But today I was ‘hypermiling’ down the motorway, sat behind a lorry that was doing a steady 56mph. I don’t normally try to squeeze out every last drop of efficiency like that, but my home charger is broken at the moment and rapid charging costs are ruinous, so needs must! As I did this, I became more and more annoyed that the car would frequently back off a few mph, let some distance build up to the lorry, then surge back up to my set speed (60mph), close right up to the lorry, then back off again, over and over. I find the adaptive cruise control in the Model 3 frequently does this. It doesn’t match the speed of the vehicle in front, it sort of matches the speed of the vehicle in front within a 5mph or so range, backing off and closing up again frequently. It is annoying.
I then thought back to my previous two cars that had adaptive cruise control, which we’re both VWs. In those cars, the speed always matched exactly to the vehicle in front. No backing off and surging forward, it was extremely precise. Why is the VW system so much better? Presumably because it uses a radar to detect the distance rather than relying on cameras.
It then occurred to me that when I bought the Tesla, I’d believed the hype about its ‘self-driving’ aids, believed it was the leader in this technology, and it was the thing I was most interested in trying out. However, I now think that in the real world, Tesla’s implementation of this is much worse than VW’s, and presumably other traditional manufacturers too. I tried the Enhanced Autopilot as well, but got my money back as, Autopark aside, it was hopeless. The thing I thought I would like most about the Model 3 is the thing I like the least.
Now, that’s ok overall. I’ve discovered over my time owning the car that there are many many things I love about this car, and overall those things make up for the crappy driver aid implementation. But I thought it worth posting my opinion in case belief that Tesla’s driver aids are more advanced than others is a reason anyone here is considering buying a Model 3. If you think that’s the car’s USP, and it is really important to you, then you will be disappointed. You’ll find loads of other amazing things about the car that you love, but you will be disappointed in the self-driving tech on UK roads in 2022.
I also know that data scientists are going to set me on fire for this thread, because I don’t understand the awesome potential of vision based systems, and that the AI models will learn and improve over time. That’s fine, but I bought a car in 2022 to work as a car in 2022. I didn’t buy the car for the joy of being part of a research project, or in the hope that in 5-10 years time it will surpass the abilities of cars that rely on radar. If you’re happy to accept lousy driver aid performance to be at the vanguard of a machine learning revolution then fine, but I just want features on my car to work now, like they did on my VWs.
But again, to repeat one last time – I prefer my Model 3 to my previous cars overall, and have no desire to get rid of it.