Tesla Autopilot is a lifesaver that continues to be a work in progress, study shows

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

Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist system remains a work in progress, but it is one that is overwhelmingly appreciated by electric car owners. This was according to the findings of a study conducted by Bloomberg using data from 5,000 actual Model 3 owners. 

Bloomberg‘s Model 3 study is extensive, including detailed responses about topics such as Quality and Reliability and Service and Charging. This time around, the publication shared the results of its study as it focused on Tesla’s most unique and controversial feature: Autopilot, which allows vehicles to operate, at least to some degree, on their own under human supervision. 

Ninety percent of Model 3 owners that were part of Bloomberg‘s study stated that Autopilot makes them feel safer on the road overall. This was despite the driver-assist system’s shortcomings and quirks, some of which were noted to have actually contributed to tricky situations on the road. Among these instances are phantom braking incidents, as well as times when Autopilot would fail to react fast enough to sudden maneuvers of other drivers. 

Overall, 13% of the study’s respondents stated that Autopilot has put them in risky situations at some point. On the other hand, 28% of the study’s respondents noted that Autopilot has saved them from dangerous situations. “Autopilot is great as a second set of eyes on the road,” one Model 3 owner stated.  

What is quite remarkable was that even Model 3 owners who stated that Autopilot put them in potentially dangerous situations at some point have stated that overall, they still feel safer with the driver-assist system engaged. This is quite notable, and it speaks volumes about Tesla and CEO Elon Musk’s point that Autopilot is not just a convenience feature — it is one of the company’s most robust safety systems. 

Bloomberg‘s study also covered the usefulness of Smart Summon, a recently-released feature for Tesla’s Full Self-Driving suite. Among the respondents, 70% noted that Smart Summon is a useful feature, while 41% stated that it’s reliable enough for average drivers. Seventy-five percent added that Smart Summon navigates well, and 81% noted that the feature’s limitations are clearly explained by the electric car maker. The feature is perceived by the respondents as very safe too, with 95% stating that Smart Summon avoids pedestrians, 90% noting that the feature avoids other cars, and 98% saying that the feature stops immediately when needed. 

“My wife and I are different levels of mobility impaired. Summon was one reason we purchased Tesla. Having the car come get us in a slippery or icy parking lot reduces our chance for falling. We’ve tried it in several lots and while it could be more graceful, it has met expectations,” one Model 3 owner remarked. 

Overall, the results of Bloomberg‘s study shows that while Autopilot continues to be a work in progress, it is already incredibly useful in its current state. As maintained by the overwhelming majority of Bloomberg‘s respondents, it appears that Tesla owners would rather have an imperfect, constantly improving Autopilot system than not have one at all.

"Simon Alvarez : @https://twitter.com/ResidentSponge 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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