Consumer Reports: Tesla's latest autopilot is far from perfect
Tesla regularly updates the firmware of its electric vehicles, and also tries to improve the Autopilot. The other day, the results of testing an autopilot conducted by members of the Consumer Reports organization were published. Tests were conducted on an electric car Tesla Model 3s.
As part of the testing, the group sent several drivers to Connecticut (USA) expressways in order to check how well or poorly Autopilot does its job. One of the features that was tested is the new automatic lane change feature.
As it turned out, Autopilot is much less competent in this matter than a person. Of course, the system cannot be compared with the driver, because the instructions for the electric car say that "Autopilot is not a complete replacement for the driver, the latter should not take his hands off the steering wheel while driving."
However, Consumer Reports decided to test the new feature. One of the problems is that the autopilot asks the driver to confirm the need to change lanes. Rather, I asked, because within a few days the developers added the ability to change the strip without confirmation.
But, unfortunately, there are still problems. The main problem is that Autopilot, as far as you can tell, is not able to evaluate the actions of other drivers. But when changing lanes, especially at high speed, it is extremely necessary. Testers said that the electric car did not recognize the actions of other drivers, plus everything, the Tesla Model 3s did not signal a turn, which is required to warn other road users.
But worst of all is not even that, but the fact that the car cut other cars, and at the same time slowed down to create a distance between itself and another car. “This could be a big surprise for the car you cut,” one of the test participants said .
Testers found that the rear cameras of the Model 3s have a limited range, they can not see what is far behind the electric car. Accordingly, the autopilot is not able to adequately assess the speed of the cars going behind, in the event that there is a large distance between them and the electric car. The electric car cuts off those vehicles that move very quickly, approaching close to how many meters in a couple of seconds.
Plus, an autopilot sometimes violates specific traffic rules relevant to Connecticut. “We evaluated the actions of the electric car with representatives of the traffic police and they confirmed this fact. Violation is punishable, so you can get a fine for it, ”said representatives of Consumer Reports.
In their opinion, driving a car that can independently change the lane is tiring. Representatives of Consumer Reports said that this is similar to how for the first time to put a teenager behind the wheel and control his driving on the road.
The testimonies of the Consumer Reports representatives are important because they allow you to evaluate how close the technology is to complete autonomy - what Tesla is aiming for. On the other hand, the company is making progress, since previously the autopilot only watched the lane and acted in accordance with the environment. If an obstacle appeared in front, the autopilot slowed down or turned.
Tesla has repeatedly stated that it plans to introduce new autopilot features gradually so that over time the autopilot replaces the person driving. But if the introduction of new products will be as problematic as in the case of the lane change function, then the effectiveness of the company's plan can be called into question.
True, Tesla is constantly improving its autopilot, correcting errors found. Perhaps over time, electric cars will learn to masterfully change the lane on intercity routes, and this problem will no longer be.