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Houston TX: Auto Pilot experience - share yours

Discussion in 'Texas' started by Electricfan, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. Electricfan

    Electricfan Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Houston
    I've been driving in Houston traffic since auto-pilot was released (downloaded first day - Thursday morning). I'm curious what others have found. Here's how I'm using it at this point:

    I tried it on 290 in rush hour and gave up. The lanes are too close and I just wasn't comfortable with how close it would get to vehicles in the lane on my right. There are too many abrupt direction changes in the road - the car follows them ok but its just too scary.

    On I-10 westbound, where 59 and 10 meet, it loses the lane and gives "take over immediately (TOE)" fairly often. If I hit this at 55 mph with somebody in front of me sometimes it will hang, but if traffic is moving 70 mph that's just too fast and I get TOE. (at this junction I-10 does a hard right, then back to the left, all while dropping in elevation and then coming back up - its fairly radical)

    One place I LOVE to use auto-pilot is on the beltway 8. Its about 5 miles further for me, but I can take it for my daily commute (which 35 miles each way). The lanes are well marked and I get good use out of auto-pilot, with no TOE all the way to/from work. This is making it worth the expense of upgrading to an auto-pilot car.

    I don't use it off the highway much, but I don't have long distances to travel off the highway. Not sure if others might, so please advise if you care to share your experience. I did experiment with it on the feeders, but the car really doesn't seem to like it much.

    Also, others seem to be reporting auto-pilot improving. I haven't noticed any change since I started using it. This may be all in my head, as I don't understand how it could do anything better without a firmware update.
     
  2. SW2Fiddler

    SW2Fiddler Bannd Member

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    1,695
    Location:
    Houston TX
    Your difficulty points don't surprise me, nor does the good review of Beltway driving.
    I will have to enjoy the discussion from the sidelines, since I bought my spaceship four months too early.
     
  3. Electricfan

    Electricfan Member

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    I bought mine 18 months too early. So I had to eat a monstrous financial loss and upgrade. I'm starting to be glad though. If they improve it just a little bit more it would be great. I have the feeling I'm going to have to upgrade again in a few years. Maybe it will be fully autonomous at that point (hope hope hope).
     
  4. Stenn

    Stenn Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
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    75
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I'm delighted with my car's new feature. I use auto-pilot during my daily 10-mile jaunt down the Westpark Tollway to work and likewise back home. This is a perfect scenario for auto-pilot. The road is straight. The lanes are well-marked. There's no on-coming traffic. I sit calmly with my hands in my lap and carefully watch the road, but I've never had to intervene as auto-pilot has performed flawlessly.

    I've also used auto-pilot on 59 during bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic. Again, I've experienced no problems.

    When I've had troubles, it has always been linked to poorly marked roads. Auto-pilot is good at recognizing well-marked roads. It's not so good at recognizing poorly marked roads and is particularly bad at seeing yellow lines that are faded and in poor light. Auto-pilot is also not so good at seeing curbs as valid road boundaries.

    One other problem has presented itself when using auto-pilot in stop-and-go traffic. Auto-pilot always seeks to close the distance between myself and the car in front of me as the car in front comes to a stop. This behavior is fine except when someone in an adjacent lane is signaling to enter my lane in front of me. In this case, auto-pilot's normal function acts to cut off such drivers. I've had to learn to disengage auto-pilot to allow people to get into my lane in front of me before re-engaging it to avoid coming across as an ******* to my fellow motorists.

    An improvement I hope to see soon is route-aware auto-pilot. Currently, auto-pilot will either stay on a freeway or veer off onto an off-ramp depending on its algorithm's desire to "stay in the lane". It would be more clever for auto-pilot to make off-ramp decisions based on route and GPS data. Stop light and stop sign recognition would also be cool.

    At this point, I'm very pleased and comfortable with auto-pilot. I've learned its limitations and watch the road carefully so I'm rarely surprised when the car goes awry. When it does go awry, I catch it in plenty of time. I now go in and out of auto-pilot numerous times during my everyday commute without much thought and allowing my car to handle the more mundane driving has allowed me to be more patient and relaxed during my commute.

    True Story: When I first got auto-pilot, I took my family for a drive that evening to show off the new feature. When my wife expressed anxiety over the car driving itself, my young daughter reassured her by saying, "We're doing better than that guy." and pointed at the SUV in front of us with two wheels out of its lane.
     
  5. Electricfan

    Electricfan Member

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    LOL! I love that!

    Agree with all your points. I can't wait for 7.1 to see what they've added. Really looking forward to the car picking me up at the curb or coming to meet me on private property - hope they haven't forgotten that one. It was still on the website last time I checked.

    I'm a little worried about the scenario you describe about somebody wanting to cut in. I leave my distance at "7" so they usually have room, so I don't have to worry about dis-engaging auto-pilot. But what worries me is the guys that cut over on top of you - so if you don't slam on the brakes they'll actually hit you. So far I've been watching when this has happened and hit my brakes, but the first time I'm not paying enough attention I'm afraid I'm going to get hit.

    I never drive in the right lane, because of exactly what you said - car wants to take the exit sometimes. But on the beltway I'm in the middle lane so it doesn't cause a problem.

    I hadn't thought of the color yellow being a problem for it, but now that you mention it I think you're right.
     
  6. Beryl

    Beryl Member

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    Thanks. I was wondering how AP would fare in "nobody uses their turn signals and everyone cuts people off" Houston. Please keep sharing.
     
  7. fwgmills

    fwgmills Member

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    Roanoke, TX
    Dont think y'all are exclusive to that. *COUGH*DrivingInDallas*COUGH* :)
     
  8. Electricfan

    Electricfan Member

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    Another note that might be interesting to Houston people (or TX people in general I guess, anybody driving east from Houston).

    Took a trip this week to Lafayette LA. My first use of autopilot on a road trip. It tried to kill me a couple of times, but really overall I have to say I'm very relieved. I spent a lot of money specifically for this feature, and it really does help with long trips. It is so much more relaxing to sit there for a couple of hours just listening to the radio or reading.

    But the notes I wanted to share - driving east of Houston you will run into several spots autopilot doesn't work - on I-10 there are several spots where the only lane markings are the reflector bumps, and autopilot doesn't recognize those. It also seems to have real problems with bridges, at least in my experience. I was on one bridge when autopilot crossed from the right lane into the left and then aborted with "take over immediately". The road was slightly curved there, but the lane markings were good, so I don't really know what happened. So, word to the wise - do be careful when you're relaxing on autopilot and keep your eyes on the road.
     
  9. Beryl

    Beryl Member

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    I had a lot of fun test driving with AP on I610 to I69 to BW8 (the typical route from the Galleria, I suppose). It was flawless but the hardest thing was to trust it. I'll never fully trust AP at this stage. Maybe in a year or so....
     
    • Helpful x 1
  10. BBishop

    BBishop Member

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    Location:
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    My brother and I drove to Ann Arbor and used AP when ever appropriate. "Serenity" never surprised us. It does not take long to learn when AP will potentially have issues with road conditions and be ready to take control. Using common sense and being attentive to the road AP will work great.
     
  11. Beryl

    Beryl Member

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    Bumping this up because of a short trip yesterday from Missouri City to Spring during the rush hour. I had to attend a dear friend's birthday celebration -- otherwise, I'd never put myself though >90 minutes of mostly bumper to bumper traffic.

    Autopilot made the drive bearable up I-610, I-45, and Hardy Toll. Texans drove their normal crazy ways -- weaving lanes, not signaling, and tailgating. (Never thought I'd miss California and Colorado drivers.) Unfazed, I listened to a few podcasts and let autopilot do over 75% of the work. I had to turn off Autosteer in construction zones but TACC remained on for close to 90% of the drive.

    So happy with my Tesla experience and wish everyone could share this.
     
  12. Stenn

    Stenn Member

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    Aug 23, 2015
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    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I can confirm Electricfan's 11/17/2015 observation regarding bridges. It also applies to overpasses. In particular, there's one overpass on northbound 59, southwest of 610 where my car likes to leave the lane. And, yep, the road over this overpass curves slightly.

    I suspect the problem is that the car can't "see" over the overpass so it has to guess where the lane might go up ahead. Either that, or the lane detecting algorithm assumes a flat, horizontal surface and screws up when the surface is not flat and horizontal. If the later is the case, an accelerometer/tilt sensor could provide sufficient information to the algorithm to compensate for non-flat, non-horizontal surfaces.
     

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