Ever since Tesla officially unveiled its version 7.0 autopilot-enabled software update for the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X electric cars last week, rolling out the update to each and every hardware-enabled car via an over-the-air update, we figured it would only be a matter of time before some adventurous soul decided to make an autonomous drive trip from one side of the U.S. to the other in their Tesla.
But even we thought it would take a little longer than a week before the attempt was made.
Enter rally driver, Jalopnik columnist Host of DRIVE, and CEO of Europe By Car Alex Roy, who, along with previous Tesla record-holders Carl Reese and Deena Mastracci, completed a coast-to-coast trip in an autopilot-enabled Tesla Model S earlier today. No stranger to record-breaking road trips, Alex Roy set a record back in 2006 by driving a heavily-modified BMW M5 from coast to coast in a 31-hour, four minute cannonball run that was most definitely not within the bounds of the law. Carl Reese and his financé Deena Mastracci meanwhile (with help of their friend Rodney Hawk) set their own record earlier this year by driving Reese’s Tesla Model S P85D from Los Angeles to New York in 58 hours and 55 minutes, setting a record for the shortest charging time coast-to-coast in a Model S. This time however, the trio had a new goal: to set the fastest Level 2 autonomous crossing of the U.S.
I can’t wait to get pulled over and explain this. @elonmusk #Autopilot #TheAutonomotiveSingularity #TheFuture A photo posted by Alex Roy (@alexroy144) on
For those unfamiliar with the term Level 2 as it relates to autonomous vehicles, it’s a proposed classification from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which describes an autonomous vehicle in which two different control systems can combine to work in unison to offer some form of autonomous driving capabilities — such as lane keep assist and radar-assisted cruise control.
Using Tesla’s autopilot facility where possible and routed via Tesla’s on-board Supercharger-aware satelite navigation system to available superchargers en-route the trio took it in turns to sit behind the wheel as the car did most of the hard work, managing the trip in an impressive 57 hours and 48 minutes.
That’s an impressive record, but Alex Roy’s Instagram account detailed, the Tesla Model S did occasionally break the speed limit in order to make that record happen. While we’re not in the habit of condoning speeding, Roy and his compatriots did discover something interesting about the autopilot feature at those kind of speeds: the autopilot won’t let you exceed 90 mph.
We’re sure to hear more about the trip in the coming days, as well as countless other drivers following in the intrepid trio’s tire tracks.
In the meantime, we’d like to remind readers that at least for now, Tesla’s autopilot software is still considered a ‘public beta’ by Tesla Motors itself — and anyone using it should make sure that they remain alert and awake behind the wheel at all times – even if they’re not actually doing the ‘driving’.
And on behalf of the team at Tranpsort Evolved, well done to Alex Roy, Carl Reese and Deena Mastracci, even if their trip did exceed the speed limit a few times…
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