Hybrids & Electrics

Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ Is Misleading According To Consumer Reports

We have said time and time again that Tesla’s Autopilot features do not make its cars fully autonomous and Consumer Reports recently proved it. Actually, they went a step further by reporting their findings on Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving Capability” features and the results were less-than-stellar.

“Full Self-Driving Capability” does not equate to being fully autonomous

To be honest, we’re not too surprised that Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving Capability” features don’t actually drive the car like a human would, or like we all think they should. Why? Because it’s really hard to make a computer think like a human being in complex traffic situations. However, as Consumer Reports found, Tesla doesn’t have all of the bugs worked out on its “Full Self-Driving Capability” features.

Just to note: Tesla is now including its “Autopilot” features as standard on all of its cars. However, those features include adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, which the brand refers to as “Traffic Aware Cruise Control” and “Autosteer,” respectively. These are separate from the Full Self-Driving Capability suite of features that Consumer Reports tested, which includes: Autopark, Auto Lane Change, Summon, Smart Summon, Navigate on Autopilot, and Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control.

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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – JANUARY 09: Tesla Model 3 compact full electric car interior with a large touch screen on the dashboard on display at Brussels Expo on January 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The Model 3 is fitted with a full self-driving system. (Photo by Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images)

Their findings were as follows:

  • Autopark: This feature is intended to assist the driver with parallel parking or perpendicular parking the car with the push of a button. However, CR found that the system would sometimes have “difficulty engaging,” noting that it would not recognize open spots and drive past them and also had difficulty parking between the lines when it did.
  • Auto Lane Change: This feature moves the car into the next lane when the driver activates it via the turn signal stalk when Autosteer is engaged. According to CR, it worked as advertised.
  • Summon: This feature moves the car forward or backward out of a tight spot with the push of a button on the fob or your smartphone. CR found that it worked, although inconsistently, as the feature would sometimes leave the car sticking out of the parking spot or it would park the car at an angle and “call it a day.”
  • Smart Summon: This feature allows the car to be driven to you, or a remote location, while “navigating complex environments and parking spaces” (according to Tesla) in a parking lot. However, CR found that the feature made the car “spend time in the wrong lane of the parking lot, not pause for parking-lot stop signs, or take wide turns and head toward parked cars and then drive in Reverse to avoid a collision” during some of the times it was activated.
  • Navigate on Autopilot: This features adds onto the Autopilot feature by guiding the car to on and off-ramps without any input from the driver, provided that a destination is plugged into the system. CR found that the feature worked, but was wildly inconsistent, which lead its testers to miss the exits that they were supposed to take and even left the car in the carpool lane although only one person was in the vehicle.
  • Traffic light and stop sign control: This feature works in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control feature as it is meant to detect stop signs and traffic lights and bring the vehicle to a stop when needed. CR found that the car would stop regardless if the light was green, yellow, or red, and the only time it would proceed through the intersection was if it was following another car through it or if the feature was overridden by the driver. The system also had issues on roundabouts as the car would stop at every exit and even “slam on the brakes when approaching a yield sign.”

As we can see, according to Consumer Report’s findings, Tesla’s Self-Driving Capability features do work, but not consistently. The downside is that the inconsistencies can cause accidents and prove to be otherwise dangerous if the vehicle’s owner is not paying close attention.

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Tesla Model 3 on the pavement
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

What’s the point of opting for the package then?

Just to reiterate, Tesla is currently charging its customers a hefty $8,000 if they want to opt for this package. They also reaffirm the driver that a lot of these features are in “beta testing,” meaning that they are not in their final form. This technically means that Tesla owners are the actual beta testers for these features.

Consumer Reports pointed out that the brand should probably focus more on getting the features right before rolling them out as opposed to being the first to roll out these tech-savvy features on a car as they can be put people in danger. In our opinion, if you’re considering buying a Tesla, then we would advise saving your extra $8,000 for now until they get it right. But again, it could be a while before it’s flawless.