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!

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A decade of change is coming and Spatial Computing will be its user interface

I just spent an hour talking with a computer vision engineer at Magic Leap about how computers will “see” and “process” our world. Blew my mind. The 2020s are going to see more change in technology than ANY TIME before. Same for our culture. Same for our learning. Same for our manufacturing. Same for our transportation. A perfect storm of change is coming. By the time these nine year olds get out of high school literally every piece of human life will change.

Our understanding of what it means to be human is about to radically change. The 2020s will make the 1960s, with its cultural/music/political, drug, and technology changes, seem like a minor hill of change comparatively. 

Have our political, cultural, entertainment leaders done a good job of preparing us for this? No.

(I listened to how our political leaders grilled David Marcus this week, and I look at our movies and still don’t see anything like an autonomous car chase, to give me the ability to definitively say that no one is really prepared).

Another way to look at it? Our nation’s best school for criminal justice is John Jay College of Criminal Justice. My son, Patrick Scoble, just graduated. Did he learn anything about using augmented reality or artificial intelligence there? No. 

Yet my friend Brandon Wirtz has already caught thousands of criminals with his AI system. 

As Irena Cronin and I write a book about this stuff I realize that I’m struggling to 1. Understand the change. 2. Communicate it with our readers. 3. Get over the fear of speaking the truth about what these changes mean for everyone.

The 2020s are the change decade. Literally everything we do will change. Everything. Name one thing that won’t be changed. I can’t come up with one thing. Even going to church will change. Even going to a historic site will change. Even having a baby will change. 

Lots of people will resist this change. The act of resistance will, too, be changed. Going to the bathroom will change. Eating will change. Taking a hike in the woods will change. Going to a concert will change. 

Today I talked with one of the best surgeons in the world. He told me about how his work is radically changing. One away from using radiation to see inside tumors to one where a system is fusing a bunch of data streams together and helping him almost play a video game while directing a little cutting tool inside his patient’s body while wearing a HoloLens. If his job is changing you can bet yours will too.

And, this is what happens when I stay sober for almost two years now (and off alcohol for more than four). 

Does this post scare you?

Remember, most humans hate change, and that fear of having to change is what you are feeling. Me too. But I’m quickly getting over my fear and seeing the immense benefits we will get by the end of the 2020s. 

I might not be here, no one is promised that, but many of you will, and you will be in a wonderous world then. Might even be ready for Elon Musk to hook you up to the machine. I hope I am here to “jack in” to the new digital deities that are being built. Why? They will help me learn even faster.

“Hey Google, how can you help me change?”

“I can do lots of things, I can play a game, I can tell some jokes, or we can see what random fun comes our way.”

(Actual answer to my voice question. Google gets it. So will we all).