Rise Networks

A Big Robot on Wheels: How Tesla’s Self Driving Car Works.

Elon Musk’s amazing Tesla self-driving cars are simply mind-boggling! Welcome to the future! Things we thought possible but light years ahead are here now! what a time to be alive! 

What is Tesla’s Self-Driven Vehicle?

Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” capability extends the Autopilot suite of advanced driver support systems (ADAS). Full Self-Driving adds the ability to drive semi-autonomously on city streets and through residential areas, while Autopilot navigates highways and conducts instrument-guided manoeuvres at interstate speeds.

Does this mean you can take a nap on the steering? 

No! Whilst Tesla labels the system “Full Self-Driving,” it is not entirely self-driving in the literal sense. It’s a Level 2 autonomous system, which means the driver must pay close attention to the road ahead and have at least one hand on the steering wheel. Despite its title, Full Self-Driving is not entirely autonomous or hands-free according to industry standards or regulatory requirements. As a result, regulators are scrutinizing Full Self-Driving, and some autonomous-vehicle experts have criticized it.

Tesla, on the other hand, supports the term Full Self-Driving, claiming that the technology will improve with time and that it is already creating the basis for a fully autonomous driving experience in the future. The software is currently being rolled out in stages to Tesla customers, beginning with real-world beta testing with a small number of drivers.

How do Tesla’s Self-Driven Cars Work

Tesla’s auto-pilot technology utilizes eight external cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a powerful onboard software system to enable semi-autonomous capabilities on highways, byways, and local roads alike. Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles employ camera-based Tesla Vision, while Model S and Model X continue to utilize radar. Tesla does not employ Lidar as part of its ADAS strategy.

Full Self-Driving Features

In addition to Autopilot’s Traffic-Aware Cruise Control, which matches the speed of the car with that of surrounding traffic, and Autosteer, which assists in steering within a marked lane, Full Self-Driving enables these capabilities:

  • Navigate on Autopilot: Actively guides a vehicle from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including navigating interchanges, automatically engaging the turn signal, and taking the correct exit. The system aims to find and follow the most efficient path to a destination.
  • Auto Lane Change: Assists in automatically moving the vehicle to an adjacent lane when the driver engages the turn signal in the direction they would like to move. This system works in tandem with Autosteer.
  • Autopark: Helps automatically parallel or perpendicular park a vehicle. Autopark detects parallel parking spots when driving below 15 miles per hour and perpendicular parking spots below 10 miles per hour. The car will shift into Park on its own once the parking manoeuvre is complete.
  • Summon: Moves a vehicle in and out of a tight space using the Tesla mobile app.
  • Smart Summon: Moves a vehicle through complex environments and parking spaces to arrive at the driver’s location.
  • Traffic and Stop Sign Control: Identifies stop signs and traffic lights and automatically slows a vehicle’s approach to a stop. This feature also integrates a driving visualization screen that displays upcoming traffic lights, stop signs, or road markings and will provide an estimated distance to when the vehicle will stop.

As Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving capabilities evolve, the systems will receive continual upgrades through over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

Active Safety Features

In addition to Autopilot and Full Self-Driving functionalities, Tesla adds these active safety features as standard equipment on all new Tesla vehicles:

  • Automatic emergency braking: Detects cars or obstacles and applies the brakes accordingly
  • Forward-collision warning: Warns of potential collisions with moving or stationary objects in front of the vehicle
  • Side-collision warning: Warns of potential collisions approaching from the side of the vehicle
  • Obstacle Aware Acceleration: Reduces acceleration when an obstacle is detected in front of the car while driving at low speeds
  • Blind-spot warning: Warns when a vehicle is detected when moving into an adjacent lane
  • Lane-departure warning: Applies corrective steering to keep the vehicle in the intended lane
  • Emergency lane-departure avoidance: Steers the vehicle back into the driving lane when detecting an unintended lane departure and a potential collision


Tesla Full Self-Driving offers a suite of driver-assistance features that make driving safer and less stressful. However, the current iteration requires active driver supervision and does not make the vehicle autonomous or hands-free. Before using Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, please refer to the owner’s manual or Tesla consumer support for instructions and safety information.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Scroll to Top

Download Data Science Career Guidance Packet

Provide the following information to download the data science career guidance packet