At the DEKRA testing grounds in Klettwitz, Branden-burg in Germany, a Tesla Model 3 drove unmanned for over 28 hours in “autopilot mode” and covered a distance of 1,001 kilometers (622 miles) on a single charge. The white Tesla Model 3 from Germany’s leading electric car rental company, nextmove, was “driven” by the mascot, Spacy, the younger brother of Tesla’s Starman, who is currently flying through space in a Tesla Roadster (Video). The unmanned electric car with a 75-kWh battery pack (Model 3 Long Range) achieved 23 kilometers (14 miles) more in distance than an identical Model 3 with alternating human drivers, which was driven along the track simultaneously.
For safety reasons, the nextmove team used the DEKRA testing grounds at Lausitzring for the risky event last weekend. “Naturally, a test circuit with clear markings, long straights, broad curves and few surprises provides near-ideal conditions for the Tesla autopilot”, says nextmove Managing Director Stefan Moeller. “Admittedly, we did not know in advance whether the autopilot could reach the total distance without fault, even during the night.” On Sunday afternoon it finally became clear: The machine completed its task like clockwork with a high degree of precision. Finally, it was possible to “capture” the vehicle again in time and recharge it at the grounds.
In order to make the autopilot think that there was a person sitting at the wheel, a number of tricks were employed: Stefan Moeller started the car and positioned the aids to imitate a human driver in the Tesla Model 3. Finally, he climbed out of the side window during a brief stop: This ensured that nextmove could reenter the car at any time. So as not to lose any aerodynamics, Moeller taped up the side window. Spacy sat in the driver’s seat but during the night, he slept on a mattress that was placed on the folded-down back seats.
A second Model 3 with identical features (Long Range, 18-inch wheels, summer tires) started the race at the same time, using alternating drivers. Ultimately, the manned vehicle was able to reach 978 kilometers (608 miles) using cruise control, and occasionally, autopilot. So even this vehicle beat the previous world distance record for a Model 3 with a driver. The previous publicly-known record of 975 kilometers (606 miles) was held by a team from the USA. Nev-ertheless, the drivers had to admit de-feat to the efficiency of the unmanned vehicle: Machine beat man.
The approximately 7 kilowatt hours of consumption for 100 kilometers achieved by the Tesla Model 3 roughly equates to 0.7 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers (33.6 mpg). The level of consumption achieved by electric cars shows the superiority of the electric motor over the combustion engine. The test vehicles were US-imported versions of the Tesla Model 3. The electric car will be delivered in the first half of 2019 to those in Europe who have preordered it.
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