First Week Driving the Tesla Model Y

This is part of a series that covers my experience with a Tesla Model Y. If you are thinking of ordering one, I’ve got a referral code. You get 1,000 free Supercharger miles and so do I. Use: http://ts.la/john92950

I didn’t video the first drive. We were all excited, I had family in the car, and I know a few of them don’t want to be on video.

However. It was very exciting. To be fair, almost every time I purchase a new car and get to drive it, I’m excited. My wife might be more excited, and as she said, it’s the best car we’ve ever had. And we’ve had a lot.

General Thoughts

The car is smooth. It’s strange to just get in, pull down the right lever and start driving. No starting that car, which feels very futuristic, Minority Report-ish. It’s also strange that when I shift gears, the car doesn’t move. I have regenerative braking on, which holds the car until the accelerator is pressed. So when I pick Reverse in my garage, I need to press the pedal for the car to move.

The acceleration is smooth and instant. I tend to drive more carefully, watching the energy and saving power. I did the same thing when we first got our Prius, actually, throughout the life of the Priuses we’ve had. The feedback makes me try to game the system and get the most efficient ride. I also did this in the BMW, though getting 22.1mpg over 21.5mpg isn’t terribly exciting.

I have hit the pedal hard a few times and my stomach jumps a bit each time. I was in the left lane at a stop light, and needed to make a right turn at the next corner, about 1/8mi ahead. I pressed hard and jumped from 0-40 in a couple seconds and was able to change lanes to the right without cutting off the person next to me. They’d barely entered the intersection when I was already past it.

The large screen is easy to use and not distracting. Watching speed slightly down and to the right isn’t that hard compared to looking straight down. I do wish a HUD or small display was straight forward, but I think I’ll get over that.

The rear window is small. When 5 of us were in the car, all I could see is my son’s face out the rear. Fortunately, I could easily put on the cameras and see behind me by glancing at the screen.

We’ve gone about 400 miles, which is a lot in a week.

Controls

I’m learning to use controls more smoothly. The basics of turn signals are easy, and the headlights come on and switch low/hi automatically and quickly. The controls for cruise work well, and I’ve lightly used Autopilot.

I saw someone with hazards on the other day and was wondering how to turn them on. I looked through lots of menus, finally searching in the owner’s manual, which is a digital copy in the Software section. Apparently, there’s a button for this, which I like. I do want some programmable physical buttons for some things.

After that, I wanted to make sure I could turn on wipers. We don’t get much rain in Colorado, but we can get sudden downpours, so I practiced with both the screen and pushing in the left stalk.

One thing I accidentally learned was mute. I wanted to try out the voice controls, and pressed the left button. That mutes audio, which is very handy when there isn’t a knob. My wife’s truck has volume buttons on the radio and steering wheel and quickly muting is a pain. This works well.

I’ve only tried navigation and minor audio changes with voice controls, but I might try more. I am trying to look away from the road less, so it’s good to get used to that.

In a week, I’ve also learned not to pull the door handle and only push the button to open doors. That’s took a few days.

I do use cruise control often. On the country roads, with rolling hills, it’s easy to go too fast or slow, so I set this often and I like how it works. I really appreciate it slowing when the car in front of my slows.

The last control is the lack of control. After a week it’s still weird to get into the car and not have to do anything to start going. It’s also weird to get out without shutting things down.

Overall

I constantly feel like I’m an actor in Minority Report, with a future car. The smooth dash, no dials in front, the quiet, it’s very futuristic. As I noted, I game the power a lot, but when you do want or need to move quickly, it moves. The acceleration is still very exciting.

The car turns smoothly, the suspension feels tight, and like a few of the high performance cars I’ve owned, the Model Y responds crisply and rightly to my input. It’s a nice extension of my, which I like. I’ll keep testing Autopilot and trying to understand the limits and benefits. It’s nice, but not great.

So far, quite happy with the vehicle.

There is a video with some thoughts and  impressions on my channel. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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A Great Use for AI

In the last couple of years there has been a tremendous amount of hype for machine learning and artificial intelligence as a way to improve the world. Plenty of companies have tried to implement ML/AI to generate more revenue or improve their products, often with mixed success. However, I recently saw a place where I think AI might shine.

I’ve never owned a Roomba or any robot vacuum, and I’ve never encountered a poopocalypse scenario. I do have a cat that is an avid hunter, so I certainly could envision something similar with a carcass in the house, but apparently, some owners of these vacuums have had a very messy experience when they pet has an accident and the robot vacuum attempts to clean the floor.

The company has implemented a camera and AI to try and avoid this happening, as well as avoiding other obstacles. How this will actually work remains to be seen, but it’s a good place to use AI to try and detect objects that might cause issues, notify the owner, and avoid creating a mess when trying to clean one up.

This is also a place of low impact if the AI doesn’t work perfectly. If the model can’t determine what an object is, avoid it and flag the situation. Allowing owners to provide feedback and improving the model over time is what I’d want to see, with regular improvements that might help the system tell when an object is something that could cause issues. If Roomba does a good job, they’ll use this as an opportunity to gather data and improve their products.

AI/ML isn’t often a build it and forget it technology for systems. These technologies use models, which are inherently incomplete and don’t always match the real world well. They need a lot of training, with new data, across time to become something that works really well.

Are they worth the effort for most systems? I don’t know. I do know that good data science is needed, lots of data for training and testing, and a set of boundaries where the system works well and where it doesn’t. I suspect we’ll see more businesses having success with AI over time, but not in all situations. I suspect older extrapolation and human judgment work just as well for lots of problems.

Knowing when each might work more efficiently will be a challenge for years to come.

Steve Jones

Listen to the podcast at Libsyn, Stitcher, Spotify, or iTunes.

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Daily Coping 17 Sep 2021

I started to add a daily coping tip to the SQLServerCentral newsletter and to the Community Circle, which is helping me deal with the issues in the world. I’m adding my responses for each day here. All my coping tips are under this tag.

Today’s tip is to get outside today and give your mind a natural boost.

I live in Colorado because of the great weather. My wife and I decided to move here for the views, the sun, and the ability to be outdoors most of the year.

Getting outside is a coping mechanism that I’ve enjoyed for most of my life.

Today this is easy. I’m working remotely in Santa Fe, where my wife is competing in a dressage show. While I’m working most of the day in our camper, I will get up and cook breakfast outside. I’ll walk over to the arenas to help my wife get ready and film a bit, and I hope to get a short hike in as well this afternoon.

Even when I’m working, with windows open, and a nice breeze, it almost feels like I’m outside as I can watch the views on the West side just outside of Santa Fe.

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Daily Coping 16 Sep 2021

I started to add a daily coping tip to the SQLServerCentral newsletter and to the Community Circle, which is helping me deal with the issues in the world. I’m adding my responses for each day here. All my coping tips are under this tag.

Today’s tip is to be as kind to yourself as you would to a loved one.

A tricky one today. After all, our loved ones are sometimes the ones that hurt us most, or upset us the most. I think we can sometimes get angrier at family than outsiders.

In any case, we often show our love, affection, and caring for our family in many ways, especially little ones. We put ourselves out for them, and we work to ensure they are happy, content, and joyous in life.

I need to remember that while I find ways to forgive and accept family, I struggle to do that to myself. I can be hard on myself, chastising myself in my mind for mistakes.

I’m telling myself today to accept myself as a flawed person. One who makes mistakes, mistakes I can learn from, but I can’t dwell on.

I give this advice to others and need to follow it myself.

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