The Owner's manual probably warns against this but I wasn't thinking. There were no other vehicles around but autopilot made an abrupt steering maneuver to get back into the lane before I could react. It seemed like way too large a steering correction for that speed and it scared the heck out of my wife.

I think it should be possible to program autopilot so that it will not engage unless the car is fully inside a lane.
For whatever it is worth, I agree with you. If I were the PM, I'd spec that engagement allows for a smooth transition away from the drivers control. What way, you can engage when you want, but don't freak out people in the car or yourself.
 

Ampre Sand

Member
Nov 18, 2016
57
30
Seattle
OP and AS, did you have your blinker on when you inadvertently activated AP?
Yes - had my signal on. Interesting question, since standard Autopilot Auto-steer disengages when the turn signal is activated. Likewise, a simpler solution would be to not permit engaging auto-steer if the turn signal is on. For the same reason, I use my signal if I need to drift over the center line to make room for a cyclist or vehicle on the shoulder of a two-lane road I frequently travel (signal prevents lane departure assist from activating, and perhaps not a bad idea anyway).

Munro Associates noted the aggressive jerking to center in the lane upon activating auto-steer and that they learned to pre-center the car before activating. What appears to be centered visually out the windscreen, may not be in reality. A spot-check reference to the touch screen shows where the car thinks it is.
 
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AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
9,294
11,112
San Diego
noted the aggressive jerking to center in the lane upon activating auto-steer and that they learned to pre-center the car before activating. What appears to be centered visually out the windscreen, may not be in reality. A spot-check reference to the touch screen shows where the car thinks it is.
Or, Tesla could make the trivial fix to...make it not do this. I don't have any problem getting the car centered prior to engaging, but certainly it's annoying to have to do so. Just a small limitation; Tesla is making people jump through hoops and making things less convenient, with the current state of affairs.
 
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Dan D.

Member
Dec 7, 2020
252
215
Vancouver, BC
Or, Tesla could make the trivial fix to...make it not do this. I don't have any problem getting the car centered prior to engaging, but certainly it's annoying to have to do so. Just a small limitation; Tesla is making people jump through hoops and making things less convenient, with the current state of affairs.
Well that would be sensible. Like announcing "I'm Going" when crossing traffic.
 
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Dan D.

Member
Dec 7, 2020
252
215
Vancouver, BC
I made the mistake of turning on autopilot while changing lanes at 60 mph. The Owner's manual probably warns against this but I wasn't thinking.
we have the root cause of the problem right here: Human error
However the Owner's manual doesn't warn against this:
To initiate Autosteer when no vehicle is detected ahead of you, you must be driving at least 18 mph (30 km/h), unless certain vehicle and environmental conditions are met, in which case, you may be able to initiate it at lower speeds. If a vehicle is detected ahead of you, you can initiate Autosteer at any speed, even when stationary, provided Model 3 is at least 5 feet (150 cm) behind the detected vehicle.


Also the Owner's manual makes specific reference to features being Beta but at no point does it define what that means. I bet I can name 50% of my friends who have no idea what the word Beta means. A minimum of one instance where it is defined is required.
 

68882

Member
Jan 19, 2020
34
42
Victoria BC
We have intersections where they have painted dashed lines to assist people turning from the exit ramps onto a three lane thoroughfare, problem is when you come across those lines on the thoroughfare FSD think the road jogs and wants to throw you a lane over, then freaks as there is a car there... Solution turn FSD off when rolling thru those intersections as they aren’t FSD safe...
 
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rxlawdude

Active Member
Jul 10, 2015
2,261
1,549
Orange County, CA
What would AP do, when engaged in the middle of a lane change? Think for a second. Which direction should AP go? The OP put the algorithm into a no-win situation.

How can any reasonable analysis come to any conclusion other than that this is an edge case and that AP was engaged improperly?
 

agtdDelirium

Member
Jun 15, 2017
136
373
Colorado
The herky-jerky movement of autopilot is the one reason my wife will not allow me to engage it when she is in the car. I have always felt like autopilot looks no more than 10 feet in front of the car for lane management. Whenever lane lines disappear for even 20 or 30 yards, the car freaks out even when there is no obstacle or danger ahead. Not sure how full self-driving will help if the car can't manage some degree of distance vision. Elon is speaking of "vision only," so I am nervously optimistic when version 9 arrives, but not hopeful. If it continues to react like a 12-year-old is behind the wheel, full self-driving will be useless.
 

JHCCAZ

Member
Feb 2, 2021
63
48
Tucson
What would AP do, when engaged in the middle of a lane change? Think for a second. Which direction should AP go? The OP put the algorithm into a no-win situation.

How can any reasonable analysis come to any conclusion other than that this is an edge case and that AP was engaged improperly?
I'm as enthusiastic about AutoPilot & FSD as anyone, but yes, I think it's entirely reasonable to conclude that
- The car should not accept and initiate AutoPilot engagement, if doing so requires immediate and abrupt emergency corrective action.
- Whether it's L2 (now) or L3,4,5 (in the future), the engagement command cannot reasonably be used as "save me right now from an existing or rapidly-developing emergency that started while I was in control".
- Therefore, and considering the obviously common scenario that the car is not presently positioned or driving exactly how AP would have had it, an abrupt transition into AP's preferred condition is unwarranted, confusing to everyone and very likely dangerous by causing nearby vehicles to take emergency-avoidance action.
- It's only a no-win scenario if AP interprets the request as an inescapable and immediate mandate to get the vehicle into what would have been its chosen condition.

It really doesn't matter whether experienced Tesla AP users, diligent manual-readers or forum-watchers would know not to request AP engagement while not well-centered and driving in full agreement with the computer. Unnecessarily abrupt maneuvers are dangerous.

If you are holding a glass and taking a sip, and your wife asks you to empty the dryer, it's not correct to spit out a mouthful and drop the glass to the floor.
 
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Dan D.

Member
Dec 7, 2020
252
215
Vancouver, BC
- The car should not accept and initiate AutoPilot engagement, if doing so requires immediate and abrupt emergency corrective action.
- Whether it's L2 (now) or L3,4,5 (in the future), the engagement command cannot reasonably be used as "save me right now from an existing or rapidly-developing emergency that started while I was in control".
Lol, the professional pilots forum on Pprune is also lamenting the lack of skills of today's airline pilots.

Bad piloting skills have caused many of them to engage autopilot when they get into trouble rather than figure out the problem and fly the jet themselves.

The autopilot can't work beyond certain defined limits and often just dumps the whole problem back on the pilot at the worst time.

Sound familiar? Poor design, poor training, overreliance on technology, complicated UI, lack of understanding by the pilots, harmful management procedures. Many recent crashes have involved these elements.
 

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