Many people associate Autopilot with planes, but did you know that the advancement in technology has made it possible with cars? Autonomous driving is no longer a thing of fictional movies but a reality.
Different car manufacturers have included one or more features that make driving effortless and safer. But back to the question: do all Teslas have Autopilot?
No. Autopilot is a relatively new feature available on select Tesla models, especially the newer ones. The technology dates back to October 2014 but only became a standard feature in 2021 and newer models.
Read on for detailed information about the Tesla autopilot technology, including its features and capabilities.
What is Tesla’s Autopilot?
Tesla’s Autopilot is a technology similar to the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) in other cars that enhances safety and convenience for drivers. It dates back to October 2014, when this California-based automaker unveiled it for the first time.
The naming of this system has been controversial for years because many people interpret it to mean autonomous driving, but it is not. It only simplifies your work behind the wheel, but you still have to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
Tesla’s autopilot technology initially deployed camera vision and radar technology, but the radars have been dropped in the newer models. The Model 3 and Model Y, designed and made for the European market, feature camera-based Tesla vision and neural network processing.
Tesla’s Autopilot comes as a standard feature in new Tesla cars. And even if you bought your car without it, you can get the packages. You will choose the Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving Capability, but that depends on your car model year.
According to the manufacturer, the Tesla Autopilot does not make the car autonomous. They come in different packages with varying capabilities, but the driver has to remain alert and take over when necessary.
Which Teslas Have Autopilot?
Tesla autopilot technology has a long history dating back to 2014. However, it was never a standard feature in cars before 2021.
All 2021 or newer models of Tesla cars come with Autopilot as a standard feature. Fortunately, you can buy the package for your car model if you bought it earlier. The new Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X, and Tesla Model Y have autopilot features.
Tesla’s Autopilot Capabilities
Tesla’s autopilot feature comes in different packages with varying capabilities. Understand what each entails before subscribing to any of them. Also, the cost of buying any package varies, but we will talk about that later.
The following are the Autopilot currently offered by Tesla:
1. Basic Autopilot
The Basic Autopilot package only comes with Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer functions.
The Traffic-Aware Cruise Control matches the speed of your car to that of the traffic, while the Autosteer helps you steer the vehicle within the marked lane. The autosteer feature also uses traffic-aware cruise control for accurate steering.
2. Enhanced Autopilot
The enhanced Autopilot has many more features that make driving fun and effortless. The package includes auto lane change, Navigate on Autopilot (beta), auto park, summon, and smart summon. We will discuss the capability of these features in the next section.
3. Full Self-Driving Capability
The full self-driving capability is the top-tier package that makes your car near autonomous. It includes all functions of the basic and enhanced Autopilot.
You also get additional features when you buy the full self-driving capability package. It comes with traffic and stops sign control (Beta).
Tesla’s technology is also advancing. Tesla will soon roll out autosteer on city streets, which will be part of the full self-driving capability package.
What Tesla’s Autopilot Can Do?
You can only experience the full capability of Tesla Autopilot if you buy the highest package with all the features. With it, you are on a great ride.
Your Tesla car with Autopilot is capable of the following:
1. Traffic-Aware Cruise Control
Traffic-aware cruise control is a standard function on all Tesla autopilot packages. As mentioned, it matches the speed of your car to the surrounding traffic. But how do you activate it?
If you have a Tesla Model X and S, pull the cruise control stalk towards you once. It is found on the left of the steering column. But if you drive Tesla Model 3 and Y, pull down the gear selector stalk once. It is on the right of the steering column.
Autosteer is also a standard feature in all autopilot packages. As the name suggests, it assists in steering your vehicle within the marked lane.
You can engage the autosteer in Model S and X by pulling down the cruise control stick on the left side of the steering column twice. You do the same on Model 3 and Model Y, but the controller is on the right of the steering column.
When the autosteer is engaged, it measures the torque you apply on the steering wheel to determine whether or not you are attentive behind the wheel. It issues audio and visual alerts if it detects an insufficient touch on the wheel.
If you ignore the warnings repeatedly, the system locks you out of using the Autopilot for the rest of the trip.
3. Auto Lane Change
As the name implies, the auto lane change helps you to move to the next lane on the motorway. For this feature to work, you should activate the Autosteer and hold the steering wheel.
You confirm the action before the vehicle steers to the next lane. You do that by engaging the indicator in the direction you want the car to move.
4. Navigate on Autopilot
This feature is designed to help you efficiently get to your destination following the best route. When engaged, it suggests lane changes, taking exits, and navigating the motorway interchanges.
To activate the Navigate on Autopilot, you must first engage autosteer. It will also require you to calibrate the camera and download the latest map version.
Autopark does just what its name suggests, it assists in packing your car. If your Tesla identifies a parking spot, it displays a gray P icon on your instrument panel. The icon appears either on the left or right, depending on the location of the parking space.
The autopark feature detects parallel and perpendicular parking spots when driving below 24 KPH and 16 KPH, respectively.
Using the auto park on your Tesla is straightforward. When the icon appears, press the brake and shift the gear to reverse. At that time, the “start autopark” text appears on your touchscreen. Press it and release the brake and steering wheel and your car will do the rest.
Once the parking is complete, the car alerts you and shifts to Park. However, you should remain alert throughout the process and take control, when necessary, by grabbing the steering wheel.
Summon helps to move the car in and out of a tight space. It uses the Tesla App to achieve that. Just launch the up and press and hold the forward or reverse buttons to initiate the process,
Summon can also be integrated with HomeLink to open your garage and drive your car out.
7. Smart Summon
Smart Summon is an advanced version of the sermon that allows your car to drive to where you are or any chosen location. It will maneuver the car and stop when necessary as you monitor everything.
You also use this feature through the Tesla App, where you initiate the process by clicking respective buttons. It uses your phone’s GPS to navigate to you or the target.
However, the Smart Summon use is limited to private parking lots and driveways. You are also responsible for your car.
8. Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control
This feature identifies stop signs and traffic lights and slows down the car to a stop. The upcoming traffic lights, stop signs, or road markings are displayed if it is active.
However, you should always be alert and intervene when necessary. This feature will stop your car at every traffic light, even if the green light is on.
Why Isn’t Autopilot a Fully-Autonomous Driving System?
As mentioned, Tesla’s Autopilot is controversial since the cars are not autonomous. That is because they don’t meet the standards for autonomy and still require human input.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), autonomy levels range from 0 to 5. The higher you go up the scale, the less human intervention is needed to drive the car.
Unfortunately, Tesla’s Autopilot is a level 2 system. It only takes away some control from the driver, making driving less tasking. And even the Full Self-Driving Capability package does not meet the standard for autonomous driving.
In any case, never take your eyes off the road or leave the driver’s seat. Your inputs are vital for your safety!
How Much Does Full Self-Driving Cost?
The subscription pricing, according to Tesla’s website, is $199.00 per month for Basic Autopilot and $199.00 per month for Enhanced Autopilot.
Alternatively, you can pay a flat rate of $15,000 once for Full Self-Driving in your Tesla. That is the new pricing after a recent increase from $12,000.
Does The Tesla Model 3 Have an Autopilot?
Yes. All 2021 or newer Tesla models have Autopilot. It has become a standard feature in new models, including Model Y, Model S, and Model X.
Can I Upgrade My Tesla Autopilot?
Yes. You can buy Basic Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, or full self-driving capability through the Tesla App, and the features will be added to your car.
Is Tesla Autopilot Safe?
Tesla’s Autopilot enhances safety on the road but does not eliminate human input. It is unsafe to rely solely on it to drive your car because it does not equate to autonomous driving. Stay alert and take charge when necessary.
Is Autopilot Legal?
Yes. Different states have passed autonomous driving laws regulating and authorizing the use of self-driving cars. At the time of this writing, no state has banned Autopilot or autonomous vehicles.
How do I know if my Tesla has Autopilot?
You can check your autopilot configuration through the vehicle’s touch screen or Tesla App. Navigate to controls, software, and additional vehicle information. If you are using the app, select the car and view the specs and warranty.
All new Tesla models have Autopilot as a standard feature. Contact the dealership to upgrade the computer system if your car is delivered without it. You won’t find Autopilot on old models because it is a relatively new technology.
Tesla’s Autopilot is not autonomous. It still requires human input to safely drive your car. It is, therefore, not a substitute for a driver. It only makes driving less tasking and more efficient. Always keep your eye on the road and intervene when using Autopilot.