While back in my hometown of Pittsburgh, I decided to rent a Tesla Model X from the car sharing app Turo. I was curious about the technology, the car and especially the self-driving capabilities. As the home of Uber’s self-driving fleet and Ford’s recent billion dollar investment in Argo.ai it seemed like the perfect place to test out the Tesla’s capabilities.
Unfortunately, the Model X I drove only offered Level 2 self-driving. Check out the chart below for a bit more details on the 5 classifications of self-driving vehicles. You may need to zoom in.
As far as I can tell Level 2 self-driving essentially means that the Tesla can drive a little bit on its own, but will crash if you are not careful. Tesla does a nice job of requiring you touch the wheel every few minutes to ensure you are both paying attention and have hands on the wheel. The self-driving performed well when on the highways when the vehicle can read clear lines painted on the road. However, in the city or suburbs, self-driving became very dangerous and almost unusable.
Below is a quick video I shot while the car drove on a 4 lane highway while using self-driving and changing lanes.
One of the largest dangers with the self-driving feature was that it did not detect red lights. Self-driving was good in traffic as it detected other vehicles around you but if you were the first person at an intersection with a red light you could easily cause an accident.
Battery & Charging
I was impressed with the range of the car. This was my first experience with an electric vehicle and with over 250 miles of range, I felt that the vehicle would make an excellent daily driver as long as you were staying within one city. However, that’s a bit short for a drive from NYC to Pittsburgh.
A quick charge estimator below shows that 100 miles of charge will take just about 2 hours and cost $4.55 from a home outlet. Although, charging may be difficult for people who live in apartments without charge stations.
The Catch 22
Tesla’s current self-driving is great for long highway trips but not great for commuting around the city. Tesla’s battery range is great for commuting around cities but not great for long highway trips. Despite cool technology this limits the functionality of self-driving. However, it is obvious that they are making strides on both battery range and self driving so I am excited to see both improve.
Gadgets Gadgets Gadgets
Having only 24 hours with the Model X I felt like I barely scratched the surface of what the car was capable of doing. A few of the cooler features of the car are below.
- Summon- Press a button on your phone and the car backs out of your parking spot or garage
- Brake Hold- A pretty cool feature where you don’t have to hold the brake at a traffic light
- Phone App- The app has many cool features including checking your range on your car
- Valet Mode- Drastically slows down the car and limits the top speed to 70mph and kills access to glove box and front trunk
A topic of much debate. Aesthetically they look cool but using them on a regular basis just feels weird. Trying to get in and out of the grocery store feels like a real production rather than a cool innovation.
Every time the doors opened I kept thinking of Russ Hannevan from Silicon Valley…. “These are not the doors of a billionaire Richard”
Video Contains Explicit Language
The car is fast. Really fast. Insanely fast. 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds, a quarter mile in 11.6 seconds. Truly one of the fastest cars on the road. Check out the video below of a model X smoking a Ferrari F430 on the drag strip.
The Tesla was very cool. It had more advanced technology than any vehicle I have driven and is one of the fastest SUVs in the world. Some of the technology is a bit unrefined but overall it is an amazing accomplishment by Tesla and Elon Musk. It is exciting to think what will be next for Tesla and self-driving vehicles.
Josh Bobrowsky- CoFounder & CEO