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FORD ANNOUNCES COMMERCIAL ROLLOUT OF DRIVERLESS CARS BY 2021

Ford recently announced plans to mass produce driverless cars for commercial operation in ride-hailing services by 2021. Ford further stated that these new vehicles will  vary significantly from vehicles on the road today by omitting steering wheels, gas pedals and brake pedals. As part of its plan, Ford said that it would expand the company’s research center in Palo Alto, California, increasing the 130 employees who work there by 100 percent over the next year. Ford also announced the acquisition of Saips, an Israeli start-up that specializes in computer vision, a key technology for...
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Day 5: With the Finish Line in Sight

“3:52PM  Lincoln Tunnel, New York City.   Not a lot more to be said…”   Mike Nelson is embarking on a cross-country road trip from Orange County, California to New York City in a Tesla 90D Model S.  The Model S is equipped with autopilot and electric all-wheel drive.  Mike will share his experiences on the road with autonomous technology with Up to Speed readers in a series of posts.
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Rethinking the Term “Autopilot” in the Wake of Chinese Crash

A recent car crash in Beijing has caused Tesla to reconsider the use of the word “autopilot” for its Model S sedan. The driver, who had activated the autopilot feature at the time of the crash, complained that the company had  misled them about its capabilities. Following this complaint, the company removed references to the phrase “zidong jiashi,” or “self-driving,” from its website and replaced those references with a phrase that translates to “self-assisted driving.” Tesla’s China staff have also undergone training to ensure that salespersons keep both hands on the...
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Day 4: The Charging Process

2:40 P.M., Terre Haute Indiana. Here are a couple of photos to illustrate the charging process. Mike Nelson is embarking on a cross-country road trip from Orange County, California to New York City in a Tesla 90D Model S.  The Model S is equipped with autopilot and electric all-wheel drive.  Mike will share his experiences on the road with autonomous technology with Up to Speed readers in a series of...
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Day 4: Rain and Road Work

9:54 A.M., St. Charles, Missouri.  About 13 hours of drive time to go.  I hit rain for the first time during the trip, and the windshield wipers activate without my touching any of the controls.  While this is not that unique as new cars go, the wipers not only turn on but completely adjust based on rain volume.  Again, many cars have this feature too.  But the simplicity of having the car manage all issues with windshield wipers and rain is a great convenience. The technology has not been developed as it concerns road work.  If no lane markings exist, no Autopilot.  Temporary work...
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Day 4: Trouble with the GPS

12:00 P.M.  Looks like there is something wrong with the GPS and map function.  Oddly, I can see where the car is vis-a-vis the next Tesla charging station but Google Map is fading in and out and the clock is stuck on the Mountain Time Zone.  The Internet connectivity problems do not appear to be affecting Autopilot.  And the car is running on the road great! Mike Nelson is embarking on a cross-country road trip from Orange County, California to New York City in a Tesla 90D Model S.  The Model S is equipped with autopilot and electric all-wheel drive.  Mike will share his...
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Day 3: Goodland, Kansas. Charlie meets Adrian.

When we arrived at this charging station today we met the owner of a 2015 Tesla S.  While chatting about how much she loves her car, the owner talked about “him” and what “he” thinks.  At first I thought she was referring to someone at Tesla and the owner later clarified that Adrian was the name of her car. As for Charlie, we had a busy day.  We still have a day’s worth of driving.  Today the only complication arose when we came upon road work in Kansas.  A new roadway without lines causes the Autopilot to send a warning that it cannot function.  There is...
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Day 3: There’s an App for That

Starting off just outside of Denver. 42 degrees.  I am charging while Charlie and Drew are getting a few last winks in. With Tesla Motors’ application you can do a number of things remotely. I am in a Starbucks tanking myself up but can watch the battery charge from here.  The app allows me to turn the car on, unlock it, set the internal temperature, use my iPad and iPhone as wireless entry devices, and summon the car in its valet mode. Mike Nelson is embarking on a cross-country road trip from Orange County, California to New York City in a Tesla 90D Model S.  The Model S is...
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Day 2: Utah Colorado Line

7:25 PM. Not sure we will make the Colorado Kansas line today but we will give it a fighting chance.  The Tesla’s lane keeping automation utilizes the road lines to center the car.  But the center of the lane does not always look like the center to the driver, or better said, the driver probably does not know where the true center of the lane is.  That is a good example of learning to trust the technology. We did notice that when the painted lines on a roadway disappear, Autopilot struggles.  But what is neat is when it’s in Autopilot, the dash displays an icon right behind...
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Day 2: Changing Lanes

2:47, P.M. Richland, Utah.  We are about 1/5 the way across the country.  It’s a big place!  Automated features do decrease driver fatigue but using new technology and of course driving in new territories add to the effort. A couple observations about some automated features… When the driver puts the turn signal on for change lanes, the vehicle evaluates the risks.  If it senses a safe lane change, it changes lanes.  This differs from the learned driver behavior which is to look, signal, look again especially by turning ones head to look through what is otherwise a blind...
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Day 2: Pit stop

 11:07 A.M.  What is a little bit of an unexpected pleasure is the rest stops to charge the battery. The  Tesla charge last about 300 miles but the Tesla real charging stations are about 100 miles apart so you have to stop more frequently than you would for a gas station.  This charging station is in the town of Saint George, Utah and is located behind a Starbucks. So while we wait 30 minutes for the recharge, I sneak in a coffee mocha w/ whipped cream and banana bread.  If it was a gas station, ya fill the tank, hit the rest room, and rush back out on the road to catch the traffic that...
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Day 2: Leaving Las Vegas

 Just outside of Vegas. We will just stop to refill battery.  Nevada allows Level 3 driving while on a highway.  Oddly on this section of Route 15, the lanes are not that clearly marked.  Charlie seems to be struggling a little bit on staying in the center of the lines it is having a hard time seeing.  It is also focusing on the car in front of me. Mike Nelson is embarking on a cross-country road trip from Orange County, California to New York City in a Tesla 90D Model S.  The Model S is equipped with autopilot and electric all-wheel drive.  Mike will share his experiences on the...
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Day 2: Travels with Charlie

Yesterday we started the journey by heading out of Barstow, California at 5:30 pm driving northeast on Route 15.  It was not ideal.  Traffic on a Friday night in a L.A. rush hour on “the 5” was a bear. This morning is a perfect contrast. Wide open highways.  Auto pilot is engaged and doing its thing.  We pass other vehicles in the right lane without effort or thought and we are doing  a constant 78 mph.  All cornering is being managed by Charlie, which is what I have named the Model S. Steinbeck fans would probably point out that Charlie was a dog, a standard poodle to be...
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Day 1: Testing out the Tesla

 Mike Nelson is embarking on a cross-country road trip from Orange County, California to New York City in a Tesla 90D Model S.  The Model S is equipped with autopilot and electric all-wheel drive.  Mike will share his experiences on the road with autonomous technology with Up to Speed readers in a series of posts. In order to develop a deeper understanding of autonomous vehicles, I decided to buy a Tesla 90D Model S from Tesla’s Costa Mesa, California dealership from Orange County to New York City and drive over the course of a three day trip with my son.  We will...
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