Tesla Autopilot is now a ‘distant 2nd’ to GM Super Cruise: Consumer Reports

A Tesla Model 3 utilizing its Navigate on Autopilot feature. (Credit: Tesla)

Tesla’s Autopilot may have the best performance, capabilities, and ease of use in Consumer Reports’ recent ranking of active driving assistance systems, but it remains “a distant second” to GM’s Super Cruise nonetheless. This was according to the testing organization on Wednesday.

The results echo Consumer Reports’ findings in its first-ever ranking of active driving assistance systems back in 2018, which also ended with GM Super Cruise taking the top spot and Tesla Autopilot taking second place. This time around, the testing organization tested 17 systems from various carmakers, as opposed to the four that were evaluated in 2018. Needless to say, the results were quite interesting.

Each of the active driving assistance systems in this year’s test was evaluated under the following metrics: Capability and Performance, Keeping the Driver Engaged, Ease of Use, Clear When Safe to Use, and Unresponsive Driver. Tesla’s Autopilot aced two of these metrics, specifically Capability and Performance as well as Ease of Use. Autopilot earned an impressive score of 9/10 in Capabilities and Performance and a 7/10 for Ease of Use.

(Credit: Cadillac)

According to Consumer Reports, Autopilot performed the best among the 17 systems it tested in its lane-keeping assist tests. Autopilot was also deemed the best when it comes to how easy it is to use. Kelly Funkhouser, CR’s head of connected and automated vehicle testing, noted that systems that score well in Ease of Use usually require non-complex input from drivers. “One of the last things you want in a system that is supposed to assist the driver is to make things overly complicated,” Funkhouser said.

Unfortunately for Tesla, Autopilot was rated poorly by Consumer Reports when it came to the Keeping the Driver Engaged metric. For this metric, Tesla’s driver-assist system earned a paltry 3/10 score due to Autopilot’s alleged lack of driver monitoring systems. In contrast, GM’s Super Cruise, the highest-ranking system in this metric with a 7/10 score, was praised for its camera-based driver monitoring system that uses eye-tracking technology.

Super Cruise was also the top-ranked system with an 8/10 score in the Clear When Safe to Use metric, since the system could only be used on areas where the driver-assist suite could perform safely. “Cadillac stood out in this category because Super Cruise can be used only on pre-mapped, divided highways. Plus, Super Cruise will even warn the driver in advance when there is an upcoming lane-merge or complex situation that requires extra attention.,” Consumer Reports noted.

(Credit: Consumer Reports)

Tesla Autopilot earned a 2/10 score in Clear When Safe to Use, due to the system being accessible in areas that are not low-risk. “Active driving assistance systems should only be able to be activated in low-risk driving environments, void of pedestrians and tricky situations, such as intersections and complicated traffic patterns,” Funkhouser said.

Tesla Autopilot earned a 6/10 score for Consumer Reports’ Unresponsive Driver metric. This metric, as noted by the testing organization, evaluates systems based on their capability to operate vehicles safely in the event that the driver falls asleep or encounters a medical emergency. Systems were evaluated based on their escalation process for warnings, steering control, and speed control.

Overall, GM Super Cruise earned a total score of 69 from the testing organization, while Tesla Autopilot earned a total score of 57. Following closely was Ford Co-Pilot 360 at 52 and Audi Pre Sense at 48. Funkhouser, for her part, noted that Super Cruise’s driver monitoring system remains a difference-maker. “Even with new systems from many different automakers, Super Cruise still comes out on top due to the infrared camera ensuring the driver’s eyes are looking toward the roadway,” the head of connected and automated vehicle testing said.

Consumer Reports’ discussion of its recent active driving assistance suite rankings could be accessed here.

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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