Would You Drive A Car Using Tesla’s Autopilot?

Would You Drive A Car Using Tesla’s Autopilot?

It’s been nearly a year since Tesla introduced its Autopilot feature. In the time since, we’ve seen that the system isn’t perfect. Even still, would (or do) you trust a car with driving assist features?

Photo by Schwar.

To be clear, Tesla’s Autopilot doesn’t make a car completely autonomous. It’s largely a combination of cruise control and lane assist that makes highway driving simpler, but it can’t navigate complex, crowded streets. Consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports highlights this in its recommendation to change the name. Tesla disagrees with the suggestion.

Of course, Tesla isn’t the only company experimenting with automated driving, and many other cars have some form of self-driving feature, from lane assist to self-parking. So, where do you stand? Are you excited for a future where cars can take the burden of driving away from you? Or are you hesitant to jump on the early adopter bandwagon for this one?


  • I think changing the name is a great idea… “Hey dad, what does Natural Selection Mode do???”

  • The name Autopilot echoes and implies the feature used on aircraft whereby it takes over the ‘steering’ of the plane. The Tesla device does not do that. It’s more a ‘Cruise Control Plus’.

    I call this as false advertising, and I regrettably await the US legal profession having a field day with it.

    • How does it stay in the lanes if it doesn’t steer?

      Does an aeroplane in Autopilot mode automatically steer around other planes/birds/weather patterns?

      • Yes it does to some of those.
        Or you can confirm changes with simple inputs after audible warnings.
        There collision detection systems one new aircraft talk to each other to steer one up and one down. Rather than driving into the side of a truck.

        • Yes it does to some of those.
          Or you can confirm changes with simple inputs after audible warnings.

          Aha! So as a pilot you have to pay attention to what is going on around the plane and what its instruments are telling you?! OMG! The pilots can’t all leave the cockpit and chat to the passengers & crew and take a snooze down the back of the plane?

          I saw a show on Prime2 a couple of days ago where a plane on autopilot flew 150 miles past its destination before the pilots realised. They weren’t responding to radio broadcasts the whole time as well. ‘Apparently’ they both had their noses in their laptops. Well so they said.. They both received permanent life bans as pilots.

          Surely autopilot would know to circle it’s destination? Beep at them. Land. Do something rather than keep flying straight ahead (into the mountain / semi trailer). What if the autopilot disengaged and they didn’t respond?

          How did Sullinger’s plane go at avoiding the flock of birds?

          It sure sounds like in all these cases you are meant to be paying attention to your surroundings and if a semi-trailer / plane appears in front of you, press the brake or take avoidance action.

          Not play with your laptop / watch a Harry Potter DVD / or do other stupid shit…

          Did you know the first person to invent cruise control in the early 20th century called it ‘autopilot’? Did anyone kick up a stink about the name then?


          • Actually they could if they were in earshot.
            The pilots are at the controls to respond to an emergency not stare out the window waiting for one.
            Most of the notifications if no immediate input the auto pilot will do a lot for you. Say flying into an mountain Modern auto pilots will give you warning but if no input is given will increase lift automatically.
            Many a pilot plays on his phone and what not while flying.
            Planes don’t typically avoid birds they are usually an inconvenience and engines windscreens etc are designed to with stand bird strikes. Sullinger was a freak occurrence.
            The training given to pilots these days is trust the autopilot for it is better at flying the plane than a pilot. Manual control is a last resort in most situations.
            Yes cruise control was originally called auto pilot. May want to look up the lawsuits surrounding that and a particular man in his motor home, hence the renaming to cruise control.

            This is still away from the point the failure of the tesla was not the driver. The sensors did not see the truck. It was a failure of the system to correctly identify a hazard regardless what they want to call there system.

          • Yes the system did not register the truck driving perpendicular across the highway. Mobileye have gone on the record saying it’s not currently designed to do that.

            Did the ‘autopilot’ driving aid fail? No, the driver did. He did not brake to stop the car.

  • Co-Pilot would have been a much better name for it, then they could charge more again for auto pilot when it actually gets that advanced.

  • No. I own a car for the pleasure of driving. I use cruise control on the freeway to protect my license but that’s as far as I would ever go. I would never let my car park itself, nor would I ever activate an radar cruise control or lane-keeping or any of the rest of it. That’s my job and I’ve managed for 40 years without any problems.

  • I have driven a tesla and loved it.
    They are a fantastic car to drive or passenger in.

  • Damn right I’d use it, (if I could afford such a car). I’ve had about 10,000 hours practice, I’m not going to get any better, but I may well get worse. After ~40 years of driving basically the same way it’s about time the process got a bit more efficient.

  • No it doesn’t. As you noted the pilot has to input changes, some simple, other not so simple.
    The autopilot keeps the planes straight and level, effectively in a lane.
    A separate system called the Flight Director (or Flight Management System) is what tells the Autopilot to turn, climb/descend, increase/decrease speed when following a pre-programmed route.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!