Applied Information Blog

Electric, Autonomous and Connected Vehicles

An engineering perspective after thousands of miles on Tesla’s Autopilot

In the software business there is an expression “eating your own dog food” where a company uses technology internally, to test it out, before releasing the technology to the customer. In support of this idea, Applied Information acquired the latest Tesla 90D motor vehicle to be able to test and demonstrate electric vehicle, autonomous vehicle and connected vehicle technology.

Shawn Leight (VP of ITE) and family at ITE Summer Seminar experiencing Autopilot

Shawn Leight (VP of ITE) and family at ITE Summer Seminar experiencing Autopilot

We provided a sponsorship of “Tesla rides” at the ITE Summer Seminar at St Simons Island, and in the process raised over $1,100 for the ITE Scholarship Fund. The 40 or so transportation professionals who have taken the “Tesla ride” have all found the experience interesting, and quite different to the preconceived ideas they had. The feedback is summarized as follows:

Electric vehicles

Overall, quite practical and efficient. The Tesla Supercharger network, which will charge the car at 400V Dc and 250A (100kW) is an amazing technology, and generally gets you on your way in 20 minutes (a cup of coffee break).

Autonomous vehicles: The Autopilot experience has been an eye-opening experience. This biggest difference to the common preconceived idea of either the car OR the vehicle driving, is that the vehicle AND the driver operates in a pilot/co-pilot arrangement. This arrangement, combined with the three layers of active safety, results in a statistically safer drive. In 3,000 miles of semi-autonomous driving to date we have seen one emergency braking event, which showed the effectiveness (and rarity of use) of the multi-layer active safety systems.

Autonomous driving demonstrations for transportation professionals

Autonomous driving demonstrations for transportation professionals

Connected vehicles

The Tesla is always connected to the cloud via cell and/or wireless. This provides the vehicle with the following connected vehicle benefits:

  1. Real time traffic updates, and real time traffic and energy based routing – the car routes the driver to the destination based on the minimum time taking both real time traffic and supercharger location. This makes long distance electric travel stress free.
  2. Maintenance and diagnostics – The Tesla technicians take a look at the logs and diagnostics while you are on the phone. They also email you if the vehicle reports a fault.
  3. Over-the-air software Updates – The vehicle can update its internal software for the latest features and fixes over-the-air.
  4. Real time control – One can have limited control over the vehicle – parking, location and ‘find-the-vehicle’ via the connection between the vehicle and your smart-phone.

 We’ll keep testing, and release our finding as we continue to log the miles on the car. We also have plans to release new connected vehicle technologies in 2017, and will be using the Tesla as a test bed.

 A couple of videos below show some of the experience…




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