Autonomous Driving is (Almost) Here!

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My Model 3 Driving Itself

About 2.5 years ago, Tesla posted a video of a self-driving Model X.  It completely blew my mind!  You can see it in my old post about autonomous driving.  Elon Musk then promised an autonomous cross country trip by the end of 2017. That year came and went and then another year without any meaningful progress.  This, by the way, is called "Elon time".  However, with most things from promising to land rockets back on Earth to building hundreds of thousands of Model 3s in a year, I think autonomous driving will come to fruition soon.

There are a handful of Tesla owners in my readership and I know you guys already know all this stuff, but the large majority of people who read my blog aren't really that much of a fanatic as I am with Tesla and Elon Musk.  So, the above video is something that will give you a look into what is already available in Teslas.  I personally took that video a couple of weeks ago while I (or really, the car) was driving to the airport (for a Turo dropoff).

Tesla released what they call "Navigate on Autopilot" several months ago.  You probably know what Autopilot is.  It is essentially a glorified adaptive cruise control.  It will follow a lane and also brake according to the car in front of you.  If a car swerves into your lane, it will also be able to maneuver out of the way if it was safe to do so.  Navigate on Autopilot is a step up from there.  You set a destination on the navigation system (and this only works on highways right notw), and the car will know what lanes to take and which exits to take on the route to take you all the way to the destination highway off-ramp.  However, Tesla had disabled the auto-lane change; so, the driver must accept the lane change by pressing on the turn signal stalk, that is, until a few weeks ago.

The user can now disable lane change acknowledgement and allow the car change lanes by itself.  The car still requires you to keep your hands on the wheel and will alert you when it's trying to change a lane via a tone and/or vibration on the steering wheel.  If you watch the video, for the entire 1:17 of the drive, the car was essentially driving itself.  I started taking the video on the on-ramp to the 401.  The car then changes lanes 3 times by itself, while avoiding cars that were driving along in the lane that it was trying to get into.  I don't think I need to talk much more...just watch the video!  If a picture is a thousand words, then a video is a million words!

On April 22, Tesla will be holding an Autonomy Investor Day to show off the next steps in autonomous driving.  Elon Musk has been very vocal about autonomous driving recently and has made a number of statements about how close Tesla is to full self-driving.  Below is an interview he did with MIT research scientist, Lex Friedman, on autonomous driving and AI.  It's a long video but well worth the time.  One thing that he said, which I thought was very interesting was, "I think it will become very quickly, maybe even towards the end of this year, but I would say I'd be shocked if it's not next year, at the latest, that having a human intervene will decrease safety."  I look forward to that day!




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