The Do's and Don'ts of Tesla's Autopilot system

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The Tesla Model S has a feature you all know about. It's called Autopilot, which is a poor name for a system that is still essentially in its beta testing phase. I say "poor name" because as we've seen in the news, a number of owners believe this means the car is damn-near autonomous. This is not the case, as it's merely semi-autonomous. It's a good system, but it also takes a good owner to fully understand how, when, and where to use it.

One such owner is the Brooks Weisblat, the man behind DragTimes. He's taken the time to record a video showing the system in use. He also shares his own personal do and don't recommendations for those that have a Tesla with the Autopilot system. It's all pretty basic stuff when you think about it, but it's great to see it in use and how the car responds to different conditions.

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For starters, you should not use the system when on a non-divided highway or street. Autopilot also won't respond well on a highway with intersections and traffic lights, as the car does not read the lights. Additionally, if you enter a construction zone you should turn the system off as there could be older lane markings on the ground as the workers change the road surface.

If an exit is coming up, be prepared to handle that exit yourself. Alternatively, if you're in the right lane of the highway and you don't want to take the exit make sure you're ready for the possibility that the car might get confused and follow the exit ramp lane markings. If the road you're traveling on has K Rails or coned/bollard dividers for the left lane, you shouldn't use the system as this is another chance for it to become confused.

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Weather and light can play tricks on the Tesla sensors as well. If there's a lot of glare on the road or if the road is wet, the lane markings can be hard to see. 

Conversely, if the weather is clear and you're on a standard divided highway, then Autopilot can shine. Weisblat also states that the Tesla performs perfectly in slow-speed traffic on the highway, which is a perfect place to use Autopilot's adaptive cruise control.

The most important thing to remember is that you still need to pay attention. Your hands should remain on the wheel, and the system will sense if they're not. This is not your chance to let the car completely takeover. Think of this more as the best cruise control system available today, but don't think of it as a self-driving car.

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