Earlier this year, Carl Reese and Deena Mastracci made a 3,011-mile (4,846-km) drive from Los Angeles to New York in 58 hours and 51 minutes in a Tesla Model S P85D to set a record for the coast-to-coast journey for an electric vehicle. Now Reese and Mastracci, joined by Alex Roy, have beaten that record with the help of Tesla's new Autopilot software.
According to the Transcontinental Drivers Association, the yet-to-be-verified record-breaking drive left Redondo Beach, California on October 18 at 9:15 pm PST and arrived at the Red Ball Garage in New York on October 21 at 10:03 am EST – making for a distance of 2,995 mi (4,820 km) and a time of 57 hours and 48 minutes.
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The drive relied on the newly-released Tesla Autopilot software, which was made available by software update to Tesla S and X owners on October 15. This provides semi-autonomous capabilities so the vehicle can be driven without touching the pedals or steering wheel on the highway.
The car uses cameras and radar to keep an eye on other vehicles, potential hazards and road markings. It can execute lane changes with only driver supervision, dodge swerving vehicles, park automatically, and prevent drivers from making potentially dangerous moves like driving over the divider.
The Association says that both the departure and arrival of the Tesla S were recorded by witnesses and the GPS tracking data will be submitted to verify the record.
"Deena and I have been planning this autonomous record for over 11 months," says Reese. "We knew we wanted to be the first group to make the cross-country attempt using the autonomous technology."