Tesla Model S Autopilots Itself Coast-To-Coast – Sets Two Records



Rally driver Alex Roy is famous for driving a highly-modified BMW M5 across the US in a record time of 31 hours and 4 minutes in 2006. He chronicled the years of preparation that led up to the successful attempt at the “Cannonball Run” in his book, “The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World.”

Roy just made the “Cannonball Run” across the country again to set two new transcontinental records. This time, in a Tesla Model S P85D. But instead of Roy driving the car, the car, equipped with Tesla’s Autopilot, drove him. Well, the car drove itself with the help of Roy and two others, Carl Reese and Deena Mastracci, who are also transcontinental driving record holders.

The trio departed the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California two and a half days ago and arrived at the Red Ball Garage on East 31st Street in New York City around 10:30 this morning and recorded a time of 57 hours and 48 minutes. They claim to have set the fastest time to cross the country in an autonomous driving car and broke the existing record for fastest crossing in an electric vehicle.

Editor’s Note:  Our thanks to Lanny Hartmann for penning this article for us.  Lanny runs PlugInSites.org, a website that delivers news about electric car charging stations in DC, Maryland, Virginia & beyond.  We encourage readers in the area to check it out!

Tesla Model S Goes Cross Country On Autopilot - Image Credit: Alex Roy

Tesla Model S Goes Cross Country On Autopilot – Image Credit: Alex Roy

In April, 2015, Reese and Mastracci, along with Rodney Hawk, drove Reese’s Model S 3,011 miles from LA to New York in 58 hours and 55 minutes. They are listed in the Guinness World Records as having the least non-driving time to cross the United States in an electric vehicle at 12 hours, 48 minutes and 19 seconds. This beat the official record set by a team of Tesla employees dispatched by Elon Musk in early 2014 when the Supercharger network was established to the point that would enable a Tesla Model S to drive coast to coast exclusively using Supercharger stations.

A clue that this record attempt was in progress came when @AlexRoy144 tweeted, “What Is The Level 2 Autonomous Driving Record? Enquiring Minds Want to Know. #Tesla #Autopilot.”

A Portion Of The Route - Image Credit: Alex Roy

A Portion Of The Route – Image Credit: Alex Roy

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed classification system, a Level 2 automated vehicle system has at least two controls that can be automated in unison, such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping.

Deena Mastracci, who stayed behind the wheel for much of the trip, said the Tesla Autopilot performance was “stellar.”

"Should we stop for massages since we're so far ahead of schedule?" #TakeAGuessAsToMyAnswer

A video posted by Alex Roy (@alexroy144) on

In recent years, Guinness has no longer recognized time-based records conducted on public roads, so both records may remain “unofficial” by Guinness standards.

Categories: Tesla

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

37 Comments on "Tesla Model S Autopilots Itself Coast-To-Coast – Sets Two Records"

newest oldest most voted


Records were broken. Data was collected.



Q: What proportion of the drive was done with Autopilot?
A: Ninety-six point one percent (96.1%)
Via: http://www.thedrive.com/article/591/this-team-just-broke-the-ev-cross-country-record-in-the-tesla-model-s

Would be interesting to know whether this percentage is per driving time or driving distance…

I am also droving the USA from coast to coast in the Tesla Model S-70D (probably the first to do so with that model). Let’s have a celebration on Saturday, Oct 24, 2015 at:

Saturday, Oct 24, 2015
Nauna’s Ristorante
148 Valley Rd, Montclair, NJ 07042

I’ll be there waiting with my Rav4EV, pair of car ramps, box of JdeMO parts and checkered flag 🙂

Seriously. This was not an autonomous coast to coast trip. This was an adaptive cruise control with lane assist jaunt between superchargers. The car did not choose its own route. The driver probably had to drive quite often.

Can we stop drinking the Tesla PR kool-aid?

Let’s see, you simply used different words to describe what it did (you said adaptive cruise control with lane assist) which is a pedantic argument, you said the car didn’t choose its own route (which isn’t a requirement of autonomous driving), and you said the driver “probably” had to drive quite often (which has no basis in evidence).

How is that supposed to be convincing? I’ve heard more convincing arguments that Nasa never put a man on the moon.

More kool-aid plz!

the no man thing on the moon is true*..Nasa put a man on some desert stage set…cuz the US Flag was moving in a place where there is suppost to be N0 athmosphere..But on the other hand, This is True!.. lmao

And even got the Russians to lie about the corroborating evidence! Only Nixon… only Nixon

Yup said:

“…you [TAP] said the driver “probably” had to drive quite often (which has no basis in evidence).”

True, but at the very least they did have to disengage Autsteer (Beta) when driving up to a Supercharger. I suspect some “rest stops” were involved, for bathroom breaks, too.

We can hope the driver disengaged Autosteer (Beta) whenever leaving the freeway/Interstate, but as we’ve seen in all too many videos, as well as many posts to the Tesla Motors Club forum, there are an appalling number of Model S drivers out there using Autosteer (Beta) on roads with two-way traffic, where it is wholly unsafe.

Tesla says that while using Autosteer (Beta), the driver is supposed to remain alert and with hands on the steering wheel. While the latter is probably not gonna happen, we can at least hope that the former will, for the safety of everyone on the road.

Um, record breaking is record breaking.
The fact that you want to whine about just shows your anti-tesla bias.

They said it was an autopilot trip and specifically “level 2” autonomous. That means combining two systems (in this case adaptive cruise control and lane keeping). What you are talking about is a strawman that they didn’t claim to do.

Can you think of anything possibly more exciting? 😉

OK, not “Autonomous,” but on Sunday evening I was in Vacaville for dinner and my P85D actually drove me 43 of the 45 miles from Vacaville back to my home in Elk Grove. Last evening I was in central Sacramento for dinner and upon getting on Hiway 99 to return home, the car took over and comfortably drove me the 12 miles on the freeway, even with two lane changes until I was ready to exit.

And my drink of choice is “Crystal Lite” not Kool-Aid.

8 – )

If the car’s driving perhaps your chosen drink should be a martini 🙂

This is the real promise of autonomous driving. The car drives while I drink.

Hey George – apparently we are neighbors of sorts. 🙂

Congratulations! Tons of data collected and I like to hear more of how they experienced the trip.

The top photo shows 90mph on the speedo. In which state is this allowed?

Here in Texas, we have roads with 85MPH speed limits. 90MPH probably won’t get you pulled over on those roads.

This is exactly why it is no longer a record. People are driving so far over the speed limit to break any timed event on public roads they are a safety hazard to everyone else on the road.

Brian – the Pic with the 90 at the Speedometer, shows the the massive amount of (Air) traffic on the road while he was doing that speed! And – you don’t know where that pic was taken, and also – as Aaron says – right above your post – “Here in Texas, we have roads with 85 MPH speed limits. 90 MPH probably won’t get you pulled over on those roads.” – so saying 90 is too fast – is like saying 60 Mph is too dangerously fast, on double nickel (55 Mph) Roads! I can say – I had an event once, many years ago (~1984) when I drove a trip that usually takes an hour, on 55 Mph / 90 Kph Roads, in 30 minutes in a Mazda RX7 with Aftermarket Turbo, for a 150 Kph AVERAGE Speed (about 90 Mph) over a 75 Km Distance, including mostly just two lanes, limited passing lanes, hills (Mountains), curves (Blind), large up and down elevation changes, and metal edge plate deck Bridges (Twitchy on the tires)! So – you know I hit up to 190 – 210 Kph (~118 – 128 Mph) on more open stretches, to cover for the… Read more »

Developed nations have electric vehicles with 300 km/h for cross-country travels.

Good read. Thanks for the link. It sounds like Autopilot is superior to the Mercedes system at least.

I don’t want to be labeled a Tesla-hater under contract to the ICE cartel or anything, but geesh the car did not Autopilot itself from coast to coast.

Tesla’s got a good lane-keeping system for now that should improve through OTA updates. Probably the best such system on the market. I think that’s enough of an accomplishment without suggesting this is truly an autonomous car.


Well said, sir.

Pro: The team of drivers set a new record, assisted by a Model S’s Autopilot (Beta). (Calling it an “autonomous” trip is exaggerating the truth quite a bit!)

Con: They clearly drove well over the speed limit to achieve the record.

All in all, this isn’t the sort of thing to be encouraging.

Texas has already been mentioned. And at least three other states have highways with 80 mph limits- still over, but hardly by a ticketable amount.

Yet another blanket statement from Lensmann turns out to be premature.

finecadmin said:

“Yet another blanket statement from Lensmann turns out to be premature.”

1. If you’re referring to my former screen name, it’s “Lensman”, not “Lensmann”.

2. The article states “Roy just made the ‘Cannonball Run’ across the country again to set two new transcontinental records. This time, in a Tesla Model S P85D.”

Perhaps you don’t know what the term “Cannonball Run” means? Perhaps you don’t know that it’s an illegal road race conducted on public roads, with the contestants vying for how far over the speed limit they can get away with running?

Yet another challenge by finecadmin to Pushmi-Pullyu’s statements backfires.

I have done two round trips Washington State to North Carolina with Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Assist in my 2011 Prius. These trips included going thru cities, on freeways, with very heavy traffic on multiple lanes with many on and off ramps. It works. It is wonderfully restful and I find it keeping me alert just enjoying with amazement what it accomplishes. I am a retired military aviator so enjoy my toys.

7 states here in the US have 80 MPH speed limits. 17 other countries enjoy 80 MPH speed limits also. Including Poland and Russia. They can’t be possibly producing cars as good as the Tesla or good roads for that matter. Speed is relative, and kept artificially low to raise revenue. If speeding on hi ways that are meant for faster speeds was dangerous there wouldn’t be Traffic School Options to remove points from your record.

Bob the other counties would be in metric so they would not have their speed limits in MPH they would be in KPH


Car was going 90 in an 80mph zone. 10mph over speed limit seems pretty reasonable.

The next time you get ticketed for speeding, go to traffic court and tell the judge “Ten miles over the speed limit seems pretty reasonable”, and see how far that gets you. 😀

The court of officer discretion.

my sense is that it is very risky (to the public and ultimately to tesla) to do live beta testing of this software:


Have they reported how much money was spent for the trip? Superchargers are free, so nothing spent on energy. No hotel rooms either. So, just food. This is significant data itself. Oh, and the externalities were minimal. At some point, all the energy used by the network will be 100% renewable.

Please don’t argue about whether it was truly autonomous or not. Clearly that’s coming, and coming soon. Let’s just relish the fact that Elon and Co. are changing both energy and transporation in a big, positive way. Can’t wait for Model 3.