Autonomous Vehicles press04_autopark

Published on January 11th, 2016 | by Kyle Field

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Tesla Announces Plans For Self-Driving Cars… Without A Driver

January 11th, 2016 by  

Update: Tesla also published an official video for Summon today which formally adds it to the Autopilot suite:

On the heels of the soft launch of firmware version 7.1 this past weekend, Tesla dropped a new blog post with the official perspective on the latest firmware release and it contains a bombshell update. We noted that the new firmware includes the Summon feature which allows drivers to get out of the car and trigger the car to self-park — without a driver. Tesla builds on this obvious stepping stone in the blog post:

“Eventually, your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synch with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.”

This is HUGE for Tesla, as the update provides stepping stone details about the path towards autonomous driving (which was our assessment of v7.1). Reading into the details, it is clear that Tesla is developing plans to enable cars to:

  • Drive long distances with no humans in the car
  • Self-charge at Superchargers with no human interaction
  • Generate intelligent destinations based on calendar data
press04_autopark

Tesla Model S Self Park Feature | Image Credit: Tesla Motors

Essentially, Tesla vehicles will be automated personal taxis that can charge themselves and meet you wherever you need to be, without having to be told. Presumably, the owner would want to confirm the destination before allowing the car to drive across the country to meet them in New York City… but the fact that it will be possible is amazing. This is a fantastic build on the road towards fully autonomous driving.

Elon was obviously excited about the news, as he dropped a few tweets about the new features, specifically indicating how critical they are along the way towards fully autonomous vehicles and the exciting auto-valet functionality:

The full blog post from the official Tesla blog is below:


Summon Your Tesla from Your Phone

The Tesla Motors Team
January 10, 2016

Last Fall, Tesla Version 7.0 software introduced a range of new Autopilot active safety and convenience features to give you more confidence behind the wheel, increase your safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable. The release of Tesla Version 7.1 software continues our improvements to self-driving technology. This release expands Autopilot functionality and introduces the first iteration of Summon.

Using Summon, once you arrive home and exit Model S or Model X, you can prompt it to do the rest: open your garage door, enter your garage, park itself, and shut down. In the morning, you wake up, walk out the front door, and summon your car. It will open the garage door and come to greet you. More broadly, Summon also eliminates the burden of having to squeeze in and out of tight parking spots. During this Beta stage of Summon, we would like customers to become familiar with it on private property. Eventually, your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synch with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.

The release of Tesla Version 7.1 software is the next step toward developing fully autonomous driving capabilities and delivering them through over-the-air software updates, keeping our customers at the forefront of driving technology in the years ahead.

 
 
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I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need.



  • Necro Nomaken

    Question: How does a cop pull over a driverless car? Who does he give a ticket to?

    • Bob_Wallace

      She doesn’t. A properly programmed autonomous car isn’t going to do anything to cause it to be pulled over or ticketed.

      • Necro Nomaken

        You are acting like a cop is likely to be a rational actor. Cops WILL try pulling this thing over.

        • Bob_Wallace

          How about we give them an app?

          They can input the license plate number and then their watch commander can schedule them for a dope slap at the end of their shift.

          • Necro Nomaken

            They need to be able to pull over the car on the spot. Not every person in america knows jack shit about tesla. Some sheriff in bumblefuck nowhere is going to not know about the whole “driverless cars” thing, is going to see what he thinks is a runaway vehicle and it’s going to cause an incident.

            Now, i assume musk already knows about this problem, because he’s not an idiot, and has something to handle it. But i don’t know what that is, and that is what i am asking.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, let’s program in an informational crawl across the trunk.

            I’m assuming Deputy Fife can read….

          • Necro Nomaken

            The thing needs to be able to be pulled over. Now since the thing can drive, i am assuming it can see. It probably can see behind it. And i don’t think it would be too hard to program it to recognize a cop with its flashers on tailgating it, and decide that it should pull over. But then… who does the cop give the ticket to? And they can say it broke some law. Even if it’s a lie. So what do they do then? How do they give it a ticket? Who do they give the ticket to? Will they just impound the thing?

          • Bob_Wallace

            This is just silly.

          • Necro Nomaken

            If you don’t know the answer then DON’T ANSWER. I am not asking this question as a pretense for criticizing the idea. I am asking the question because i don’t know. And i want to know. And if you don’t know. Don’t answer.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Did you think it through before you posted?

            1) Autonomous cars will be programed to not break traffic laws.

            2) Autonomous cars will be programmed to not run into anything.

            If an autonomous car has to be stopped for some reason which I can’t imagine then all the police need to do is to pull in front of it and stop. Since the car in front has stopped the autonomous car will stop.

          • Necro Nomaken

            >If an autonomous car has to be stopped for some reason which I can’t imagine

            Then 1, you have a very poor imagination, and number 2, you didn’t read anybody elses posts. Steve cummings pointed out a couple of scenarios.

            Cops don’t pull people over JUST for breaking the law. They pull people over for a variety of stupid and sometimes even illegal reasons. Like, reasons that get thrown out in court later if the person protests the ticket. The cop COULD pull in front of the car to get it to stop if he knew what a tesla was and how it worked, but there is no guarantee he will. He needs to be able to pull the thing over the normal way.

            I don’t care about the fact that if the cop takes …the car… to court it’ll turn out the cop was just being a bastard, i care about whether or not the cop will be able to pull it over without deciding it’s a run away vehicle or that he’s in a car chase and decides he needs to force the car to crash to stop it.

            But that ASIDE, suppose the cop decides that the car was behaving illegally. He is probably wrong. But he decides the car did something illegal and he manages to stop the car without crashing it. Who does he give the ticket to? How does he even get access to the inside of the cabin to affect the car? Is he supposed to just KNOW to call up tesla and say “I have a car here, it was breaking the speed limit, i’m gonna need to impound it, can you remote open the door and give me access?”

          • Bob_Wallace

            I have a good imagination. But it’s kind of attached to reality.

            You have a nice day now….

          • Joe Viocoe

            Law Enforcement dispatchers can be given an API key to Tesla’s security office. Everything is logged and audited. This means cops must get authorization and have a good reason.

          • Joe Viocoe

            Law Enforcement dispatchers can be given an API key to Tesla’s security office. Everything is logged and audited.

          • Joe Viocoe

            If a cop doesn’t know how cars operate in the 21st century… time for a desk job.

        • I mean if we’re having a thought experiment – there are quite a few scenarios where a driverless car would need to be pulled over. Car was involved in a crime and is in autonomous mode. Car is laden with TNT or some other issue observed in, on or around the car – It’s a good question.

          • Carl Raymond S

            A flashing coloured siren in close proximity should not be difficult for software to interpret as ‘pull towards the verge and slow’. Perhaps a flash of headlights could be the instruction to stop.

          • Robert Fahey

            Good point about the TNT. Terrorists could send a lovely welcome package directly to your door and detonate by cell phone. Hmmm . . .

          • Ken

            Terrorists could wire a gas car to explode. Hmmmm….

          • Robert Fahey

            I’m talking about autonomous cars of any stripe. Seems it would be easier to use them for attacks.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sure.

            Now, are we talking about a real problem? How many people are likely to be killed by bombings carried out by the use of autonomously driven cars? Would the number go up due to this new delivery method? Higher than what we’d have from people being able to drop off a backpack somewhere? You can get a backpack for a couple of dollars in a thrift store and it won’t have a VIN.

            How many people would not be killed by autonomous cars not driving drunk? Texting while driving? Experiencing road range? Mistaking the accelerator for the brake pedal? Stepping on the pedal when they think the car in reverse but it’s really in drive. Looking to the right when they should have been looking left?

          • Ken

            There’s no shortage of suicide bombers so it is not a concern.

          • Joe Viocoe

            Every month in the U.S., an attack happens with the same death toll as 9/11.

            But it is spread across the whole country, and is carried out by well meaning, if not careless drivers…. so nobody fears it.

            Terrorism is about inciting irrational fear. It is irrational because it causes people to ignore the real threats.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Perhaps you watch too many action flicks?

        • Ken

          Teslas will be designed to run from the police if they sense they are trying to pull them over. They are programmed to reach their owners at any cost and at high speeds.

    • Joe Viocoe

      The cop doesn’t stop the car. The cop reports the car to the dispatcher, checking for ownership… as it is done now.

      If the car is behaving erratically, the cop can request a stop through Tesla’s system. All happening faster than most people even notice flashing lights.

      As far as tickets… even better.
      No more He Said, She said… autonomous driving has all the logs. And Tesla is especially not shy about calling B.S. by showing the logs.

      Tickets won’t be up to the cop’s discretion, which brings out all sorts of discrimination. It will be up to engineers from the automaker and an independent body to examine logs.

      I am sure some law enforcement agencies will hate it… as much of their revenue depends on traffic citations. They’ve become addicted to the fact that humans make lots of mistakes while driving. And in some cases, play on the psychology of driver’s inability to follow speed limits, especially if set much lower than road conditions dictate is safe.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Where I live, regulators have made it quite clear that they’d really prefer not to have any human beings driving on roads at all. They’re always giving us tickets for speeding, or jumping onto tankers full of dirt, or battling Lord Humungous’s wasteland warriors. Now perhaps they’d prefer it if there weren’t any vehicles on the roads at all, but they definitely seem to think that getting rid of human drivers is a step in the right direction as they keep fining us for engaging in perfectly human activities while driving such as eating, sleeping, not paying attention, or replacing population lost in previous car accidents.

    Now the last few hurdles for these sorts of developments are often the hardest. For example, how easy is it to get an autonomous car to handle kanagaroo hazards? The correct procedure is of course to hit the kangaroo, write off the car, and sit then there with blood running down your face, swearing as the kangaroo gets up and hops away. Will autonomous cars be able to swear as well as Australians in only a few years? We will have to wait and see.

    But thanks to autonomous driving it is very likely we will never need to produce as many electric vehicles as are produced each year now. We might only need one tenth as many, as if people can just order road transport services as they need them, walk outside and have an autonomous car pick them up, a lot of people are going to skip the whole owning a car thing. Especially in places where parking is expensive. A large portion of the world’s population might even skip over mass private car ownership. And that will save a lot of money, and a lot of resources.

    • nakedChimp

      There will be a lot of stranded assets in the car industry 4-8 years from now if your drawing makes it. 🙂

      • Ronald Brakels

        It is probably a good thing that Australia is getting out of ICE vehicle manufacturing. Obviously not good for the people who are losing jobs, but better to do it on our own terms than because the industry has tanked.

  • Pobrecito hablador

    Elon has a track record of overpromising and underdelivering. Well, delivering late.
    I don’t think they can make it in just 2 years.

    • Tim

      Blanket statement saying nothing. Gigafactory ahead of schedule. Tesla: a mix of hits and misses for deadlines, but wildly overdelivered.

      Maybe cut the guy some slack since he’s doing more to save your sorry ass than any other person on the planet. I’m not a fanboy. I just like math.

      • newnodm

        Explain why there is no construction work adding sections to the gigafactory. Explain how Tesla is going to meet the tremendous powerwall demand and build batteries for the Model 3 due to arrive in 2017.

        • Tim

          Explain how you can’t tell your ass from your elbow after all that time you spent at Elbow University.

  • newnodm

    No existing Tesla is going to be driving on the highway autonomously. Musk means “hopefully some future Tesla loaded with sensors, computers, and software that doesn’t exist yet”.

    Musk can fart and get PR on the implications.

    “Summon” is Tesla branding Mobile Eye software functionality, BTW. It is not Tesla’s work.

    • “Mobileye’s technology is an important component of Tesla’s autopilot system that was released in October. But it’s not the only piece. The autopilot feature uses radar, ultrasonics, GPS navigation and cameras. And the autopilot service is constantly learning, thanks to machine learning algorithms, detailed mapping and sensor data, and the car’s wireless connection. Tesla leverages this information from the entire fleet of its autopilot-enabled cars. Meaning, it operates as a network so when one car learns something, they all learn it.

      This system was designed and developed in-house, Reyes says in response to a reference in the article that Tesla has simply re-marketed Mobileye’s technology. “Were this simply a matter of repackaging a single vendor’s technology, we would not be unique in offering this groundbreaking experience in production vehicles,” he says in the statement.”

      http://fortune.com/2015/12/17/tesla-mobileye/

      Try to be at least accurate in your Tesla bashing.

    • “Mobileye’s technology is an important component of Tesla’s autopilot system that was released in October. But it’s not the only piece. The autopilot feature uses radar, ultrasonics, GPS navigation and cameras. And the autopilot service is constantly learning, thanks to machine learning algorithms, detailed mapping and sensor data, and the car’s wireless connection. Tesla leverages this information from the entire fleet of its autopilot-enabled cars. Meaning, it operates as a network so when one car learns something, they all learn it.

      This system was designed and developed in-house, Reyes says in response to a reference in the article that Tesla has simply re-marketed Mobileye’s technology. “Were this simply a matter of repackaging a single vendor’s technology, we would not be unique in offering this groundbreaking experience in production vehicles,” he says in the statement.”

      http://fortune.com/2015/12/17/tesla-mobileye/

      Do try to be accurate with your Telsa hating. Or just look at this list and self-analyse.

      http://cleantechnica.com/2015/12/06/people-argue-electric-cars/http://cleantechnica.com/2015/12/06/people-argue-electric-cars/

  • At first glance, summon and dismiss appear to add limited value. I will have to think more about the implications and applications…

    • Carl Raymond S

      Perhaps you have never had a storage problem. A few square meters of additional garage space can make the difference between garaging the car, and street parking it.

    • Three points. The first is that many people are really bad at driving into and out of enclosed spaces, and this basically means that dinging your car and other cars while parking is a thing of the past. The second is that this eliminates a bit of time twice a day for a lot of people; don’t underestimate getting home, stepping out of your car, pressing a button and walking into your house. For people with entries to their house from the garage, it’s lower utility but point one and the next point still prevail. The third is that people accidentally run over stuff like children’s bicycles and occasionally and horrifically children when backing in or out of their garages. This eliminates it.

      Also, this picture is worth a thousand words on this point.

      • Radical Ignorant

        Not exactly – very often you need to manually plug it in. At least for now. So you need to wait till it will park itself. It’s a nice trick and data collection for future improvements and other features as nakedChimp is mentioning.

        • Fair point. But as Tesla has already demonstrated the snake charger which automatically plugs in for charging, this would seem to be the answer. Not everyone will have the snake of course, just as many people have doors from their garage directly into their houses so these two groups will find this of lower value. Early days however. Given that the charge is sufficient for several days of average commuting for most people, this might be more broadly useful.

          Not owning a garage, it’s all rather moot to me. I’m starting to pay attention to downtown condo developers which provide electric car charging for my potential Model III.

          • The Plugless units for Tesla will rollout very, very soon.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “. I’m starting to pay attention to downtown condo developers which provide electric car charging for my potential Model III.”

            And so it starts.

            “Do your apartments have AC?” “No?” “Thanks. I’ll keep looking.”

            “Do your apartments have cable?” “No?” …..

            “Do your apartments have charging outlets? …..

    • nakedChimp

      Sounds more like they get the tests out early and it will be on private property for the time being (no legal requirement to get any states approval to do this on public roads). Pretty neat, never seen a product ripening at the customer at such a sophisticated level – really impressive

    • Bob_Wallace

      Ever circled the block several times looking for a place to park? Paid a large fee to use a parking garage because the affordable places were a mile or four away? Ever tried to find parking for dinner in San Francisco?

      Car, take thyself off to a free parking spot. I’ll call you when I’m ready to leave.

  • Carl Raymond S

    Other automakers are sceptical that Tesla can deliver autonomous drive in 2 to 3 years. Watching a ‘summon’ however, sparks the imagination – it feels as though we are being groomed to the idea of cars sans-driver. Even if we don’t see a car self-drive from NY to LA in 2018, along the way I feel confident we will see the following:

    – cars which roll off Tesla’s assembly line and proceed to test drive themselves and perform self analysis

    – cars which proceed to park themselves into inventory

    – and when delivery trucks approach, I expect to see 6 or 8 teslas emerge in formation from said inventory and drive themselves onto said truck. Now there’s a video destined to go viral.

    All of which makes it just a little more difficult for those sceptical automakers to compete. They have every right to ‘diss’, but no right to be complacent.

  • Ross

    The opposite of Summon should be called Dismiss.

  • Adrian

    Your car is delayed. It had to cross Colorado to get to you and the radar is obstructed by snow. It also ran out of windshield washer fluid and can’t see through the front camera anymore…

    Would roadside assistance cover that? Would the car call on its own? What about tolls?

    • Brett

      A) If weather was too inclement, the car would probably re-route itself, there is already significant data available on road conditions and traffic.

      B) Tesla already invented a power snake, I doubt a windshield wiper fluid snake would be all that difficult.

      C) Again, the car could route itself around tolls, or only use roadways where toll billing is automated via license plate capture.

      But I mean, let’s be honest here, you just wanted to nitpick. Which is fine, but if you think none of those situations have/are being considered by the many many many engineers working for Tesla (or any other self-driving car developer), you aren’t giving them any credit.

      • Bob_Wallace

        And adding…

        There will likely be some problems that crop up that weren’t anticipated. Like the need for a bottom protection shield for the battery pack. They will be resolved.

    • Damon Wright

      The worst bit is if there are no lemon-scented paper napkins available.

      The drive could be delayed a lot longer than you expect if that calamity were to occur.

  • harisA

    I thought whole idea of self driving car was no driver! Only an uber geek (and I can be one sometimes) will want to sit in the driver seat and see the car drive by itself.

  • Termin8r

    The snake charger seems a bit silly. Wouldn’t inductive charging be much simpler? A coil in the middle of a parking spot that ‘connects’ with a coil under the car and you’re done.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You get some loss with inductive charging. And putting the systems down at pavement level brings dirt and moisture into the mix in greater amounts.
      A direct plug in system capable of handling a lot of power likely makes most sense. I’m not sure how complicated the ‘snake’ is, an articulated arm where the ‘bones’ are rigid conductors might make more sense. This is robotic stuff we do every day.

      • joshua

        It could even be as simple as a robot arm that holds the normal plug and connects it to the car. But yes, much greater efficiency and simplicity than inductive charging (We’ve had robot arms for a very long time now, and are very good at them).

        The biggest difference is that this does not complicate the car at all, and is completely backward compatibly.

      • Carl Raymond S

        The snake arm, I think, is not as complex as it appears. It has four (perhaps more) cables which are tensioned using four actuators. There’s a child’s toy which is similar. When all those ‘bones’ are covered in a single piece of flexible rubber, as it will be to keep it clean, it will not look so complex.

        I agree about ‘lossy’ inductive charging. Elon is not one to waste an electron. There is no need for it.

        • Pobrecito hablador

          I guess you need at least one cable for each arm segment.

          • Carl Raymond S

            No, I don’t think so. Each cable tensions a number of segments in a section, allowing that section to be curved up, down, left, right. So it might work with only four cables, or perhaps 8 if there are two independent sections.

            Best analogy I can think of is horse reigns. If a horse had 4 reigns (adding up and down), you could pull the neck four ways.

    • TH

      Tesla’s more than likely designing methods in which the end user can install said methods without much cost or hassle. Removing pavement to install a coil or having an overlaid coil on top of the pavement and re-configuring the existing vehicle platform’s base structure does not seem to fit with the goal of ease and lower cost.

      If you could just buy a snake charger, plop it down in your garage and plug it into an existing outlet, that would seem like a pretty great solution. For double/multiple garages, having an electrical line coming from the roof doesn’t seem like much of a big deal.

    • Note – I work for Plugless, the only wireless EV charger in the world. i’ll wait for you to pull out your grains of salt (as you should). All set? As the only company in the world that has sold, installed and serviced wireless EV chargers AND in anticipation of our rollout of Plugless for Model S (very, very soon) here are a few bits of information to add to this discussion. We have assumed that, at least initially, the “snake” is a Supercharger solution, to be clear, this is our read we have no specific information. Plugless is designed in way that the “end user can install Plugless without much cost or hassle – Tesla owners will have no need to remove pavement and the purchase will include installation of the fully reversible Plugless vehicle adapter on the Tesla. Plugless in it’s current format (3.3kW) is ~7% less efficient than L1 charging and ~12% less efficient than level-2 charging, we expect the same for the 6.6kW Tesla S model. If efficiency is your first considerations, we get it, Plugless is not the product for you. It is the sort of decision EV drivers make when they buy their cars – when they decide, for example, the convenience of a longer range at the expense of efficiency (due to the weight of the battery pack).

  • Otis11

    The rate of these ‘updates’ is amazing…

    Seriously. 2 years for an essentially fully autonomous car?!? (That even charges itself…)

  • Marion Meads

    This is the direction of the mobilization industry. No longer shall we own cars, rather we will purchase mobilization services. That’s the direction that Tesla is going next, from my speculation. GM and Lyft are already preparing for it. For now, Lyft will hire drivers and GM providing the cars, and pretty soon, no more drivers.

    • mike_dyke

      … And passengers will be in the back playing driving games on their VR headsets! 🙂

      • Ronald Brakels

        The next generation might be able to manage that. The current one would probably throw up a lot. That said, there is no reason why VR couldn’t incorporate visual cues to prevent the disconect between what the eye sees and what the body feels that results in nausea. So I expect many future virtual reality games will feature Batman fighting on top of a variety of trains, tanks, airships, and other objects that all oddly move at traffic speed and make turns like a car.

    • Karl the brewer

      I wonder how much cheaper ‘hiring’ will need to be before drivers forgo ownership of a vehicle?

  • Adrian

    Note to self: When I get a Tesla, DO NOT name it “Christine.”

  • Alaa

    Next thing is that it will charge itself too.

    • Carl Raymond S

      Done, see ‘snake arm’ conversation above.

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