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How Autopilot has added years to my life.

Discussion in 'Model S' started by xrayvsn, Feb 13, 2016.

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  1. xrayvsn

    xrayvsn Member

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    Every now and then a company introduces technology that truly is a “game changer” in how drastically different your daily life is impacted once you are introduced to it. I truly feel I am witness to the dawn of such technology, brought to us by the innovative company Tesla.

    I can go on and on about the many features of my Tesla Model S (2015 90D) that make me smile every time I enter the vehicle, but the one feature that rises above all in this wonderful tech car is the Autopilot setting.

    First, a little background on myself. I am a physician, and as such possess the classic “Type A” personality. Every day I have about a 35 mile commute which although can occasionally be relaxing, is more often than not quite frustrating, dealing with other drivers on the road that do not follow common courtesy (most often the drivers that insist solely on travelling in the fast lane while talking on the cellphone, etc all the while building what I call a parade behind them). I typically use the cruise control on these commutes, however this often caused more frustration. With my former daily driver, I had to repeatedly disengage and engage the cruise control as I encountered these obstacles. It often caused me to overtake on the slow lane and darting back into the fast lane before I encountered a vehicle appropriately traveling on the right. I would often have to find myself needing to decompress when I first enter my workplace just from the buildup of stress frommy morning commute.

    Enter Tesla into my life and the impact was obvious from the very first day I drove to work. The adaptive cruise control was leaps and bounds superior to the standard cruise control I had been accustomed to, automatically slowing down when traffic dictates without any input from me and then resuming speed when traffic clears. In fact, if this was all that Tesla offered, it still would have eliminated 95% of the frustration of my morning and evening commutes and I would be an incredibly happy owner.

    However Tesla went a giant step above and introduced Autopilot. I did not know what the act of driving did to one’s mindset even in the best of traffic conditions. Although it feels subconscious, when manually driving a car, your brain is processing so much information, calculating velocity, road conditions, curves ahead, etc so that you can stay in your lane of travel. These constant mental calculations running in the background do take a toll on your mental state (akin to a computer running many applications in the background which causes the overall computer performance to slow down).

    With Autopilot, my car took over all the minutia of staying in one’s lane, driving in traffic, etc and allowed me to relax in a more supervisory roll. Tesla also was kind enough to eliminate a potential annoyance I see with other manufacture’s attempts at “autopilot” by giving us Autopilot with Lane Change ability. Currently, other manufacturers which implement some sort of Lane Maintenance capability in their cars ONLY works by forcing you to stay in that particular lane. If you want to leave the current lane, the driver has to manually disengage this setting, change lanes, and then reengage the setting. I could see this cause frustration similar to what the standard cruise control feature did on my old car. With my Tesla, I just touch the indicator stalk and the car effortlessly goes into the lane I want, Autopilot engaged fully throughout.

    Such was the impact that Autopilot had on my commute, that the first day I drove to work, I actually almost missed my exit. True story. I could not believe how quickly the commute seemed to be and my exit seemed to come up from nowhere. Once I realized where I was, I had to make 3 lane changes to quickly get off into the exit ramp for my workplace, which luckily I did (the only stressful part of the entire drive). It was the same distance, but the commute felt like it took half the time and I was fully relaxed pulling into the parking lot. It truly is unbelievable when you get to free your brain from the complexities of driving on the interstate and allow it to actually enjoy the experience. I remember really listening to and enjoying the music playing and just observing more things around me than before when I had to have focus on the actual task of driving.

    There will always be naysayers whenever any new technology is first introduced. One criticism regarding Tesla’s autopilot that I have heard is that you lose the fun of actually driving the car. My response to that is that Autopilot is not an all or none option. For the long tedious interstate/highway travel I am happy to let Autopilot take the wheel so that my senses don’t get dulled from the monotony of driving straight for miles (if there are drivers out there who consider that scenario fun, more power to them). But you can bet that I don’t let Autopilot have the fun when I am driving those beautiful winding road with many curves, which I am fortunate to have near my house. I grab the wheel and get the full driver’s experience with precise tactile feedback from the road. Autopilot: Best of both worlds.

    The most astonishing thing of all is that my version of Autopilot is considered a beta testing program by Tesla. As part of a community of Tesla owners, whenever autopilot is engaged, that information is sent centrally and Tesla learns driving habits and improves mapping of those roads. When one car learns something, every other car gets that information and improves automatically, sort of like a hive mentality. Amazing concept and one I witnessed firsthand: On my first commute, there was a tricky portion of highway where two lanes became three, with no real markings on the road to divide the lanes for 500 feet or so. When my car first encountered that section, it did not know what to do and split the difference (essentially driving in the middle of the two unmarked lanes). I made a manual correction to get it back into the lane I wanted. The next day, and everyday afterwards, the car anticipated this and correctly maintained proper lane control without any intervention. All it took was one experience and manual input from the driver and it learned proper driving behavior from then on. Amazing.


    If Autopilot is this good now, I can only imagine how great it will be when it gets to its final version. The fact that I have a Tesla also means that when that version comes out, I will wake up one morning and my car will tell me I have an update to download, so I will never have to settle for old technology as my car ages. In fact, although I have only owned my car for 3 months, I have already downloaded an improved beta version of Autopilot with visibly noticeable improvements over the original version the car came with.

    I applaud Tesla for pushing the technology envelope. They will always have a loyal customer in me.

    SKS



    PS For those of you interested and haven't seen it, I did write an incredibly detailed review/observation of my experience when I first bought the 90D. Please check out the link: Just Became A New Model S 90D Owner. Full Review/Observations
     
  2. Quantum`

    Quantum` Member

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    A fitting paean to Autopilot.
     
  3. bridaus

    bridaus Member

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    I planned on writing this post. You saved me the effort. Could not have written it better.

    I would add that Tesla's trip planner and range predictor are leagues above any other BEV (I've owned two others). It ranged from 0-10 degrees F out tonight, and the percentage at destination was predicted within 2 percent despite my varied driving style.

    I would also add........ too many things. Over time, I'll write them down hopefully before I get used to them.

    I love this car. Held off test driving because I knew this would happen, and it did.

    Great post, +infinity.
     
  4. Muzzman1

    Muzzman1 Member

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    I've been trying to articulate the same sentiment to my friends/family because it's SO true. The AP really reduces brain load. It is, for me, life altering.
     
  5. FlatSix911

    FlatSix911 918 Hybrid

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  6. andyaycw

    andyaycw Member

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    Agreed, I'm a huge fan of autopilot as well.

    I'm going to school part-time for my graduate degree, and on the nights that I have class, I used to find myself on the brink of dozing off because I was so tired...waking up early, spending 75 minutes in traffic, working 8-9 hours, then spending another 75 minutes driving to school...you get the picture. This was all in my old 2010 Mazda 3.

    Since getting my Model S, I have yet to find myself dozing off. While I generally only use the TACC portion of autopilot, I have found that not having to actively hit the brake/go pedal has helped me stay wide awake behind the wheel; I don't normally engage auto-steer since I drive in the carpool lanes and like to have full control to make way for bikers who lane split.
     
  7. Canuck

    Canuck Active Member

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    As someone who missed the autopilot hardware by a few months, I really hate you!

    (Actually, great post... I'm just really jealous.)
     
  8. Beryl

    Beryl Member

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    Really enjoyed this post as it expressed my view as well.

    I hated driving in Houston because of the way people drive. Even the police refuse to signal lane changes. AP (in particular, TACC) makes Houston traffic not only tolerable but often enjoyable. AP reminds me of taking a mild benzodiazepine - I still notice, shake my head, and sigh at Houstonian crazy and illegal driving antics but they no longer frustrate me. I reach my destination calmly thinking about my tasks instead of the traffic.
     
  9. 2virgule5

    2virgule5 Member

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    OK that's it.
    As happy as I'am with my early 2014 S85 you guys are not leaving me any choice but to consider an upgrade right now. I've been resisting the idea for a while, kind of secretly hoping that Autopilot was a nice gimmick but not really necessary. I have a 2x55 miles daily commute in NJ/NY that's been taking its toll on me for too long (Tessie did improve it a lot though). What to do now? How and where to sell the car (probably not Tesla)? Lease or Buy? Wait for Autopilot 2.0 which of course will come a month or two after I buy the new one like last time? 90D or CPO P85D? And why not the X while we are at it? My long week-end is going to be lost on reading this forum for hours to try to answer these (I'd appreciate any quick view on the above ;-) )
    I hate you people!
    :rolleyes:
     
  10. JenniferQ

    JenniferQ Member

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    Exactly! I feel so relaxed and Xanaxed-out when I'm on the freeway using AP. As you and others have posted up thread, I just enjoy letting the car drive and don't even worry about all those other angry drivers.

    Plus, I used to hate driving in the dark. Even when I was younger, the oncoming headlights would blind me easily, but it got much worse as I got older. Now my Cris can see perfectly well at night, even better than in the glaring sun, I think, and my confidence and enjoyment of driving at night is increased 100-fold. Zen. Thanks, AP!
     
  11. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    I echoed the same sentiments in different words in this post: Autopilot is perfect for long highway commutes

    There a couple of reasons why I think long highway commute is the no 1. best use case for Autopilot, ahead of even any long interstate drives. In commutes, we generally know the sections of the road so well, we know the hotspots. It is almost like muscle memory that we pay more attention to those lane drops, lane splits, constructions and such. So that makes it easy to naturally pay extra attention to trouble spots even without any distinct signs.

    As I indicated in that post, I have close to 75 miles round trip, and with Autopilot now, sometimes - I am a little embarrassed to say - that I am disappointed when my exit comes and I have to cut AP off :) no kidding. I recently wrote a post in my work's internal forum on the topic of Innovation, that I will share it here. It was read by many potential Tesla owners and had quite a few interesting replies.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Innovation in autonomous driving

    Innovation is not about coming up with new earth shattering inventions to change the world. It is about using existing tools and technology that is already in place and gluing them together in a way that will radically change how we do and infer things. Great innovative ideas often give us the feeling, "How did we not think about this?"

    Elon Musk has been on the fore-front on many innovations, and the one that blew me away is the SpaceX vertical landing of first stage of the low-earth orbit launcher, back to landing site (RTLS - Return to Landing Site). (don't confuse this with what Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin did, which has been done many times in the past). To take a rocket that is travelling at mach 10 lateral-speed, turn it around and land it vertically. Why didn't NASA, or ULA or the Russians think about this? Re-usable first-stage can bring down the launching costs down by as much as 70%.

    This post is about my personal experience on another innovation on the subject of autonomous driving. Self-driving cars have existed in some fashion in the last decade. Google has been experimenting for quite some time, but they are still in the labs. They seem to be content keeping it in the labs. It is not that you can buy one off the dealers lot. Mercedes, BMW & Infinity sell cars that 'claim' to do self-driving, but they are more gimmicks than of any practical use. Now what Tesla has done in this space is a total game changer. They took the existing set of off-the-shelf sensors and processors that Mobile Eye produces - the same set of sensors that is used in Mercedes also - and added a layer of software that ties all of the sensors together to produce a 360 degree picture to propel the car completely on its own on freeway conditions. While that is innovation in itself, Tesla goes one step ahead and collects real-time data from thousands of self-driving cars and implemented AI on top of that - sort of crowd-sourcing - so that the cars learn to drive better, even on not-so-well marked roads. V7.1 delivered through over the air updates of Tesla's Autopilot is better than V7.0. Now this is amazing. How do I know? because I have been driving one for sometime now, and this morning as the car was driving itself for miles on end with no input from me, it made me ponder, "Why didn't the others think of this?"

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tesla’s Autopilot is perfect for long highway commutes

    I know the type, because I am one. You have a daily commute that stretches to an hour and most of that is on highways. You know the route every bit that sometimes you get the feeling you even know every lane stripes and every pot hole on the way. You have mentally mapped every section of the highway that you know which lane to latch onto the faster moving traffic. It is not always the left lane. In the evenings, you want to leave office a bit early to get ahead of the bottlenecks, but you can rarely do that. A good portion of your daily planning is consumed on how well to manage the commute. Fridays are different from Mondays. You feel exhausted by the time you reach office, and even more so when you reach home that all you can think of is dinner, getting to bed in time to be prepared for the next day’s commute. You get a lot of sympathy from your co-workers, but there is nothing they, you or anyone can do to reduce the stress levels.

    You often wonder, how nice it will be if there is a commuter train that starts from your home and ends in your office parking lot.

    If you are one of those that fit that category, Tesla with Autopilot is perfect to reduce your stress level and get you as close as you can get to the magical subway/commuter rail that you have been longing.

    For the last many years I have been commuting 75 miles round-trip, of which, close to 70 miles is on well-marked 3 lane (each way) freeway. One single highway end to end. Anywhere between 45 to 70 minutes each way depending on the time and day of the week. Sections that go at 75 and sections that come to a crawl at 20 and sections that are packed at 50 mph.

    Now with Autopilot much of the minutiae and numbing details of driving out of the way, it is a completely different experience. Going down the highway with AP on, I was thinking the other day, 'this is like being on one of those airport trams on the front carriage, watching the tracks in front of you go by, while driver-less tram takes you around'. As simple as that, or almost.. An experience that is hard to describe to a non owner...
     
  12. jerjozwik

    jerjozwik Member

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    so... i REALLY love cars, driving, taking them to the race track, the occasional mountain road, but man... driving in traffic blows. im seriously looking forward my p90d with ap. we chose the AP option because the wife thought it would be nice. the more i read about it and the more i drive in my ho-hum 500e the more i look forward to chilling and watching the crazyness happen around me, while my car whisks me away to my office.
     
  13. gizmoboy

    gizmoboy Member

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    I've got a loaner MS without AP while mine is in the shop for a few days, and it has totally made me appreciate my car and AP even more.

    While I find TACC to be the indispensable part of AP, autosteer is also a great part of it (and the more headline-grabbing).
     
  14. Justicepool

    Justicepool Member

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    Could not agree more! I put 3,000 miles on my Tesla during the first month of ownership and the majority of it was AP miles. It has truly eliminated the mental fatigue associated with driving so many miles.
     
  15. xrayvsn

    xrayvsn Member

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    Definitely apologize for putting you in that situation with my post. I too dread the day when some hardware is offered for the latest model Tesla that can't be retrofitted making my car feel dated. I do know that if you always wait for the next technology to be implemented, you will end up being paralyzed by fear of actually getting a car and never enjoy it in the first place. Tesla makes it especially hard as they do not have a set new model year calendar, so you can always play the guessing game of "what if?...." I'm sure when Autopilot 2.0 comes out there will be huge improvements over the current hardware. Hopefully they would allow older cars to be retrofitted with it, but probably would be hard with more cameras/sensors necessary. All I can say is you never know what is in the future, so enjoy the present which I definitely am now.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Great post. It doesn't shock me that a lot of your sentiments are echoed in my post. Really makes you passionate about this car and want to tell every living soul about it. LOL
     
  16. 2virgule5

    2virgule5 Member

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    Yep which is why Leasing starts to make a lot of sense to me... Could be the bridge to get the fully autonomous one in max 3 years.
     
  17. hsglia

    hsglia Member

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    I am driving from Roanoke to Blacksburg VA daily. That's 100 Mike roundtrip. I have a smile on my face the entire way. It's like riding in a very comfortable limo with a driver. What most amazing is the performance of autopilot in bad weather and darkness. I feel very comfortable in rain and darkness leaving the driving to the autopilot. Truly a game changer!
     
  18. redy

    redy Member

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    As I gather it appears that the biggest game changer is TACC. How much better is Tesla's implementation of TACC compared to the usual other ICE cars, if any better?
     
  19. unreliantrobin

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    Thank you for writing this post!

    I have been doing a crazy road trip all over the US in a MS and have found that autopilot has actually let me enjoy the scenery and relax. Already completed 4000+ Miles :p, and few thousand left and cant wait to finish. I have to say it does have some positives and negatives. The only real issue I had with the system was when I was driving through Kansas City and autopilot hit a small object the size of a camera lens, and it ended up damaging the sidewall on the tire. (21" Wheels may not have been the right answer), however I cannot really complain that this happened out of 4000+ miles there was only one major snafu.
     
  20. Beryl

    Beryl Member

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    I opted for the Mosel S in November instead of waiting another year for the fulfillment of my Model X reservation. I wanted to reduce driving stress and enjoy current autopilot features now . The longer I waited, the more strain and damage to me. I weighed the pros and cons and decided that a Model S is the best option for me today.

    True, AP 2.0 hardware may appear later this year but given the years it took for Tesla to exploit the 1.0 hardware, it didn't make sense to me to wait for that hardware. By the time 2.0 software is ready (2018?), there may be even more hardware improvements on both models. The X middle row seats may fold flat and there may be larger batteries. I'd be happier to upgrade at that time and it will likely be a Model X.

    There will be lots of people wanting a Tesla without autopilot so you shouldn't have a problem selling or trading your. Maybe gas prices will increase soon.
     

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