Tesla Promised "Smooth as Silk" Autopilot with New Update, Still Fells Cottony

Tesla Autopilot 2 Test 1 photo
Photo: Vimeo screenshot
Tesla essentially had to start from scratch with its Autopilot advanced cruise control system after the break-up with Israeli firm Mobileye almost one year ago. Since then, the Palo Alto company has begun doing everything in-house, and the gargantuan work volume is showing.
Starting last fall, all new Tesla vehicles (both Model S and Model X) are equipped with Autopilot 2 hardware, which Elon Musk says is enough to grant the EVs full autonomy once the software catches up. Right now, though, the challenge is to make Autopilot 2 cars just as good as the old ones, and it proves to be a much more difficult task than it was initially believed.

There were numerous owner videos posted online after the last update showing their cars behave erratically when cruising in Autopilot mode, jerking the steering and asking the drivers to take over when there was no apparent reason to do so. Elon Musk responded by promising the following update would make Autopilot 2 "smooth as silk," and everyone had no problem waiting patiently.

For some people, the wait is over as update version 8.1 (17.22.46) was already installed in their vehicles - for the rest, it should come next weekend. But this video and brief review from James Hansbert shows they have no reason to get overly excited about it as the Autopilot is still far from a spotless system.

His test drive revealed plenty of hesitations - either steering-related or cases of unnecessary braking - but it did find plenty of improvement as well. For instance, it may not all be "smooth as silk" yet, but at least the car does slow down more linearly when encountering other vehicles stopped in its lane.

The clip also shows the car ignoring the fact it was raining and continuing to behave just the same, even though the windshield wipers still need to be actioned manually (presumably the AI doesn't need them so it can't be bothered). Mr. Hansbert also noticed a more reliable reading of road markings as well as a correct trajectory through intersections where they are missing.

Another new feature of this latest update is the automated perpendicular parking, which our reviewer for the day also attempted to perform in his Model S. The test was a partial success with the system placing the car square between the lines only in its second attempt, after the first looked like it would have ended with a crash.

The bottom line is that Autopilot 2 is getting better, and while it may not be happening at the speed most Tesla owners wanted, nobody doubts it will eventually get there.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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