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Consumer Reports: Latest Autopilot ‘Far Less Competent Than a Human’

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In recent weeks, Tesla has been pushing out a new version of Autopilot with automatic lane-change capabilities to Model 3s — including one owned by Consumer Reports. So the group dispatched several drivers to highways around the group’s car-testing center in Connecticut to test the feature. The results weren’t good. The “latest version of Tesla’s automatic lane-changing feature is far less competent than a human driver,” Consumer Reports declares.

CR found that the Model 3’s rear cameras didn’t seem able to see very far behind the vehicle. Autopilot has forward-facing radar to help detect vehicles ahead of the car and measure their speed, but it lacks rear-facing radar that would give the car advance warning of vehicles approaching quickly from the rear. The result: CR found that the Model 3 tended to cut off cars that were approaching rapidly from behind. The vehicle also violated some Connecticut driving laws, the testers found. “Several CR testers observed Navigate on Autopilot initiate a pass on the right on a two-lane divided highway,” writes CR’s Keith Barry. “We checked with a law enforcement official who confirmed this is considered an ‘improper pass’ in Connecticut and could result in a ticket.” The vehicle also failed to move back over to the right lane after completing a pass as required by state law, CR reports. Ultimately, driving with Autopilot’s automatic lane-changing feature is “much harder than just changing lanes yourself,” writes CR’s Jake Fisher said. “Using the system is like monitoring a kid behind the wheel for the very first time. As any parent knows, it’s far more convenient and less stressful to simply drive yourself.”

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