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Tesla is known for many firsts. Its status as the first automaker to lean heavily into autonomous vehicles is its most controversial first. It’s no secret that Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Palo Alto, California-based company like to innovate. Being the first comes with many rewards but can also bring trials and tribulations. We know the challenges that Tesla’s Autopilot feature face today, but how and why did the company come up with the idea in the first place?

Why did Tesla create an Autopilot feature?

The interior of a Tesla.
The interior of a Tesla | Tesla

Tesla’s Full-Self Driving Mode and Autopilot features have been a major point of controversy, to say the least. Some consumers believe these features are the future of automobiles. Other consumers believe that autonomous vehicles are a danger to society and have the evidence to support their claim. The truth lies somewhere in between. The feature is so polarizing because it has yet to reach its full potential without causing accidents.

Ironically, according to InsideEVs, Tesla’s Autopilot was actually created to prevent accidents. Autopilot has been such a priority for Tesla because a Tesla driver who didn’t have the feature fell asleep and killed a cyclist. After the driver killed the cyclist by falling asleep behind the wheel, they attempted to sue Tesla.

Tesla created the feature to save others from suffering a similar fate to the cyclist. One day it may be capable of driving entirely on its own. It was originally created to avoid accidents when drivers were temporarily incapacitated. Thousands of accidents occur every year because of drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Tesla aimed to eliminate as many accidents and fatalities as possible.

Is Tesla Autopilot worth getting?

Tesla Model 3 compact full electric car interior with a large touch screen on the dashboard on display at Brussels Expo.
The interior of a Tesla Model 3 | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

Tesla models include a standard Autopilot feature and an advanced Full-Self Driving Capability that can be purchased via a monthly subscription. Tesla Autopilot has saved drivers from accidents, but it is also responsible for quite a few accidents as well. As groundbreaking as the technology is, it is still far from reaching its peak potential. It has even been accused of being misleading. The software just isn’t safe for everyone; thus, it is only worth getting to drivers who are willing to use it responsibly.

Tesla’s Autopilot can potentially prevent accidents, but many drivers have irresponsibly used it as a crutch. It was designed to be used by attentive drivers. Still instead, many drivers have been using the feature as an excuse to fall asleep or get behind the wheel while intoxicated. The Tesla Autopilot feature could be great eventually but currently isn’t worth getting for most drivers that don’t want to monitor their vehicle during the process closely.

Is Tesla Autopilot self-driving?

Tesla interior | Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images

Tesla Autopilot uses multiple ultrasonic sensors and exterior cameras to detect other vehicles, people, and objects obstructing the vehicle’s path. Autopilot uses Traffic-Aware Cruise Control, a feature that limits the vehicle’s speed to the speed of the vehicles surrounding it. It also uses Autosteer, a feature that can steer the vehicle into clearly marked lanes.

Tesla’s Autopilot mode is marketed as self-driving, but the reality is that even its Full Self-Driving Capability should be monitored. It doesn’t make your vehicle completely independent. Think of it more as an advanced driver assistance feature. The marketing behind Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability has confused many consumers to the point that some Tesla owners aren’t even quite sure how the features work. When it comes to Tesla’s Autopilot, err on the side of caution. Its origins make the mode well-intentioned, but the software has a long way to go.

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