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Autopilot - Newbie thoughts and observations

Discussion in 'Model 3: Driving Dynamics' started by woodisgood, Aug 14, 2018.

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  1. woodisgood

    woodisgood Member

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    We've had our Model 3 for less than two weeks, and have put almost 1,000 miles on it. I have been getting used to EAP - figuring when I fully trust it, predicting its behavior, etc. The following two cases occurred within a few minutes of each other and were both instances in which EAP made me feel less safe and created a situation that would have probably been safer if I had been in full control. I wonder if I should have done something differently or whether these are just examples of the limitations of EAP as it currently stands. My hope is that with future updates some of these nuances will improve, and I'm sure they will.

    1) I was traveling on the highway in the second-to-left lane in EAP with a max setting speed of 70-72, traveling in the high 60s. Follow distance 3 or 4. Traffic was moving above the limit of 65 but it was moderately busy (a Sunday afternoon). A car was gradually passing me in the left lane, moving maybe 2-3 mph faster. One or two cars ahead of me suddenly moved out of my lane, opening up my lane. Of course, EAP suddenly sped up. This led to me sticking to the blind spot of the car that was passing me on my left. That driver thought he had left me behind and started moving into my lane. As I said, I was pretty much right in his blind spot so we would have definitely collided. I don't remember exactly the sequence of events after that point other than [I think] there was some kind of warning sound, I jerked the wheel right and then left and swerved wildly mostly within my lane and possibly into the next lane and my wife freaked the heck out. Fortunately there was no collision. I'm not sure if the other driver ever even realized what happened because I didn't even have a chance to honk as I was reacting.

    This was a perfect example of why you have to watch the road and keep your hands on the wheel when using AP, and an instance in which AP itself can get into a hairy situation even when conditions seem ideal for its use. I was watching this happen in real-time so was able to avoid the collision - I know my reaction came before or just as there was some kind of warning siren. And I don't think EAP would have been able to avoid the collision by swerving or braking but of course I don't know the answer to that since I took over.

    Now this is a pretty common highway driving occurrence. I think most of us (when not using AP) would deal with this by simply allowing a car to pass. It's obviously poor form to sort of "race" or stick to a car that's passing you on the left unless you're trying to be a jerk. But this is exactly what EAP did. It seems the car does have the information needed to fine-tune the behavior in this scenario beyond "speed up to max until following distance reached," integrating data from the side sensors/cams, and hopefully that's what we'll see in the future.

    2) The second scenario again had to do with EAP speeding up to its max setting, this time in stop-and-go, and I'm wondering if there was something I should have done to mitigate the issue. 55mph highway stop-and-go, following distance set to 2 I believe. Max speed setting was maybe 45mph because traffic had been flowing before it came to a standstill. Again had the occurrence of many cars moving out of the lane ahead of me somewhat in unison, which caused EAP to accelerate rapidly to close the gap. Needless to say that's pretty unsafe when everyone around you is stopped or moving at less than 5mph and could move into your lane at any second. I think I realized this as it was happening and tried rapidly lowering my max speed setting on the screen, which caused EAP to cancel (?). I'm not sure why it canceled - was it because I was trying to set the max speed too low on a 55mph road? What AP settings do you guys use when you get to stop-and-go to avoid this kind of situation?

    Apologies for the rambling novel - just wanted to get my thoughts down and figure out what I could have done differently.
     
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  2. Enginerd

    Enginerd Member

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    1) Good catch. It seems this failure mode hasn't been mitigated yet. Hopefully they'll work on it, on their way to FSD.
    2) A common practice is to limit the AP max speed to maybe 20 mph above long-term local average speeds. This will keep the car from running away from you when a clear path emerges. This is similar to limiting the speed differential when passing a row of stopped cars in the next lane. Or wearing gloves with protection proportional to the amount of force you'll be putting on the wrench.
     
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  3. teddytoons

    teddytoons Member

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    I agree. Good catch. EAP speeding up at an inopportune time is one of the things that has become second nature to me.
    I either 1) set my max to about 20-25 mph in slow traffic or, 2) My left hand is just a flick away from canceling the EAP (preferred).
    Sometimes, I'll catch the display acquire the new car in front quickly enough that I know it will compensate.
    I assume when we get the new HW update, it will react much faster.
     
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  4. woodisgood

    woodisgood Member

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    Yes, this makes good sense. I wasn't able to tune it down while in EAP since it canceled for some reason. It would be nice if the system was able to detect what's going on around it - maybe have a toggle in settings to "auto-adjust" to changing traffic conditions so you don't have to cancel/restart/or readjust the settings. Will be interesting to see how they separate upcoming features/AI between EAP and FSD. My guess is a lot of the higher-level logic will be part of FSD.
     
  5. ronm2948

    ronm2948 Member

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    One thing that might help with (2) would be to less aggressive acceleration. I find that the car accelerates too fast when it suddenly sees an opening. I wish that EAP had a mode where you could set how aggressive you wanted the acceleration to be.
     
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  6. woodisgood

    woodisgood Member

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    That would be helpful. Does “chill mode” affect how quickly EAP accelerates?
     
  7. SoCalMom

    SoCalMom Member

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    Yes, Chill mode definitely helps in these situations. Chill Mode works very well to prevent those fast accelerations when cars suddenly move out of the way.
     
  8. khraiv

    khraiv Member

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    Specifically, chill locks acceleration to .5 g's. Which doesn't do much on RWD that peaks around .6 anyway.
     
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  9. pilotSteve

    pilotSteve Active Member

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    How about a separate ‘chill’ mode setting for EAP (I would enable that) and a one for me when driving (would leave that off like I do now)
     
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  10. wtwieder

    wtwieder Member

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    #10 wtwieder, Aug 15, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
    In the first situation where your car was accelerating too fast with another car passing you, I would have instinctively hit the brakes, instead of trying to turn off Auto pilot by taking over the wheel. When you would hit the brakes, it would have immediately slowed your car allowing the other car to pass, and would have turned off Autopilot without jerking your wheel and potentially losing control of your car.
     
  11. woodisgood

    woodisgood Member

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    Oh I definitely agree that would have been better. In those situations the transition from thinking clearly to simply reacting happens incredibly quickly, and I guess my brain found it easier to use the wheel than figure out where my foot was and where it needed to go. In AP, my hands are right at the wheel but my foot may or may not be hovering right over the brakes.
     
  12. vikefan

    vikefan Member

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    I figured I'd also throw my EAP experience in here, as I'm also a Tesla noob and have had the car about a week now. I live in Southern California, land of oh so many traffic jams, and I also happen to have a very long work commute, so while I'm still brand new to the car and the technology, I feel like I've already used it a fair amount and experienced quite a few different driving scenarios with it.

    TL;DR - EAP is absolutely awesome for driving in heavy traffic on the freeway on a very long stretch of freeway that requires little to no other action. EAP is basically good for accelerating + braking + steering within one freeway lane for a long period of time at low speed. At higher speeds and more complex driving conditions, this system still behaves way too unpredictably to be safe IMO.

    Pros:
    1. EAP on the freeway in heavy traffic where I don't need to change lanes for a long time is absolutely life-changing. Although the requirement to regularly provide a small amount of resistance to the wheel is not ideal, I obviously know why it needs to be there right now. Having said that, I very much would prefer Tesla used facial recognition software to determine driver attentiveness rather than requiring some amount of weighted resistance on the wheel to know you're there. If my phone can know when I'm looking at it, surely my $60k Futureland car should be able to
    2. Even just the auto-acceleration/deceleration alone is a huge quality of life improvement. While there are a few problems here, there isn't a lot of negative I can say about a system that has suddenly relieved me of a repetitive action I've had to perform 30 times a minute with my foot for 3+ hours a day nearly every day for the past 10+ years. 90% of the time, this system has performed exactly as expected and needed.

    Unfortunately, though, that's it for the pros that I can think of...


    Cons:
    1. Tesla's info & comm. regarding EAP features and capabilities is sorely lacking & misleading. It's way harder than it should be to find relatively recent, accurate info about what the current feature set of EAP actually is and what it's actually capable of doing (or not). For example, Tesla's EAP info website says the car can exit freeways when you near your destination and change lanes to avoid slower traffic. Not true. I've never once seen the car do this yet in any capacity.
    2. Merging lanes and splitting lanes confuse the hell out of this thing. The car definitely has no idea what to do if I'm in the right lane and another lane is merging into mine (e.g. freeway onramp). If there's a car that's in the lane about to merge into me, and that car is a little ahead of me, my car has no idea it's supposed to either speed up or slow down for that car. I've had to take control in 100% of these situations so far. The car also tends to swerve and jerk fairly uncomfortably for a second or two whenever I'm in a lane where one of the lane lines disappears for a short time (such as when the lane splits off to an on-ramp/interchange).
    3. The auto lane change is basically useless. I've tried to use it several times, and I've come to the conclusion that it is a complete waste of my time in its current state. Sometimes the car will correctly move over as soon as I hit the turn signal (when no car is in the way). However, many other times the car will let the blinker run for several seconds before it moves over, even when no cars were ever obstructing it. It's also obviously still incapable of seeing and judging the oncoming speed of traffic behind it in an adjacent lane, because if I turn the signal on when there's a car in the next lane that's sufficiently far enough behind me but obviously speeding fast enough to be cut off if I change lanes, the car will still try to change lanes anyway. I have to constantly take control of the vehicle because the auto-lane change either A) takes too long to move over when there's a clear path and confuses/irritates the drivers in the next lane, or B) moves over even if it'll cut off a fast approaching vehicle. God forbid I want to move over TWO lanes. Then I find myself hitting that turn signal 10 times until the car will finally make that 2nd lane change. I've also been in plenty of situations where I signal a lane change, and for whatever reason, the car never attempts to move. One time, the lane next to me was wide open, but there was a semi truck in the lane next to that. My car began moving into the next lane, and as soon as it detected the semi truck, it abruptly veered back into my original lane, as though the semi was about to collide with me.
    4. The car has no concept of gliding back to the specified trailing distance. When the car is happily moving along down the freeway, trailing a lead car by the default 3 units, and then some poor sap decides to get into my lane in front of me because there's all that amazing freeway real estate to be had (if you're more than 5 feet behind the next person in L.A., you're basically begging someone else to take up that spot), my car won't simply let off the accelerator a little bit and let the car gently glide back to the prescribed distance. No, instead the car will briefly act as though it's avoiding an imminent disaster, jerking me forward uncomfortably as it applies quick brakes to get back from the new car. I've also noticed quite a bit of jerkiness whenever the car briefly loses sight of the lane marker (such as when lanes merge or split). Additionally, whenever a clear path is opened up after a car in front of me leaves, the car acts as though it needs to immediately get up to my max speed rather than just gently accelerating like a normal person who isn't a 16 year old teenage male fresh off a Fast & Furious screening would do. This behavior definitely needs to be smoothed out.

    Just my 4¢. Obviously I know things will continue to improve, but right now I'm only about 85% happy with my EAP purchases, and it's that high because I spend such a ridiculously inordinate amount of time in heavy freeway traffic on a very long stretch of the same freeway requiring few lane changes and no freeway exits/mergers/interchanges.
     
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  13. Kermee

    Kermee It's Not Easy Being Green

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    I'm late to the thread, but Issue #2, relates to almost any "Adaptive Cruise Control" system I've used with other vehicle manufacturers. I've had to catch myself and remember to disable ACC before the lane opens up in front of me to prevent "Stage 1 Ignition" when the radar sees clear road ahead while cars on both my adjacent lanes are either stopped or traveling at an extremely low speed. — I'm hoping FSD will have AI/ML understand it should drive at the speed relative to the general "flow of traffic" of other nearby vehicles in adjacent lanes.
     
    • Like x 1
  14. DannyHamilton

    DannyHamilton Member

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    To start with, I've completely stopped thinking of EAP and Enhanced "Auto Pilot". Too much risk of assuming too much automation. Instead, I think of it as (and refer to it in conversations as) Advanced Cruise Control. This may change with additional updates in the future, but for now with that change in how I think about it, my general assumptions are that the feature will accomplish ONLY 2 things relatively reliably for me:
    1) Maintain speed like any other Dynamic Cruise Control (slowing down for slower vehicles in front of me and speeding up to my set speed when they speed up or move out of the way).
    2) Stay centered in my lane so long as it is easy to identify the lane markings.

    That's it. I don't expect it to be aware of cars on either side of me. I don't expect it to predict what traffic is likely to do up ahead based on visual cues. I don't expect it to try to predict ANYTHING. I don't expect it to do a great job of managing situations where lane markings are a bit confusing. I don't expect it to do a great job of deciding where to position the car when lanes merge together or split apart.

    As such, like with any other form of cruise control, I remain constantly aware of my surroundings, my hand is on the wheel, and my foot moves to be ready to accelerate or brake whenever conditions call for it.

    That being said... I do the vast majority of my acceleration and deceleration with the scroll wheel on the right side of the steering wheel. When I know that the speed limit will be increasing or decreasing up ahead, I start adjusting by 1 MPH ahead of time every 10 or 15 seconds to slowly ease up to, or down to, the target speed. If a car is passing me and I think he might want to move to my lane, I dial it back a few MPH. When I approach an entrance ramp, and I see vehicles accelerating on the ramp to merge on to the expressway, I dial it up or down as needed to provide the appropriate gap for them to merge into. If I see a jam up ahead, I start dialing it down long before the vehicle realizes that it needs to stop. I try to stay ahead of the vehicle's decision to slow down as much as possible and get the set speed as close to 18 MPH as I can before the vehicle decides for itself to slow down. If traffic is heavy and I can tell that I won't be traveling at the posted speed limit for a while, I adjust it down to something that makes more sense (frequently about 5 MPH above the speed that traffic seems to be holding). When I'm sitting in literal "stop-and-go" traffic, inching forward, I set it at the minimum possible setting (18 MPH).

    So...

    In the OP first example, I'd probably have dialed back the set speed a few MPH and (if they had their turn signal on) moved my foot to hover over the brake pedal.

    In the OP second example, I'd probably have dialed my set speed back to 18 MPH before the lane opened up, and then dialed it up to whatever felt safe as I moved down the open lane.

    I've heard that when the ultrasonic sensors identify that the vehicle is getting "too close" (whatever that means) your vehicle WILL move over in your lane to try to avoid the collision (or perhaps even move out of your lane to try to avoid the collision?) . I've seen some YouTube videos demonstrating this. Personally, I'm not willing to wait to find out. It's nice to know that the car *might* help me avoid an actual collision if I don't see it, but generally I'm going to react before the car has a chance to.

    The minimum set speed as far as I can tell, on ANY road, is 18 MPH. My best guess is that in your attempt to deal with the situation you either bumped the brake pedal or you bumped the gear shift lever up.

    As I said earlier... If it is literal "stop-and-go" where nobody is ever driving more than 10 MPH, then I just set it to 18 MPH. If traffic is more "slow-and-go" where traffic generally moves along at a speed that is slower than the speed limit and occasionally, briefly, slows down significantly, then I tend to set it at 5 MPH above the speed that traffic is generally moving. I do, however, constantly adjust it as I see fit.

    Yes.

    I think you can accomplish this with 2 driver profiles. Set up a driver profile for yourself with EAP (and give it a name such as pilotSteveEAP) and a separate profile for yourself without EAP. Then choose the profile you want. It would be nice Tesla would eventually release a software update that could switch profiles automatically for you based on the state of the vehicle, but until then this is a workable solution.
     
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  15. tivoboy

    tivoboy Member

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    I hate to say it, but I don't see item #1 being solved too soon and not certainly until we get to vehicle to vehicle communications. That scenario is a common one just based on HUMAN nature so it's no surprise that it isn't yet remedied by AI. It could certainly get better, for example. IF another car is passing on left or right and RABBIT CAR moves out of lane and TACC SET SPEED is higher than current speed, proceed to INCREASE speed more gradually than normal. But, maybe one doesn't want that. (would let more cars move over into your lane thereby simply decreasing overall speed and forward progress.)

    An aware and capable driver would/could/should see this coming, it's not as if cars move over suddenly and unexpectedly TOO often. Certainly happens.

    At highway speeds, either the car progresses too cautiously, or less cautiously and assumes some amount of order in the movement of the cars around.

    We could certainly create scenarios where violent and rapid movement of other cars in front on the highway could create a catastrophic situation that EAP just cannot handle and would actually put the driver and others around (mostly behind) at high risk of collision.

    I have noticed (no real data) that since 28.1 the acceleration back up to SET SPEED from a TACC reduced speed based on the RABBIT vehicle has been a bit LESS aggressive. Anyone else notice that?
     
  16. insaneoctane

    insaneoctane Active Member

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    I'd like a setting for CHILL mode for EAP, not me. I don't want CHILL when I'm driving, but I think it should always be on for EAP. It's too much work to turn it on and off everytime I grab the wheel. Tesla? Are you listening?
     
  17. daniel

    daniel Active Member

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    I agree completely with the above. Tap the brake pedal. This takes the car entirely out of autopilot and leaves you completely in control.

    This system is entirely new to anyone's past driving experience, and understandably takes some time getting used to. I'd advise a new Tesla owner to try out EAP in small bits, getting used to engaging it, and the different ways of disengaging it, before using it on longer drives. The car needs clear lane marks, and does not know what to do when they are absent, and is unaware of other cars around, except the one you are following.

    With its rear-facing cameras, it should be able to show you cars in your blind spots, but it only shows cars in the adjacent lanes when they are ahead of you, which is entirely unnecessary. I would say that auto lane-change is actually dangerous when it cannot respond to cars following in the adjacent lanes.
     
  18. vikefan

    vikefan Member

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    I mentioned this in my post earlier, but perhaps others in this thread could give me actually accurate info about what EAP can / can't do. The Tesla EAP website says this:

    I've never seen #3-6 happen (I count #4 the same as #2). I assumed up until this point that those were just features planned for some point in the future, but now I just read this from the manual:
    This has definitely not been the case for me, ever. I've tried this numerous times now from multiple distances away from the exit. The car has never once tried to exit the freeway. Has anyone else seen this happen in an M3?
     
  19. Dana1

    Dana1 Member

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    Adaptive cruise control has two settings: max speed and following distance. It can’t read drivers’ minds, including ours. If traffic has slowed the scroll wheel can adjust max speed so if a car moves out of the lane the acceleration is limited. The following distance can be increased which may keep the car from accelerating “too much” depending on how far ahead the next car is.
     

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