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Is Autopilot Just for Urban Highways?

After trying to use (Enhanced) Autopilot on a trip to and in Yosemite a week ago, I'm beginning to think it's only suitable as an urban limited access divided highway driver assist.

Several years ago just after getting my Model 3, I used it on a trip up (northbound) Hwy 1 along the coast (San Luis Obispo to Santa Cruz), and often enough it was riding on the center line on left bending turns that were near misses with oncoming southbound cars that weren't also hugging their rightward bending lines (understandable for those cars, since with steep dropoffs on that side often, who wants to be right at the edge of their lane. Now almost 3 years later I don't feel it's improved much, it still rides on/over the Cateyes on left bending turns, meaning it's violating oncoming traffic airspace if you count the midpoint of the double yellow as the border; an oncoming car with its mirror edge on the border would get clipped by my mirror on Autopilot. I'm guessing it's trying to center itself relative to the center of the lane some distance forward, trying the straightest line to get there, so it's being oblivious to the fact it's riding the center line already, despite the forward facing side cameras by which it should be able to interpolate it's riding the line.

This latest trip to Yosemite convinced me trying to use Autopilot on anything other than a limited access divided highway may be suicide, or at least just begging to get into an accident. In addition to the center line riding that I previously experienced, I discovered that especially with the sun low to the horizon (morning and evening - not even just right at sunrise/sunset- like 10am or 5pm, 2-3 hours from dusk/dawn), coming around a curve from behind trees or the shadow of a mountain the sudden direct sun leaves the Autopilot blinded, and you get the alert and about 0.5 sec to course correct. Despite being tired at times, I found that just driving with Autopilot off was more reliable and less anxiety inducing than have it continually kick off with nearly no reaction time. Even pretty close to noon a few times there were a few incidents of temporary blindness; I only have enhanced autopilot, and all these things make me glad I didn't pay out for FSD, if autopilot is any indication of the car's systems ability to deal with less than perfect visual conditions.
 

diplomat33

Average guy who loves autonomous vehicles
Aug 3, 2017
9,752
13,963
Terre Haute, IN USA
After trying to use (Enhanced) Autopilot on a trip to and in Yosemite a week ago, I'm beginning to think it's only suitable as an urban limited access divided highway driver assist.

Several years ago just after getting my Model 3, I used it on a trip up (northbound) Hwy 1 along the coast (San Luis Obispo to Santa Cruz), and often enough it was riding on the center line on left bending turns that were near misses with oncoming southbound cars that weren't also hugging their rightward bending lines (understandable for those cars, since with steep dropoffs on that side often, who wants to be right at the edge of their lane. Now almost 3 years later I don't feel it's improved much, it still rides on/over the Cateyes on left bending turns, meaning it's violating oncoming traffic airspace if you count the midpoint of the double yellow as the border; an oncoming car with its mirror edge on the border would get clipped by my mirror on Autopilot. I'm guessing it's trying to center itself relative to the center of the lane some distance forward, trying the straightest line to get there, so it's being oblivious to the fact it's riding the center line already, despite the forward facing side cameras by which it should be able to interpolate it's riding the line.

This latest trip to Yosemite convinced me trying to use Autopilot on anything other than a limited access divided highway may be suicide, or at least just begging to get into an accident. In addition to the center line riding that I previously experienced, I discovered that especially with the sun low to the horizon (morning and evening - not even just right at sunrise/sunset- like 10am or 5pm, 2-3 hours from dusk/dawn), coming around a curve from behind trees or the shadow of a mountain the sudden direct sun leaves the Autopilot blinded, and you get the alert and about 0.5 sec to course correct. Despite being tired at times, I found that just driving with Autopilot off was more reliable and less anxiety inducing than have it continually kick off with nearly no reaction time. Even pretty close to noon a few times there were a few incidents of temporary blindness; I only have enhanced autopilot, and all these things make me glad I didn't pay out for FSD, if autopilot is any indication of the car's systems ability to deal with less than perfect visual conditions.

I think it is stated quite clearly in the owner's manual that Enhanced AP is only designed to be used on limited access divided highways. So you are correct, it is only suitable as a limited access divided highway driver assist. While the car will let you engage AP on pretty much any road with lane lines, it is not recommended on non-highways. FSD Beta is the driver assist that is designed for city streets and other non-highway roads.
 

LoudMusic

Active Member
Jul 21, 2020
1,512
1,823
Arkansas
I think it is stated quite clearly in the owner's manual that Enhanced AP is only designed to be used on limited access divided highways. So you are correct, it is only suitable as a limited access divided highway driver assist. While the car will let you engage AP on pretty much any road with lane lines, it is not recommended on non-highways. FSD Beta is the driver assist that is designed for city streets and other non-highway roads.

Interesting claim - can you provide a link for that?
 

diplomat33

Average guy who loves autonomous vehicles
Aug 3, 2017
9,752
13,963
Terre Haute, IN USA
Interesting claim - can you provide a link for that?

From the owner's manual: "autosteer is intended for use on controlled-access highways".

j8x2VzW.png


The owner's manual also lists some of the key limitations of AP. It specifically mentions narrow or winding roads and bright incoming light:

4ACJEDH.png
 
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I think it is stated quite clearly in the owner's manual that Enhanced AP is only designed to be used on limited access divided highways. So you are correct, it is only suitable as a limited access divided highway driver assist. While the car will let you engage AP on pretty much any road with lane lines, it is not recommended on non-highways. FSD Beta is the driver assist that is designed for city streets and other non-highway roads.
FSD beta has the same problem with tight curves such as are not uncommon on many rural highways. FSD beta activates on these roads when the speed limit s 65 mph or less.

Some roads in my area fall into this category. There are reflective markers right on the double yellow line and I can clearly hear the car's tires rolling over them.
 
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diplomat33

Average guy who loves autonomous vehicles
Aug 3, 2017
9,752
13,963
Terre Haute, IN USA
FSD beta has the same problem with tight curves such as are not uncommon on many rural highways. FSD beta activates on these roads when the speed limit s 65 mph or less.

Some roads in my area fall into this category. There are reflective markers right on the double yellow line and I can clearly hear the car's tires rolling over them.

True. I am not saying FSD Beta is perfect with all roads. But FSD Beta is what the website calls "autosteer on city streets". It has all the latest FSD progress to make Autosteer work better on non highways. It is designed for non-highways. The Autosteer that you get with AP or Enhanced AP is the "old" autosteer that is not designed for non highways since it lacks those improvements. Hence, why the owner's manual has that warning about autosteer.
 

diplomat33

Average guy who loves autonomous vehicles
Aug 3, 2017
9,752
13,963
Terre Haute, IN USA
Related to this topic, I believe there has been some talk among regulators that Tesla should do a better job of restricting the ODD for AP by only letting owners engage AP on limited access divided highways. The idea is to limit risk by preventing owners from using AP on roads it is not designed for. And if AP simply did not engage on certain roads, it would make things clearer to owners. There might be less confusion from owners about where AP should be used.
 
After trying to use (Enhanced) Autopilot on a trip to and in Yosemite a week ago, I'm beginning to think it's only suitable as an urban limited access divided highway driver assist.


Interesting claim - can you provide a link for that?


From the owner's manual: "autosteer is intended for use on controlled-access highways".

j8x2VzW.png


The owner's manual also lists some of the key limitations of AP. It specifically mentions narrow or winding roads and bright incoming light:
I think it is stated quite clearly in the owner's manual that Enhanced AP is only designed to be used on limited access divided highways. So you are correct, it is only suitable as a limited access divided highway driver assist. While the car will let you engage AP on pretty much any road with lane lines, it is not recommended on non-highways. FSD Beta is the driver assist that is designed for city streets and other non-highway roads.
I've often thought that perhaps a warning should come up before any posting with a general question: "Before you post have you read the manual"? I cringe when I think of the people driving this hi tech machine without consulting the Owner's Manual. There are enough on the road already who can't handle the operation of something as simple as cruise control.:rolleyes:
 
And do people re-read the manual monthly? These things change fairly often. At one time it was:
WARNING: Autosteer is intended for use only on highways and limited-access roads with a fully attentive driver.

And now it is:
Warning Autosteer is intended for use on controlled-access highways with a fully attentive driver.
 
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Reactions: nvx1977
Most of my driving is on 45mph country roads. I know that AP isn't intended for this type of road but I'm amazed at how well it works. So I use it quite a bit on these roads, and I just turn it off when I get to a section with tight curves. I think one just needs to get used to what AP can and cannot do, and adjust your driving accordingly. I've had my car less than 3 months but I find myself going in and out of AP without even thinking about it - curvy or questionable conditions ahead, exit AP, better road ahead, engage AP...
 
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DrGriz

Member
Sep 11, 2021
988
1,240
Idaho
Most of my driving is on 45mph country roads. I know that AP isn't intended for this type of road but I'm amazed at how well it works. So I use it quite a bit on these roads, and I just turn it off when I get to a section with tight curves. I think one just needs to get used to what AP can and cannot do, and adjust your driving accordingly. I've had my car less than 3 months but I find myself going in and out of AP without even thinking about it - curvy or questionable conditions ahead, exit AP, better road ahead, engage AP...
Where I live, if I didn't use AP on 2 lane roads, I wouldn't use it at all (other than the once or twice a year cross country trip). No divided highways for 100 miles in any direction. I totally agree that you can use AP rationally in just the way you describe. You always have to be alert whether it's divided highway or not. Flip it on and off like you learned to do with windshield wipers or brights or turn signals. It even uses the same levers. A little practice and it becomes second nature.

It can be very safe and makes driving less fatiguing on a 400 mile drive.
 

2101Guy

Active Member
Jan 6, 2020
3,665
5,803
USA
Most of my driving is on 45mph country roads. I know that AP isn't intended for this type of road but I'm amazed at how well it works. So I use it quite a bit on these roads, and I just turn it off when I get to a section with tight curves. I think one just needs to get used to what AP can and cannot do, and adjust your driving accordingly. I've had my car less than 3 months but I find myself going in and out of AP without even thinking about it - curvy or questionable conditions ahead, exit AP, better road ahead, engage AP...
However, based on reports that there can be regressions that accompany software updates, probably shouldnt assume it will continue to work as well on the roads its not intended for in the first place.
 

2101Guy

Active Member
Jan 6, 2020
3,665
5,803
USA
And do people re-read the manual monthly? These things change fairly often. At one time it was:
WARNING: Autosteer is intended for use only on highways and limited-access roads with a fully attentive driver.

And now it is:
Warning Autosteer is intended for use on controlled-access highways with a fully attentive driver.
interesting how the claim is that the FSD/AP related updates continue to improve things all around, but the owners manual info is starting to REDUCE where the tech can be used. If things were getting BETTER, why put in language that seems to limit where the tech can be used...
 

DrGriz

Member
Sep 11, 2021
988
1,240
Idaho
interesting how the claim is that the FSD/AP related updates continue to improve things all around, but the owners manual info is starting to REDUCE where the tech can be used. If things were getting BETTER, why put in language that seems to limit where the tech can be used...
Never underestimate how much stupid is out there. I am sure that the language is liability boilerplate to cover for those who take remarkable chances you would never believe. Tesla is probably learning this lesson.
 
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I’ve used autopilot 95% of drives. Works surprisingly well, especially with red lights and winding roads. I keep both hands on the steering wheel still of course and there are places and situations it’s not gonna work - if you stay attentive these are easy to recognize. I thought I’d start using it less but I’m using it more.

I’m a pilot so I’m used to the FAA mantra to use “the highest level of automation.” Also, autopilots in planes try to kill you once per flight. Stay attentive and they never will… remarkably similar reality for Tesla autopilot.
 
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nvx1977

Active Member
Nov 25, 2017
2,760
6,019
US
Interesting claim - can you provide a link for that?

Not calling you out specifically. I've seen this from a lot of newer Tesla owners. That AP is for highways only and "use at your own risk" elsewhere has been well known to the older Tesla owners. So much so that it seems weird when someone needs evidence for this. But it goes to show that we old timers can be biased about aspects of Tesla, both good and bad, and newer owners could have an entirely different perspective on things.

Tesla used to be very anti-nanny about AP. Being able to engage AP on local roads is a leftover artifact of those days, and personally I'm happy I have the choice, and I take responsibility for the car's actions. Tesla also didn't nag (or they were so infrequent that it was inconsequential). After the high profile Joshua Brown death, media and NHTSA scrutiny, they've made AP very naggy. And most recently, driver monitoring via internal cabin camera was added. That camera was never intended for this purpose as evidenced by its placement position. It was for whole-cabin monitoring the day the car was operating as a robotaxi. That's a whole other issue :D

So basically, AP works best in its intended environment (on the highways). It can work on local roads, but it doesn't work well. Tesla fiddled with it for a long time and then decided they needed to rewrite the code. That has become the FSDb code branch. FSDb performs way better on local roads than AP does. But it should be obvious reading the many threads here that FSDb still has lots of issues that need to be worked out.
 

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