VIDEO // We hear everything and its opposite about Autopilot, which can end up being confusing. So what is really possible to do today with Tesla’s autonomous driving system in France?
Definitely the autopilot is talking about it lately, many are wondering in particular about the capabilities offered by a closed beta launched across the Atlantic. So much so that we would almost forget what he is still able to do in Europe and France today.
During our test of the performance version of the Tesla Model 3 (tested with the software version 2022.8.2 383989fadeea), we suggest that you take stock of your current autopilot capabilities. As a reminder, this is an SAE level 2 autonomous driving system. Therefore, Tesla cars are not 100% autonomous cars.
Autopilot can be activated on highways and two lanes with a central reserve and requires constant monitoring by the driver. The car also checks with a sensor that the latter keeps his hands behind the wheel. Unlike some competitors, therefore, it is necessary to give a boost in the direction from time to time, which the car may ask for at irregular intervals.
The Teslas are equipped with cameras, eight in number, twelve ultrasonic sensors and a radar on the front bumper. If the latter is no longer used in the United States, it is still in use in France, at least for now.
An already very effective serial version
As standard, all Tesla now includes Autopilot in its basic version, as well as an anthology of driving aids. One tap on the steering control lever activates adaptive cruise control, while two taps activate autopilot. Then the screen adjusts.
The system centers the car in the lane very effectively and without bouncing between the lines, as may be the case with other manufacturers. It is possible to adjust the distance between the car and the previous vehicle. However, one of the shortcomings of autopilot can be restrictive. These are “ghost” brakes, which cause the car to crash when it detects an alleged danger, even if it doesn’t have to be. The car automatically adjusts its speed to limit signals and weather conditions. However, it may happen that a panel is lost.
Improved autopilot: some additional features
Optionally, for € 3,800 to be added to the vehicle’s bill or later, the improved Autopilot offers, in addition to the basic functions, Autopilot navigation, which allows you to automatically take the correct exit from the motorway. The automatic lane change feature allows you to overtake a slower vehicle automatically, or almost, as you still need to activate the turn signal yourself to validate the maneuver.
Other enhanced autopilot features include parking, with autopilot mode, a feature that allows you to move your car forward or backward from your smartphone for limited spaces, or the popular Smart Summon feature. This makes it possible to call your car from your smartphone to join its owner in a car park. However, it requires Europe to be less than 5 meters from your car, which makes this feature lose much of its interest.
The ability to drive completely autonomously which (for now) is not one
Finally, for € 7,500, Tesla offers the option of fully autonomous driving capacity. In the United States, it’s also available for subscription, but it’s not yet our case. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, driving is not yet 100% autonomous. Thus, in Europe, the recognition and reaction to traffic lights and stop signals is added to the aforementioned functionalities and … that’s it. This feature allows the car to stop automatically at red lights and stop signs, which are infrequent on autopilot roads anyway, and requires driver confirmation to leave. The advantage of this option, therefore, does not come from its current functionalities: the customers that benefit from it will be able to take advantage of the next advances in Autopilot. Specifically, it is planned to make it usable in the city, as is already happening in the United States through a closed beta.
If the latter option doesn’t contribute much today, Tesla plans to increase its price as Autopilot’s capabilities expand. So it may still be interesting to buy it today.
Even without this option, autopilot is constantly evolving and improving with updates. Therefore, the mentioned defects can be corrected in the future and the autopilot has already advanced considerably.