TACC (Traffic Aware Cruise Control)
- Absolutely wonderful on the highways.
- Really decent on divided/well-marked roads with a few odd decelerations at times.
- Not good on busy city streets (no surprise) – would not recommend using it in these situations.
While it did seem to slow down at times for various speed limit changes in some pattern I couldn’t figure out, it didn’t seem to track the speed limits — accelerate up to the speed limit (or my offset) and then slow down to the speed limit (or offset). It was mostly what others call adaptive cruise control and was well done. It would be even better if it adapted better to changing speed limits.
Adaptive high beams
I didn’t get a ton of time with these at night but overall they’re also a nice addition over my Model S:
- Living out in the country, I always use high beams when I can and it’s nice to have the car do it automatically for me and pretty well.
- I wish I could tune the sensitivity etc on it to my tastes as there were a few timings/sensitivities I would have adjusted to suit how I would have done it myself.
I think Summon was disabled on my loaner as I couldn’t get it to work with any of the summon forms available. In theory, you can use the app (not on a loaner), the FOB (didn’t work) or the gear stalk to engage it. Neither of the latter two worked and there were no messages or warnings that it was disabled.
If Summon or other features are disabled for some reason I believe the car should let you know somewhere and definitely when you try to engage/use the feature. I would have liked to have seen how it could handle backing into my garage as thats what i’ll need to do with the Model 3 when I get it.
On to the main course. I was really interested in seeing just how smart autopilot was and what all the excitement was about. My observations:
- Highways with heavy traffic:
- Decent but mostly due to TACC
- With a lot of traffic, it was wonderful. It took me some time to find the right position to place my hand and hold the steering wheel comfortably while letting the car do its thing. I settled for a “hand on right knee pinch wheel” approach.
- With speed ups and slow downs, it did very well and was helpful and took a lot of stress out of this ugly part of highway driving. This was more due to TACC than AP but it handled one more thing.
- Highways with light to moderate traffic:
- With a clear road, it nice and steady and tracked the road well
- With a road with some cars but passing at speed, people changing lanes etc it was concerning at times. It rode too close to the left line, didn’t seem to see cars coming up from behind left or right until too late, didn’t accelerate as people moved over until really late, the automatic lane changes were a tad too slow, etc.
- It tried to take several exits I didn’t want to take even though the NAV was set to continue on the road and all traffic in front was staying on the same road.
- It was decent but had definite room for improvement.
- Non-highway use:
- It was scary/bad/horrifying off highways
- I’ll compare this to a roller coaster ride. You know you’re in for an exciting ride, please pay attention and be prepared to take control at any random time. Don’t use if you’re not ready for some excitement.
- On these rural roads, seemingly for no reason, it would veer sharply and quickly one way or another (perhaps based on shadows, line changes for turning lanes, potholes etc).
- It would not follow the road I was on and would try to go left or right or get in a panic asking me to take over at times
- It would abruptly slow down at random points. These could definitely lead to rear-end collisions if you’re not careful.
- If I wasn’t totally on top of it I would definitely have had several accidents.
- These were 35mph+ roads, with a clear dividing line and varying lines or edges on the right. Nothing fancy.
- Overall, off highway, I found AP2 to be a failure although fun (in a crazy sort of way) to play with.
Lee Raesly said:
I believe the summon featured has to be activated in the settings option. Not in my car now but I know I had to turn it on for control by the FOB.
It was enabled in the settings but still didn’t work. A warning on the settings page would be appropriate. Supposedly loners also have speed limited but I didn’t check that.
Tesla Owner said:
I agree with what you wrote here. Its been a while since I tested autopilot but I found it very meh. Only kind of useful on the freeway, but even then unless I could be say “doing something else” I still have to pay attention to the road. And on twisty highways was scary as you said.
I think people who drive in traffic jams really like it, and those who have must have every technology like it. I think the adaptive cruise control is a great feature but that isn’t autopilot.
I don’t really have any interest in it unless it is pure self driving, but that seems like a really long ways away till you can say be asleep at the wheel.
I do quite a bit of highway driving so the TACC would be really helpful. The rest is more of a gimmick right now as far as I can tell. Some excellent marketing though 🙂
Lee Raesly said:
I have AutoPilot 1.0 (late 2014 car) and I use AP whenever I am traveling on the highway. I live just outside of DC and it works well on any of the interstates around here. As pointed out by Teslaliving, it excels in stop and go traffic but I find it both safe and convenient with little or no congestion on the interstate.
I drive to the Delaware shore for as many weekends as I can in the summer and my only complaint is the speed limiter on some of the two lane highways that I have to travel to get there. Many of these roads are heavily traveled, wide roads with large shoulders. They’re marked well and are both flat (it’s the shore!) and straight. AP 1.0 does very well with these but the traffic moves at about 10 mph over the limit (60 mph) vs. the posted 50 mph. The current AP system treats all two lane roads the same- whether they are windy back country roads, slower suburban or city roads or two lane highways through largely rural areas.
When AP was first released in beta there was no speed limiter but after a bunch of crazy videos (and maybe car feedback) the final release included only a speed limit +5 mph for AP. This makes sense for suburban/urban areas as well as winding rural roads. But it really limits it when you’re driving back-country highways that don’t have a divider.
I end up turning off AP and just using the TACC on the rural roads. Works great but I like AP for peace of mind.
And, regardless, you absolutely have to keep your eyes on the road at all times. It’s not the AP but the other drivers that seem to be unpredictable.
My two cents… 😉 And love the blog.
Thanks Lee! It sounds like AP1 is about the same as AP2 now. Im sure both will continue to improve over time and be more useful on more road types. Drive safe!
John Nevo said:
I have an S with AP1 and an X with AP2. exact same issues. improvements are super slow. and you are better off not using on two lane roads or non-highway; both ap’s. unless scary. and it brakes so late, that you think that it forgets….
John Nevo said:
Still, Tesla car is light years ahead of industry. And ap is ahead of industry. Look at what is happening!
Merrill Smith said:
I have an S with software version 2017.42 a88c8d5, 6000 mi. Highway AP was OK on delivery except for over agressive lane changes. Local two lane roads were a disaster. With the latest software version everything has changed. Highway operation is flawless. Local non-posted roads are now OK with the exception of really tight turns during which the car tends to drift across the center line. May or may not recover without driver input.
Does your car have AP2 or AP1? Sounds encouraging for sure!