Autonomous Driving Vehicles Update: Part 4

The Testimonial

Andy_Self driving car_4 interviewThe Kicker is hoping to make a regular feature out of interviewing owners of interesting, exotic, rare or vehicles so we thought it fitting to start off by talking to a Tesla owner. We want to thank Jeanine Jackson, business owner/manager, wife, mom and proud grandma for taking time to answer our questions.

What type of vehicle do you own?

~ I own a Tesla Model S

How long have you owned it?

~ I have owned it since December 2016

Do you use the self-driving capabilities of the car?

~ Yes, I use the self-driving capabilities

If so, how often? In what types of situations?

~ I use the capabilities daily on my commute to and from work. Right now on the surface streets, the self-driving is only available 35 MPH and under, so I take advantage of it as frequently as I can. It is especially awesome in bumper-to-bumper traffic as it will start and stop on its own. When I’m on the freeway I can use them up to 80 mph. The smart cruise control is always available and I use that nearly all the time on surface streets when I go over 35 mph – currently with some limitations, i.e. it can’t recognize a stop sign or light unless there is a car already stopped.

Do you feel safe using the self-driving features of your car?

~ The first few times I used the self-driving features were exhilarating! I lacked the confidence that the car would stop on its own and coming up behind another vehicle and not using the brake is unnerving. With experience, I’ve realized that the car is very reliable to stop. Currently, the software is in a beta test mode that Tesla is updating over the air frequently. A couple months ago I compared the self-driving capabilities to that of a toddler; now it’s a responsible adolescent! With improvements all the time.

Was the self-driving option part of your decision to choose this vehicle over other options?

~ The self-driving option was definitely part of my decision. I like my car to be smarter than me and see all around the vehicle at all times and communicate risks from blind spots. I look forward to learning new features like parking itself, summoning my vehicle, etc.

In the time you’ve been using it, do you feel like the technology has improved?

~ Since I got my Tesla in December, the technology increase is phenomenal! It has been incremental – which I appreciate the concern for safety as new upgrades are rolled out. I love that I don’t have to take my car anywhere to get the upgrades as they become available. It just sits in my garage, or in my parking spot at work, and receives new downloads – just like software updates for a smartphone.

What sort of problems have you noticed?

~ Problems – my car doesn’t recognize stop signs or stop lights. Which means if no one is in front of me, I have to stop the car – auto pilot won’t. If lanes aren’t well marked, sometimes it is hard for my car to know where its lane is. For a while when on the freeway, when the right lane exited, the car couldn’t figure out where it was supposed to be – it thought the exit lane and the right lane of the freeway was just one big lane. That was corrected in a recent firmware release.

What’s your favorite thing about the self-driving feature?

~ My favorite thing… hmmmm. I love so many things about the Tesla – the 17″ screen, never going to a gas station, the ease of charging at home or on the road, the unbeatable acceleration, the regenerative braking system… But I really like the feeling of security that comes from partnering with my Tesla via the autopilot features, the cameras all around, and the collision avoidance technology that makes being in this amazing vehicle safe for me, my family, and others in the road.

If you have a cool car, rare, classic, exotic, etc. and you’re willing to be interviewed (live or remotely) we’d love to hear from you on this site or at our FaceBook Page.

PS Note: Our Op-Ed guy has known Dr. and Mrs. Jackson since he was seven years old (now in his mid-forties) and he claims they do not appear to age. The Jacksons own a day spa among other things, so here’s a shameless plug, since she would never ask us to do it. If you live in the area of Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington you should try out Ashbrook Aesthetics and maybe roll back a few years.

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