Tesla Autopilot safety? Forget that, it’s life changing and is spatial computing to boot

I told you Autopilot is safer than the other humans on the road. Tesla today released a safety report with more road data that shows Autopilot is out performing its human drivers.

I can tell when Tesla owners aren’t using it, too. They aren’t as smooth, they don’t signal as well. Autopilot, when used to switch lanes (I changed the default in my Model 3 to automatically switch lanes whenever it wants), turns on the signals way in advance. Many human drivers never signal when switching lanes. It also doesn’t switch lanes if there’s a car in the lane that it wants to move into.

Funny story, too:

Over the weekend I was driving in lane #1 on Freeway 280. Doing the standard 80 miles per hour.

A faster car came up behind me.

My car automatically pulled out of the #1 lane, let the faster car past, then promptly pulled back into the #1 lane because I was going faster than everyone else. Automatic lane changes have already changed my behavior. Now I rarely need to look if there’s a car in the other lane. Today it automatically changed lanes, got halfway over, and another driver came into my lane, didn’t notice I was switching lanes. My Tesla just pulled back into my original lane, waited for the jerk to drive past, then attempted the lane change again.

This totally changes the stress level too. Tonight I was driving Milan home from his speech therapy. We were stuck in traffic for more than an hour. Stop and go. Stop and go. Stop stop stop stop and go.

I didn’t care at all. I held Milan’s hand and we had a nice conversation about eating crab. Never touched the brakes or accelerator in more than an hour of driving. Then Ryan told me all about the weird stuff he’s been doing in VR lately. Then Irena called me. While it drove I barely paid attention. This tech is magic and I can’t wait for everyone to have it.

I met a lawyer from Los Angeles when camping in Yosemite who has a Tesla. He admitted to me he works in Los Angeles traffic while his car drives. I still don’t recommend that, but admit it is changing my attention levels on freeways too, particularly in traffic. Mostly I pay attention to my rearview camera and mirrors looking for motorcycles splitting lanes. Even there it’s safer for them since my car always stays exactly in the center of the lane and is very predictable. When I watch other humans they aren’t predictable at all, and many human drivers are on phones or doing other things. Distraction is a cause of many accidents that I see go down.

By the time my kids are driving age (about five years away) I wonder if they will need a driver’s license. Probably, for some roads and probably because we will give them our Toyota. I will never buy another Toyota, so even that is a short term problem for them (and they may choose never to take it, because self driving car systems will replace Uber and Lyft and be cheaper than buying a car anyway, not to mention safer). But another five after that will probably solve most of these problems. By the time they are 30 they definitely won’t need to drive and the system will be way safer and will let them play immersive games.

Today Irena Cronin and I interviewed Marcus Kühne, cofounder/CIO of Holoride. His company makes VR games for use in cars. He knows he’s just a little early but knows that by the end of 2021 we’ll have augmented reality visors we can wear in the car that will be pretty mind blowing. He’s been working with a bunch of car companies and they see his system will be a differentiator to help them compete with Tesla. Already my kids are playing both iPads and VR in our Tesla. VR while charging, but that may change with AR. I don’t want them to get car sick and controllers don’t work very well while vehicles are moving. That will all change in 2021, though.

What a future is ahead.

And, yes, I know these stats are a little skewed because most people only use Autopilot on freeways (I use it on every street I can, including in city streets, but know that’s not common) and freeway usage are the safest miles. That said, even in city streets it’s safer. Lets me pay more attention to other vehicles and pedestrians and look for things that I wouldn’t be able to look for if i always had to pay attention to just the car in front of me.

That said, every day on the freeway I pass a fender bender accident because someone was on their phone in all that stop and go traffic. My Tesla will never hit someone because I’m distracted in that kind of situation. Humans mess up all the time and we see the wreckage everytime we go for a drive.

You really need to watch my ride last week where I show you how it handles a long drive, starting in traffic. You can see that I trust my family’s lives to the technology.

What does this have to do with #spatialcomputing? Everything. Spatial Computing is computing that you, a robot, or a virtual being moves through and autonomous cars are using a ton of spatial computing technology. Tonight we are writing about factories. The car is made with spatial computing technology too. Computer vision FTW!