How does Tesla’s Autopilot system work?

1. Introduction – working principle of Tesla’s Autopilot system?

In recent times, Tesla has been faced with criticisms from the public and authorities on its autonomous claim. We wouldn’t be surprised if the EV company faces lawsuits soon considering the amount of crashes caused by drivers relying heavily on the autopilot system. There are also some stories where drivers were caught sleeping or operating the Tesla car from the backseat.


The company has come out on many occasions to clarify and educate drivers on how this Autopilot technology actually works. This is why we feel this article might be for you if you own a Tesla model or intend to buy anyone anytime soon. Also, it wouldn’t hurt knowing about it even if you are not buying anyone soon. At least you can educate your neighbors who feel the technology should take charge of their home tasks. Lol! 

Now, the first real question is: what is an Autopilot system?

2. Defining Tesla’s Autopilot system?

Without attaching it to Tesla, Autopilot simply means the type of system used to control the trajectory of a marine craft, aircraft or spacecraft. The Autopilot system does not necessarily demand continued human operator’s control. More importantly, the technology itself does not replace the human operator. Rather, it assists the operator, giving them a chance to put their attention on the broader part of the operations.


Now that we have cleared the air on the simple definition of Autopilot, it is very important we talk about how this Autopilot technology works on Tesla model;

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3. How does the Autopilot system work on Tesla?

The Tesla Autopilot is a system of advanced driver-assistance system that assists drivers to take charge of driving and safety operations such as self-parking, automatic lane change, traffic-aware cruise control, lane centering and capability of summoning the vehicle from the place where it was parked.


This technology makes the Tesla car safer and more functional. It eases driver’s stress of driving and makes it more fun. However, it requires active supervision from the driver and it is not fully autonomous. At least for now, the person behind the wheel is expected to monitor and be ready to take control at any point in time. 

We understand that Tesla is working on full self-driving (FSD) in the near future, where cars can drive themself without any human control. The beta version of the software was released in the US and was tested by few customers. The company was criticized by experts and observers for using untrained people for such tests.


Until then, Tesla owners should put more attention on the roads, and stop endangering their lives and those of other people using the road. The Autopilot advanced safety and convenience feature helps drivers to steer, accelerate and brake their cars automatically within its lanes. 

Every Tesla’s car is fitted with eight external cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors and a strong onboard computer that gives an extra layer of safety to help you on the road. The likes of Model Y and Model 3 are camera-based vision from the carmaker, which relies heavily on Tesla’s advanced suite of cameras and neural net processing to deliver the intended functionality. For the Tesla Model X and Model S, the company continues to equip them with radar-based capability. 

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4. How do you fully use Autopilot and full self-driving capability?

Aside from people taking the autopilot system beyond its intended capabilities, there are still some Tesla’s owners out there who do not really understand how to properly engage the Autopilot or some add-on features. 


Before you activate the Autopilot on your Tesla car, you should take your time and go through the Owner’s Manual for safety and instruction carefully. Remember, it is important your hands should be on the steering wheel at all times. Do not attempt to outsmart the system for your own safety.

Some of the features on the Autopilot system like Summon, Autosteer and Navigate on Autopilot are usually disabled by the company by default. You will need to get to the Autopilot Controls menu in the Settings tab to enable the function. Luckily, the system reminds or alerts you anytime it notices your hands are not on the steering wheel.

Note: it takes up to 20 to 25 mile before you can fully calibrate the Autopilot for your use. The cameras on the car must self-calibrate, especially if you are using it for the very first time.

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