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My evolving thoughts on autopilot

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by daniel, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. daniel

    daniel Active Member

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    When I first got my Model 3, I was scared to use autopilot for about the first week. When I did try it I went onto the freeway (ideal case use) and engaged it briefly. I actually did not like it at all at first, but over time I got more confident, and of course it helped my confidence a lot as its ability to remain centered in the lane improved with updates. I began to use it more on the freeway.

    I was still scared to use it in town, but eventually I tried it, and it worked very well although braking at stop lights where there was a car stopped was quite abrupt, and it took longer than I liked to resume moving. I pretty much quit using it on city streets.

    As I got more comfortable with it, and discovered that a light touch on the go pedal would nudge it to resume moving after a stop, I began to use it more.

    Then an odd thing happened in my attitude: I became so confident with it that although I would never allow myself to become distracted, and I monitored it carefully and continuously, I found that I didn't want to disengage it. I wanted the car to drive. I took over when I absolutely had to, but felt disappointed when I had to. During at least the first half of my long road trip to and through British Columbia, Canada, for hiking, it almost became a game: How long can I leave AP engaged?

    But the more I drive the car, and the more I get use to it, the newness has worn off. It's no longer a novelty, or a game. It's a tool. As long as I remain alert and ready, a momentary distraction is less hazardous than if I were driving the car, but at the same time, there are situations it can handle and others it cannot. Now I find myself judging well ahead of time, Is this a good time to be using AP or is this a better time for me to be driving? I no longer engage it for very brief stretches just because I can. If I'm going to turn in a block I don't engage it. If there's a car coming from the other direction that seems to be close to the line, I disengage AP and keep to the other side of my lane.

    AP is a tool that when used properly makes the car safer. It's not a toy or a game. You learn when to use it and when not to use it, and when conditions are right, it is just amazing. But it's only level 2, and for the time being there are still plenty of times when it cannot handle the conditions, or maybe it could handle them but is not yet really ready or able to do so as well as you can do yourself. Tesla tells us this, of course, and makes it abundantly clear in the manual, but it's taken me some time to really internalize it and to begin to learn to use it to best effect.

    And the longer I have the car the more I like AP. Driving any other car after this is going to seem like a real chore.
     
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  2. Rogue one

    Rogue one Member

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    My wife and I just returned from a 2,000+ mile road trip, we used autopilot on 99 percent of the interstate drive. This included 150 miles of light to medium rain and 50 miles of rain so intense I struggled to make out the lines and the cars ahead of us. (30-40 mph). Auto pilot handled it all like a champ light rain, heavy rain low visibility no problem. At one paiont In Nebraska I noticed the car started rocking vilolently from side to side and the wheel was going crazy left to right... I disinguaged autopilot fearing the worst blown tire, mechanical issue... nope I quickly discovered autopilot was suffering in silence fighting a 40+ MPH cross wind... I quickly reactivated autopilot and was thankful I didn’t have to fight that for the next 200+ miles...( :
     
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  3. Twiglett

    Twiglett Single pedal driver

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    This seems to be common with autopilot users. I absolutely love it.
    Yet we still get stupid polls on here that suggest EAP isn’t worth the money or should be free.
    Boggles my mind.
     
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  4. MXWing

    MXWing Well-Known Member

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    Man + Machine greater than man or machine by itself.

    Blanket statements touting eithers dominance over the other is just hubris.
     
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  5. Cirrus MS100D

    Cirrus MS100D Member

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    Very well written and exactly our experience as well. I feel kinda bad for the folks who are going to try out the 2 week (or whatever) free trial and leave with, “I mean, yeah, I sorta get it, but it’s not that great...”

    Yes it absolutely is, but it takes time to get used to it. 2 weeks, IMO is not enough time.
     
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  6. LargeHamCollider

    LargeHamCollider Battery cells != scalable

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    Pretty much my experience, love how you've articulated it and will likely copy your post and share it with others who are new to AP.

    I did not expect AP to be able to handle the winding road with narrow lanes to my development as it has large, rounded, concrete islands separating the lanes 70% of the time and nothing separating the lanes but a big empty sheet of asphalt the other 30%. I also did not expect AP to be able to handle a portion of the road to my work that has two sharp turns in the middle of a steep up-down-up series of hills with a poorly marked interestion and terrible pavement at the bottom between the two hills. It handles both situations quite well at 10mph over the 30 and 35mph speed limits, just a bit of hunting in a few places. On the highway it's been flawless, just wish the nags were less frequent, my hands being on the wheel doesn't prevent them and it's a bit distracting having to make sure I give the wheel an extra nudge every 20 seconds or so.
     
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  7. azentropy

    azentropy Member

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    That sums it up for me. I got the free trial offer and accepted it, although I should have waited a couple of weeks and tried it out when I had a longer road trip. But I wasn’t sure if you could delay accepting it... Anyway it just isn’t for me because I don’t drive in enough conditions where it would be useful and frankly I like driving and being in full control. The autopilot made me grip the wheel tighter than I normally do, and couldn’t figure out where to comfortably put my Right foot. It just felt so odd. However the Model 3 is the first non-SUV I’ve owned in my 30 years of driving that isn’t manual transmission and has more than 2 doors! :). So baby steps I guess.
     
  8. sduck

    sduck Member

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    Yes. My feels pretty much exactly. After 2 months, I'm really starting to get used to it - know when to use it, when not to. I did pretty long trip with it yesterday, and I've even gotten to the point where I get zero nags - I've figured out how to keep my hand on the wheel in a way that keeps it from nagging me.

    And yes, the 2 week trial is too short. What vexes me is the number of people who are complaining about sudden stops when approaching underpasses with certain kinds of shadows. I've never had this happen to me - is this just a standard FUD type of complaint, or is this a legit problem?
     
  9. DanH

    DanH Member

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    I couldn’t agree more. I mainly activate it when I’m on the freeway. I typically avoid the left (carpool) and right most lanes. I’m pretty sure it would perform just fine. It’s just me since AP still has issue with stationary objects.
     
  10. DannyHamilton

    DannyHamilton Member

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    This is going to be up to individual preference. What one person finds relaxing and comfortable another person will find to be exhausting and awkward. You'll need to figure out what works best for you. That being said, I can tell you that I've found...

    By extending the steering wheel out and down far enough, I can rest my right elbow on the center console and rest two fingers on top of the steering wheel cross bar where it joins with the right side of the wheel. The weight of my relaxed and resting forearm applied like this seems to be exactly the right amount of torque that EAP needs to know that I'm there. As such, I've found that in that position, I can relax and not be nagged for over 60 miles (more than an hour of driving) on the expressway. No nudges, no wiggles, no nags to even respond to.
     
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  11. woof

    woof Fluffy Member

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    Legit problem. It does slow down quickly at times for no obvious reason, easily overridden by an attentive driver with a push on the go pedal. I've never had it panic stop...just a sudden slow down jolt for a second, then gone. My other car (BMW i3) has the ACC based off MobilEye...and it does the same thing, although in much more predictable situations. I've learned which bridge, sign, or shadow the i3 will slow at, and be ready to override. The Tesla has been unpredictable to me as to when it'll break out of the blue--I've not had it occur often enough to perceive a pattern, if any.
     
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  12. xav-

    xav- Active Member

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    OP is spot on. It takes time to get used to AP. I see so many posts here with people who tried it for a few days and did not like it.

    Bottom line it takes more than a few days to get used to it, especially if you have misconceptions about it to begin with.

    When you start using it things are always scary. It doesn’t have to do with the fact that AP drives bad but more with the fact that it drives differently from us. Once you are used to it you just let it do its things and not worry about it. But when you are a beginner you freak out and unnecessarily take over and think you just avoided an accident.
     
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  13. Terthen

    Terthen Member

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    Sometimes it happens after a software update, like it needs to build a new whitelisted list of objects, bridges, etc. that’s my best guess, but yes unpredictable and scares me until I get used to it.

    Overall it makes me a safer driver. I am more patient, I don’t weave in and out of traffic, etc.
     
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  14. DannyHamilton

    DannyHamilton Member

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    As woof pointed out, it's more of a sudden slow down than a sudden stop. But the slow down is sudden enough and aggressive enough that it will REALLY annoy anyone immediately behind you (WTF is that Tesla braking for? There's nobody in front of him for MILES!), and if they're following too closely and not paying enough attention it could easily result in you getting hit from behind.

    I've found that it seems to happen most often on very sunny days with crisp dark shadows. I've seen it most often with a dark shaded underpass on a sunny day, but other dark shadows can cause it as well. Hopefully future software updates will be able to reduce or eliminate this phantom braking.
     
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  15. mattack4000

    mattack4000 Active Member

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    I actually have a different issue. I am so used to it that I have a tough time going back to other cars. I put the cruise at 74mph on the highway, you mean I have to constantly hit the brakes, accelerate, hit the brakes and accelerate in a regular car? How backward is that.
     
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  16. Electroman

    Electroman Well-Known Member

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    #16 Electroman, Sep 3, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
    The problem is, Autopilot is one of those features where a short 15 minute test drive will do nothing for you to start loving it. In fact you will end up hating it because it makes you more nervous and more stressful when you first start using it. This is like fine wine or coffee. It takes a while - two weeks, or sometimes a month - to get used to strengths and weakness, and once you get a hang of it, there is no coming back.

    The most stupid thing sometimes a new user does is to a) turn it on in questionable back roads where AP is weak. b) going excessive speed. That will sure make them think AP is a killer. When you are starting with AP the first few times, do it only on highways in the center lane and just maintain the speed limit. And then you can start experimenting going 5 miles over, and then back roads etc..

    To me Long range and Auto Pilot is what defines Tesla.
     
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  17. AdamAnt

    AdamAnt Member

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    Definitely legit. Have seen the same problem driving on East-West roads mainly (I-90) Sun hits overpasses just right creating a dark zone and a light zone afterwards and the AP thinks it is a car and slows down, and slows down rapidly. However, it is about the only thing I dislike about AP2. It is great for long drives on the Interstate and does a great job keeping the lane even in torrential downpours.
     
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  18. angelman

    angelman Member

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    This does happen but rarely. I have had it maybe once or twice slow down rather abruptly often before the shadow of an overpass. So not FUD but not a huge deal.. again you just need to stay aware.
     
  19. SageBrush

    SageBrush 2018: Drain the Sewer

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    Daniel's OP is a very good tutorial on how to approach AP: don't ignore the road; don't give it so much rope that it hangs you.
    He fits the personality profile of a successful (circa 2018) AP user: cautious, deliberate, and thoughtful.

    I'm less sure about the other 99%
     
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  20. Electroman

    Electroman Well-Known Member

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    in over 6k miles it has happened just once. A minor slow down, a small tap in the brakes, but it sure unnerves you.
     

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