The other day Elon Musk had one of those promo things with audiences/the media regarding Tesla’s self-driving function. A video was played (and which is available on YouTube) showing the “full self-driving” as it will soon appear…
Color me impressed.
I’ve written before about my own Tesla and how I like using the current auto-pilot even though I know it has plenty of limitations. Where I live, the roads are generally very straight, so the auto-pilot as it currently exists works quite well for my area. However, you should always, especially if you live/drive in areas with plenty of hills or curves, use the autopilot feature with the greatest of care. You need to be very cognizant of what goes on around you as the autopilot feature may lose track of the road and/or other drivers might try to merge into your lane and could hit your vehicle.
Don’t think that just because the autopilot feature exists, its perfect.
Returning to the above video, this is clearly an updated autopilot that can either “read” or already knows about the locations of stop signs and traffic lights, which the current version of autopilot (at least the one I have) does not. Seeing this makes me optimistic in time we will have some form of this type of full self-driving, at least through Tesla vehicles.
But one should also note that the ride presented in this video is in relatively light traffic. Yes, the trip is long and the car goes through off ramps and encounters traffic lights and stop signs but at least in this video the car handles them magnificently.
But because this is a promo video, even a fan of Tesla cars (and, trust me, I’m a HUGE fan of them) has to be leery of what they’re seeing.
I’m not saying Tesla is somehow “cheating” with this video, but clearly the car has far more information on the trip than your regular Tesla vehicle has.
So as much as I want to jump up and down and as much as I hope that I’ll be seeing this “full self-driving” software update arrive to my vehicle (I paid for the advanced full driving option when I ordered my Tesla), I suspect one must remain patient.
I drive in location X, you drive in location Y. Still others will be in A, B, C, D, etc. etc. etc. To have a “full self-driving” software installed and functioning in your car, I suspect one’s car (Tesla or whatever) will require plenty of new data. Perhaps even as full up-to-the-minute data on all traffic lights and stop signs in the general area one drives in as well as road conditions. One’s vehicle, I’m certain, will “see” and interpret things through its many cameras just as the additional data will allow the car to understand/“see” the traffic lights and stop signs.
Easy enough to say, right?
This of course means mountains and mountains of traffic/road data. Given that most people live/drive in certain areas most of the week, each vehicle doesn’t need a complete entire United States roadmap with all that information downloaded into their vehicle, only the relevant areas usually traveled. This will, obviously, change as better and better computers/chips are developed and the vehicle can store and use more and more information.
I know all that I’ve written above is me thinking out loud, but I’ll repeat: I remain very impressed with the forward thinking of Tesla/Musk with regard to their vehicles and hope that what we’ve seen in the above video does indeed translate into something usable by everyone.
Unlike me, there remain a contingent of people out there who are very leery about and/or hate Musk and feel whatever pronouncement/announcement he makes amounts to snake oil salesmanship. To them, I would again say: Why don’t you take a Tesla for a test drive?
If Musk/Tesla are nothing more than smoke and mirrors, explain the good reviews the vehicles get from both critics and owners. And while you’re at it, explain my own joy each time I get behind the wheel of my Model 3. Explain the grin on my face when this past weekend my wife and I traveled some 50-60 miles of highway using nothing but the current autopilot… without any issues at all.
Yeah, I know. Changing other’s opinions is a difficult thing, especially if one is set in one’s ways.
Me? I’m curious to see what’s next.