The term “Tesla Autopilot” encompasses the Advanced Driving Assistance System (ADAS) implemented in the company’s vehicles. It incorporates eight external cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, a forward-facing radar, and a robust onboard computer. Through the integration of visual, sonar, and radar data, Autopilot offers a comprehensive 360-degree field of vision.

It’s crucial to note that this extensive hardware and software suite is specifically applicable to vehicles produced after October 2016. In contrast, those manufactured from September 2014 to October 2016 were equipped with a single camera, a less potent radar, and sensors. Unfortunately, retrofitting is not possible for these earlier models to accommodate the latest Autopilot technology.


Tesla provides two official Autopilot packages: Basic Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability (FSD). The basic package comes standard with all new Teslas, offering features such as Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer. Traffic-Aware Cruise Control is an adaptive cruise control system with automatic stop-and-go functionality, while Autosteer is a lane-centering assistance system, providing a glimpse into Autopilot’s hands-free driving capabilities. According to the Autonomous Driving Levels, the Tesla Autopilot is a level 2 autonomous capability.

Moreover, when engaging adaptive cruise control, the system introduces an additional layer of monitoring through the lane departure warning and lane-keeping assistance features. If the system detects frequent lane departures or observes that the driver’s hands are consistently off the steering wheel despite repeated notifications, the vehicle takes corrective action. It activates the hazard lights and decelerates the car to a speed 15 mph below the speed limit or the driver-set vehicle speed. This particular setting, operational between 25 and 90 mph, can be disabled by the driver if desired.


Tesla’s optional Full Self-Driving (FSD) package has become the subject of numerous viral YouTube videos, showcasing its impressive capabilities. The package includes features such as automatic lane changes, self-parking, and vehicle summoning. Beta versions of Navigate on Autopilot and Traffic and Stop Sign Control are also part of the FSD package. The summon feature allows owners, via the key fob or mobile app, to command their Tesla to autonomously exit a parking space and drive to their location. This proves particularly useful in tight parking spaces or for entertainment purposes. However, the summon feature requires the owner to be within 200 feet of the vehicle and is intended for use in private settings only. The process can be stopped at any time.

Navigate on Autopilot is designed to navigate the actual destination route rather than providing map directions. Working in conjunction with Autosteer, it enables self-driving on marked roadways, including highway on-ramps, off-ramps, and interchanges. The system can make lane changes to overtake slower vehicles or prepare for a freeway exit.

Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control is another feature of the FSD package, recognizing and responding to road signs and stoplights. This system adjusts the vehicle’s speed accordingly, but it requires active participation from the driver. For instance, even if a traffic light is green, the vehicle will slow down unless the driver confirms it’s safe to proceed. Notably, this feature won’t turn the vehicle automatically, regardless of the turn signal status.

A forthcoming feature, Autosteer+, is in development to extend autonomous capabilities beyond highways and marked lanes. This feature aims to navigate through complex settings like city streets, intersections, and roundabouts with minimal steering input from the driver. While a release date is yet to be determined, Autosteer+ holds the potential to allow a Tesla to travel from Point A to Point B with minimal manual steering involvement.


Despite its name, no Tesla or any vehicle from any automaker currently available for sale is fully autonomous or capable of safe self-driving without the need for a driver’s attention and intervention when required. The Tesla Autopilot is currently classified as a level 2 autonomous system.

In the case of Tesla, enabling Autopilot requires the driver to explicitly acknowledge the need to “keep their hands on the wheel” and to “maintain control and responsibility” of the vehicle. Tesla vehicles are equipped with driver monitoring systems that generate a variety of in-vehicle warnings and alerts if the safety features detect driver distraction. While Autopilot can enhance the driving experience, especially on long journeys, it’s important to emphasize that the features and functions it offers do not absolve the driver from the responsibility of remaining attentive and alert at all times.


Tesla’s unique sales model, without a traditional dealer network, provides the company with the flexibility to set and adjust vehicle and option pricing without the constraints associated with traditional dealerships. This agility is further enabled by the uniform technology hardware present in all Tesla vehicles, allowing for seamless over-the-air updates to implement upgrades and new features. Once a Tesla owner takes possession of their vehicle, any post-purchase enhancements, ranging from extended battery range to features like heated rear seats, can be conveniently activated via the Tesla mobile app.

An illustrative example of Tesla’s pricing strategy is evident in a June 2020 announcement by CEO Elon Musk. During this period, a special promotion was offered to existing Tesla owners who had initially chosen not to include Autopilot in their vehicles. They were allowed to acquire Autopilot through a flash sale at a significantly discounted price of $2,000, compared to the regular point-of-sale price of $5,000.

Moreover, Tesla owners have the option to request an after-the-fact upgrade to the Full Self-Driving (FSD) package for $7,000, with the price increasing to $8,000 from July 1, 2020. Notably, this upgrade option was available until the end of 2020, after which the FSD package transitioned to a subscription-based model. While specific details about the subscription cost and frequency (whether monthly or annually) were not disclosed at the time, the option for a lifetime Autopilot membership was highlighted as a potentially wise choice for those considering long-term ownership of a Tesla vehicle.

Pricing and functionality are subject to change as Tesla is constantly improving their products.