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My thoughts on/suggestions for AutoPilot (which I use a lot)

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by kirkbauer, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. kirkbauer

    kirkbauer Member

    May 31, 2015
    Atlanta, GA
    You wouldn't think I'd get to use AP much since I live about 3 miles from work, however I do use it almost every day, although admittedly mostly on streets it isn't supposed to be used on. All I can say it is works fabulously well and 99% of the time I'm very impressed by how well it does. Here are a couple of things I use it for:

    1) Obviously long-distance interstate/freeway driving: I find it does incredibly well in this scenario, which of course is the only scenario it is supposed to be used for right now. I never recommend driving in the left lane unless you are passing, but if there are 3+ lanes and you can avoid the right lane then it really nears 100% reliable. In this situation I admit I'm probably too comfortable and take my eyes off the road longer than I should for a system in beta driving my $100k vehicle and me inside.

    2) Stop & Go interstate/freeway driving: In my opinion probably the best use for the feature. I've never been in an accident but most of my close calls have been in this situation. It is so mind-numbing it is easy to lose focus, but AP has no issues. Stop and go, stop and go, stop and go, you could pretty much go to sleep especially if you aren't in the right lane (where your vehicle might follow somebody off on an exit). My only beef here is I feel the AP could handle this activity more smoothly -- a little less stop and a little less go.

    3) Rural highways with one lane in each direction: it also does extremely well here, however since it isn't supposed to be used without a division between the two lanes I always hold the wheel when oncoming traffic passes me. I have had almost no issues here at all.

    4) Surface streets: again it does well here, although there are many more situations when it needs help. Obviously it can't read traffic lights. And often times it has issues going through intersections so I always hold the wheel through those. It does better in intersections if it is following another car and/or doesn't spend much time without lane markings (e.g. intersection is small and/or you are driving fast). If you enter a large intersection going slowly with no car in front you are guaranteed to have to take over.

    5) Stopped at lights: this surprises me but I use this all the time. Come to a complete stop, let go of the brake and brake hold engages. Then you can turn on AP and do something else other than pay attention to the light. When the light turns green, the car in front of you starts moving, and so does your car which alerts you to start paying attention again. My only issue that I can't figure out is sometimes this will trigger a "Hold" for AP and other times it won't. If your vehicle is on "Hold" then it won't go anywhere when the vehicle in front starts moving.

    I feel like #5 is a nice combo. If I'm the first person at the light I'm happy because I have a P85D. If I'm not the first person I'm happy because AP can watch the light for me while I relax.

    I have two minor improvement suggestions that would be a big help for me:

    1) This is really minor but I wish the full up/down stick movement would do +/- 5mph. Right now it puts you at the next 5mph increment instead. So if I have my speed set to 54mph and I do a full tap down currently it will set to 50mph but I'd prefer it to move to 49mph. The reason is my state (like most I assume) has speed penalties that kick in at the even 5mph. So driving 54 in a 45 you can't get a ticket, but 55 in a 45 you can. Likewise 59 in a 45 is no points but 60 is points. And 69 in a 45 is not reckless driving but 70 in a 45 is.

    2) When AP is on if you push the button on the stick it turns off AP which I find I pretty much never use. I suggest converting this to a long press to disable AP and now we can re-purpose the short press to mean "start slowing down". I find the most common reason I turn off AP is it isn't slowing down when I think it should be, so this button would allow me to communicate to AP to slow down without having to turn it off. Let me explain below.

    Let's say you see a red light ahead but either there is no vehicle ahead of you or the vehicle isn't slowing down yet. AP is either maintaining speed or possibly accelerating. Push the button and if the MS is following a vehicle it could (1) stop accelerating if it is and (2) gradually double the following distance until the vehicle in front starts slowing. If no vehicle is in front then AP could gradually reduce your speed down to say 50% of your set speed. It could show "Slowing..." on the center display and perhaps you can push the button again to cancel the slowing and resume normal operation. Additionally the slowing mode would turn off automatically if the MS either (1) comes to a complete stop or (2) the vehicle in front starts accelerating.

    The other scenario where this comes up a lot in on the freeway when you see traffic stopped ahead. It would work exactly the same as a traffic light situation -- you tap the button and AP starts slowing down in advance as described above.

    I hope this is helpful, I'll share this tip with Tesla.
  2. Max*

    Max* Charging

    Apr 8, 2015
    #3 be careful. I've had it lose the middle double line, and want to drive between the two white lines on either end (i.e. it takes me out of my lane and puts half the car onto oncoming traffic). Though this usually happens on that type of road if it's hilly.

    #5 I've noticed a hold gets triggered when you're too close to the car in front of you when you engage AP. I'm sure there are other times, but this one is repeatable.

    - - - Updated - - -


    Also, it's naive to think that a cop wont pull you over for 69mph, but will pull you over for 70mph. There is also some margin of error in his radar gun.
  3. kirkbauer

    kirkbauer Member

    May 31, 2015
    Atlanta, GA
    Hmm, I'll watch out for that on hills, haven't had it happen yet. But again if there is any traffic oncoming I'm holding the wheel anyways.

    Hmm, that may be exactly it, I'll try to stop further back before engaging.

    Around here I don't think it is naive. In fact I'd say most cops around here if they got you at 15 over they'd probably write up up for 14 anyways, but I wouldn't want them to see me doing say 18 over. I also think (through experiments with speed signs) that radar reads me at about 2mph slower than I think I'm going so there may be a margin of safety in there. Also I have radar and laser protection so it is unlikely for them to get a speed on me before I slow down to 5 over.

    But yeah I see your point, a cop could easily just say you were going faster than you were, or the radar gun could read you at a bit faster than you were going. Not sure if the GPS speed on my dashcam is accurate enough to help if that happened. Perhaps I'm too much of an engineer and like to be too precise :) Although you are tempting to set it to 13mph over which still leaves me with the same annoyance on the +/- 5 mph.
  4. scottf200

    scottf200 Active Member

    Feb 3, 2013
    Chicagoland ModelX S603
    Nice. This should be standard on all cars. How much longer does it take to get through a *just* turned green arrow (most annoying) or green light ... now a days as people looking down are checking their phones so there is an additional delay for them to look up and see the light change or people in front of them moving.

    Move up/down to the closest 5 with 2nd position then move up/down with 1st position.

  5. Peter Egan

    Peter Egan Member

    Dec 13, 2015
    Artarmon, NSW, Australia
    "I wish the full up/down stick movement would do +/- 5mph." programmable speed chang

  6. dogphlap

    dogphlap Member

    Jan 24, 2015
    #6 dogphlap, Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
    Dear Peter Egan,
    in Australia the cruise speed step is 1kph for the first switch position and to the nearest next multiple of 5kph for the second, so finer control than the US/UK versions. I like it the way it is now but I was talking to a Tesla service guy today who said it used to be the way you wish it were now.
  7. evp

    evp Nerd

    Nov 28, 2014
    Arvada, CO

    Additionally, the speedo is lying to you anyway. 60 indicated really delivers about 58.5 mph. By the time you get to 70-75, the error is about 2 mph. This is probably by design: US law states that the speedo shall never indicate less than the actual speed even taking into account tire inflation, calibration granularity, etc. So -- go ahead and drive 60. If you are paranoid, get a GPS (or GPS app) and calibrate your speedo for yourself. Bring a friend to handle the GPS, it probably won't lock on to the satellites inside the car (metallic window coating) so it's much safer to have a companion hold it next to an open window and write down the readings as you drive selected speeds.

    My technique for setting the cruise is either: 1) Full clicks to get the nearest 5 mph, then half-clicks to finesse to the "real speed limit", or: 2) press and hold until the car accelerates to the select speed, then release. I can usually nail it at exactly the speed I want, or within 1 mph which I can fix with a single half-click.

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