On Route 80 west in northern New Jersey on Saturday, I briefly engaged the autonomous-driving features of my Tesla Model S, allowing pedal-free and hands-free driving. But a recent New York Times article erred on how the system works.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

New York Times reporter Aaron M. Kessler made two big errors in reporting on high-speed autonomous driving in the Tesla Model S, and one of them could land owners off the road.

In an Oct. 15 article in the paper's Wheels newsletter, Kessler said a software update gave owners Autopilot, "a semi-autonomous feature that allows hands-free, pedal-free driving on the highway under certain conditions."

But the business-automotive writer made no mention of Autosteer, the other shoe that has to drop for the car to "drive us, rather than the other way around," as Kessler put it.

I had the same incomplete understanding on Oct. 16, when I first tried Autopilot on Route 80 west, near my home in northern New Jersey.

I blame some of that on an Oct. 15 email from Tesla -- "Your Autopilot has arrived" -- that didn't fully explain how to engage Autopilot and Autosteer.

After reading the email and Tesla's blog, I asked my wife to accompany me on our first attempt on Route 80, and figured pulling back on the cruise-control stalk would engage the self-driving functions.

I soon found out that wasn't enough, as my Model S didn't start turning as we entered a curve on the highway. I grabbed the wheel.

I turned around in Paterson, and headed for the Tesla dealer on Route 17 in Paramus, where one of the product specialists accompanied me on my second attempt.

I was told I had to pull back once on the cruise-control stalk to engage Autopilot and a second time to engage Autosteer, lighting up speedometer and steering-wheels symbols that flank the digital speed display.

Second error

Kessler's second major error was reporting "Autopilot is not free (the download costs $2,500)."

That's not the case. 

Tesla Version 7 software with self-driving functions is free, but only to owners who paid for an option called Autopilot Convenience Features when they ordered their car ($2,500 or $3,000 after delivery).

When I ordered my 2015 Tesla Model S 60 early this year, the option was called Tech Package with Autopilot and cost $4,250.

Kessler also didn't mention Tesla's Autopark, which scans for a parking space, alerts you when one is available and parallel parks on your command.


Warning to Tesla owners: Don't follow N.Y. Times guide to autonomous driving

On Route 80 west in northern New Jersey on Saturday, I briefly engaged the autonomous-driving features of my Tesla Model S, allowing pedal-free and hands-free driving. But a recent New York Times article erred on how the system works.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

New York Times reporter Aaron M. Kessler made two big errors in reporting on high-speed autonomous driving in the Tesla Model S, and one of them could land owners off the road.

In an Oct. 15 article in the paper's Wheels newsletter, Kessler said a software update gave owners Autopilot, "a semi-autonomous feature that allows hands-free, pedal-free driving on the highway under certain conditions."

But the business-automotive writer made no mention of Autosteer, the other shoe that has to drop for the car to "drive us, rather than the other way around," as Kessler put it.

I had the same incomplete understanding on Oct. 16, when I first tried Autopilot on Route 80 west, near my home in northern New Jersey.

I blame some of that on an Oct. 15 email from Tesla -- "Your Autopilot has arrived" -- that didn't fully explain how to engage Autopilot and Autosteer.

After reading the email and Tesla's blog, I asked my wife to accompany me on our first attempt on Route 80, and figured pulling back on the cruise-control stalk would engage the self-driving functions.

I soon found out that wasn't enough, as my Model S didn't start turning as we entered a curve on the highway. I grabbed the wheel.

I turned around in Paterson, and headed for the Tesla dealer on Route 17 in Paramus, where one of the product specialists accompanied me on my second attempt.

I was told I had to pull back once on the cruise-control stalk to engage Autopilot and a second time to engage Autosteer, lighting up speedometer and steering-wheels symbols that flank the digital speed display.

Second error

Kessler's second major error was reporting "Autopilot is not free (the download costs $2,500)."

That's not the case. 

Tesla Version 7 software with self-driving functions is free, but only to owners who paid for an option called Autopilot Convenience Features when they ordered their car ($2,500 or $3,000 after delivery).

When I ordered my 2015 Tesla Model S 60 early this year, the option was called Tech Package with Autopilot and cost $4,250.

Kessler also didn't mention Tesla's Autopark, which scans for a parking space, alerts you when one is available and parallel parks on your command.


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