Can Tesla Autopilot Handle Canyon Carving?


Tesla can handle pretty much all road conditions, but how does it fare against the edge cases?

Tesla electric cars have proven themselves to be more fuel efficient and cost effective than their conventional combustion engine counterparts.

But how fun would it be to test out a Tesla in a canyon rather than some regular city streets.

Well, that’s exactly what Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire, and The Drive, did with a Tesla Model S P90D electric car.

Just to be clear; the Tesla Model S P90D car that he used came with the now famous Ludicrous Mode.

For the uninitiated: Canyon carving is when you take out your vehicle to a canyon or some other mountainous road and drive through all the twists and turns at full speed.

Make no mistake; Canyon carving is dangerous and takes a rather heavy toll on your vehicle.

Matt, though, took his Tesla Model S for canyon carving in his latest One Shot review in spite of all these hazards.

But here comes the interesting part: Matt decided to go for canyon carving, with his Tesla Model, with Autopilot feature on.

That’s right. Matt actually wanted to test out Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance software when the road ahead wasn’t as predictable as it is in cities.

What he found was this: The Autopilot did manage to hold up for the duration of the test but it became clear rather quickly that Tesla’s driver assistance software feature did not like the hairpin turns that it encountered while canyon carving.

Matt, in order to ensure that his program went as smoothly as possible, woke up early in the morning and took his Tesla Model S electric car to a charging station.

After having ensured that his electric car would have plenty of juice for what lied ahead, Matt gave Tesla’s Ludicrous Mode a spin and decided to experience how Tesla’s Autopilot feature (which has caused other drivers a lot of trouble recently) held up when driving on “The Snake.”

The Snake, is the famous California road that has some obscene amounts of curves on it. Chances are that you probably have seen thousands of fatal accident videos on Youtube. The road is also known as Mulholland Highway which, of course, has nothing to do with the famous Mulholland Drive movie.

Matt reported that his Tesla Model S P90D car, at first, didn’t allow him to turn on the Autopilot feature because, according to the car sensors, the speed of 35 miles per hour was simply too fast.

Naturally, Matt slowed down to a speed of 25 miles per hour and gave the Autopilot button another go.

When the Autopilot feature finally started to work, it took less than 20 seconds for his Tesla Model S car to do things that were simply unacceptable.

Unacceptable things such as not turning on corners. Pretty horrific right?


Tesla is great with hands. Without hands? Not so much.

Needless to say, Matt was forced to take back control of the car before it crashed. As the video progressed, Matt confessed that his expectations regarding Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance software were probably too optimistic.

He also said that the Autopilot system simply wasn’t able to manage the tight hairpin turns that were present at the bottom of The Snake. Hairpin turns are basically very tight corners that, sometimes, force vehicles to turn 180 degrees before passing them safely.

Farah’s curiosity got the better of him but thankfully, nobody was hurt throughout the duration of the experiment.

But if you thought that this is the part where Farah just turned around, gave up, and went home with his Tesla Model S electric car, then you thought wrong.

Farrah decided to give it another go, but this time, it was through a much easier stretch of the road. The “new” portion of the road still had quite a few curves and turns but, as Matt reported, the Tesla Autopilot driver assistance software managed the task much more competently. With that said, Matt also felt that Tesla’s Autopilot features sometimes drives like a drunk person when driven in environments like The Snake’s.

If you didn’t know already then we’ll straight up tell you that Tesla’s Autopilot feature was never developed for the purposes of canyon carving on the roads of Southern California.

So it is understandable that Matt had to take control of matters in his own hands before the Autopilot feature wrecked him and his car.

Tesla developed the Autopilot feature for its Tesla Model S P90D electric car so that it could function, without problems, on the majority of highways and roads.

The roads of Southern California, particularly Mulholland highway, don’t come under the “majority of highways and roads” category by any stretch of the imagination.

And thousands of other Tesla cars have shown that the Autopilot features really comes into its own when driven on relatively gentle highways.

However, Matt also reported that he was coerced to put in more energy and focus into what Tesla’s Autopilot feature was doing, and how it was driving the car, than when he drove the car himself.

But the experiment was not a complete failure, or even a failure at all, as Matt felt that the Autopilot feature from Tesla for its electric cars was one of the greatest automotive feats ever.

And to be fair to Tesla: it probably is when given the right kind of environments i.e anything but the Mulholland Highway.

Check out the video below to get a real feel of what the experiment looked like,

Looking at the video, one can’t help but think that Matt Farah is probably one of the very few people who own a Tesla Model S electric car and show some good old common sense in dealing with the Autopilot driver assistance software.

The video presents further evidence that Tesla’s Autopilot feature isn’t what most people think of when they hear the word “Autopilot”.


Tesla’s Autopilot feature works great on tame highways, not on highways such as The Snake.

The Autopilot feature from Tesla is supposed to assist drivers while they are on the road. It isn’t an autonomous AI system which will take you to your location without any kind of input at all.

Readers would do well to watch Matt’s video and notice the point when he said that he had to be even more alert while using the Autopilot feature as opposed to when the driver assistance feature was turned off.

The Tesla Autopilot technology is no doubt a one of a kind revolutionary feature. But it would be a long time before drivers will be able to sleep in their cars while the Autopilot driver assistance software took them to their destinations without trouble.

Nevertheless, many experts have expressed the opinion that the Autopilot feature will not reach its full potential unless and until all cars, or most of them anyway, are autonomous and interconnected.


The Autopilot feature, as revolutionary as it is now, needs to be enhanced to a level where the software is able to handle all road conditions and take evasive maneuvers better than humans.

Until then, drivers will have to follow Tesla guidelines on operating the Autopilot feature: Always keep your hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road.


Latest posts by Zohair (see all)


Product Information Only

This website and its content (including links to other websites) are presented in general form and are provided for informational purposes only. does not sell any products on this site and, to the maximum extent permitted by law, excludes all liability and makes no warranties or representations that the products written about on this site are fit for any particular purpose, or are suitable for any particular use or by any particular person. is not responsible for the practices of owners of other websites and makes no representations or warranties about the products available for sale on those other sites.

Please check product content information carefully before purchasing any product on another site via a link provided on this site or otherwise.