Last week, the announcement of Tesla Autopilot had us in a bit of a tizzy. This is not your average cruise control, which by the way we are big fans of, especially on long road trips; two hands free for car dancing in the middle of nowhere is a great thing! But this new technology from Tesla allows its cars to drive themselves with no input from the driver — yes, you read that right — drive themselves.
We’ve been following reviews and wondering how this can possibly be safe and actually work, and we’re not really sure how this can be effective in busy cities like Los Angeles, where offensive driving is just as important as defensive driving; when all eyes and focus needs to be on the road.
During the official announcement of the supercar’s new self-driving feature, Tesla CEO Elon Musk emphasized that autopilot isn’t autonomous in the way that research cars are from companies like Google or Audi. Its actually at level two (out of four) on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s scale of self-driving cars.
But — not even 24 hours after the Autopilot was live, ex-Microsoft developer and geek-famous YouTube reviewer Barnacules Nerdgasm (AKA Jerry) and his friend decided to give it go. They drove a Tesla P85D (with its 762+ horse power), on a 33-mile road trip to get familiar with the new technology.
Here’s what he had to say.
Would you use Tesla Autopilot on a regular basis?
I would enable it, like I would enable cruise control. I would pay full attention, I’d keep my hands near the wheel at all times.
Do you think people will take advantage of this technology?
This is definitely something you have to respect. This is not just a, push the button and check out. This is just a tool, like cruise control. Right? You don’t enable cruise control and jump in the back seat.
Is there a market for cars with autopilot?
This is actually amazing because, if you have to drive in traffic and you’re going at slow speeds for long periods and distances, this would make the ride a joy. At high speed it’s a little nerve-racking on some roads, but once you drove a road a few times and you build up a confidence in it, you could just relax, just let your car drive you home.
What was the scariest moment of the test drive?
There was literally a police car on the side of the road, a cop walking around, a guy slamming on his breaks to change lanes at 10 miles per hour on the freeway, and the [Tesla] handled it well. That was a 10 out of 10 handling.
How does Autopilot drive differently than you might?
I don’t want to call it a late breaker, but like, I would start riding the breaks a lot earlier than it does. You can tell that the car has a hell of a lot more confidence in its abilities than I do. It’s like, ‘Aw yeah! Pfft. 20 feet? I can go from a hundred to zero in 20 feet. I’m good.’
How do you feel, now that you’ve have a few miles under your belt?
I feel fine. The two times that I had to touch the wheel, it was just a precautionary measure. I didn’t have to give it any input. Elon [Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors] was just like, there’s a chance, a chance… something might happen, so you might want to have your hands on the wheel. But that was only twice in that whole distance so, that was pretty cool.
What’s the bottom line for you?
This is amazing technology. It’s great, but, even on the freeway, you still need to be paying attention. You really do, because it’s not a substitute for the driver, it’s just a tool to help the driver. This can extend your range once you get used to it, once you get used to the quirks and everything just like cruise control, it’s gonna lessen the burden on you on your trip, but if you just check out, like full-blown automation, and expect it to be your valet, it’s going to be a pretty crappy valet.
Here is Jerry’s full video of the Tesla Autopilot Test Drive:
***So what do you guys think? Should we give Tesla Autopilot a try? Weigh in with a comment below, or tweet us @VoyageVixens.***
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