Which Cars Have Autopilot? Is Autopilot Safe?
Autopilot is a term that nearly everyone is familiar with because of airplane systems. Aircraft can steer themselves for most of a trip and only require input from pilots in times of rough flying conditions or during takeoff and when landing. Cars are beginning to come with similar systems, though they aren't quite as hands-free or as capable as what airplane systems can manage.
Tesla copyrighted Autopilot for its self-driving suite of features, but there are actually several vehicles on the market that deliver a very similar experience to what the Tesla vehicles can currently offer. None of them can chauffeur you around just yet, but having these advanced self-driving tools can still make your driving experience more enjoyable, especially while in traffic jams or when traveling long distances on the highway.
What is AutoPilot?
Tesla Autopilot is currently a system that combines the ability to keep your car in the center of its current lane and an adaptive cruise control system. It will maintain the speed of your vehicle until it has to slow down for vehicles it detects up ahead. The car will carefully adjust itself to stay in the middle of your current lane as well. These two features make driving along highways and through slow traffic jams much more enjoyable than managing all the adjustments yourself.
How Do Self-Driving Cars Work?
Self-driving cars rely on sensors to interpret the roads around them and computerized controls that can adjust the accelerator, depress the brakes, steer the vehicle, and more. Many vehicles rely on a combination of LIDAR and GPS systems to map the road and make decisions, but Tesla vehicles only use a series of cameras to decide how to navigate roadways. Any current vehicle equipped with self-driving features must be managed by the driver, and they all require the driver to remain holding the steering wheel even while the vehicle is handling much of the driving requirements. No vehicle is capable of actually driving itself from start to finish, but having the ability to relax and leave some of the driving decisions up to your car is a nice improvement over standard driving technology.
Do All Teslas Have Autopilot?
Many people believe that all Tesla vehicles are equipped with Autopilot capabilities, but that isn't true. Only Tesla models produced after 2014 are capable of offering Autopilot, and only some models are equipped with the necessary technology to make Autopilot possible on the standard model. Think of Autopilot as an optional upgrade you can get for your Tesla to make driving it more enjoyable. Autopilot is available as an upgrade on the current Tesla Model 3, Model S, Model Y, and Model X models, but none of them offer Autopilot as standard. If you purchase any of these vehicles from Tesla, you can opt to have the Autopilot features added in for an additional cost. If you do decide you want Autopilot, you'll enjoy future updates as features improve, giving you more features and a more capable vehicle over time, even if you don't have the technology upgraded.
What Are the Best Self-Driving Cars?
Each of the major Tesla Models, including the 3, S, X, and Y, offer excellent Autopilot features, but they aren't the only vehicles you can get today that will keep you within the current lane and help you maintain your speed in relation to other drivers. You can also get the same features with select vehicles from BMW, Ford, and Cadillac. The BMW 3, 5, 7, and 8 Series models can all have self-driving upgrades. The X5, X6, and X7 BMW options also come with the feature if you want it added on. If you would rather purchase a Cadillac, select the CT4, CT5, CT6, or Escalade models for their self-driving options. Finally, you can get these cool features from certain Ford F-150 trucks and the Mustang Mach-E electric car.
Dozens of other cars offered today offer adaptive cruise control or other minor self-driving features, but only the ones listed above offer features at the same level as Tesla's Autopilot system.
The Most Capable Self Driving Cars Are:
- The Ford F-150
- BMW 3, 5, 7, and 8 Series
- BMW X5, X6, X7
- Cadillac CT4, CT5, CT6
- Cadillac Escalade
- Ford Mustang Mach-E
- Tesla Model Y, S, 3, X
Are Cars with Autopilot Safe to Use?
There is a constant debate over whether vehicles equipped with an Autopilot system are safe to use, and it doesn't help that there have been some accidents, including people using an autopilot system. For example, Teslas using Autopilot features get into hundreds of accidents annually. The Autopilot system is not fool-proof and can occasionally miss something or glitch.
However, according to most experts, self-driving features make vehicles safer to operate, not less safe. As long as you follow the rules that come with cars with Autopilot, you should be able to use the technology to keep yourself safe while on the road. Distracted drivers get into accidents regularly, and self-driving features can help with lane drift issues as well as speed differences while using cruise control.
If you are worried about cars that drive themselves, just imagine all the people that get into accidents because they fell asleep at the wheel or because they weren't paying attention to the road. Autopilot won't resolve all of those issues, but the safety technology in the vehicles may be able to help in some of those instances.
Is a Self-Driving Vehicle Worth the Cost?
Only you can decide whether the value of a self-driving vehicle is worth the additional cost to you or not. The vehicles equipped with this advanced technology are mostly luxury models that come with larger-than-average price tags. Many of these vehicles also require you to pay an upcharge to get the self-driving features added on. Tesla, for example, charges a subscription fee on a monthly basis of $99-199 if your vehicle is eligible based on what computer it uses to power the vehicle. You will have to think about how often you're in traffic, how regularly you drive long stretches on the highway, and how often the technology would improve your driving experience. If you feel like self-driving features would make your life better on a daily basis, they might be worth the investment. If you only think they would be used for an occasional road trip, you could probably do without the technology.
There are many impressive safety features offered on modern vehicles, and only some of them are going to appeal to you and give you the performance you're looking for. Self-driving cars are becoming more common and coming with more features than ever before, but that's only one feature set you have to think about among many options. Consider what features you care about most, and choose vehicles that offer them when making your next purchase. Once you narrow down the vehicles you are choosing between, make sure to run a car history report to verify the vehicle has those features, so you'll know what to expect from your next purchase.
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