Autopilot drives Tesla Model S Electric Car Coast-To-Coast (More Or Less)


The Tesla Autopilot autonomous-driving system was only released last week, contained in one of the company's periodic software updates.

Tesla itself doesn't consider the Autopilot functions complete, calling the initial release a "public beta" test.

Yet the system has already been used, apparently, to set not one but two transcontinental-driving records.

DON'T MISS: Tesla Autopilot: The 10 Most Important Things You Need To Know

A team driving a Tesla Model S P85D claims to have used Autopilot to set the record for fastest cross-country drive in an autonomous-driving car.

They also claim to have broken the existing record for fastest continental crossing in an electric vehicle.

The team was led by Alex Roy, who claimed to set the overall record for fastest coast-to-coast drive in 2006, in a BMW M5.

Tesla Autopilot sensor system

Tesla Autopilot sensor system

Enlarge Photo

Roy, Deena Mastracci, and Carl Reese departed the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California, at 9:15 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday, October 18.

They arrived at the Red Ball Garage on East 31st Street in New York City this morning, after 57 hours and 48 minutes of traveling.

However, it's unclear exactly how much of that time was spent with the Autopilot system engaged.

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And while Autopilot can perform certain driving functions autonomously, Tesla repeatedly stresses that it is not a substitute for an alert driver.

Due to the embryonic stage of the technology, there isn't much competition so far for the autonomous-car cross-country record.

Earlier this year, a self-driving Audi Q5 built by supplier Delphi drove from San Francisco to New York largely unassisted by its human minders.

Tesla Model S Autopilot

Tesla Model S Autopilot

Enlarge Photo

It took nine days for that car to complete its trip.

In 2014, a group of Tesla employees drove a Model S from Los Angeles to New York in 76 hours.

Roy, Mastracci, and Reese can obviously claim a faster time, although the two runs are not directly comparable because the teams took different routes.

MORE: UPDATE: Single Tank Of Renewable Diesel Fuel Takes Car Cross-Country at 67 MPG

But since Guinness World Records does not recognize timed driving records completed on public roads, both claims are essentially unofficial.

Mastracci and Reese--along with Rodney Hawk--previously set the record for "shortest charging time to cross the United States in an electric vehicle."

They accumulated 12 hours, 48 minutes, and 19 seconds of non-driving time on a drive between L.A. and New York this past April.

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