It’s only been a week since Tesla rolled out a software update that gives some self-driving features to Model S cars, and we’re already hearing stories about how people are abusing the newfound technology. Despite Elon Musk’s warnings to proceed with extreme caution when using the autonomous features, at least one team of Tesla enthusiasts has pushed the envelope, leaning on their Model S’s new capabilities to drive from coast to coast in less than 60 hours. That’s record time for any electric vehicle, let alone one that can partially drive itself.
The epic road trip concluded early Wednesday morning in Manhattan, according to the report from Wired. The trio responsible for the journey have been identified as Carl Reese, Deena Mastracci, and Alex Roy. They report having traveled from Redondo Beach, California, all the way to New York City in 57 hours and 48 minutes, although that time has yet to be verified by a third party. This feat wasn’t a whim, either. All three Tesla lovers have a history of record-breaking treks. In April this year, Reese and Mastracci drove across the country and set a record for the least time spent recharging. Roy, a rally driver, won bragging rights in 2006 for the fastest cross-country trip, driving from New York to Los Angeles in 31 hours and 4 minutes (although that record is unofficial).
The three set off on their record-breaking road trip in a shiny red Model S just four days after Musk celebrated the software update and called on Tesla owners to “keep their hands on the wheel just in case.” During their cross-country trek, which lasted for 57 hours, the Tesla Model S covered 2,994 miles at an average speed of 51.8 mph – including time spent plugged into Supercharger stations. Autopilot mode was on for 96 percent of the time, according to Reese, and they used it at speeds around 90 mph.
The team admits that the self-driving features were helpful – akin to cruise control – but that it was still very much necessary to have a human driver at the helm to compensate for the limitations of the autonomous capabilities.
“There were probably three or four moments where we were on autonomous mode at 90 miles an hour, and hands off the wheel,” Roy told Wired. In self-driving mode, the Tesla Model S just stays between the lane lines, while a human driver would aim for the apex of the curve in order to maintain control.
“If I hadn’t had my hands there, ready to take over, the car would have gone off the road and killed us. That’s my fault for setting a speed faster than the system’s capable of compensating.”
Even though the trio probably used the autonomous mode more than Tesla engineers would like, Musk couldn’t resist congratulating the team on their cross-country record in a tweet: “Congrats on driving a Tesla from LA to NY in just over two days!”
Lead image via Tesla Motors