We both drive a lot and have driving instincts that are violated when Tesla thinks it knows what it is doing better than us. For those of you just wanting the meat of this article, read this part. Autosteer is a BETA feature. I believe that Tesla is just collecting data from drivers willing to use it and who have agreed to allow Tesla to use this data. Go ahead and use it but keep your hands on the wheel. This car will do the following things which are unacceptable for a business driver wanting to keep their investment in one piece.
- When passing any vehicle but especially semi trucks (18 wheelers), the car tends to want to steer into the vehicle as it passes it. It took a thousand miles of driving to get to the point of not freaking out when passing. I still don’t trust it.
- When changing lanes using the turn signal to initiate the change, the car senses a clear path but then jerks you over into the next lane. The transition is anything but smooth. I don’t like it.
- When moving along a non-interstate road and especially in a town, the car misreads things like well defined crosswalks (white lines with red bricks for instance) and immediately applies the brakes. On occasion, it will also jerk the steering wheel in another direction. This is a problem only when autosteer is active. I don’t trust it.
- The car will jerk in an unwanted direction when confused by construction lines, intersection lines, exit and entrance ramps (the line disappears), and rain. It is slightly better during the day. I don’t trust it.
- When following the lines of the road, the car only sees what is directly in front of it. This leads to it bouncing back and forth between the lane markings. When traveling at high speeds on the interstate it becomes less noticeable but on a 45 mph country road, it becomes annoying. I have had a few times when the car rapidly bounces back and forth acting lost and I take over the steering. Every race driver and every horse rider and every truck driver uses their distant vision to predict where they want their car / horse / truck to be in the future while keeping only a subtle peripheral view of the road in front of them. The brain makes the math calculations and the turn becomes smooth as silk. Tesla needs to model their steering to this dual vision approach. Otherwise passengers will become sick from motion sickness. I don’t trust it.
- I found that a gentle hand on the wheel minimizes the constant auto-correction within the lane. In fact I can go a long ways on the interstate without a fight between me and the steering wheel. However, then the car tells me to get my hands back on the wheel. They are already! Then suddenly, it screams at me and turns autosteer completely off until I turn off the car completely. AND BOTH OF MY HANDS WERE ON THE WHEEL. I don’t trust it.
I have over 3000 miles on my X and I am still going to use autosteer in hopes that Tesla is recording all of these issues and working their plan to make it truly an auto steering vehicle. But if you are purchasing a Tesla just for the “Autopilot” features, it’s not there yet. If you want to get one anyway, then don’t let autosteer disappoint you. It’s just not ready for the professional driver. We just don’t trust it.