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Ten Percent of All Tesla's Mileage Has Been Driven on Autopilot

Illustration for article titled Ten Percent of All Teslas Mileage Has Been Driven on Autopilot
Photo: Christophe Ena (AP)

When Tesla’s Autopilot program launched in 2015, it seemed like a revolutionary bit of technology to be adding into our cars. With only the most minimal amount of driver engagement, our cars would basically be driving themselves from Point A to Point B. All we’d need to do as human beings is paying attention to make sure nothing terrible happens.

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According to Tesla, as of today, Tesla owners have driven one billion miles with Autopilot engaged. While it seems like a big number, that adds up to about ten percent of all Autopilot-powered miles.

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That ten percent, though, includes all Tesla cars—including those sold before Autopilot was an option and those sold to consumers who opted out of the Autopilot option. Which makes that whole “one billion” number seem a whole hell of a lot bigger.

The Autopilot feature is designed as a way to basically double-check safety—and it’s not totally foolproof. It does not mean that the driver can just kick back and relax while the car does all the work. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of scandal surrounding the Autopilot feature since it made its debut, largely attributed to driver error and the fact that even technology isn’t perfect. As per Tesla:

Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time. While Autopilot is designed to become more capable over time, in its current form, it is not a self-driving system, it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle, and it does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility. When used properly, Autopilot reduces a driver’s overall workload, and the redundancy of eight external cameras, radar and 12 ultrasonic sensors provides an additional layer of safety that two eyes alone would not have.

It’s a pretty cool milestone for the company and for the whole car industry as a whole.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

Garland - Last Top Comment on Splinter

Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time. While Autopilot is designed to become more capable over time, in its current form, it is not a self-driving system, it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle, and it does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility. When used properly, Autopilot reduces a driver’s overall workload, and the redundancy of eight external cameras, radar and 12 ultrasonic sensors provides an additional layer of safety that two eyes alone would not have.

That sounds like more work, not less. If I’m using Autopilot properly (as in, paying complete attention and ready to step in the moment the system fails), I have to not only pay attention to all my surroundings like I normally do, but I also have to keep a close eye on the Autopilot system so I can recognise the exact second that it fails. I’m now doing more work than if I was just driving normally. Turning Autopilot off would actually reduce the number of distractions I have to deal with and let me focus more on surrounding traffic. And that’s before I even bring up the studies that show just how slowly people react when they have to jump in and take emergency control versus reacting while already driving (no matter how attentive they are).

The roads will be a far safer place when stuff like Autopilot is an actual autonomous mode.  Cars needs to be fully in control of humans or fully in control of computers.