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While the over-the-air update is novel, these features all exist on current luxury and even some middle class vehicles as part of driver assistance option packages.

They're typically called Lane Keeping Assistant, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blindspot Warning, Automated Parking, Traffic Sign Recognition, etc.

The emergency steering bit is interesting, though no further details are provided, as it requires the car to ensure that there is a safe space to steer into, which is dicey for a forward collision emergency braking system, so I'd conjecture it is connected to the side collision warning, and allows collision avoidance if there is enough space in the current lane.




I see this strange contradiction where some people are saying "this is nothing new, other manufacturers had this years ago" and yet somehow other manufacturers don't get reaction videos on youtube and don't get to the top of hacker news and reddit....it seems very clear to me that what Tesla has done is above and beyond anything in the past. If this already existed, nobody would really care.

You could make the whole brand argument, like with Apple releasing the iPad, but....I simply disagree. Tesla deserves the credit they're getting.


Elon Musk is undeniable a hype machine. A lot of it is deserved, to be sure:

He doesn't have 100 years of history weighing him down; he hasn't made a lemon yet; his cars are actually pretty awesome.

But... all these features do already exist in other brands.

Disclaimer: I work for GM


They may exist, but that's not the fundamental difference between Tesla and <enter most all other brands>. The first difference is long-term buyer delight and is clearly shown in the first sentence of the linked article: "Model S is designed to to keep getting better over time." Everyone else's stance? That was last years model - if you want the new UI and/or new features buy the current model year car. There is, most often, zero expectation for car buyers today to expect upgrades or enhancements that are as drastic and as positively interesting as how Tesla approaches it.

The second, and likely more critical differentiator (IMO), is security. Mr. Musk would not accept public shaming of such magnitude like this:

http://www.wired.com/2015/09/gm-took-5-years-fix-full-takeov...

And I only pick on GM here since, well, you work there. When it comes to software in cars Tesla treats it as a true part of the vehicle engineering. Others seems to still treat it as an afterthought - and then the question starts to linger: how good is the software in all of the other vendors "features"? How much QA have they done with regard to lane keep, blind spot, adaptive cruise, etc?

I don't own a Tesla, I really wish I did, but if I had to place a wager on a car manufacturers QA process and ability to build fault tolerant vehicle systems I would pick Tesla to oust the competition handily at this point. While I realize it's a subjective matter, and there's really no good way to compare, the directive of the company seems pointed in a more apt approach than others.

$0.02.


To be clear: I, personally, am really happy there are strong challengers in the car market. Also, I am speaking solely for myself.

The quote: "Model S is designed to keep getting better over time" reminds me of kaizen (1). It is a really awesome concept that not only can the car manufacturing process and technology keep getting better, but the cars can improve as well.

That being said: OTA update is REALLY FUCKING SCARY for cars. What if someone puts the wrong update in the queue accidentally? (2)

The historic attitude to modules in cars is also important. Modules run "code", but it is treated as mechanically as possible. Could you imagine changing out a few pistons while driving? Probably not. This is a failure of imagination that is being addressed now!

It is a truism that Big, Old, Large companies are risk-averse. The downside to doing a bad OTA to a car is unlimited!

WRT to Tesla's QA - I don't know of anything that has been published in this regard. I would hope they are "doing it right". I hope they are successful, and I hope everyone is inspired by their leadership and learns from them.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen - Article claims it was introduced by American business people, but Japanese companies continuously improved it =D

2. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/90219/20151001/oops-sorry-...


> That being said: OTA update is REALLY FUCKING SCARY for cars. What if someone puts the wrong update in the queue accidentally? (2)

OTA update is no more or less scary than any other form of software update, or in fact any other form of mechanical update.

Software engineers are generally used to the level of rigour that goes on with their software. If you're a web devloper shipping a commerce application there's an appropriate level of testing and process, because there's only a certian level of reliability you need to hit, and spending more money on that would slow down your development. The way you go about delivering software for medical devices for instance (which we do), is a completely different process with a whole different level of rigour, testing and documentation. Because that's appropriate in that environment.

There's a whole lot more documentation and thought that goes into the beam that stops the top of your house from falling down, than goes into the beam that stops your garden shed from falling down. It's no different than software.


It's not as simple as that. NASA can update software on the mars rover or interplanetary probes, but that's one device at a time, and the amount of effort put into it is staggering.

At the same time, consumer electronics are routinely broken by OTA updates.

Cars fall squarely in the middle, high volume and high price. Additionally, failures carry a high risk. Nobody will die if your webshop goes down, but if your car decides to steer into oncoming traffic, well, bummer.

The support beam analogy is flawed in the sense that the beams are simply made bigger to ensure they're strong enough even with considerable material defects, but this doesn't work for software, where a single little bug can lead to a catastrophic failure.

I am not aware of anything other than cars where such a high number of devices carries such a high risk factor. Certainly doing OTA car updates in a commercial environment is possible, but there is not yet a relatively foolproof way to do it.


Regarding 1: I am a huge proponent of Kaizen and, what you're probably more after is the influence Demming had on Japanese companies. The interesting part is that if you've studied Demming you'll know he pitched his process to every American manufacturer first - and all of them wrote him off, which, as we all know came back in spades from a quality comparison perspective shortly after. Demming: Quality = Results of Work Efforts / Total Costs.

Regarding OTA: It is. But, ignorance is even scarier. Look at any company that embraces CI (continuous improvement). Amazon - how many changes to production do they push a day? Now compare that to a legacy F50 that has process designed to be change averse as they view that as risk in and of itself. This seems to be the viewpoint you're working from through GM and maybe (I'm speculating here) you're influenced by the process internally. Maybe your view is that it's risky because of what you're exposed to? My guess is that given the culture of Telsa - critical software OTA is not taken lightly. Speculation - but they likely have a far more rigorous process for deployment than many others since they've done this from the beginning. If I can suggest reading on this subject I would point you in the direction of Gene Kim's work in this area as he has studied high performing organizations and, in a nutshell, has found that companies that embrace change and do it frequently have less operational problems than those who don't. Risk-averse seems to compound mistakes and, this could very well flow into those hypothesis around practice. The more you do, the better you are and "10k" hours.

While I agree accidents can (and will) happen - again I wouldn't put my money that it happens to Tesla first or with any cadence of frequency. Keep in mind Tesla is riding on quality in software - full stop. If they have a problem there, it could be detrimental to the point of failure. This is a good thing for consumers because they're most likely getting a superior product comparatively. And we already know that non-OTA software that has gone out the door in vehicles has caused death and harm. Is it scary that those bits are note able to benefit from a timely OTA update? There are definitely two sides to this coin.

And finally... While I know that it's been said quite a bit that "we've done that". I'm not truly sure people are grasping the reality of what Tesla is doing. While I understand others have these features, the Jalopnik short sums up what they've accomplished that, in my opinion, others are definitely lagging behind in - if you haven't watched it definitely do:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yCAZWdqX_Y

Again... Even if others are kind-of-sort-of doing this today, the iterations will be across model years. No vendors have the long-term upgradability that Tesla does at this point. Not sure I would trust an American car to change lanes on it's own based on it's situational awareness as shown in the video.


Isn't it that other brand avoided marketing self-driving to avoid safety issues and high expectations.


Wait, so you see that it is a fact that many of these features have been in existence in regular cars under various names. It's undeniable, ofc. But __then__ you somehow refuse to believe that they are actually the same because it's on the top of HN and other media outlets. And then somehow you feel qualified to say Tesla deserve the credit their getting? It isn't "making the whole brand argument." You __are__ just being a sucker!


Can you find me a video of another brand's car doing what you see the Model S doing in this video? I was unable to find any.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yCAZWdqX_Y


Audi:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2PDPxMPLWg

This reckless Infiniti driver even gets into the passenger's seat while the car is driving:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY_zqEmKV1k

Mercedes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-2jwN5a6HE

Volvo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmdWBH-IvDg

The Tesla can change lanes on its own while the others can't, but the others have some interesting gadgets the Tesla doesn't - for example, Audi has the super trick night vision display which also picks out and highlights/alerts on pedestrians and animals.


My 2014 Mercedes E350 can do everything in that video, except lane changing, that's new and cool.

But I looked exactly like the guy in the video when I first test-drove my car two years ago, but now I'm so used to it I don't think about it any longer.

But you gotta give it to Tesla's marketing department, that they can get people excited by a feature that you could get in a damn nice car, two years ago, at half the price.


Marketing department = Musk


Most companies need a marketing department to convince people they're making good cars, while they're making good money making cars. Tesla simply makes good cars. No need for a marketing department if your stated goal is your terminal goal, and not just an instrumental one.


How often does your Mercedes require you to grab the steering wheel?


I think you should watch the second video in bri3d's post. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY_zqEmKV1k)

It only requires you to grab the steering wheel if you want to change lanes or turn.


You can take your hands off of it for short periods of time, but it quickly starts whining to tell you to keep your hands on the wheel, and if you don't the system disengages.

It's usually ok to just nudge the wheel a bit to let it know you're still there.

Note that this is for obvious liability reasons, not technical reasons.



posted a year ago https://youtu.be/Xbjdmw8D9-Y


And here is the reality of that same car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb3TLRaMVIY


That's pretty similar to the current Mercedes E-class, it doesn't work very well at high speeds.

Note that the Tesla reaction video is as low speeds in stop & go traffic, and my car is just as good there.

It would be interesting to test the Tesla in the same conditions as the Hyundai is failing in.



Nice, it appears to be much better than my car at high speeds!

I'm quite envious of the OTA update, there's no way Mercedes will every upgrade the Distronic software in my car, if I want the improved version, I have to buy a newer model. :-/


Well, that's because they're Tesla. Benz has had very similar features on their higher-end cars, and it was well received (I think) in the automotive industry, but not the tech community, because Tesla is more well known in tech compared to Benz.



Yeah, great marketing video. Here is reality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb3TLRaMVIY

Ping pong back and forth in the lane, no curve steering. Bleh.


I think it's a mix of effects. Tesla is definitely pushing car engineering in some respects, but as far as I can tell the only thing new in this story is that the feature was added to the cars in a software update. Do you really think Audi would be #1 on Hacker News if they updated the 5 series over the air to stay in it's lane automatically while on the highway?

I've had a bit of cognitive dissonance recently while reading Elon Musk's comments on Apple's electric car project because I have to remind myself Tesla isn't owned by Apple. Tesla does do some great engineering, but I think they have also Apple levels of hype within technology circles.


> Tesla is definitely pushing car engineering in some respects, but as far as I can tell the only thing new in this story is that the feature was added to the cars in a software update. Do you really think Audi would be #1 on Hacker News if they updated the 5 series over the air to stay in it's lane automatically while on the highway?

If they played it the way Tesla did, they probably would. Recall that nobody buying Model S knew about those capabilities up until the moment Tesla announced, "by the way, at some point we've started packing Model S with sensors; if you've bought recently then you have self-driving capabilities that we'll enable soon with a software update". This came as a surprise for everyone.


It's tiresome enough to read ignorant people alleging that Apple's success is due to "hype" rather than superior product when Apple is actually the topic at hand. Do we have to read it at other times, too, now? I hope not.


That is literally stuff that I learned about in driving school. Why should I care about such mundane things?


Well, now we see where Jobs's reality distortion field went.


And before Dropbox there was rsync and HN laughed at why anyone would pay for it. And before the iPod there was the Nomad and Slashdot laughed at why its hard drive was so small and didn't have wifi. And before the iPhone there was the Blackberry and who would take that seriously, Blackberry already owns that market!

First-mover isn't all that matters.


Lane Keeping Assistant is very different from Lane Centering/Steering.

I've driven many cars with Lane Keep Assist - it is really a warning/minor correction system to keep you from crossing over your lane. If you let go of the wheel, most systems will ping pong from lane to lane.

Tesla's system actually centers you in the lane, steers around corners, and handles changing lanes. That is the innovation.


I've driven a brand new Range Rover with the assist package, and that car was fully automatic in city and motorway driving for all intentions and purposes, as long as there was a car in front of you. You would engage the "smart" cruise control, and it would just follow the car in front of you perfectly, making turns, stopping and starting. I've driven it on the motorway at 80mph, then a car in front of us was taking an exit, I put the blinker on, the car followed, and drove around the bends following the car in front, until we came to a stop at a set of traffic lights. Then when the traffic started moving again, all I had to do was to tap the accelerator, and the car started following again. That was without me touching the steering wheel at all.


Was this in the US? Which model/year Range Rover?

I am unable to find any info on the Range Rover site about capability to auto steer (just Auto Cruise Control). There are also no Youtube videos showing this functionality.

Can you provide more details?


EU model. 2015 Range Rover Vogue(so the large one, not the Sport). And yeah, there's no youtube videos, very strange.


Which country? Looking at the UK, the 2015 Range Rover Vogue doesn't feature any automatic steering. Just Auto Cruise Control (http://www.landrover.co.uk/vehicles/range-rover/option-and-a...)


Mercedes has had this for at least a couple years:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXB82PfNucg


Mercedes has had 100% autonomous braking on several models since '09.


Isn't the tech Tesla is using licensed from Mercedes?


I think they all buy from Bosch.


What other car can parallel park itself in 100% automated mode?


Uh, pretty much any car in mid to luxury range can be gotten with that option these days, it was novel around 2003.


Every high-trim Lexus since about 2006, for starters?




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