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Thoughts on Autopilot after a week of ownership (UK)

CurtisVL

Member
Oct 31, 2019
111
65
Cumbria, United Kingdom
(Hope this is the right place to post, didn't find a category for Autopilot in the Model 3 section)

Hi all!

First, I must start with a disclaimer. I live in the UK, this means the Model 3 is quite a wide vehicle in comparison to some other cars on the road, and can in some places be larger than the lane.

A week ago I had my Model 3 Performance delivered, and man... It's an impressive machine! In the typical Tesla fan fashion, I've been trying out/'training' Autopilot in as many places as possible! After a week of usage in all kinds of situations, these are my thoughts on the current state as of '2019.36.2.1'. :)

1. Autopilot doesn't know how to deal with lanes splitting into 2.

In a lot of Europe, lanes don't split into 2 where 1 lane continues straight unless you're joining a dual carriageway. For left and straight filter lanes, generally your lane will split into 2 to your left and right. (Easier to describe by image!)

b40d1e205a3819067e1e02b47c49d58e.png

(Excuse me professional art... :p)

This generally leads to Autopilot driving between the 2 lanes and either making a very sharp swerve into whichever lane it was closest to being in, or, simply telling you to take over immediately.
Maybe when Autopilot is intended for use on normal roads instead of just highways navigation will assist it in going into the left/right lanes!


2. Autopilot REALLY loves being in the exact centre of the lane, regardless of if your mirrors are hitting hedges or if it could curb you on corners.

This feels like it's a very EU-specific problem as our lanes are (generally) nowhere near as wide as they are in the US and as stated before, the Model 3 is quite a wide car by EU standards.
I've had it brush a bit of a hedge before with a wing mirror, of course, I'm paying attention and I'm always 100% ready to take control and move further into the road, but this issue is very common.

Because the vehicle sits exactly in the middle of the lane at all times, it doesn't consider that the lane is only the width of the vehicle, meaning on corners it's VERY close to curbing the wheels, it's always running over grids/all the trash on the edge of the road, and can also hit obstacles sticking out into the road.

I imagine this could be solved by having the vehicle try to keep a certain distance from the edge of the road rather than always insisting on being in the centre of the lane. :)


3. Autopilot does a lot of 'barrelling'.

So by 'barrelling', I mean it floors it up to the 'national speed limit' of most back roads in the UK which is 60mph, then last second sees a corner and slams on to sometimes as low as 25mph, which inside the car feels... Interesting, to say the least. It's not very comforting... ;)

The car needs to see corners coming sooner, or at least assume from the width of the road, or its condition, or something, that just because the speed limit of that road is 60mph doesn't mean it should be doing that. Obviously right now we can set the max speed, but having that default to 60 on back roads then trying to scroll it down as the car barrels towards corners approaching 60 is far from ideal. :rolleyes:


4. Autopilot has issues with junctions that don't have an edge of carriageway line at them.

Best explained what I mean in this image:
94e26d0fb5d2de4ffc9433483b573119.png

(Note there's no lane markings for the edge of the road where that junction/intersection is. This is really common in a lot of Europe.)

This is a really big issue, and a very dangerous one if you don't notice it happening. Generally, the car is smart enough to know the lane doesn't expand that far, but it still moves over a bit, sometimes it moves over close enough that it's aiming straight for the curb on the other side of the junction. I've never left it to the very last second to see what it does, I'd like to keep the bumper and front left axle of my car ideally. Regardless, it needs work. :D


Conclusion:

Autopilot is shockingly good! It's amazing technology, and I'm more than happy to provide training data for the neural network that runs it. I'm really excited to see it improve over time.

On motorways, it's 'nearly' flawless! Though it does try to merge into other vehicles when joining the motorway instead of slotting in behind them!
At night, Autopilot works flawlessly too, even on narrow country roads. Of course, it has the issues I mentioned above though!
In traffic, it's a god-send. It follows nicely behind other traffic and gives them room, it also handles vehicles pulling out in front of it perfectly most of the time!

To be clear... This isn't intended as a 'omg autopilot sucks and is dangerous please delete' post or anything! It's just, in the course of a single week, what I've taken away from how Autopilot performs in the UK. Nothing more, nothing less. :)

Let me know how Autopilot has worked for you guys! It'll be great to know what issues are EU-specific due to our roads.
Thanks for reading! :p
 
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ivy_

Member
Sep 25, 2019
144
142
Michigan
Your experience is similar to mine in the US.Very capable on a limited access road, but has issues just like you describe on normal roads. I tend to think of it as a student driver, with the advantage of more direct control.

I tend to use it on the interstate, or on local roads in heavy traffic, as it makes that much more bearable.
 

CurtisVL

Member
Oct 31, 2019
111
65
Cumbria, United Kingdom
Your experience is similar to mine in the US.Very capable on a limited access road, but has issues just like you describe on normal roads. I tend to think of it as a student driver, with the advantage of more direct control.

I tend to use it on the interstate, or on local roads in heavy traffic, as it makes that much more bearable.

As a student driver you tend to get too close to the edge of the road, so I guess it really is a student driver. It's still learning. :p
 

Yev000

Active Member
May 3, 2019
1,368
966
Knaphill
I live in the UK

I don't believe you, no mention of any roundabouts.

There is a UK forum by the way The UK and Ireland

I find that you can basically only use it on motorways or dual carriageways. And it leaves way too big a gap when in stop/start traffic (that applies to TACC too). People get annoyed with a gap that big, it's enough to fit another car.
 

Spacey73

Member
Nov 2, 2019
255
277
United Kingdom
After passing a 6 car pile up on M3 yesterday (UK) I am glad it keeps its distance from other cars. People drive way to close at high speeds.

But agree autopilot is best for Motorways and Dual Carriageways in UK.
 

CurtisVL

Member
Oct 31, 2019
111
65
Cumbria, United Kingdom
I don't believe you, no mention of any roundabouts.

There is a UK forum by the way The UK and Ireland

I find that you can basically only use it on motorways or dual carriageways. And it leaves way too big a gap when in stop/start traffic (that applies to TACC too). People get annoyed with a gap that big, it's enough to fit another car.

I guess I ignored roundabouts and junctions because it can't do them at all as there's no navigation. It just comes barreling at them then screams to take over immediately... ;)
 

Yev000

Active Member
May 3, 2019
1,368
966
Knaphill
I am glad it keeps its distance from other cars.

I don't mean while moving, this is fine. When you are stopped waiting for a traffic light, it stops with way too much room.

The driver behind rightly or wrongly may assume you will stop with the usual distance of half a meter from the car in front and brake too late when you actually stop 3-5 meters away. This is fine on a motorway when everyone stops for a short time, but on a traffic light it's way too much room.
 

alanbyvale

Member
Aug 11, 2019
53
16
Nottingham
Both TACC and Autosteer are Beta and only for use on Freeways and Highways (In the UK I think that refers to motorways and dual carriageways). As such, using it on any other road is likely to cause concern. I know having tried it out around the area I live. I think we should forget the word 'Autopilot' and think of it as a driving aid, at least for the moment. My TACC on my RAV 4 was a lot safer to use as it didn't try to stand the car on end like my Model 3 when it saw something it didn't like.
 

CurtisVL

Member
Oct 31, 2019
111
65
Cumbria, United Kingdom
I don't mean while moving, this is fine. When you are stopped waiting for a traffic light, it stops with way too much room.

The driver behind rightly or wrongly may assume you will stop with the usual distance of half a meter from the car in front and brake too late when you actually stop 3-5 meters away. This is fine on a motorway when everyone stops for a short time, but on a traffic light it's way too much room.

This I agree with, in traffic, people will pull out of junctions in front of you because it leaves a large gap. It also feels a bit slow to follow traffic again once it starts moving, like if you were driving and didn't notice people were moving again. :)
 

CurtisVL

Member
Oct 31, 2019
111
65
Cumbria, United Kingdom
Both TACC and Autosteer are Beta and only for use on Freeways and Highways (In the UK I think that refers to motorways and dual carriageways). As such, using it on any other road is likely to cause concern. I know having tried it out around the area I live. I think we should forget the word 'Autopilot' and think of it as a driving aid, at least for the moment. My TACC on my RAV 4 was a lot safer to use as it didn't try to stand the car on end like my Model 3 when it saw something it didn't like.

I know what's it's intended for right now, but it's great to train it in other roads to as that's the end goal for autopilot!

By definition, 'autopilot' is a driving aid like it is in planes.
In planes, autopilot just follows navigation and tries to keep the plane level and at a set speed. It still requires the pilot to supervise it and take over as needed. :)

I think Elon didn't realise that so many people don't know how autopilot in planes actually works! (I mean, it doesn't fully fly without supervision)
 

lolder

Member
Jun 11, 2016
945
851
SW Florida
The following distance is adjustable. A software update in the US increased the acceleration behind cars at stops. It's amazing a Tesla works in the UK at all since the Brits are all aliens planted here centuries ago but the aliens got the training wrong because they do most everything backwards. They drive on the wrong side, the hot and cold faucet taps are reversed, dial telephones turned the wrong way, the TV antennas are all vertically polarized instead of horizontal, etc. I'm on to you !
 

eCharcoal

Member
Aug 31, 2017
322
347
Chicagoland
Interesting write up! By reading your post, I don’t think I’d ever drive in Europe.

I also understand the part where autopilot would leave a big gap. But I also think you simply cannot enjoy it if you give too much F about what other people think. A lot of drivers are much more of a jerk than autopilot. :p
 

holmgang

Active Member
Sep 9, 2019
1,342
1,483
eu
I don't believe you, no mention of any roundabouts.
That's not it. The giveaway is that he didn't use "kerb" :)

Interesting write up! By reading your post, I don’t think I’d ever drive in Europe.

Some people don't consider UK as Europe, and that's even before the recent shenanigans... but that said, in some of parts of the continent (definitely not all!!!), the road discipline is way way better and makes driving much more predictable and relaxing. That's what happens when licenses cost $1000+ to attain, and vehicles are cost prohibitive to operate.
 

CurtisVL

Member
Oct 31, 2019
111
65
Cumbria, United Kingdom
That's not it. The giveaway is that he didn't use "kerb" :)



Some people don't consider UK as Europe, and that's even before the recent shenanigans... but that said, in some of parts of the continent (definitely not all!!!), the road discipline is way way better and makes driving much more predictable and relaxing. That's what happens when licenses cost $1000+ to attain, and vehicles are cost prohibitive to operate.

It'll still be in Europe! But hopefully, when it's not in the EU we can get Smart Summon and lane changes without confirmation, and less 'Autosteer limited' making the car slam on the brakes for every sharp corner. ;)
 
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CurtisVL

Member
Oct 31, 2019
111
65
Cumbria, United Kingdom
I think as an after-thought, another big issue Autopilot has which I'm aware happens in the US too is sitting in the wrong lanes on motorways.

On a totally empty road, it'll randomly move to the middle lane, then want to move to the inside lane.
It just makes for an awkward experience in general, you feel like a bit of a moron when you're blocking everyone's way. I've also never had it even ask to change back to the outside lane for my junction when using Navigate on Autopilot. W.I.P obviously. :D
Guess I should be bug reporting it!

I've seen on a lot of US videos that people will undertake to get around you, but in the UK that's VERY bad. I'm sure it is in the US too, but cops here won't pull you over for much except phone usage whilst driving, undertaking, and sometimes speeding if you're doing like 110mph when you're supposed to be doing 70. Police in the UK, at least where I live, are basically useless.
 
Last edited:

holmgang

Active Member
Sep 9, 2019
1,342
1,483
eu
I've seen on a lot of US videos that people will undertake to get around you, but in the UK that's VERY bad. I'm sure it is in the US tool
I trained and got licensed in the US. It never even entered my consciousness what "undertaking" is. We do learn that left=fast, and right=slow, but pretty much nobody observes that rule on the road. The behavior is the same across all states. People drive and pass wherever they want.

It's nowhere as bad as something like Brazil, in global context. But it'll drive a German or Swiss mad. Think of something closer to Naples, without all the scooters zigging around.
 

Aellinsar

Member
Aug 2, 2017
249
218
Ohio
Because the vehicle sits exactly in the middle of the lane at all times, it doesn't consider that the lane is only the width of the vehicle, meaning on corners it's VERY close to curbing the wheels, it's always running over grids/all the trash on the edge of the road, and can also hit obstacles sticking out into the road.

I imagine this could be solved by having the vehicle try to keep a certain distance from the edge of the road rather than always insisting on being in the centre of the lane. :)

As an American, I've driven in the UK twice and sounds like it mimics my driving style quite well! :) So perhaps AP is just trying to copy the behavior of an American tourist (who is used to sitting in the left half of the lane and positioning the car appropriately, not sitting in the right half of the lane.)
 

CurtisVL

Member
Oct 31, 2019
111
65
Cumbria, United Kingdom
As an American, I've driven in the UK twice and sounds like it mimics my driving style quite well! :) So perhaps AP is just trying to copy the behavior of an American tourist (who is used to sitting in the left half of the lane and positioning the car appropriately, not sitting in the right half of the lane.)

Yeah, maybe autopilot is used to driving on the right. It was a thought that passed my mind as I imagine most of the training data is from countries that drive on the right. :p
 

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