2017-05-16 An Amazing Vehicle
I had no interest in a Tesla until reading about autopilot. One day
in 2015 they released a software update that gave the cars
level 2 self
driving capability. That's where a driver must be immediately ready to
take over but the car controls both speed and steering to keep in the
lane. And indeed drivers reported it working quite well. That was
enough. We went to test drive one and dang if it didn't work splendidly,
even in city traffic. It came to a stop when the leading car stopped and
accelerated up to speed again. It's not perfect, for sure, and I had to
intervene when it lost the lane markings, but on a well marked road it's
Autopilot 2.0 was a hardware change, with immense computing power,
over twice the sensors, and programming that is claimed to eventually
give it nearly full autonomy--Level 4 in engineering parlance.
Unfortunately, it was like birthing a new baby that had to learn even
level 2 driving. Features kept coming online to reach parity with
Autopilot 1 cars and in April, 2017 that happened. We finally took the
plunge and ordered one.
To pick it up we did the same thing as for the test drive: flying
Ellie over to a small clearing near the dealership.
We gambled that the site was still available and it
was. An airport just to the north was our plan B. You really can't even
see it from the road unless you're looking for it. I was off to the side
enough for a tractor to get by if needed although that put it on a
Imagine the train engineer passing this scene. Tim was kind enough to
After filling out some paperwork we were taken to the car. You can name
the car and they had populated it with this. OK, that was fun.
Jeez, isn't that cute. It's the remote although you can do just about
everything through an intuitive app on your phone.
Free of the dealership, we had to get the first pic.
We drove around a bit, of course, had lunch, topped off at a
SuperCharger, then Tim dropped me off to fly Ellie back. A cool thing
that came out shortly after we bought the car was an announcement that
supercharging would be free as long as you own the car. That means you
can cross the country and pay nothing for the energy used. Damn!
The Tesla rocks, and all that, but nothing beats this view! It was a
particularly enjoyable flight although a strong headwind left me going
no faster than traffic on I-4 which helps explain the next picture.
I had just landed, was going through the cool down, when Tim drove by.
He swears it wasn't because of being heavy on the pedal. Acceleration on
the car is insane but I suspect it was more headwind on my part.
It's not a perfect world and the first problem showed up right away.
Some exterior accent lights didn't come on. We told Tesla and they seem
to be responsive although it took two calls. The problem was fixed with
a trip into the shop while the second problem was operator baffoonery.