I had to run out to the DMV in Elbert county recently. I got up early and headed out, trying to complete this errand before work. This is what I used to do most days, taking my kids to school.
Because I have a new car, I skipped around the neighborhood and went on a main (paved) road from my house past the elementary school that my kids attended. This school is on a 2 lane, 45mph speed limit road. As you get near the school, there is a 20mph speed limit sign with a flashing light above it when it is active. This is a little taller sign than the normal speed limit signs, but as I approached, I disengaged the cruise control and slowed down. As I passed the sign, the speed limit on the Tesla display stayed at 45mph. My cruise control also stayed at it’s 50mph setting.
I didn’t like that. Immediately I thought, what if I had let cruise control continue? Would it have slowed down? What if I were on Autopilot?
There is some construction on the main road near my house. There are temporary orange signs on the side of the road, propped up with supports. These don’t look at all like normal US speed limit signs. These note a detour where we actually come off the main road onto a temporary road they built.
NOTE: I have not tried to navigate this on Autopilot. It’s dangerous enough for a human and there’s no benefit to not paying attention completely here and letting the car drive itself. Supposedly it should be able to turn, but this isn’t really a safe place for Autopilot as there is no median.
When I pass these, I see the display in the Model Y change from 40mph to 35mph to 25mph as I encounter each sign.
When I go South, and I leave the construction detour, there is a 40mph sign as soon as I leave the area and the Tesla recognizes these. I see the display change back to 40mph.
When I go North, however, there is no 40mph sign as you get back to the main road. In fact, there isn’t one again until I hit the 45mph zone a mile or two up the road. So the Tesla thinks I should be going 25mph this whole way. If I engage cruise, I need to manually adjust the speed max.
That’s fine, and it makes sense. Without a sign, technically, the whole Northbound route is a 25mph. Humans just know that we aren’t likely to get stopped by a law enforcement officer.
I saw a few reports (like this one ) that the Autopilot doesn’t recognize school zones. While I think Autopilot in most school areas, in neighborhoods, is likely a poor idea, in this case, it’s a 45mph, busy throughway. After years of complaints, this is a school zone only for about an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. With daylight savings times, and people unfamiliar with this area, you might not think there is a school zone located here. The flashing lights should clue you in.
They don’t for all people, and they don’t appear to register for the Tesla.
To me, this is one of those reasons why L5 driving likely isn’t possible or safe. While I’d think this could be easily recognized, I know this area is different than many others. However, the speed limit change should be recognized, at least in this case, and likely in many others. Or Autopilot should abort and stop the car.
There is a video of this post on my channel, if you want to watch and listen to me talk about this part of the experience.
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