Autopilot is probably one of the most anticipated and exciting features about renting a Tesla, and we are excited for you to try it out, but just a few words of caution first. First and foremost, Tesla’s are not currently a full self-driving car. As the screen will warn you when you activate the feature, you, the renter/driver, are responsible for staying alert and maintaining control of the vehicle at all times. Any mishaps or accidents as a result of using Autopilot will be the sole responsibility of the renter/driver.
Now, that being said, Tesla has a driver assistance feature known as Enhanced Autopilot (EAP). The main objective is to combine Traffic Aware Active Cruise Control (TAACC) with lane keeping technology. TAACC combines the traditional concept of cruise control with an active radar system that looks for vehicles or objects in front of you and will automatically slow down the car as needed. TAACC technology is not new and is used on almost all new cars and trucks with technology-based trim levels.
Note: Current Tesla technology has trouble with detecting stationary objects, so please do not relay on TAACC to come to a stop for stationary objects.
Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot uses a a series of cameras and sensors to keep the car centered in a lane when driving on highways. EAP is best used on interstates where lanes are clearly marked and don’t have other obstacles such as street lights or stop signs. While EAP technology is continuously improving, use of EAP on state highways and local roads is highly discouraged as the technology can sometimes perform unpredictably. For example, sometimes when turn lanes appear to cross a median, the car may unexpectedly move into that lane, which can be dangerous at speed. So, as a reminder, the driver needs to always stay alert when leveraging Autopilot. Contrary to popular belief, EAP does not yet read stop signs or stoplights. It is only managing it’s speed based on a vehicle in front of it.
Tesla EAP also has some other features such as auto-lane change where you can turn on the blinker and the car will change lanes for you. This feature mostly works on interstates and is limited on other road types based on the type of road the Tesla classifies it as.
Please review the following Autopilot excerpts from the Tesla users manual.
How to activate Autpilot
On the Model X, you’ll notice a second stalk on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. You can tap this once to activate TAACC. A short tap up or down will adjust the cruise control speed by 1 MPH and a hard tap will do the same in 5 MPH increments. Tap the stalk down twice to activate Autopilot. The end of the stalk can be twisted to adjust the following distance of EAP.
On the Model 3, there is no dedicated cruise control/EAP stalk. Instead, just tap down once on the cruise control stalk to activate TAACC or twice to activate Autopilot. All speed controls will then be controlled from the touchscreen as covered in the Interface Walk-thru FAQ.