Cars are quickly changing. Companies are increasingly adopting new technologies to roll out fully electric models. At the same time, those companies are investing heavily in the sensors, cameras, and artificial intelligence that will eventually make cars fully self-driving.
Tesla was early to both of those things. Tesla’s entire lineup of cars is electric, and right now, it actually offers two autonomous modes: “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving.”
But what’s the difference between the two? And what about the third option — Enhanced Autopilot? Do any of them mean you can take a nap behind the wheel? Here’s everything you need to know.
Tesla Autopilot was the company’s first autonomous mode, and was introduced in 2014. It’s still the least advanced of the options, but it’s also included for free with all new Tesla cars — so it’s kind of like an added bonus.
Autopilot is designed to be used with full driver supervision, and is essentially an advanced version of cruise control. It has lane-centering and adaptive cruise control, meaning the car can both stay in the center of a lane and can slow down and speed up depending on what’s in front of it.
These are features that aren’t necessarily exclusive to Tesla. Together, they’re basically an advanced cruise control, which is on offer by other cars.
Tesla Enhanced Autopilot adds some features that other cars don’t have. It’s also not free — it costs $6,000.
Enhanced Autopilot allows the car to park on its own, and also has features like auto lane change, meaning the car can change lanes as it sees fit. This feature also ties into the “Navigate on Autopilot” feature, which allows the car to drive from a highway’s on-ramp to its off-ramp, theoretically without the driver’s input — though the driver should still stay aware.
It also includes Summon and Smart Summon, which allow the car to drive to you in a parking lot — no remote control necessary.
Some of these are features that you can’t really find anywhere else — though features like lane changing are set to become more common.
Last but not least is Tesla Full Self-Driving (FSD). It’s the most advanced option, but Tesla has labeled it as a “beta,” suggesting that it’s more of a way to test the feature with real-world drivers. Tesla debuted FSD in 2020, and has been periodically improving it ever since.
It’s the most expensive option on Tesla’s menu — it costs a hefty $15,000 upfront, or $200 per month if you prefer to pay for it as a subscription. For that money, it adds a major feature: the ability to start and stop at traffic lights and stop signs.
Tesla sees FSD as the eventual car-to-door feature, unlocking the ability to fully drive an individual from point A to point B. But it’s not quite there yet. You should still remain alert and ready to take control while using Full Self-Driving — the name is pretty misleading, as the car still can’t actually fully drive itself, and you shouldn’t expect it to.
So which mode lets you nap behind the wheel? Sorry, none of them. But that hasn’t stopped sleepy drivers from trying.
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