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Setting my wife up for success with Autopilot

Hey guys, I’ve got a 650 mile road trip from NY to NC with my brand new M3 (ver 2022.36.6, no EAP or FSD) coming up next week and plan to switch off driving with my wife a decent amount for the long trip. This is our first big road trip in the Tesla, so she has zero experience with Autopilot and mine is also pretty limited since we’ve mostly been home with our newborn since we got the car.

She’s excited to use Autopilot as am I but I know her damned well and I know that if the car throws her a few curve balls with phantom braking or bad lane-hunting or whatever else that would make her say “Woah, what the hell was that?!?,” she’ll go from loving the Tesla (which she does right now) to absolutely hating it ..which, I of course really want to avoid. The bad reaction will be multiplied by the fact that we’ll have our newborn in the back seat.

So what can we do to help set her up for the best experience with Autopilot?

This is what I’ve go so far but would love to hear your thoughts on these and/or additional suggestions…

  • Use AP only on divided highways
  • Stay in the right lane when we have two lanes (on our side)
  • Stay in the middle lane when it’s three lanes
  • Keep foot close to go peddle in case of phantom braking
  • Set follow distance to 6 or 7
  • Don’t use in construction zones
  • Try to only cancel AP by lifting up the right stalk
  • Don’t use when going through really busy metropolitan hwys?
  • Maybe don’t use it while driving into a low sun?
Should also note I’m writing this post because this long trip will be her first time using AP, so I want it to go well. After she’s used AP for a while and feels more comfortable with it, I’ll be much less concerned about a PB incident happening because she’ll have enough experience to know something like that is the exception, not the rule.

Thanks for the help
 
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Autopilot is designed to be extremely user friendly. If you are familiar with its downfalls (which it seems you are) just explain to her what they are. Explain how the car can be overly careful and phantom brake sometimes. Tell her to just press the accelerator when that happens.

Your biggest thing is just making sure she knows how to control the nag. (I would ride with someone with them using autopilot before I send them off on an adventure with a newborn, just me though.)
If your wife is fairly tech-savvy and understands how the tech works, she’ll be just fine. Like I said, it’s designed to be used by everyone.

  • Use AP only on divided highways YES
  • Stay in the right lane when we have two lanes (on our side) NOT NECESSARY
  • Stay in the middle lane when it’s three lanes NOT NECESSARY
  • Keep foot close to go peddle in case of phantom braking YES
  • Set follow distance to 6 or 7 NOT NECESSARY
  • Don’t use in construction zones YES
  • Try to only cancel AP by lifting up the right stalk NO Thinking like this can be dangerous. Disengage in whatever way is safest for the given situation.
  • Don’t use when going through really busy metropolitan hwys? For a first-time user, yes, I would not use it.
  • Maybe don’t use it while driving into a low sun? Depends on how low the sun is.
Good luck out there!
 

KArnold

Active Member
May 21, 2017
1,219
1,412
Columbus OH
Try to only cancel AP by lifting up the right stalk NO Thinking like this can be dangerous. Disengage in whatever way is safest for the given situation.
I tend to agree. I'd tell a newb that the preferred way (obviously not the only way) to turn off AP is to tap the brake. It's more natural, especially if you find yourself in a complex situation. Once more experienced you can use other methods to disengage that is circumstantial.
 
My experience with lane choice on AP is the Left is the Best. In the owners manual it talks about AP automatically slowing if cars in the next lane are going slower (15-20 mph). If you're in the right lane next to the on ramps and someone is coming onto the road, AP will brake hard as if it's going to let them in. Just be aware of this and push the gas to override.

If the right lane gets really wide with no striping (on ramps or lane merges) be prepared for AP to swerve around to find the center of the lane, then jerk back to the left when the lane becomes normal again. This was really nerve wracking when still learning to trust AP.

Be prepared to accidentally disengage AP while learning the necessary amount of force to jiggle the wheel when it tell you to. or get in the habit of adjusting the volume or speed with the wheels to let it know you're touching the wheel. Keep in mind that TACC is still active when this happens.
 

RTPEV

Active Member
Mar 21, 2016
1,914
2,626
Durham, NC
Excellent response by @D Good . Brought up a bunch of things I was going to, which is to simply explain to her what the shortcomings may be so she's ready if they happen.

A couple of things to add:

First, keep in mind that if she sets up her own profile, she will have to enable Autopilot and accept all the T&C's (or whatever it prompts you). So do this before she starts driving. My son took over driving with me on a trip, and he got in, adjusted the seat, etc. and saved his profile, and then started driving. But he couldn't use AP because he had not turned it on, and you can't turn it on while driving.

The second item is what @Bubblehead just posted, and that's in states that don't have really good on-ramp lane markings, the car will "go wide" and attempt to center itself in the "lane", and then swerve back. Very annoying. This will definitely happen in VA. It may happen in PA depending on which section of that state you are going through.
 
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I personally recommend setting the follow distance higher (I'm at 7). For one, it gives a good gap to allow people to move around you easier, as AP doesn't necessarily drive with human politeness, allowing people to change lanes in front of you by slowing down to give them room. By having a larger gap, it's more "courteous". It also helps cut down on the possibility of FCWs (forward collision warning), and potential PBs. I also set my FCW to "late" to help with this as well. Some people hate driving like this, as they don't want anyone "cutting in front of them", but that's a personal preference. :)
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Moderator
Nov 28, 2018
17,485
23,415
Riverside Co. CA
My only advice would be to have an open, honest conversation with her on whether she wants to use autopilot or not. Is it "she really wants to try autopilot" or is it " I really want her to try autopilot so am really encouraging her to do so, and she is saying yes because she loves me"?

Translation, if she is really excited about trying autopilot, and you have either shown her how to use it or she has ridden with you when you used it for long drives, then you have little to no chance of her falling "out of love" with the car.

If, however, she is saying "yes" to using autopilot on the section of the drive she is doing because she loves you and wants you to be happy (rather than her actually wanting to do it), you run the real risk of a negative outcome if something happens, even something expected.


I would have her drive it without autopilot, unless she was really excited about doing it with autopilot herself, and I would have a frank, open, honest communication about it to ensure it was something she wanted, and not something "she wanted because I wanted it".

Thats how I would handle it anyway. After that, then you already have responses on the technical expectations.
 
I personally recommend setting the follow distance higher (I'm at 7). For one, it gives a good gap to allow people to move around you easier, as AP doesn't necessarily drive with human politeness, allowing people to change lanes in front of you by slowing down to give them room. By having a larger gap, it's more "courteous". It also helps cut down on the possibility of FCWs (forward collision warning), and potential PBs. I also set my FCW to "late" to help with this as well. Some people hate driving like this, as they don't want anyone "cutting in front of them", but that's a personal preference. :)
My reco is to keep following distance 2-4 cars on busy highways. With high +6 following distance I have observed that phantom breaking can sometimes be worse and unexpected. With 3-4 car following distance, the car slows down more gently in most cases. In some scenarios if the traffic slows to a stop from a high speed with certain slow down profile the my M3 jams on the breaks - but this is worse in long following distance.
 
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If you hold the wheel with just one hand off center (7 to 9 o'clock or 3 to 5 o'clock) and let it pull the wheel down with its own weight you can eliminate nags altogether. The exact position depends on what torque you need to stop nags without disengaging, but there should be wide range. With a hand on the wheel you can feel it when it starts to turn and take over immediately if necessary. Similarly, foot over the go pedal is great for PB and also takes advantage of your old gas to brake muscle memory. Much better than trying to train your foot to do something different in an emergency.

My wife uses TACC only, without Autosteer. That gives her fewer things to worry about but is still a significant aid.

I usually disable AP when the driving becomes more of a "social" interaction, like merging or complex construction zones.

I check the AP wheel icon to ensure it is still active. My eyes are a little farther down the road than for manual driving. I'm looking for bad lane lines, stopped traffic ahead, or erratic drivers. I also monitor the speed if I'm following another vehicle. It's easy to miss it slowing down just by feel.

Both TACC and Autosteer are easier to use once you know what they are good at and when they might have problems. I wouldn't load the wife down with possible scenarios, but if you can warn her as they come up, or explain why something unusual just happened, she should start feeling more comfortable. Starting with a long straight freeway is a great starter.
 
First off, just gotta note that this is my first real post looking for help and right off the bat, happy to see based on these responses that this forum is going to be a great knowledge resource and I’m excited to be part of the community – thank you

Really great info and solid points, guys, esp about being up front with her about AP’s limitations and issues. Just told her today about phantom braking, actually. I did say that it has been improving since last year, which is what I’ve been hearing and I hope is actually true. Have also been rolling out all the best practice notes little by little so as to not overwhelm her.

One thing happened today while we were in the car and I was driving that should help some.. while using AP on a long curve on a highway, the SUV in the left lane started to veer into my lane and AP slowed the car down abruptly, gave me the triple beep and had me take over. This was the first time we had a “take over” incident and it did in fact scare the *sugar* outta her. I explained what happened and why it happened and she got it and was actually impressed with how quickly it responded to the veering car. So she’s now seen what that looks and sounds like so she’ll be more prepared when it happens to her.

@jjrandorin, AP was one of the reasons we decided together to get a Tesla, so yeah, she’s genuinely excited to use it.
Also sounding like I’ll have to experiment a bit with follow distance to see what works best for us. If 2-4 means less PB, sign me up.

Would also love to figure out how to smooth out the stopping and accelerating in stop and go traffic. That scenario was a big reason I got a Tesla with AP but the abruptness is too much sometimes and even woke the baby up when it took off and braked too hard on a recent drive.
 
Would also love to figure out how to smooth out the stopping and accelerating in stop and go traffic. That scenario was a big reason I got a Tesla with AP but the abruptness is too much sometimes and even woke the baby up when it took off and braked too hard on a recent drive.
It'll get smoothed out in updates, but for now you can try lowering the set speed to whatever traffic is flowing at. So if it's stop and go, try setting to 15-20mph. See if that smooths it out for you.
 

arnolddeleon

Active Member
Supporting Member
Jul 21, 2012
1,098
1,172
SF Bay Area
A few points on the "steering wheel nag". You don't need to wiggle, just a little torque in one direction or the other will be fine. If you can't get the torque right rolling one of the thumbwheels will satisfy the nag.

Note that the car will tend center itself in the lane, this is might be take some getting used to when there are other cars around you. Most humans will tend to drift away from the car next to them.

If you remember that you are driver it will be fine. Initially treat like a new driver and watch it closely until you get "a feel" for how it behaves, the noises that it makes, etc.
 

azred

Active Member
Apr 12, 2016
2,193
3,384
Chandler, AZ
Hey guys, I’ve got a 650 mile road trip from NY to NC with my brand new M3 (ver 2022.36.6, no EAP or FSD) coming up next week and plan to switch off driving with my wife a decent amount for the long trip. This is our first big road trip in the Tesla, so she has zero experience with Autopilot and mine is also pretty limited since we’ve mostly been home with our newborn since we got the car.

She’s excited to use Autopilot as am I but I know her damned well and I know that if the car throws her a few curve balls with phantom braking or bad lane-hunting or whatever else that would make her say “Woah, what the hell was that?!?,” she’ll go from loving the Tesla (which she does right now) to absolutely hating it ..which, I of course really want to avoid. The bad reaction will be multiplied by the fact that we’ll have our newborn in the back seat.

So what can we do to help set her up for the best experience with Autopilot?

This is what I’ve go so far but would love to hear your thoughts on these and/or additional suggestions…

  • Use AP only on divided highways
  • Stay in the right lane when we have two lanes (on our side)
  • Stay in the middle lane when it’s three lanes
  • Keep foot close to go peddle in case of phantom braking
  • Set follow distance to 6 or 7
  • Don’t use in construction zones
  • Try to only cancel AP by lifting up the right stalk
  • Don’t use when going through really busy metropolitan hwys?
  • Maybe don’t use it while driving into a low sun?
Should also note I’m writing this post because this long trip will be her first time using AP, so I want it to go well. After she’s used AP for a while and feels more comfortable with it, I’ll be much less concerned about a PB incident happening because she’ll have enough experience to know something like that is the exception, not the rule.

Thanks for the help
My wife prefers not to use any autopilot features including the Beta FSD we have on both cars until the features are mostly bug-free. Is this an option for your wife, rather than giving her a list of dos and don’ts? That draft list of yours looks like a good way to spoil the joy of driving.
 
Last edited:
Hey guys, I’ve got a 650 mile road trip from NY to NC with my brand new M3 (ver 2022.36.6, no EAP or FSD) coming up next week and plan to switch off driving with my wife a decent amount for the long trip. This is our first big road trip in the Tesla, so she has zero experience with Autopilot and mine is also pretty limited since we’ve mostly been home with our newborn since we got the car.

She’s excited to use Autopilot as am I but I know her damned well and I know that if the car throws her a few curve balls with phantom braking or bad lane-hunting or whatever else that would make her say “Woah, what the hell was that?!?,” she’ll go from loving the Tesla (which she does right now) to absolutely hating it ..which, I of course really want to avoid. The bad reaction will be multiplied by the fact that we’ll have our newborn in the back seat.

So what can we do to help set her up for the best experience with Autopilot?

This is what I’ve go so far but would love to hear your thoughts on these and/or additional suggestions…

  • Use AP only on divided highways
  • Stay in the right lane when we have two lanes (on our side)
  • Stay in the middle lane when it’s three lanes
  • Keep foot close to go peddle in case of phantom braking
  • Set follow distance to 6 or 7
  • Don’t use in construction zones
  • Try to only cancel AP by lifting up the right stalk
  • Don’t use when going through really busy metropolitan hwys?
  • Maybe don’t use it while driving into a low sun?
Should also note I’m writing this post because this long trip will be her first time using AP, so I want it to go well. After she’s used AP for a while and feels more comfortable with it, I’ll be much less concerned about a PB incident happening because she’ll have enough experience to know something like that is the exception, not the rule.

Thanks for the help
Set her expectations. On the low side. so that she does not feel like it is a letdown.
 

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