2018.20: Improved Autosteering

My Model X, Pensive, updated itself to 2018.20 last night, which means my trip to and from work today I was looking for any changes (since the release notes still haven't changed). Noticeably, the issues with the Web browser and User Manual have not been fixed (they still don't work if the MCU has not been reset recently). What does appear to have improved is a couple things with Autopilot, although I don't know how general the improvements are.

The Impossible Turn

The first thing I noticed is that Autopilot is being a little bit more realistic about the road ahead. One of my favourite "Autopilot wants to kill me" stories is about how the car would hold coming into a turn for way too long, and very late give back control without having made an attempt at the turn or a reasonable approach angle. Two improvements I've seen on my normal route are that Autopilot now seems to be making a more realistic assesment of the upcoming turn, and releasing control before the turn, when a human would normaly want to either adjust the approach angle or apply breaking. This change alone would be a significant improvement over the previously suicidal behaviour, but on top of that, it also appears to be holding turns at speed much better than before. Several S-turns on secondary roads which previously reequired manual control now cruised through with autosteering.

Look Tesla! No Lines!

There's a road nearby that I've been using as a bit of an experiment. It begins with a dividing line which goes for approximately 350ft, and then becomes a narrow, unlined, undivided two-way road with some tight winding turns. Once you get past the lined section, autopilot won't engage since it can't figure-out where the road is. What I realized after about a month with the car was that the car would try really hard to stay on Autopilot, even when it wouldn't have let you start a session.

Prior to 2018.20, Autopilot would would make it to the first gentle turn in most cases, about 1250 feet in, or with no traffic, it could make it to about 2000 feet by treating the full road as one lane. Today it made it to the start of the narrow S-turns, nearly 3000 feet, with on-coming traffic which was a novelty. I've yet to determine if any pressure on the wheel gets treated as input into the steering program, and previously it didn't seem to adjust based on a leading car, but either of those two elements could have impacted today's behaviour as well (I felt like I was leaning on the wheel with enough force that I was surprised Autopilot had not disengaged because of that alone).

At certain intersections, I've also seen in the driver's instrument panel that the car has been more fluid in guessing which way the road is turning when coming up to a fork and unclear lane markings. This leads me to believe it's spending more effort verifying its initial assumptions, and doing so over a longer set of inputs which appears to be having some tangible benefits.

I haven't found anything else that has changed with this release; no glaring bugs have been fixed and so far I've noticed nothing new introduced. The improvement in Autopilot are an effective improvement, and the first real change I've noticed since getting the car in the driving behaviour.