VIDEO // We hear everything and its opposite about Autopilot, which can end up being confusing. So what is it really possible to do today with Tesla’s autonomous driving system in France?
The Autopilot has definitely been talked about lately, many 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 capable of doing even today in Europe and in France.
During our test of the Performance version of the Tesla Model 3 (tested with software version 2022.8.2 383989fadeea), we therefore suggest that you take stock of the current capabilities of Autopilot. As a reminder, this is an SAE level 2 autonomous driving system. Teslas are therefore not 100% autonomous cars.
Autopilot can be activated on motorways and two lanes with a central reservation and requires constant monitoring by the driver. The car also checks via a sensor that the latter keeps his hands on the steering wheel. Unlike some competitors, it is therefore necessary to give an impulse in the direction from time to time, which the car may request at irregular intervals.
The Teslas are equipped with cameras, eight in number, twelve ultrasonic sensors and a radar in the front bumper. If the latter is no longer used in the United States, it is still in France, for the moment at least.
A series version already very effective
As standard, all Teslas now include Autopilot in its basic version, as well as an anthology of driving aids. A tap on the drive control stalk activates the adaptive cruise control, while two taps activate the Autopilot. The display then adapts.
The system centers the car in the lane very effectively and without bouncing between the lines, as can be the case with other manufacturers. It is possible to adjust the distance between the car and the vehicle in front. However, one of Autopilot’s shortcomings can prove to be restrictive. These are “phantom” braking, which make the car pound when it detects a supposed danger, even if it does not have to be. The car automatically adapts its speed to limit signs and weather conditions. However, it can happen to him to miss a panel.
Improved Autopilot: some bonus features
As an option, for €3,800 to be added to the vehicle invoice or afterwards, the improved Autopilot offers, in addition to the basic functions, Autopilot navigation, which allows you to automatically take the right motorway exit. The automatic lane change feature makes it possible to overtake a slower vehicle automatically, or almost, since it is still necessary to activate the turn signal yourself to validate the maneuver.
The other functions of the improved Autopilot concern parking, with an automatic parking mode, a function allowing the car to be moved forward or backward from your smartphone for narrow spaces, or the famous Smart Summon function. It is thus possible to call his car from his smartphone so that it joins its owner in a parking lot. Still, it requires in Europe to be less than about 5 m from your car, which makes this function lose much of its interest.
The ability to drive fully autonomously which is (for the moment) not one
Finally, for 7500 €, Tesla offers the fully autonomous driving capability option. In the United States, it is also available by subscription, but this is not yet the case with us. Contrary to what its name suggests, it is still not 100% autonomous driving. Thus, in Europe, it adds to the previously mentioned functionalities recognition and reaction to traffic lights and stop signs and… that’s it. This feature allows the car to automatically stop at red lights and stop signs, which are rare on Autopilot-enabled roads anyway, and requires driver confirmation to drive away. The advantage of this option therefore does not stem from its current functionalities: the customers who benefit from it will above all be able to take advantage of the next advances in Autopilot. In particular, it is planned to make it usable in town, as is already the case in the United States via a closed beta.
If this last option does not bring much today, Tesla plans to increase its price as the capabilities of Autopilot expand. It can therefore still be interesting to acquire it today.
Even without this option, the Autopilot is constantly evolving and improving with updates. The defects mentioned can therefore be corrected in the future and the Autopilot has already made significant progress.