Tom Laffenholz – founder and CEO of IonTransmissions – has an interesting take on how well Tesla’s Autopilot tech works. He doesn’t think it’s too good. Well, let’s check out the data, shall we? (Laffenholz’s remarks make his point by reference to something Steven Levy wrote for Wired: “Laffenholz has several Tesla cars, one Model S P100D, a “first-generation Model X,” and a “fully automated car,” not a Tesla, he says. On each occasion that Laffenholz and his wife have gone for a drive together, he’s taken over for his wife’s Tesla, turned on Autopilot, and been able to drive very quickly. (On a drag race course, for example, one can drive along at 200 miles per hour with hands off the wheel.)” Data from Autopilot’s sensors show that the cars are quick and steady There’s a lot of noise in the data.
Autopilot is designed to operate at speeds of 80 kilometers per hour (about 50 miles per hour), not 100. It’s also not perfect. Laffenholz pulls down a dashboard live map of the road, what shows the road on Autopilot in a specific spot. The green circle shown on the map moves rapidly with what looks like a “plan it” function. If your hands are off the wheel, or if a collision appears imminent, the map ticks down and the road turns red.
There are functions within Autopilot that allow you to take over for your spouse, and Autopilot does not require you to touch the steering wheel. At the speed that an autosteer setting will activate, however, you can’t slow the car down while still behind the wheel. Laffenholz just covers the road’s surface and doesn’t factor in acceleration or braking, so it’s hard to get a good feel for whether Tesla’s Autopilot system works. However, looking at Laffenholz’s figures, it’s clear that it’s very smooth operation, not a chaotic rush of chaotic times.
We can go on and on and on. It’s worth it for a crisp and entertaining tour of how Tesla, um, self-introverts, believe in their self-driving technology. Well done, self-introverts! Well done.