A Tesla fan and new Model 3 owner posted a video to Twitter mid-March showing him attempt to test his car’s Autopilot feature—but failing when he realized he’d never properly activated it in the first place.
Greg Wester’s experiment with his car’s recently downloaded Autopilot update begins with him posting a picture of his Tesla Model 3’s centre console screen with the caption “Oh my god this thing absolutely does not work i am laughing so hard I’m going to die twice.”
He followed that with a second tweet: “The dashcam of me crashing is going to be solid gold.”
The Autopilot feature – which he downloaded over-the-air, six months after taking delivery of the vehicle – is a driver aid combining lane-centering, adaptive cruise control and the ability to automatically change lanes with driver confirmation to make highway driving easier.
Wester then shared a video of him trying to use Autopilot to follow an Audi; he keeps just one hand on the steering wheel, in the futile hope the car would auto-steer to keep itself centered in the highway lane, but it instead drifts completely out of it toward the edge of the roadway.
He narrates his experience: “Uhhhhh, I’m not so sure about this thing, it’s trying to follow this Audi. It gets super-confused if you hug the side of the lane, it doesn’t steer you back,” he relates.
“Kinda thought it would pinball me in the lane and keep me here but I have to mostly stay in the lane. It gets really nervous too when cars are merging.”
While it may at first seem to those not familiar with the brand that his Autopilot criticisms are warranted, it didn’t take long for some other Tesla owners to chime in with his pretty obvious error.
They noted the Autopilot confirms it’s active only on when the steering wheel icon in the top left of the touchscreen turns blue. Pull the steering column stalk down twice, and a “bong bong” sound is supposed to signal it’s working.
Wester claims he did that, but it’s more likely he was only on a lesser radar cruise mode, and quite apparently not on Autopilot.
Other owners noted that newly installed Autopilot systems have a calibration stage, which requires the driver to keep the car in a straight line.
Automotive writer Alex Roy suggested Tesla should have perhaps built some sort of Autopilot education into the feature since the “learning curve isn’t as shallow as it needs to be,” and Wester’s experiment could have easily gone awry.