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Autopilot Use Recommendation

Discussion in 'Model S: User Interface' started by 787steve, Jul 12, 2016.

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  1. 787steve

    787steve Member

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    I don't know how accurate it was, but after the latest AP blamed accident, I saw a google street view of the area and it appeared to be a secondary, two lane road. It seems the AP is getting a lot of bad press when being blamed for accidents when it isn't being used as directed by Tesla.

    I am a retired pilot and currently work as an instructor pilot for a major aircraft manufacturer. I have seen how the press has a feeding frenzy whenever the "hot target" airline or airplane of the day has the least little incident. If one airline has a major mishap, every flight delay or minor disruption will be headlines, while similar and worse occurrences at other companies go unreported. Right now, the press has made Tesla the target.

    I do not have my MS yet, and yes, I was very favorably impressed when I watched YOUTUBE videos of people using it extensively on their commutes, even on roads where the company does not recommend it be utilized. But can you, with a clear conscious put everyone at risk so that you can see if your AP isn't even better than the manufacturer says it is? It drives me crazy to see "Tesla's AP blamed for another accident' when it was clearly being used outside it's design parameters. That would be like an airline pilot trying to auto land in an aircraft that isn't certified for such a maneuver, and having the auto flight system blamed for the subsequent accident. If you use a system outside it's certified design limits, the resulting accident is OPERATOR ERROR. (That little dot is a period, as in PERIOD!!)

    I was properly impressed on our test drive when the Tesla rep had us engage the AP. only after we were on the Interstate, and turn it off when we exited. Having watched YOUTUBE, I knew it could do more, but he put out the company line in a very clear manner. From what I saw on my test drive, the Tesla is a joy to drive. The best airline pilots aren't the ones who turn the AP on at 200 feet in the climb and turn it off to taxi off the runway at their destination. The good ones enjoy flying these magnificent machines. Once we get to cruise, it is a bit boring and the AP is used almost exclusively. But once we get back down on approach, most good pilots turn it off, if circumstances allow, and fly the airplane manually.

    So, why don't we do a service to these wonderful cars and simply use the Autopilot system as Tesla says it is currently intended to be used? Enjoy the pleasure of driving a fine automobile. That will allow the car to shine, and perhaps make life a bit more pleasant for their PR people, as well. And the reporters, well, they can go looking for another victim.

    Check 6,
    Drive Safe
     
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  2. sandpiper

    sandpiper Active Member

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    Partially true. Quite honestly, there is a bit of a nudge-nudge, wink-wink thing going on with the AP. Tesla tells you not to remove your hands but everybody does it and everybody knows it. And that's okay, I believe, as long as you PAY ATTENTION.

    This is no different than an aircraft AP. Use it, but continue to pay attention and don't assume that it will always work. I learned about that the hard way, years ago in a small piston twin. The AP worked really well until one day, on climb out, it decided that it would be fun to to do a hard barrel roll to the left. I disengaged, recovered and all was good. But I was a little shaken, learned my lesson and I never trusted the AP in any aircraft again.

    It's no different with the Tesla. Use the tool but always, always remember that it's a machine and that at some point, with 100% certainty, it will fail. If you expect it, you should be able to deal with it.
     
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  3. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    I really disagree strongly with this whole idea that it's OK to drive hands free with AP. Doing so doesn't just endanger the driver, it endangers the passengers and everyone else on the road. It's in the same category as driving drunk.

    Even if you are a Libertarian, endangering other people just isn't ethical.

    We use AP all the time and love it, but we also always have a hand on the wheel and pay attention to what's going on.
     
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  4. 787steve

    787steve Member

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    RDoc,
    Your comment is one you would expect from a pro. Yes, people drive hands off all the time. I can think of at least three times in recent weeks when they made the news doing so. The excuse that everybody does it didn't even work for my kids when they were teenagers. I hope we have all moved beyond that by the time we are driving these amazing machines.

    As a pilot, I would almost always have one hand resting casually on the yolk just to allow me to feel what the AFCS was trying to do. Sometimes, the first indication you would get would be the movement of the yolk when none was expected. Professional pilots do sometimes fly hands off . But realize that we had triple redundancy in our systems and they were always crosschecking each other. On top of that, most professionals only went hands off at high altitudes, where you have a display of all air traffic within 40 miles of your position. That traffic was being operated by other professionals, and all of us were working with ATC to keep from having traffic conflicts. Even with all of that, we had to train for the event of a near miss or an inflight upset.

    And when we were on approach, and near the ground, the hands were always on the controls, to enable a quick disconnect of the system in the event of a system error. We practiced how to disengage the system and had a plan of how to respond at any time. Into fact as a flight instructor whenever I see a pilot on approach in the simulator without hands on the controls during an approach, I call for the pilots to freeze as I freeze the sim. Then the simple question,"Who is flying the aircraft?" is usually met with looks of embarrassment.

    On the road, you are exposed to amateur operators of various maturity, sobriety, and skill levels driving sometimes questionable vehicles within feet of your car. And you have guard rails, animals, barricades, and all manner of things which could threaten your life in a heartbeat. To operate hands off in that environment would be like flying formation using the autopilot. Believe me, the Blue Angels aren't on autopilot, and they know exactly what the lead is going to do at all times. In fighters we flew aggressively safe, in the airline world we just flew safe. I hope all the Tesla drivers around me are driving safe, hands on, until Tesla says it is no longer necessary.

    PS. I had a friend who owned a light twin aircraft. He was told that though it wasn't certified, it could do aileron rolls. (To be honest, almost any aircraft can. I have even done it in large airliners. IN THE SIMULATOR. ) My friend apparently was fond of demonstrating this capability to his friends. You know where this is going. Tragically, he and a friend, and three young children died as a result of his misjudgement.

    PPS. Famous pilots last words....."Watch this".

    Drive Safe,
    Check 6
     
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  5. sandpiper

    sandpiper Active Member

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    Sigh. I like to think that people should be treated as adults and can make judgements required to behave responsibly based on circumstances. I have no issue with somebody going 10 miles over the speed limit on a clear day, despite that fact that the authorities don't approve. It's not the same during a snowstorm.

    Similarly I have no issue with somebody AP driving down a divided 4 lane on a good day with light traffic and hands in their lap - as long as they are PAYING ATTENTION. It's not the same on a windy 2 lane road in bad weather; that's just stupid.

    There is no end of opportunity to endanger others with or without a vehicle, most of which are not covered by a company legal disclaimer. And there is no end of opportunity to render critical judgemental on the actions of others. Personally I don't believe that we should be treating people like children.
     
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  6. WannabeOwner

    WannabeOwner Member

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    I have both hands, occasionally just one, on the wheel at all times; reason being that it seems to me that IF I was needed to intervene I could do so more quickly if my hands were already on the wheel. Whilst not a reason for me to be doing this ;) it also occurs to me that if my hands are on the wheel I can't be doing anything else with them - like Texting, and perhaps even napping (i.e. my hands would then fall off the wheel at some point). I feel more refreshed than when driving without AP, so I'm not sure that hands-on-wheel is adding any additional "workload"; I'm not driving, I'm not making the mental effort to adjust the steering etc., I'm just "at ready state".

    Don't suppose any exists, but I'm be interested in "How quickly could you take over IF" research comparing hands on the wheel, not on the wheel, along with "looking over should at that specific moment" and so on.
     
  7. BertL

    BertL Active Member

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    I too would like to believe adults can be treated as such, but the unfortunate fact is at least the few continue to screw it up for perhaps a majority. YouTube Videos and recent incidents where drivers may not have used the best judgement are examples of the few. Combine that with today's rabid Social Media and Press that tend to sensationalize the negative and not always provide all the facts before they do -- setting many other people's opinion that tend to have short attention spans to not pursue the ongoing facts, and our litigation-happy society ...IMHO, the reality is "the few" do cause us all to have more restrictions and businesses end-up having to protect themselves more and more. E.g. I still think it's ridiculous that every hot coffee cup from fast food joints have to have printed on the side that the coffee is hot -- because of "the few", and we all remember the increased nags that were introduced within days of the infamous first "No Hands Ma" AP YouTube Video that I refuse to this day to watch, adding to some viral count the author found amusing, satisfying, or received a few more pennies from because of related advertisement.

    Personally, I'm like a couple folks here and ALWAYS have at least one hand lightly on the wheel when AP is engaged ...and I only use it in what I consider more optimum conditions. I've engaged AP a handful of times in what I expected to be challenging situations so I could understand more of its limitations to help me react better in some unforeseen circumstance -- but both hands remained lightly on the wheel -- e.g. One of those times was months ago when I wanted to understand if AP could either anticipate or see a trailer in an adjacent lane when I was right next to it -- as I thought, no it couldn't because of how high it was and the huge open space underneath, until I slipped further forward or back from it (follow that train of thought?)

    Tesla does an abysmal job documenting best use cases and areas where various options are either not recommended or not optimum, and to always clearly articulate where limitations exist -- that goes for AP as well as more basic capabilities like Range Mode, Charging best practices (e.g. do we have to manually cycle the battery or not?) and others MS has had for years. Tesla is out of the "early enthusiast-only" mode and must become more mainstream in this regard to both educate, as well as inform drivers what's changed and how and when everything should and should not be used. IMHO, a "blog" to address this may help but will not be enough. The information needs to permeate the owner experience from owner manual, online videos, to new owner orientation, and through each update iteration where there are differences. Clicking a "I accept" or "I read it" button is one thing perhaps on say websites where I suspect most people have never read T&C (I do, and it's why I don't use some websites), but it's likely not a safety concern if the information was not read. GIven how some people have a tendency to "click-through", I sadly suspect lawyers will have a field day as litigation happens with AP.

    I also think Tesla needs to reconsider this whole "Beta" terminology thing.... On one extreme e.g. I don't see the Beta Calendar function as the same thing, as say on the other end of the spectrum with Beta AP that continues to evolve. IMHO Tesla just hides behind some of the "Beta" moniker on functions like Calendar because perhaps they wanted to introduce a function to gain press, but elected early-on to not prioritize fixing any initial bugs (IDK or any) that may have come with the introduction of a new capability. OTOH, I know that Beta AP I have in my MS will never be fully autonomous even with its more continuous changes and improvements. I also know it's going to have significant limitations until new hardware and firmware becomes available in a future model. I don't trust AP on surface streets where kids may be playing or a dog could come darting out from somewhere. I know AP can't deal with cross-streets well, has no visibility to stop or traffic signs, can't deal well with construction zones even on interstates, and there are visibility challenges with distance and heights and what may be on either side of your vehicle. The list can go on, but how many owners that buy a Tesla with AP today don't read the manual, don't frequent forums like this, and just turn capabilities on after pushing a few buttons or clicking-through a screen somewhere, assuming it will match their expectation of perfection? Perhaps because I was a software and technical support guy my entire career I have a better appreciation what "Beta" may or may not mean -- but if the developers maintain that description, I know I will never let my life depend solely on some capability as it appears others may be. I don't believe though 100% of today's and tomorrow's Automible owners of any brand are like me and perhaps some of us here that try to understand limitations. That to me is the real challenge.
     
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  8. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    When I said "driving hands free", I meant that to mean assuming the car was going to be OK without human intervention. Most of the discussions I've seen on this forum when people waxed apoplectic about the car nagging them to put their hands on the wheel was about wanting to do other things, e.g. check email, while on AP. I still say this is bordering on drunk driving.

    What the point is to not having a hand on the wheel while actually paying attention to what the car is doing, I cannot fathom. I just grip the wheel comfortably and let the car drive while watching what's happening. Several times, AP has made an error that I think I perceived first by the wheel motion. For example, the time it tried to cross the edge of the road line and go into a guard rail, or several truck lunges.

    Finally, I agree that people should be treated as adults. However, adults shouldn't be willfully endangering others. Leave that to the teenagers.
     
  9. sandpiper

    sandpiper Active Member

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    Personally I don't think that the biggest risk is whether or not your hands are on the wheel, or whether they're sitting a few inches away; that's a matter of comfort on a long trip.

    The bigger risk is that people will stop paying attention to what's around them. Or text or whatever else. And that happens and is irresponsible with or without AP, hand on wheel or not.
     
  10. OlderThanDirt

    OlderThanDirt Member

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    I'm going to have to agree with RDoc here. While cool and all to drive mile after mile with no hands on the wheel. It's pretty irresponsible behavior at this point. Most all of us would have to admit to pushing Autopilot to its limits. And that's only way we learn where it is appropriate to have Autopilot active and where it should not be active. But please keep your hands on the wheel when doing this!!!!!!!!

    A case in point of this would be the Montana X crash. Incredibly I drove that area not a few days before that crash occurred. That IS NOT a road for active Autopilot. That's really pushing the limits. To think someone would be trying that without their hands on the wheel is totally irresponsible. It's easy to forget the speed limits on most of those roads are still very high even they have poor lane markings, sharp curves, sharp little hills and undulating surfaces. Things will go bad fast if you do not stay focused on driving the car. And they did not and they did!!

    Just because these cars are incredibly safe doesn't give us any right to drive recklessly.
     
  11. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

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    I don't know how accurate it was, but after the latest AP blamed accident, I saw a google street view of the area and it appeared to be a secondary, two lane road. It seems the AP is getting a lot of bad press when being blamed for accidents when it isn't being used as directed by Tesla.

    I completely agree. It may have been a divided roadway. But it was not a limited access highway. Anybody who is not watching everything carefully in this situation is asking for it. Very tragic that he paid the price that he did. But I see the accident as the driver's fault.
     
  12. WannabeOwner

    WannabeOwner Member

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    If my hands are on my lap, a few inches from the wheel, then it seems to me that the only place I can grab the wheel, in an emergency, is near the bottom. It doesn't feel to me that I have anything like as much control, or leverage, from that position compared to having my hands at 10-and-2 or 9-and-3 - particularly if a large steering adjustment was required.

    I'd be interested to hear how hands-on-lap AP drivers view this
     
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  13. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

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    When I use AP I keep my hands on the wheel, but put them at 5 & 7. Helps rests my old shoulders. Not sure if this qualifies as "hands-on-laps", but figured it's near the same starting point.

    I find that since AP takes the physical strain of driving away I can watch the traffic better and judge things better. Any iffy situation arises, my hands move right to 3 & 9. This includes if AP is making a large turn successfully.

    Also I'm too used to feeling the movement of the steering wheel and the feedback it gives. It's actually pretty educational to feel how the car reacts to things and adjusts the steering. That's how I noticed that the car seems to "learn" the road over time (whether the car itself or just through software updates).

    Hands always on the wheel, can't get this old dog to stop doing that...
     
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  14. sandpiper

    sandpiper Active Member

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    I'd say it's really no different than for folks who keep one hand lightly at the 5 or 6 o'clock position when driving manually. And despite what they recommend in driver's ed, that's very very common.

    The issue with all of this is that there is no black and white line between safe and unsafe, and the typically arbitrary line drawn by either law or manufacturer's recommendations won't change that. In all cases 30 mph is more dangerous than 20. and 40,50,60,70.... are all relatively more dangerous. And each is more dangerous in a snowstorm than on a clear sunny day. And so on... If you want to stay really safe and never present any risk to yourself, your passengers or the public then driving at all is not an option. It's a pragmatic trade-off that society makes.

    Echoing legal verbiage intended only to make it clear that "YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. DON'T SUE ME FOR YOUR STUPIDITY" is really rather meaningless because it's fixed and not situational.
     
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  15. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

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    I usually keep my hands on my lap if on an interstate road that is straight and isn't crowded with other traffic. if the road gets twisty, crowded or I sense any sort of "hinkyness" I keep at least one hand on the steering wheel. the more you use the AP system the more you'll learn it's strengths and weaknesses
     
  16. 787steve

    787steve Member

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    Thanks for all the input. Now, does anyone have a referral left to use. Seriously, if it isn't too late, our order goes in tonight.
    I went to look for some of the vids we have watched with referrals, but they didn't have any left.
     
  17. eschummer

    eschummer Member

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    So I'm fairly new to all this, having had my S for less than a full month (delivered June 22). But here are a couple of observations on AP that have caused me to simply not use it in a majority of situations. Admittedly, these are from a commute trip of 43 miles, mostly freeway, and fairly heavy, sometimes stop and go, traffic. There may be other scenarios where it could well serve to relieve stress.

    In my situation, heavy traffic, what I do manually is look two or three cars ahead, and if I see brake lights up ahead, I start easing off the accelerator. By the time the car right in front reacts, I already have a little gap that in most cases allows for a smooth transition back into power. AP only reacts to the car immediately in front of you, and when it hits the brakes, it's usually a pretty drastic, and it takes a few seconds to recover even if it was just a temporary slow-down. Somewhat too jerky for my taste.

    Secondly, in turns, the steering input provided by AP comes at a time when there is already significant departure from the lane center line, making it feel rather hurried and non-smooth. Again, manually you gently turn the wheel into the turn and maintain very close to center lane position, especially on the exit. I don't find AP capable of doing that.

    That, coupled with the near shut-down when someone enters your lane from the side, or exits your lane in front of you, has me pretty soured on the whole process. Maybe others have had different experiences, but for me AP is something that I yet have to derive any benefit from..
     
  18. James Anders

    James Anders Member

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    Putting all the responsibility on the driver is fine. But I wonder how many people would put all the blame onto Anton Yeltsin for not putting his vehicle into park "correctly"?
     
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  19. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

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    Some tricks I've used.

    When I see cars slowing down, I will change my car distance settings. I typically drive at 5 car distance. When I see things start to slow down I will dial it back to 7 car distance.

    I've changed my steering to "comfort" mode. It seems to help with the turns. I'm not sure if it's real, or the car is learning the route or I'm just getting confirmation bias. One thing I've tried with some success is dropping my TACC speed going into big turns, that also seems to help with the turns. Although lately that seems to be less of an issue.

    The exiting and entering part is problematic I agree. It can be pretty jerky and disconcerting when that happens.
     
  20. BertL

    BertL Active Member

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    Agree with you on both counts, but there will be others that disagree. I think a lot of owners forget Autosteer became generally available not even a year ago to the world, and still has a lot of growing and learning to do on more complex and outlying conditions. Its why "hands lightly on and at the ready" is still my approach, as I hope it is everyone else's -- especially when others are near other people or property to avoid possible harm to others because of their bad decision. As you're saying, today my human ability to more broadly ANTICIPATE generally allows for a better riding experience, as I'm not as reactive as AP tends to still be with it's sensor technology and programming that are nowhere near what will be possible one day.
    • I still upon occasion use Autosteer in heavy freeway traffic if I am the only one in my MS, but otherwise I do turn it off to (hopefully) make the riding experience a little smoother for my passengers. I honestly believe Autosteer in freeway stop-and-go situations is one of best stress reducers AP currently provides me; certainly beyond the less complex driving it can do on wide and open stretches of highway where I always seems to be more worried about loosing my attention than I should -- perhaps since I tend to drive those dark stretches in the early morning hours when there isn't much traffic on the road and it can become monotonous at times.
    • Turns can be a challenge in some conditions -- I don't like (or maybe don't trust) the bit of lane drifting Autosteer sometimes seems to introduce on curves, especially with a big rig on both sides or near me at higher freeway speed (I personally believe that may be in part because AP does not handle those huge open spaces under big rigs as well as it could or should). That's happened to me at least a couple of times, and now I rapidly turn Autosteer off if I now see the situation possibly approaching.
     

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