Project Description

Full Self Driving Beta released.

The recent development around full self driving drove me to this article.
It is written “on personal title” and it will refer to an article that I published on May 4 2019 called “For most people this is hard to imagine..” 

The Dutch and English version together reached an audience of over 20k readers on LinkedIn.

Still it was mostly seen as some science-fiction”ish” story and off course the readers liked it but that was about  it.

The fact is that I always took the announcements from Elon Musk serious, whether it had to do with SpaceX, the Boring Company and of course Tesla and the aspect of autonomous driving.

Many had doubts about the question whether is was realistic that a car would be able to drive autonomous and they came up with a stack of doubts and situations in which it will never work.

But on Thursday Oktober 20 something happened that will open the door to a whole new mobility era.
A select group of Tesla drivers received the beta version that contains the “Full Self Drive” suite and made it able to have the car dive autonomously.
As expected the group was small and every member took the responsability to be alert every second they drive to be able to disengage FSD when necessary but also to keep record of what happened so the neural network would be able to learn from that situation almost instantly.

The moment that I write this it is almost a week ago and during the past week dozens of video’s were shared in social media that all showed us, in a very clear way, that it simply works!

And next to that, moment of disengagement of FSD are reported and by way of an over the air update (OTA) the car “learned” from the situation and when it came in the same situation it handled it better. Not perfectly but there were incremental improvements.

The current version of the neural network can perform these improvements.

But now, let me get back to the non-believers part. Nobody can blame them that they took the state there Auto Pilot (AP) was in for the actual situation. That AP version did a rather good job but never came close to autonomous driving.
In fact, although they had both FSD as HW3 installed they were using a HW2 emulator and never used the full possibilities that FSD promises.

But now it becomes clear I want to pick up where I left,

My article was published shortly after Model 3 was unveiled to the public. I attended that party in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, and what I remember was the short but clear announcement that Model Y would outsell Model S, Model X and Model 3 combined.
Together with autonomous driving Model Y is destined to be the perfect car for the Robotaxi fleet.

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But for now I would like to talk about something completely different.
Something that will have much more impact than these cars will have, more than the question of electric cars versus fossil cars. This impact will also become visible in countless areas over time.

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Autonomy Day

On Monday, April 22 2019, an information meeting was held for Tesla’s investors at the Palo Alto headquarters. In this meeting openness was given about the state of affairs regarding the controversial “self-driving”.
Nearly one hundred critical (but informed) investors were caught up in (more than!) three hours by the leaders of Tesla in the area of FSD (Full Self Driving).

Although it was no relevation at all, because it was already announced in the Master Plan.
This plan is implemented like a timetable, with the precision of a watchmaker, and in that plan we are now approaching the final phase.

This phase concerns the autonomous driving of the car, ultimately leading to a fleet of what they now call Robotaxis, which on the one hand brings mobility much closer to many and on the other hand makes own car ownership much less necessary.

Realistic

On Autonomy day it was explained in detail how it works, how the necessary data is collected and analyzed and with which computer it is processed in the car. The conclusion is that technical self-driving will be finished by the end of 2019 and that by 2020 we will see the first fleet movements. These days I discovered this article that shows in a nice structure what is really going on. Certainly worth the effort of reading (is a substantial but complete article), but I will get the core out of it here:

“This advantage for Tesla is absolutely insane. While others have to buy their cars, equip them with self-driving technology, then hire a backup driver to drive the car around, Tesla gets to sell its self-driving technology to its customers allowing its customers to finance the deployment of these cars all over the world, while it makes a profit on selling each one.

Think about that for a moment. In order for Google to put 1 Million self-driving cars on the road (after the technology is perfected), it will cost Google $100 Billion. Tesla on the other hand will make $10 to $20 Billion in profits by deploying a million self-driving vehicles. In fact, it’s already done exactly that by deploying more than 1.000,000 cars that have the hardware sensors needed for self-driving. It’s already gathering data from those 1.000.000 cars, and its doing so while making money from each of those cars!

More than the cost of the cars, Tesla has another major advantage. The AI and Machine Learning needed to perfect self-driving is heavily data dependent. The more cars you have on the road with the hardware sensors, the bigger variety of road conditions you encounter, and therefore, the faster the AI algorithms learn. Tesla has the largest fleet of cars, deployed in the widest array of geographical locations, giving it a major advantage for data collection to teach its algorithms how to drive. And it’s doing this without having to employ backup drivers or paying for the cars. Tesla’s backup drivers are the vehicle owners who paid full-price for the privilege of being a backup driver for Tesla’s autonomous AI going to school!

The Tesla advantage is incredible. Nothing like this has ever existed! This is a major disruptive advantage that no other car company in the world has. It’s also something that’s beyond the understanding of most Wall Street analysts. They have nothing to compare it to.”

What will this bring us in the coming years?
I give some predictions, not from a crystal ball, but as logical consequences. We must not forget that in the area of mobility the “iPhone” has just been presented and we are toggling between disapproval, misunderstanding and amazement. We know where the iPhone lead us to in barely ten years.

  • There will be a rush to get Model 3 and the Model Y. Not because they are electric, there are more electric cars, but because they are completely future proof. Production will be increased on various locations and new factories, like Shanghai, Berlin and Austin will be added. I do not rule out that a large existing manufacturer will soon be able to see the light and build these cars in license, they may get another label, and thereby also give access to the “network”. The first company who will take this step will be successful. Or, as Elon Musk says: “Buying a car in 2019 that can’t upgrade to full self-driving is like buying a horse instead of a car in 1919” (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1117637496517603329 )
  • Sales of fossil cars will fall (even slightly) faster than is currently the case. Remember that the Tesla cars I mention are built for a lifespan of one million miles and the coming battery generation will also be able to sustain more than a million miles before there is a relevant decline in capacity (20%). But even then they will still function.
  • There will be a shift from car ownership to car use. For a much smaller amount than people now spend on a car they will then order one (via an app), model according to their actual need, and this car is ready to take them to work, for example, and then it continues to drive others. When you go home, another one is ready for you. To the theater? Fine! Of course you can also buy one and then you can put it to work for you the time you don’t need it. Then others are driven to all kinds of locations. In this way he pays for himself and the number of cars required will decrease rapidly.
  • In line with this, we will see that the need for parking spaces will decrease considerably. Where cities and municipalities are still investing heavily in parking lots, parking garages and especially cash models, these will soon be avoided. The car is going to transport someone else, or return home or wait outside the bustle of the city. Sounds futuristic, it is, but it is the future. So in the end we can keep a fair in the parking structures. I simple say is that the entire paid parking story is doomed to disappear in a few years.
  • *With less car ownership, there will also be much less “personalized” (imitation fur around the steering wheel to mention something 🙂 on a car. That is precisely the reason why the car is minimalistic and everything focuses on the “universal” screen that can be adapted to changing needs at any time through updates.
  • The so-called business car (company car) with all the tax possibilities for the government will disappear. This is going to be a reality with a lease price of less than $ 400.00 per month, before savings. The employee will take out a subscription on usage himself and for “trips for the boss” he will declare the costs neatly specified.
  • The role and influence of the common citizen will increase, which will give the government more executive and service functions instead of the current regulatory ones. Suppose a city center is not suitable for occasional robot taxis (preferably lanes separated from pedestrians and cyclists), then the robot taxis themselves will refuse to get there. Then you will see something happening (!) and it will be resolved in no time.
  • Autonomous cars will themselves calculate the speeds to be carried out on the basis of various parameters, such as traffic, condition of the road, weather conditions, information exchanged, required arrival time and influence of speed on travel time, so that the entire collection model of speed violations will be history.
  • Imagine the app. Of course you have all your personal preferences in it, such as the position of your seat, the temperature, your favorite music, of course the destination and the route to get there, what you want to read en route, listen to podcast, view shared presentations with colleagues and respond to even watch movies. All in perfect cooperation with the screen in the car. With the app you reserve your ride, you get data about the car (like now with Uber), you pay the ride and you undoubtedly get all sorts of useful (and to be feared useless, advertising) extra information.
  • Actually the most important consequence, I should of course have started with this, but on the other hand it is the obvious consequence; the number of road casualties will be minimized because the human driver (if you’re honest, by far the biggest risk factor) is no longer there.
  • And then of course all kinds of benefits such as the disappearance of exhaust gasses in population centers, large economic gains because traffic jams are no longer there. (AI is perfectly capable of controlling the traffic in such a way that there are no more traffic jams). Funny is that an earlier article of mine in which I announced this was maligned, especially because there were no more 10 billion needed for roads, there would be nothing earned from all kinds of measurement and cash constructions (kilometer charge to name something). Those things are sensitive. Here the article in question.
  • And the government will have to work to maintain its income. There is of course an enormous dependence on sources where there is a monopoly (everyone needs gasoline, so excise duty !!) while suddenly alternatives are coming up. Although in percentages electricity is heavily taxed, but because the base price is low, the amount of tax is lower. I have now driven 250k km on electricity. My last fuel car drove 22 Mpg (might have been 25 now) so calculate what the state has missed, especially now the required power also comes from or own solar panels. So let’s prepare for a charge based on mileage.
  • Finally an interview that I came across and that clearly shows what is going on. And this story comes from an investor.

Follow up

It appears that it is an appealing story. Never before had I had 20,000 readers and more than 500 likes and 60 serious reactions in one day. So lets do something as a bonus:)

In one of the reactions it is acknowledged that it will turn out to be self-driving, but the writer can hardly imagine how it can work with the app in practice. I have a vivid imagination and therefore, for the sake of fun, thought of a number of cases and worked them out.

Who knows a few more? For the coming catalog ?

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An evening at the theater. When reserving the tickets for the show, you are offered the option of being picked up from home for a small surcharge and brought back home afterwards. One gets a message via the app 10 minutes before the Robotaxi (they have to think of a nicer name for this, I just call it the Y) for the convenience. Optionally one can travel with more people, so there are already two present, and on the way to the theater one gets an introduction on the screen with the players, the program, one can already place an order for a drink and the Y brings them at the front door. Afterwards there is an Y ready to take the guests home. The app indicates which one “it is” and on the way back you can still enjoy it, or give a review.

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Four girlfriends who want to spent a nice day or weekend. Instead of “Let’s order a pizza”, they order an Y that neatly picks them up and transports them to the destination of their choice. That can be an Outlet, a day in the city, a wellness center, a party, a concert or whatever they think of. There will be a big offering of these trips that you can simply choose and book in the app.

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Restaurant. Easy check mark for pick up and drop off when booking. Driving time is used to hear something about the restaurant and the owner / staff and to get to know the menu and perhaps make a choice.

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When I am in my health club, the parking lot is full of cars from members who live reasonably nearby. The fitness participates in the program and a number of Y’s are ready to pick up members and bring them home. The parking lot can become “smaller” and be part of the facility.

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A congress or symposium you will attend. When buying ticket you take an option for the ride, get it at a favorable price and on the road, if desired, four participants ride together in one Y, the speakers introduce themselves (digitally), one can watch a video about the location (that is increasingly common in a historic building) and already being interactive in a pre-workshop. Everyone is of course connected.

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A student goes home for the weekend. During the trip he checks on the screen some college summaries, plays a game of chess with the car, follows some podcasts and delves into the music library, for example.

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Off course, there will be all kinds of shuttle services, from hotels to the airport, from hotels to amusement parks, from hotels to wine tastings, etc. For tourists, there will be locally combined offers.

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Combined train tickets. At the train’s arrival time (the real time) the Y is ready for the rest of the trip.

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School. Picking students up at home and dropping off at school. Local transport will often also be implemented in this way and from door to door.

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Special services from airport arrival / departure to centers of relevant cities in the area or to a specific address.

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Healthcare institutions such as hospitals, together with city Authorities and health insurers, ensure that visitors are picked up at home on time, dropped of at the door and returned home afterwards. During hospitalization the family can participate in a visit program with transport at a low rate (approximately less then a parking ticket) to and from the hospital.