TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Is Autopilot just a gimmick at the moment?

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Matias, Oct 27, 2015.

  1. Matias

    Matias Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,590
    Location:
    Finland
    First things first: I like autopilot and use it whenever possible. But I've started to wonder, whether it is actually usefull. I think it does not reduce my work, because I have to be alert all the time just like without AP. Of course this is just one step in making fully autonomous car and I appreciate this, but I don't think it is particularly usefull at the moment.
     
  2. Max*

    Max* Autopilot != Autonomous

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    4,875
    Location:
    NoVa
    I thought about that too, and part of it is very gimmicky, but on longer roadtrips it's actually pretty useful.
     
  3. ToddRLockwood

    ToddRLockwood Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2012
    Messages:
    1,263
    Location:
    Burlington, Vermont
    I don't have autopilot on my 2013 P85, but the one place I wish I did is when driving in stop & go traffic on Boston freeways during rush hour. Another thing to consider is that autopilot is literally getting smarter every day, as actual road data is shared. Even since its introduction last month, drivers have reported improvements in autopilot's decision making.
     
  4. Matias

    Matias Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,590
    Location:
    Finland
    That is true. In slow stop and go traffic it is actually usefull.
     
  5. Nitram

    Nitram Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2014
    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Belgium
    Same thought for me and my conclusions are:
    - Better to have two drivers than one (autopilot + human)
    - It is a first step towards autonomous (or at least safer than human autopilot) driving. The data collection will certainly help improve the autopilot, but it is also very valuable for the development of autonomous driving.
     
  6. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    Messages:
    10,375
    Location:
    San Mateo, CA
    #6 ecarfan, Oct 27, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
    In my opinion AP is definitely not a gimmick. Even the first version of it is useful for extended periods of freeway driving and in stop-and-go traffic (reduced physical stress on hands, arms, shoulders, legs, feet, and reduced mental fatigue).
    Over time AP will become reliable in an increasing number of driving situations. We will learn how to use it while monitoring the road and our surroundings. Yes, some people will use AP to do stupid things and will get into trouble (the same stupid things they have been doing for decades). But AP will also prevent accidents.
    I think that in just a few years it will become obvious that AP is much safer in many driving situations than humans are, and that on balance it will reduce accidents and decrease the severity of unavoidable accidents that occur because the poor judgement of many human drivers.
     
  7. tezzla

    tezzla Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2013
    Messages:
    545
    Location:
    SoCal
    Definitely not a gimmick if you're using it correctly. Just like most things, after you learn the nuances, it works great. The only problem I have would be fwys that are under construction (or recently). K-rails in the left lane are troublesome also, but I've learned to drive mostly in the #2 lane when that happens.

    If you drive the same roads everyday (and they are properly marked), you can use AP with impunity. And like tacc, it'll only get better over time. Exciting times.
     
  8. grichard

    grichard Member De-Luxe

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    I don't think it's a "gimmick" -- I think Tesla is genuinely trying to produce a useful feature, and this is the first, imperfect, version.

    Still, I'm not really using it much. My commute on urban highways requires me to be so vigilant when the autosteer is active that it's easier for me to just steer manually. Maybe I'll find autosteer more helpful on rural interstates; I haven't really tried that yet.

    The adaptive cruise control, on the other hand, is a huge help at all speeds.
     
  9. Krugerrand

    Krugerrand Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2012
    Messages:
    4,283
    Location:
    California
    Can't be a gimmick because then all those people that were complaining that Tesla was behind in AP features compared to other OEMs would have to admit they made much ado about nothing (or in this case, much ado about a gimmick).
     
  10. bancroftc

    bancroftc Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2015
    Messages:
    179
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #10 bancroftc, Oct 27, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015

    Presumably TACC alone is generally considered very useful as it's the next move forward from basic cruise control. Now you don't have to be constantly adjusting your speed with your cruise control lever. I often used to "drive" with that damn cruise control lever to throttle my speed. On those cars without adaptive cruise control I used to find myself mindlessly doing something silly like lowering the volume (on my steering wheel) when I needed to slow down because the volume buttons were opposite the cruise control. My point is, removing the element of speed control from the cruise function made the whole cruise control experience infinitely better and safer. Set it and forget it (to an extent).

    Similarly, AP/Autosteer is a next move forward for TACC. Now you're handing off the steering to the vehicle and reducing the number of needed inputs to the system. Again, it makes things that much easier...and useful, to answer your original question.

    That's my opinion at least. I haven't had a chance to use AP on a really long road trip yet, but I find it incredibly useful in heavy freeway traffic (stop and go) in particular. I can relax a little bit more, enjoy my music and let the car do the majority of the work. I'm always watching the road, and my hand is resting on my left knee right by the steering wheel ready to intervene at any moment. But it's still so much more relaxing not having the worry about the constant pedal work and stopping/starting of that stop and go traffic. I don't have to worry as much about rear ending a car in front of me because I happened to glance away for that 1/10th second to change a radio station, the same moment when he decides to smash on his brakes. AP is always watching. And so in that instance AP is very, very useful and greatly reduces the amount of work/input needed from me.

    All that said, if I'm using AP on a winding road at higher speeds with crappy lane markings and moderate traffic, AP is definitely less useful because I am having to constantly babysit the system MUCH more than in the above scenario. And that's why I don't really use it in this instance (nor does Tesla even recommend that). It can actually make driving more stressful because I'm just waiting for AP to disengage at some dangerous or inconvenient moment.

    As far as "having to be alert all the time," that's a mandatory condition for getting behind the wheel at any time, regardless of the tech your vehicle has in it. We won't be able to have a discussion about NOT being alert until the day we can get into our car, punch in a destination and your vehicle can safely take you there with ZERO inputs while you sleep the entire drive.

    There are definitely varying opinions on AP and the above is just one perspective. I could see if you only had the opportunity to use AP in my winding road example, that AP might seem less than useful. But it's definitely not a gimmick!
     
  11. ggies07

    ggies07 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,261
    Location:
    Ft. Worth, TX
    I just saw a commercial for Audi or Lexus, can't remember, and they were showing how their car has the alert feature when somebody brakes fast on the highway, which then allows you to brake if you weren't paying attention. Tesla already does this by keeping the distance of the cars and speed on it's own. So it's one less step for the driver to deal with. So I would say, no, it's not a gimmick.
     
  12. mspohr

    mspohr Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,798
    Location:
    California
    AP does a much better job of keeping me centered in the lane than I do on my own. It is surely safer than the way I drive.
    Also, it's superb in heavy traffic. It should eliminate the chance of me rear ending another car.
     
  13. sandpiper

    sandpiper Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2014
    Messages:
    1,463
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I'm not sure if AP is quite there yet, but I think it's potentially a very practical safety device more than anything else. I liken it to an aircraft autopilot.

    Some small plane accidents happen because pilots get distracted by something that happens around them. It could be something with the aircraft, it could be weather, it could be unexpected directions from ATC, or it could be navigational difficulties. Flying on autopilot allows the pilot to to monitor the "bigger picture" (situational awareness) while the autopilot keeps the plane upright, level and flying in the right direction. It's there because humans have limited bandwidth and make errors when overloaded.

    Vehicle autopilot has the potential to do the same. The driver can focus on the bigger picture: the traffic situation, navigation, and other vehicles and obstacles while the AP ensures that the vehicle maintains lane position and vehicle spacing. And it has the potential to protect against "brain farts" where a driver may momentarily be distracted by something unexpected, lose concentration and drift out of the lane to potentially cause an accident. Like the aircraft autopilot it could potentially reduce human errors and accidents.
     
  14. LetsGoFast

    LetsGoFast Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2014
    Messages:
    1,342
    Location:
    Virginia
    I got the update immediately before a road trip and I think it is really fantastic for longer interstate trips. You can really just concentrate on overall situational awareness and it is far less stressful to drive longer distances. Even the usual DC traffic was much easier to tolerate when all I had to do is make sure no one did anything stupid next to me.
     
  15. S4WRXTTCS

    S4WRXTTCS Active Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2015
    Messages:
    1,178
    Location:
    Snohomish, WA
    Level II semi-autonomous is certainly a weird, but necessary stage on the journey to self driving cars.

    It certainly can be safer than Level I since it's sorta of like driving with a buddy watching out for you. Or at least you're watching out for it. It can certainly relax the driving experience, and can reduce aggression.

    Of course it can also be far less safe than level 1 if you become so disengaged that you rely on it beyond it's capabilities. It's probably going to be more dangerous the better it gets. The better it gets with the current hardware limitations to more people will rely on it. Right now people know what to watch out for with TACC, and with Auto-steering. When it becomes better that level of awareness won't be there, and then they'll be a rock in the road with no way for the driver to possibly react in time.

    It's going to be an interesting ride, and they'll definitely be road bumps along the way.

    I can't wait for Level III when I can let the car take over fully at least part of the way. Especially with all the interesting issues it will bring up. Like being woken up by my car on the side of the road where it asks me to go out to the road to get some dangerous debris off the road to prevent someone else from hitting it. Where I have to because it's the middle of nowhere and it would be hours before some road debris clearing crew could get to it.
     
  16. kirkbauer

    kirkbauer Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2015
    Messages:
    490
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    First of all, we are beta testers so we shouldn't expect it to be fully polished.

    Secondly, I find at high speeds it allows me to be more observant of my surroundings and traffic far ahead because I don't really have to worry about hitting the car in front of me or leaving my lane.

    Thirdly, in stop-and-go traffic it is very useful IMO, allowing me to zone out.
     
  17. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    Messages:
    10,375
    Location:
    San Mateo, CA
    #17 ecarfan, Oct 27, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
    Well said. What I found very quickly while using it (not in my "classic" S, in other people's AP cars) was that I had more bandwidth to monitor my surroundings since I did not have to obsess over maintaining a comfortable following distance and lane centering. I wasn't more removed from driving, I was actually more engaged in the overall experience. Which was quite surprising.
    When full autonomous driving becomes available, that will be a completely different experience. I won't even call it "driving".
     
  18. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2015
    Messages:
    1,908
    Location:
    florida.
    it was a gimmick that got me to trade in my "classic" for a s90d
     
  19. rjcbox

    rjcbox Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    428
    Location:
    NJ, USA
    I don't feel it's a gimmick, but a necessary step for the progression of beta version. Great on long trips/highways
     
  20. ratsbew

    ratsbew Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2012
    Messages:
    371
    Autopilot Four Weeks In - Gimmick or Useful?

    For those who have been using Autopilot for the past few weeks, what are your thoughts? Is it a cool gimmick, or do you find yourself using it practically when you drive? Do you ever not use it in situations where you know that it works nearly flawlessly?

    I'm just curious to see what owners think of this tech and how it's being used in the real world.
     

Share This Page