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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on April 25th, 2020 | by Jesper Berggreen

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Close Console Lid Gently, Please — Tesla Model 3 Becomes Sentient, Sort Of

April 25th, 2020 by  


Ever wonder if we will treat robots gently once they become sentient? I think we will. …

My Tesla Model 3 is named “Colin,” named after a small security guard robot in the Douglas Adam’s novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy that is captured and gets its reward circuits rewired to find ecstatic pleasure in anything its master commands of it! However, it seems Colin has limits.

Another adventure of Mr. Me and his noble steed, Colin

Me: “Wow! Colin, you did 140 Wh per km (225 Wh per mile) on this trip!”

Colin: “Yeah, well, as you can see on my screen, ambient temperature reached 19°C (66°F) today, and that makes a huge difference on my efficiency. I don’t have room for that fancy heat pump fitted in that bloaty body of the Y, you know. …”

Me: “Hmm, I must say, the Model Y is amazing, though. The better build, the genius efficiency details, that magic new design of the front electric motor that Sandy Munro found. …”

Colin: “Alright, alright! I get the point! But don’t forget, the Y shares 75% of it parts with me and … Hey! Close console lid gently! Please.”

“Close console lid gently,” in fluent Danish.

Lifelike behavior from unexpected details

Now, what I just experienced with Colin today completely knocked me off my feet. Ok, most of that conversation above was all in my head, like my long conversation with the car travelling to Frankfurt last year, but that last bit about the console lid? True story!

Apparently, I am not the first one to discover this*. In fact, a dude on Reddit actually figured out how the heck the car is able to even detect that you slam the console lid too hard. But nevertheless, Colin came alive to me, for real this time.

I know it’s a bit far fetched writing a dumb post about this, but really I was baffled. I mean, I always had a feeling that the engineers at Tesla were weird, cool, smart, and funny people. You may remember how I blasted BMW for putting those ridiculous driving modes in the i3: Comfort, Eco Pro, and Eco Pro+. Insanity! Where was the Sport mode! Oh, it might actually have found its way into the i3s. But who cares — the Model 3 only has one alternative driving mode for the faint of heart who can’t handle the truth: Chill!

Anyway, sorry BMW, didn’t mean to bring that up. Just saying that this little easter egg of a function in the utterly insignificant console lid speaks to my soul. It’s like a message from the people of Tesla, saying: “Hey, we love the products we build, and we want you to love them too!”

Fanboys and fangirls for good reason

I know some people have had it up to here with these stories about Tesla dominating the EV space, but please show me any example from any other automaker that prioritizes functionality of a car feeling what you are doing to it and telling you how it would like you to behave. And I don’t mean futuristic concept cars with colored lights showing emotions — no, I mean cars that you can actually buy. Today!

Imagine having a car that evolves over time. Who knows what kind of interesting conversations Colin and I will have over the years. Yes, many years. Colin just passed 20,000 miles in 10 months and there is not a hint of fatigue in any parts of his body. In fact, Colin now has more range and power than when I got him, and he has learned my native language. One day he might get a job as a robotaxi, and I will be standing by the window waiting for him to come home safely. Okay, I’ll stop now. …

All photos by the author. If you think Tesla cars are awesome too, but have not yet bought one, please consider using my referral code when you decide (or anybody else’s) to receive 1,000 free Supercharger miles: https://ts.la/jesper18367 

*Editor’s note: I think this is one of the first things I learned about the Model 3 inside the car. Apparently, I’m not naturally gentle enough closing the console. —Zach 
 


 


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About the Author

Jesper had his perspective on the world expanded vastly after having attended primary school in rural Africa in the early 1980s. And while educated a computer programmer and laboratory technician, working with computers and lab-robots at the institute of forensic medicine in Aarhus, Denmark, he never forgets what life is like having nothing. Thus it became obvious for him that technological advancement is necessary for the prosperity of all humankind, sharing this one vessel we call planet earth. However, technology has to be smart, clean, sustainable, widely accessible, and democratic in order to change the world for the better. Writing about clean energy, electric transportation, energy poverty, and related issues, he gets the message through to anyone who wants to know better. Jesper is founder of Lifelike.dk and a long-term investor in Tesla, Ørsted, and Vestas.



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