Today! A very special podcast episode — and quite possibly the world’s first! — recorded inside a Tesla Model S while driving from San Francisco to Palo Alto with Autopilot engaged, complete with my personal thoughts, feedback, and critique! Also: Ford releases an interesting test about active cruise control’s ability to avoid unnecessary traffic jams, and what it means for a fully autonomous car future!
Ford tests active cruise control’s “platooning effect” on traffic
While it’s an admittedly thinly veiled marketing stunt, it’s a good one: Ford has released (as reported by Autoblog, in this case) a video showcasing the results of a study on adaptive cruise control (ACC) systems’ effect on traffic jams. As referred to in the video, these seemingly phantom traffic jams tend to pop up out of nowhere: somebody at the front taps their brakes, then the car behind, and so on until the nth car in the has slowed to a crawl. It’s a ripple effect, with the wave front of the slowing traffic literally propagating to the tail of the traffic like a wave in water.
The solution? ACC’s “platooning” effect which ensures that cars a the front only slow down as much as necessary, and while the cars in the back don’t. In other words, ACC effectively terminates the traffic wavefront, as it were, from propagating any further than the several lead cars.
The implicit application to autonomous cars is obvious: it’s precisely this platooning effect enabled by autonomous cars that will do so much to alleviate today’s congested roads and entirely unsustainable traffic woes. Granted, per our previous episode on Professor Sperling’s discussion on the need for the perfect trifecta of autonomy, electrification, and carpooling, ACC (and autonomous cars) alone will not be sufficient to solve the transportation catastrophe of our world, but it is absolutely necessary.
My live, in-car report while driving a Tesla Model S P100D with Autopilot!
So this is pretty awesome. I just got to do a live report of Tesla’s Model S — in this case a Ludicrous Mode-equipped P100D — while actually driving it from San Francisco to Palo Alto; or, more accurately, while it drove me thanks to the wonders of its semi-autonomous Autopilot system.
The episode segment is only about 10 minutes long I think, and I take you along my journey from about half-way down 19th Avenue in San Francisco, onto the 280 South freeway, all the while discussing the pros, cons, quirks, frustrations, and wishes for certain bits of improvement, as well as some legitimate critiques about this admittedly very double-edged sword of technology.
And, oh yeah, this may well be the first ever podcast segment recorded in a Tesla Model S, while driving along with Autopilot… in the world. (Certainly I think it’s probably the first such podcast episode in the world about a Tesla Model S with Autopilot, while driving (being driven?) by such car!)
NB. Please let me know if you’d like me to create a YouTube channel for this podcast, essentially, just a video version of the audio track, with closed captioning of course so you can enjoy without audio.
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