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V10 Auto Pilot Leaves Space when Passing Large Trucks with Trailers

ValleyGeek

Member
Jan 1, 2018
102
191
North Bend, WA
I hadn't seen anyone else mention this but thought it was cool enough to share. On my commute today I noticed on I-90 that my car very deliberately favored the left side of the lane when passing a semi truck or a passenger truck towing a trailer on the left. Very similar to what I personally do when passing large vehicles that are prone to taking most of their lane.

I only passed about 7 trucks where I noted it, but it was consistent this morning and afternoon. Has anyone else noticed this? I would love for the release notes to cover these kind of behavior changes.

As I approach, the car is centered in the lane:
IMG_20191001_175527.jpg

When I get closer, it hugs the left line. You can see the blue line isn't straight anymore either:
IMG_20191001_175545.jpg

Stays there while passing. It even keeps this behavior on corners:
IMG_20191001_175547.jpg

Once I get around the truck it recenters in the lane:
IMG_20191001_175551.jpg

The highway isn't very crowded where I live so this was in light traffic. I didn't have any cars to my left so I'll have to get into a scenario where there is also something to my left. I didn't notice this happen the one time I was in the far-left lane and the semi was in the middle lane.

Anyway, it's these little things that keep me excited about the future potential of AP through all the goofy things it still does.
 

DCEV

Member
Mar 25, 2019
845
560
Washington DC
This is great news. I wish the car would offset away from other "dangers" as well.

For example if I pass a cyclist, I give the cyclist a good half a lane or so of space. There is no freaking way I'm going to risk the cyclist weaving and making contact.

Same for oncoming traffic. If there is space, I move away from the center line for oncoming traffic.

I even offset away from shrubs and bushes on the side of the road that might encroach on the road and potentially scratch the car.

Autopilot lane keeping is now incredibly good but just about all my Autopilot deactivations where I take control back is because I'm not comfortable with the car driving right in the middle of the lane when there is space to move away to increase the distance from another oncoming or passing vehicle or obstacle.

Wish it was possible to nudge the steering wheel to offset to a certain side without cancelling Autopilot. In fact this would e useful data for the Autopilot to see situations where human drivers instinctively offset away from danger.

A while back I saw this video of vehicle crashing with a Model S. The accident is not the fault of the Model S but an example of how offsetting away from oncoming traffic would have been safer both for the Model S as well as oncoming traffic.

The video below is a testement to the safety of the Model S. I just think certain offset behavior could avoid accidents or minimize the impact god forbid something bad happens. I'd love to see more behavior from Autopilot where it offsets away from potential threats as a precaution.

 

TechVP

Active Poster
Nov 12, 2016
400
286
Corvallis, OR
I documented the same in another Model X V10 thread.
The behavior works like this:

There must be at least 3 lanes.
Tesla must be in a middle lane, not leftmost lane.
Most evident on freeways, at freeway speeds.
Occurs when passing vehicles. Semi trucks are most pronounced.

Then your Tesla will get pushed left several inches, inside your lane.

Right now I feel it is not smooth enough. My passengers thought it was my driving, not AP. Essentially they shouldn't even notice.
Overall the goal is the right approach.
Would like to see this behavior, cosine (graph) style smoothed out to be real gentle.

-TechVP
 

SoCal Buzz

Supporting Member
Oct 9, 2018
484
388
Orange County, CA, USA
It would also be nice if AP shifted to allow motorcycles more room to pass. The other day, a biker actually flipped my side mirror with his hand while passing because he didn’t think I was offering enough space with AP driving in center.
 

quickstrike12

Member
Jun 13, 2018
621
462
Fort Worth Texas
I documented the same in another Model X V10 thread.
The behavior works like this:

There must be at least 3 lanes.
Tesla must be in a middle lane, not leftmost lane.
Most evident on freeways, at freeway speeds.
Occurs when passing vehicles. Semi trucks are most pronounced.

Then your Tesla will get pushed left several inches, inside your lane.

Right now I feel it is not smooth enough. My passengers thought it was my driving, not AP. Essentially they shouldn't even notice.
Overall the goal is the right approach.
Would like to see this behavior, cosine (graph) style smoothed out to be real gentle.

-TechVP
I agree. This is a nice and welcome change.
However.......it has not been as smooth last few days bouncing around in gentle curves and staying in the middle of lane. It will drift to outside of a slight curve and then abruptly turn back to center of lane at last second and startle the passengers. And me.
has done this many times lately. Seems I have only had it happen during curves in freeway. Straight line is very centered.
 

tonglaji

Member
Feb 24, 2016
166
169
cary, nc
I notice the same behavior this morning, too. Passing big trucks always made me nervous until this morning. It actually started shifting to the left before passing the truck. Here is a picture:
IMG_6060.jpeg
 

f205v

Member
May 12, 2018
646
748
Tessin, Switzerland
This lane shifting is super-annoying IMHO.
Whenever it starts to shift left instead of staying centred in the lane, I *sugar* my pants, grab the wheel and disengage!
It makes me feel totally unsafe.
I mean: lane are obviously wide enough to accomodate large trucks and lorries, there is absolutely no need to swerve left (or right) in unexpected ways. It is also detrimental to real Self Driving that the NN tries to mimic a (bad) human behaviour! I'm willing to pay for a robot doing my job only if the robot can do it BETTER than me! if the robots does the same errors that the average human does, where is the point?
 

ramonneke

Active Member
Apr 26, 2018
3,531
2,028
Rotterdam
I mean: lane are obviously wide enough to accomodate large trucks and lorries, there is absolutely no need to swerve left (or right) in unexpected ways.

I don't agree, trucks and lorries drift out of their lane all the time. The following incidents of my own were close encounters that *almost* went wrong. I really like the new behavior a lot!


 

DCEV

Member
Mar 25, 2019
845
560
Washington DC
This lane shifting is super-annoying IMHO.
Whenever it starts to shift left instead of staying centred in the lane, I *sugar* my pants, grab the wheel and disengage!
It makes me feel totally unsafe.
I mean: lane are obviously wide enough to accomodate large trucks and lorries, there is absolutely no need to swerve left (or right) in unexpected ways. It is also detrimental to real Self Driving that the NN tries to mimic a (bad) human behaviour! I'm willing to pay for a robot doing my job only if the robot can do it BETTER than me! if the robots does the same errors that the average human does, where is the point?

I absolutely disagree. Yes, in an ideal world everyone would be in the middle of their lane but we do not live in an ideal world. That extra space you get when you offset away from a potential threat could be the difference between a close call and an accident. Did you not watch the video I posted above? If the Tesla had offset away from incoming traffic, the severity of that accident would have been much less.

Most humans already do this. A huge tractor trailer is coming towards you on the opposite lane and it makes sense to offset away from the vehicle if it is safe to do so. If the tractor trailer driver gets distracted and enters your lane, this at least gives you a fighting chance to react.

Same for cyclists who I see swerving from side to side all the time. I never pass a cyclist unless I can give them half a lane of space as I'm not taking any chance of hurting someone so vulnerable. Yes, it means I use half of the adjoining lane to pass the cyclist but I wait for a gap in traffic and do it quickly :p

Space is there to be used and lately just about every time I override Autopilot is when I feel uncomfortable with the car not offsetting away from oncoming or adjoining traffic when it is safer to do so. At the least I wish this was an option with Autopilot, along with how quickly the car should accelerate when traffic starts moving again.

Just like MadMax Mode, I wish they allow driver settings for acceleration from a stop and how much the car should offset. I would select "Max" for both those options.
 
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f205v

Member
May 12, 2018
646
748
Tessin, Switzerland
@ramonneke I do see your well documented close encounters, but let me just state my point a little bit better: in cases like yours (which I would call "emergency cases") an auto-swerving system is more than welcome!
What I do not like is the swerving even when there is absolutely no need for it, similar to what you can see in the OP initial post.
having a system that swerves EVERY time is over-correction at best, annoying and dangerous at worst (dangerous because I'm not expecting it, and it force me to react to a non existing threat - similar to the kind of reaction you get when there are instances of phantom-brakes)

@DCEV sorry, but my point is only about swerving for trucks going in the same direction while you overtake. Obviously the situation is entirely different for incoming traffic. BTW, autopilot should be used only on divided roads, therefore the instance you are taking about is a non-issue. Also: in the Spain incident you posted above there is no report what so ever that autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash.
Regarding cyclist: obviously in such a case moving away from them is the thing to do. In my country (Switzerland) the law states that cars MUST give a minimum of 1 meter (3+ feet) gap when overtaking a cyclist. But again: cyclist are not allowed on divided roads, so for actual autopilot this is a non-issue.
 

tonglaji

Member
Feb 24, 2016
166
169
cary, nc
@f205v, like everyone else on this thread, I have to disagree with you violently. :)

First, you used the word "swerve", which is not true in this new behavior. What I observed for the last two days are gentle adjustment in the lane, just as human driver would have done naturally.

Second, I view staying away from a truck as an added security measure that every driver should take. If it is safe to bear to the other side of the lane, why not do it? It is simply safer.

And by the sound of it, I reckon you never experienced truck lust in the early days.
 
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conman

Active Member
Aug 19, 2017
1,438
2,133
Melbourne, Australia
Count me in the objections too. Try driving yourself for a while and pay attention; you'll probably find that you do it unconsciously yourself too. It's a very human way of responding.
 
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DCEV

Member
Mar 25, 2019
845
560
Washington DC
Also blind spots. I try to offset away from those as well and never linger in someone's blind spot if I can help it while Autopilot isn't so aware of avoiding being in someone's blind spot, when possible. I either slow down or speed up (usually speed up!:p) so I'm in front of someone's blind spot.

I basically offset away from any perceived potential threat and this makes me uncomfortable to use Autopilot when there is congestion...

For me the biggest thing they can do to add to the comfort on using Autopilot is to work on an offsetting neural net that also takes into account things like shrubs and bushes that grow along certain roadways. Sometimes staying in the middle would result in scratches along the length of the car.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with how good Autopilot steering has become.

The Autopilot team has done a great job and with proper offsetting, it will be as good as a careful human driver.
 

f205v

Member
May 12, 2018
646
748
Tessin, Switzerland
@tonglaji sorry if my wording isn't correct, but I'm not an English native speaker. So I do not know all the nuances and different meanings: I thought that swerving was a direct replacement for "gentle adjustment in the lane". Now I looked it up in a dictionary, and I apologise for using it in this context. You are right, it doesn't "swerve", it moves inside the lane; never-the-less this movement is annoying to me.

@conman I do also agree with you (and with @tonglaji above) that this is a "normal" human behaviour, which I've done myself in the past and which I see every day done by other drivers around me. But a robot should be better then humans! Humans also tend to resort to road rage and eventually physical violence for trifle things like right of way in parking lots: do you expect your robot Tesla to do the same "human behaviour"?!?

@DCEV again I do agree with you that lingering in someone else blind spot is calling for troubles, but that is mainly an issue with US cars. Here in Europe a different kind of rear mirrors is used, and the blind spots are basically non-existent.

As a conclusion: I do understand that my feeling are a very small minority, and the majority of drivers prefers the new behaviour. I accept it and even support it if this is the way forward to make AP more widely accepted and more widely perceived as "safe".
What I'm asking for is the possibility to toggle the feature off for those minority (like me) that do not feel comfortable with it.
 

conman

Active Member
Aug 19, 2017
1,438
2,133
Melbourne, Australia
I'd still argue it's safer to be closer to a car than a truck, given an option. Humans do that behaviour because it is better and safer, not because they're overtaken by rage at the time, but you've already expressed you'd prefer to be rock solid in the middle of the lane regardless.
 
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ValleyGeek

Member
Jan 1, 2018
102
191
North Bend, WA
I'm willing to pay for a robot doing my job only if the robot can do it BETTER than me!
It's funny, I was talking with a friend about this topic yesterday. The idea we were discussing is how much easier autonomy would be if human drivers didn't need to be a factor considered. If all cars were immediately autonomous, expected behavior would be significantly simpler to account for - with the exceptions of edge cases caused by malfunctions and component failure. The transition time we have where autonomy and humans are sharing the same responsibilities in the same space is adding immense complexity and will mean the computers are going to have to pick up some bad habits so they can blend in.

Countless times with AP driving and following safe road rules I've had to override it in ways that go against best practice so that I'm either blending in with surrounding traffic or to avoid completely aggravating other drivers. I've come to the conclusion that, at least while autonomous cars are the minority, they will need to adopt "human" behaviors to blend in and coexist until there are enough of them to force other drivers into new patterns and expectations.

I too would love to see more configuration to AP opened up so you can tune it's behavior to suit your needs, comfort, style. At the very least, making more public notes or announcements of the new behaviors added with releases so we aren't completely caught off guard would be very nice.
 
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BigNick

Infamous Fat Sweaty Guy
Dec 3, 2017
1,211
1,449
Pennsylvania, USA
Also blind spots. I try to offset away from those as well and never linger in someone's blind spot if I can help it while Autopilot isn't so aware of avoiding being in someone's blind spot, when possible. I either slow down or speed up (usually speed up!:p) so I'm in front of someone's blind spot.
AP1 truly has tunnel vision, without the side repeater cameras. It will camp out right next to a big truck for miles and miles if the speed of the car ahead of you in your lane doesn't allow you to get past the truck or force you to drop back.
Then of course there's the issues with AP1 cresting hills on two-lane roads. It really does require constant supervision. :)
 

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