A Tesla Model 3 owner recently tested Autopilot’s abilities on the long and winding roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The 45.9-mile trip lasted 79 minutes, giving the driver a fair amount of insight regarding Autopilot’s performance with update 2020.16.2.1.
In a later comment on Reddit, the host of Youtube’s The Tech of Tech channel stated that he decided to test Autopilot’s capabilities on rainy, foggy roads stretching across the historic Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.
“I did adjust the maximum speed to accommodate visibility due to fog as Autopilot doesn’t know to just slow down- it will shut off if it can’t see far enough for the speed. However, by lowering the maximum speed to what I’d want to drive anyway, Autopilot remains engaged. Other than that, all steering, braking, acceleration, etc. is done by the car and not me,” the driver wrote.
One notable feature of the update focused on Autopilot’s capability to slow down for sharp curves, which results in safer navigation through abrupt turns. For example, on a right turn, the car will drive closer to the right edge of the pavement, which provides a safer environment if two vehicles are driving through the same curve in opposite directions.
Tech of Tech indicates that the addition of the “Slowing for Sharp Curves” feature was the only reason the car could navigate the tricky roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which it did in impressive fashion.
Tesla rolled out a similar feature last year, but there were some issues with its performance that made some drivers feel uncomfortable. The company continually improved the capability, which was then released with 2020.16.2.1 to owners around May 16 this year, according to TeslaFi.com.
“This update introduced new slowing behavior. Autopilot slows much more for tight curves than before, and it does so much more smoothly than the aborted slowing behavior introduced when V10 first released,” the host said.
As could be seen in the video of the torture test, Autopilot managed to navigate through the various challenging sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway for 79 straight minutes before the car took a turn a bit too sharply, which required the driver to intervene. This instance was the only mistake that the car’s software made in almost 46 miles of driving, and that’s in questionable weather conditions and on a stretch of road that challenges even human drivers.
Tesla’s Autopilot software continues to improve through the millions of miles of driving data that owners contribute to the company’s Neural Network. Tesla CEO Elon Musk indicated during the company’s Q1 2020 Earnings Call that the Neural Net’s training was coming along nicely and that contributions were being assessed to improve the safety and performance of the company’s driver-assist features.
“We are collecting data from over 1 million intersections every month at this point. This number will grow exponentially as more people get the update, and as more people start driving again. Soon, we will be collecting data from over 1 billion intersections per month. All of those confirmations are training on neural net, essentially, the driver when driving and taking action is effectively labeling — the labeling reality as they drive, and making the neural net better and better,” Musk said.
Watch The Tech of Tech‘s Tesla Model 3 navigate the Blue Ridge Parkway below.