During the press conference for the release of the Autopilot, Tesla CEO Elon Musk referred to each Model S owners as an “expert trainer” – meaning that each driver will train the autonomous features of the system to feed the collective network intelligence of the fleet by simply driving the electric vehicle on Autopilot.
He said that the system should improve every day, but that improvements might only become noticeable every week or so by adding up. Just a few weeks after the release, Model S owners are already taking to the Tesla Motors Club forum to describe how the Autopilot is improving… A common problem with the early version of the system was that it had a tendency to try to take exits on the highway when it wasn’t supposed to, but after a few tugs on the Autopilot’s leash, trainers have corrected the issue.
The first day when I was in the right lane, as I approached exit ramps, it would dive for the exit ramp. I quickly learned to apply torque to the wheel to hold the car on the interstate until I had passed the exit. Each day the system seems to have less tendency to follow the exit ramps as I pass.
The last two days it only gave a momentary wiggle and moved over maybe six inches towards the exit ramp then it recovered and moved on down the road.
This morning it gave only a very slight hesitation, so little that I did not have to correct it at all. I find it remarkable that it is improving this rapidly.
Tesla doesn’t recommend using the Autopilot on roads with aggressive curves, but of course it doesn’t stop owners from trying and apparently the system is learning to handle the sharp curves pretty fast:
I noticed that on sharply curved ramp connecting I-80 west with CA-113 north in Davis, the first time it took the curve at full speed and wasn’t able to stay in lane resulting in a “take control immediately” alert. After a few more times on this curve with firm pressure on the steering wheel it’s now learned to slow down and today had no issue taking the curve. Definitely learning.
A Model S owner by the username Khatsalano kept a count of how many times he had to “rescue” (meaning taking control after an alert) his Model S while using the Autopilot on his daily commute. He counted 6 “rescues” on his first day, by the fourth day of using the system on his 23.5 miles commute, he only had to take control over once.
Sillydriver explains how the Autopilot is learning his commute:
AP is definitely is learning. Each weekday morning I drive home on Route 50 in the Virginia countryside after dropping my kid at school. Watching the display while driving manually last week, I could see that AP lost lock on the road where Route 50 drops from a 4 lane divided highway to 2 lanes. Where the left lane merges into the right, the dashed line disappears for a while. Later on in the 2 lane section, a right turn lane comes off during a left hand curve in the road. I could see the projected course bend right and then snap back left: I had been using AP on the 4 lane stretch before the lane drop and was glad I had turned it off.
During the last couple days I have seen the projected course tracking correctly in both problem locations. The time of day, lighting and weather has been the same every time, and there were never any cars ahead to follow (I’m traveling against morning traffic). Then this morning I tried AP the whole length of my trip on 50 and it tracked perfectly.
Last week, Tesla released the Autopilot in Europe and Asia. While announcing the regulatory approval in the new markets, Musk also announced that on top of the fleet learning, the company will “soon” release a 1.01 update to the Autopilot software to further improve the system’s capacity to self-improve and handle curves, as well as lane changes.
Our recent articles on Tesla’s Autopilot:
- DMV met with Tesla prior to release of Autopilot, but agency still confused about the system
- Tesla Autopilot w/driver assistance prevents a 45mph head-on collision
- Tesla hid a The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Easter Egg in its Autopilot software release
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