Tesla FSD Beta: Chill vs. Average vs. Assertive — 1st Impressions

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend reading my article on how much Tesla FSD Beta has improved with the update that rolled out in the middle of the night. That article covered several specific scenarios. However, one of the biggest changes with this update was the introduction of three different driving modes or styles: “Chill,” “Average,” and “Assertive.” You choose your own adventure. The setting you choose determines how “Chill” or “Assertive” your car is when handling rolling stops, exiting passing lanes, making lane changes, following other cars, and responding to yellow lights (with a Goldilocks “Average” version between “Chill” and “Assertive” that many may feel is “just right”).

I definitely need to explore the Chill, Average, and Assertive modes more in the coming weeks to see how they respond at different types of intersections and in different scenarios. I haven’t yet noticed many major differences here. Though, I have noticed differences in a couple of interesting places.

Chill vs. Average vs. Assertive — 1st Impressions

In one place, there’s a very short and somewhat narrow street that connects two areas of a neighborhood. The turn is thus pretty sharp going into this connector street. There’s a little pothole at one entrance, and the natural turn trajectory there results in the car driving over it. In Average and Chill, the car drove right over it. However, with Assertive mode on, the car actually went around it, and quite smoothly. It was not just lucky, either, but actually maneuvered around it. I have to try that out again, but I was genuinely impressed on its ability there.

In general, Assertive does seem to somewhat more naturally leave some stops and make some turns. However, it can also do so in a jerkier, more Indian-taxi-driver way (note: I’m referencing taxi drivers in India in these situations, not Indians driving taxis in the US or Europe, where I’ve found they drive like everyone else). Needless to say, in some situations, I’d prefer that Chill mode be active, and in other situations, I’d prefer Assertive be active — but that’s not how this works. For now, I think I’ll stick with Average unless it starts to irritate me too much. Once I get a clear sense of how that operates in different scenarios, I’ll hop over to the others for comparison.

One odd case I discovered where Assertive was definitely needed, though, was this situation:

I looped around a few times to try this challenge in every mode — aiming to make a right turn each time. In Chill and Average, the car got stuck and just stopped on the left of the truck and cones. I eventually had to just disengage Autopilot in order to move. In Assertive, the car actually navigated around it fine. It was perhaps a bit too slow still to pass for a human driver, but not by much, and it made the turn!

Impressive? Or unimpressive that Chill and Average can’t get around such an obstacle? I’ll let you decide. (And I assume your decision may relate a bit to your opinion of glasses that are 50% full/empty.)

Here’s another look at that spot above after the car pulled up to it but couldn’t proceed because it was in Chill or Average mode:

As you can see, it also popped up a notification that it was “Waiting for our turn.” (Guess what? You ain’t gonna get it.) In that picture, you can also see the front of the truck on the right, which from that angle does look like it’s right up at the stop sign. There was more space between the truck and the stop sign than it seems from that picture. However, looking closely at another photo of the touchscreen (below), you can see that the car does need to stick out in front of the stop sign a bit, which is natural for a human driver but too concerning for a robot driver that isn’t assertive.

You can also see in that photo that there’s another car behind the truck — but that’s actually just the machine that the truck is pulling around when it’s not used to help put up Christmas lights.

Any other questions or ideas for what to explore with Chill vs. Average vs. Assertive?


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