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Autosteer is not beta, very much alpha

ManacledGerm

Member
Oct 2, 2019
18
-14
ATL
It seems to be my lot to play Cassandra. First it was autopark and today it is autosteer.

Luckily, I only almost got into a real bad accident today. I will upload videos later, but autosteer is nice - as long as you are not driving through a construction zone. When it hits one of those places where the lane markers have been temporarily changed to accommodate construction, autosteer is downright dangerous. It gets confused if it sees the lane marker branching off (as it happened in my case) and tries to follow the branch (or stay on course as the case may be).

Today, it saw an earlier lane marker branch off to the left (it seems that the construction crew painted a temporary marker in yellow...). It started tracking to it and almost cut into the path of a left merge into the highway. A poor lady in a lexus had the scare of her life as my model3 started to cut right in front of her. Luckily, I knew the location well and I kinda guessed that the car was going to get confused and was able to yank it back, just in time.

So, new lessons learned:

1. Dont use autosteer. And definitely dont use it in construction zones, even when there is no traffic. I would not be surprised if autosteer drove the car into a divider because some lane marker went there. At 65mph, there is zero margin for error.

2. If you must use auto steer, be extremely vigilant in areas where the lane markings are ambiguous or absent - the system relies completely - over relies, in my view - on those markings. At high speeds, the reaction time is fractions of a second.

3. I definitely would not trust auto navigate. Not a chance.

Overall, I am not impressed with the beta stuff. I am a system designer myself and the cardinal rule in programming is always to fail to safety. In the event of ambiguity - where the camera sees more than one path, for example, the car must instantly slow down and soft warn the user.

That the tesla does not do.
 

GregRF

Squirrel Power
Jul 22, 2014
521
1,044
CA
You could always RTFM
upload_2019-10-11_11-50-29.png
 

Birdman325

Member
Aug 15, 2017
903
546
Toronto, Canada
Lots of people on these forums with far more mileage than I, and there is no shortage of similar threads on this and other forums, but I have used enhanced auto pilot and Navigate on Autopilot for hours upon hours and for thousands of kilometers on various road trips in Canada and through New Jersey, New York state and Pa and it has been fantastic. I have a comfortable spot to rest my left hand at about 7 o'clock on the wheel, I rarely get nags and it just makes long distance driving (for me) that much more relaxing.

I often turn off NoA because I find it sometimes tries to get into the correct lane way too early, but it does seem to be getting better each iteration. I take it for what it is, and I am personally very happy with it. And one must ALWAYS be vigilant and eyes on the road.
 

Phlier

Bluebird
Jun 12, 2019
1,476
1,860
Utah
Maybe it’s just me being an old fogey, but IMO, you should heed the User Manual’s warning, and NOT use AP in a construction zone. Some of the more complicated construction zones get confusing even if you’re hand driving. But asking the car to navigate even an easy construction zone is just asking for damage, injury, or death. AP is NOT ready for construction zones, and you are unduly putting the lives of yourself and others at risk by doing so.

Use the features on your car as the manual states. And do so while using good judgment.
 

ManacledGerm

Member
Oct 2, 2019
18
-14
ATL
RTFM is fine - but lets think about this one - how much warning do you really get before you get into a construction zone? quarter mile, tops. With that in mind, at 60 mph, you have 15 seconds to get out of it.

But my broader point is that the systems are not failing to safety. You cannot, as a responsible maker of a lethal machine, just say 'but it is in the manual'. If the use of this in a construction zone can reasonably result in a fatal crash, then autosteer should never be so easy to engage and should automatically disengage at slower speeds - say below 45. Any active construction zone will have slow moving traffic.

Again, this is one persons opinion and one person's lesson learned, but a warning buried in a user manual 193 pages long is not helpful when the product is a car. The tesla is being sold as a miracle. A fantastic futuristic toy.

What I am realizing is - and this is my own fault for taking so long - it is a hunk of metal that is moving at a mile a minute for the most part among other hunks of metal moving at similar speeds. There is no value add from autosteer since I cannot relax my vigilance one iota.
 

Az_Rael

Supporting Member
Jan 26, 2016
5,633
8,815
Palmdale, CA
With that in mind, at 60 mph, you have 15 seconds to get out of it.

15 seconds is plenty of time to tap the brake pedal (which disengages the system).


You are seeing the result of Tesla's design decision to allow the driver to make the call on when Autosteer is safe to use. They could have gone the route of say, Cadillac, and whitelisted only certain roads that had been tested and approved for use with the system. That would severely limit the scenarios in which Autosteer could be used, and I suspect reduce the utility of the system significantly.

By allowing the driver to decide if the road conditions are safe for the system, they allow Autosteer use in a much broader area.

Yes, it is more risky, and yes, Tesla needs to do more to educate buyers like yourself, but a large portion of the fleet is using Autosteer successfully so overall the strategy is working.



When I first bought an AP capable car, I disabled the system immediately as I had not read the user manuals. I read the entire AP section, then turned on features one at a time. I initially turned on TACC and learned the ins and outs of that, then I turned on Autosteer, but not Auto Lane Change, and got used to that. Overall it took me a couple of months to fully start using AP, and I still don't use some of the features I consider to be "too beta" (NoA for one). When using a new feature, I usually test on empty freeways, then use it in more and more complicated traffic as time goes on. I still don't use Autosteer on the 405 today for example unless in stop and go.

Initially I was a lot like you with Autosteer, but over time I have learned the system well, and now appreciate the fatigue reducing nature of it. You can give it some time then start trying it in limited conditions and I think you may come to appreciate it eventually too.
 
Last edited:

GHammer

What a long strange trip its been.
Feb 1, 2016
920
2,162
Wren, Oregon
RTFM is fine - but lets think about this one - how much warning do you really get before you get into a construction zone? quarter mile, tops. With that in mind, at 60 mph, you have 15 seconds to get out of it.

There is no value add from autosteer since I cannot relax my vigilance one iota.
I have to vehemently disagree with you. Having driven tens of thousands of miles on both AP1 and AP2 cars it is a much more relaxing way to drive. One very quickly learns the limitations and can easily foresee situations where AP might have trouble. Having driven cross country this summer, over 10,000 miles including Atlanta, going through dozens of construction zones, I can tell you there is always plenty of warning, at least a mile and in most cases two or more.
 

mreynolds767

Member
Jul 11, 2019
728
392
Boston
The car has no brain. In areas that have construction zones, pedestrians, confusing lines, no visible lines using Auto Steer will get you and others killed. Read the warnings on screen before using a potentially lethal weapon.

That said I partially agree with the OP that given the need to be on top of it and tend to the nags I don't find using Auto Steer relaxing. It amazes me and I like it for that reason but does not reduce any stress of driving at all.
The base Auto pilot (accelerate/brake/follow) on the other hand is incredibly relaxing once you get comfortable with it.
 

Chisale

Member
Sep 28, 2019
234
218
Ohio
Lots of people on these forums with far more mileage than I, and there is no shortage of similar threads on this and other forums, but I have used enhanced auto pilot and Navigate on Autopilot for hours upon hours and for thousands of kilometers on various road trips in Canada and through New Jersey, New York state and Pa and it has been fantastic. I have a comfortable spot to rest my left hand at about 7 o'clock on the wheel, I rarely get nags and it just makes long distance driving (for me) that much more relaxing.

I often turn off NoA because I find it sometimes tries to get into the correct lane way too early, but it does seem to be getting better each iteration. I take it for what it is, and I am personally very happy with it. And one must ALWAYS be vigilant and eyes on the road.

Completely agree. I think people hear Musk say stuff like "we're going to have driver less taxis by next year" and think the car is close to being fully autonomous. It's not. My guess is 10-15 years on full autonomy. If you know and accept the limitations it's a superbly cool feature right now though.
 

AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
10,004
12,056
San Diego
There is no value add from autosteer since I cannot relax my vigilance one iota.

The whole point of a level 2 system is that you are driving the car. The main advantage comes when through human error, you inadvertently relax your vigilance for a few seconds at an inopportune time. Then the car will still be doing SOMETHING for you some of the time. That is a big benefit! It doesn't even have to work 100% of the time at avoiding a collision to be a huge benefit - as long as you are driving the same way as you would a "normal" car.

No one ever said Autosteer + TACC & AP drive the car for you (well, maybe some people did, but they're silly)! These systems are not autonomous systems!

Again, the whole point of Autopilot is that you are driving the car. I finished my 1200-mile road trip with my hands and 9 and 3 o'clock on the wheel basically the entire time, with eyes fixed firmly to the road, just as much as they would be in any other car. Yet, it was great (minus some lane changing problems) - Autosteer & TACC helped me a lot and I finished the trip feeling relatively refreshed. That's the benefit of these (beta) systems. Just a single nag early on, that a slight adjustment resolved. Otherwise completely transparent (other than the lane change issues).

These systems can of course be dangerous if you are not appreciative of their obvious and considerable limitations. I disengaged the system through the Virgin River Gorge.
 

ManacledGerm

Member
Oct 2, 2019
18
-14
ATL
When I first bought an AP capable car, I disabled the system immediately as I had not read the user manuals. I read the entire AP section, then turned on features one at a time. I initially turned on TACC and learned the ins and outs of that, then I turned on Autosteer, but not Auto Lane Change, and got used to that. Overall it took me a couple of months to fully start using AP, and I still don't use some of the features I consider to be "too beta" (NoA for one). When using a new feature, I usually test on empty freeways, then use it in more and more complicated traffic as time goes on. I still don't use Autosteer on the 405 today for example unless in stop and go.

Initially I was a lot like you with Autosteer, but over time I have learned the system well, and now appreciate the fatigue reducing nature of it. You can give it some time then start trying it in limited conditions and I think you may come to appreciate it eventually too.

I agree with this. But my gripe is that - and I am not blaming anyone but myself - the manual does not emphasise this approach. It doesn't say in big bold letters - we expect that it will take you some time to get used to the full features so take it one at a time. Yes, it is common sense I suppose, but the big learning for me is that the tesla is a very different type of car. It holds its drivers to very high standards of savvy and awareness. My fear is that many of its drivers are not going to pass that particular hurdle.

I am not just another driver either - I also drive emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks. If it can fool me into a sense of overconfidence by making it ridiculously easy to get into trouble ....
 

Jenremoved

Member
Aug 27, 2019
82
105
Berkeley, CA
This is a good lesson for why keeping one’s hands on the wheel and paying attention are necessary when using Autosteer. That being said, I find the feature to be great on freeways where there isn’t heavy construction, particularly in heavy traffic. It’s easier for me to stay vigilant when I’m not having to deal with the stop and go boredom.
 

Az_Rael

Supporting Member
Jan 26, 2016
5,633
8,815
Palmdale, CA
I agree with this. But my gripe is that - and I am not blaming anyone but myself - the manual does not emphasise this approach. It doesn't say in big bold letters - we expect that it will take you some time to get used to the full features so take it one at a time. Yes, it is common sense I suppose, but the big learning for me is that the tesla is a very different type of car. It holds its drivers to very high standards of savvy and awareness. My fear is that many of its drivers are not going to pass that particular hurdle.

I am not just another driver either - I also drive emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks. If it can fool me into a sense of overconfidence by making it ridiculously easy to get into trouble ....


Agreed, it is an issue Tesla has. Many threads here have suggested Tesla require folks watch training videos, etc prior to being able to use AP. It took them years to put any "AP how to" videos on their website, and what is there is super basic, so I don't expect any real progress anytime soon.

I suspect many folks have an experience similar to yours where they discover Autosteer's limits the hard way and then take some extra time to learn. We aren't seeing tons of fatalities while using Autosteer, so Tesla is managing to thread the needle for now.

Folks have been talking about this for years that regulators would eventually curtail AP for the issues you note (since before the Josh Brown fatality), but so far all that has happened is more manufacturers are implementing similar systems in similar ways to Tesla.
 
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Bill Foster

I'm going home!
Mar 6, 2019
902
751
Nashville
I agree with this. But my gripe is that - and I am not blaming anyone but myself - the manual does not emphasise this approach. It doesn't say in big bold letters - we expect that it will take you some time to get used to the full features so take it one at a time. Yes, it is common sense I suppose, but the big learning for me is that the tesla is a very different type of car. It holds its drivers to very high standards of savvy and awareness. My fear is that many of its drivers are not going to pass that particular hurdle.

I am not just another driver either - I also drive emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks. If it can fool me into a sense of overconfidence by making it ridiculously easy to get into trouble ....
How driving a fire truck parallels to using Autosteer, I'm not really sure.

That being said, read the manual. The car is looking for lines in the road and construction spots might not have them, or have the wrong ones.

I use auto steer almost every day without issue because after reading the manual, I know the limitations of the system.
 
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FielderJones

Member
May 17, 2019
154
98
Chicagoland
I know exactly what I am saying. I am, after all, a systems engineer. This autosteer software is not ready to leave Tesla - yet.

Of course, IMHO.

The software is perfectly ready to leave Tesla for any user who has read the manual. Half the miles I have driven on the car have been under autosteer. It has never failed me in a construction zone, because I've disengaged it before entering said zone.
 

67King

Member
Feb 2, 2018
309
192
Knoxville, TN
RTFM is fine - but lets think about this one - how much warning do you really get before you get into a construction zone? quarter mile, tops. With that in mind, at 60 mph, you have 15 seconds to get out of it.

A quarter mile? Are you sure you are from Atlanta? Sheesh, about teh whole city has been under construction since the Olympics. At least 75, which is where I usually travel (being from Griffin, and with my in-laws from McDonough). But even then, you are given MILES of warning before getting into the construction zone.
 

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