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First time using autopilot

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I know this is going to be old news to most of you here, but I made a road trip largely using autopilot for the first time and wanted to share my experience/thoughts and see if they're consistent with the general consensus of other AP users.

1. Drove up from San Diego to LA mostly using autopilot. Impression - it was life changing.
  • It was like having a cautious but wise parent/grandparent driving for you. You know they can't see the road perfectly and they're not going to do anything bold, but they'll keep you safe.
  • Car always slowed down slightly if a car merged into my lane, even if they were a distance away. Felt very dependable.
  • Wasn't sure what to do with my feet and hands for a while...still not entirely comfortable there but working on it (where do you put yours?)
  • The "apply steering torque" to confirm my hands were on the wheel wasn't super intuitive and often had me wiggling it for a few seconds back and forth to have it registered. This was also seemingly a bit too frequent. If I rested my hand gently on the wheel to use the other to adjust AC or drink my coffee, it would often start flashing at me and I was worried about getting kicked out of AP so I found myself fairly glued to the wheel.
  • I wasn't sure how to go back to driving without it after this experience - I was sold.
2. Driving from LA back down to SD. Impression - I'm....a bit more hesitant now.
  • This was like having a rambunctious 16 year old driving for you. A bit too bold, and you know they're capable of mistakes so your eyes are glued to the road.
  • I could be going 75 and a car would merge right in front of me and assuming they were also going at speed, the car didn't slow down at all. It made the right calculation, but it was unnerving because it didn't feel like the car could react fast enough if that person in front of me HAD suddenly slowed.
  • Numerous times it took turns SO far to the left of the lane that I felt like I was either going to scrape my mirror off on a barrier wall, or the car next to me. I am aware that it surely would have calculated the correct turn, but there were quite a few times I had my hand on the wheel just gently nudging it away because it seemed like I was going to just ram right into someone. Maybe this is just my perception of what an acceptable distance to another car is during a turn, but it was still difficult to put trust entirely in the car during those moments.
  • Section of freeway where lines were painted in multiple places/fading seemed to confuse the car. I don't know how much of its operation depends on visual vs gps-mapping data, but I was worried it was going to read a lane wrong and drive into someone else. I'm sure it wouldn't have, but it didn't seem to be following these as well. This was especially obvious in HOV lanes where they suddenly widen or change shape. The car a few times swerved kind of drastically the follow a line that wasn't actually part of the lane (but then corrected itself).
  • Turns seemed less smooth than my first drive the day before. Instead of turning gently with the road, it was almost like it would make a bunch of "straight-right, straight-right, straight-right" little motions to complete the turn.
During this second drive I found myself much more attentive to the road and less willing to sit back and relax. I still am amazed by the tech but the second round made me feel it was much more beta than my first drive did. I think having some features like lane changing (I didn't purchase FSD) would have been nice to make the experience a little smoother, but I'm still blown away that this car can do this out of the box. I really hope HW3 (once activated) is able to improve upon this though.

I'm very curious if some of these thoughts/hesitations are ones everyone feels when they're new to AP and if you eventually get used to how the car operates, or if there are some limitations that you generally always need to be on the lookout for?
As far as satisfying the nanny state, you can just loosely hold the wheel with one hand and that weight will be just about right. There’s no need to wiggle anything. I am one of the few who feels that if you are able to keep your eyes up and keep being attentive, there’s nothing wrong with using a cheater.

I drive mine about 2500 miles a month and use AP about 80% of the time. I’m extremely comfortable with it, but it changes from update to update so that’s a continually moving target. You have to be willing to roll with it.
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Reactions: SlimJim and Shadnic
Just keep an eye on it. There's a groove in I-5 north of Burbank, northbound lanes, whose curve radius is wider than the radius of the lane curves. Sometimes the car will follow the groove, but I'm not about to find out if it will make me crash into the car on the right.
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