Why I Plan to Reassess the Mercedes-Benz DrivePilot System

10 Aug

DrivePilot

I’ll give Mercedes-Benz credit: I didn’t expect to hear from them after my recent story comparing their DrivePilot to Tesla’s Autopilot. I took a flamethrower to Stuttgart’s latest semi-autonomous driving technology, calling it a disaster—and, worse, potentially unsafe. In a world where manufacturers regularly attempt to sidestep bad press, Mercedes could easily have stayed silent.

Then, six days after Musk gloatingly retweeted the story, my phone rang.

I should note that it’s rare for a blatantly negative review to appear in the mainstream media for any consumer product, let alone about a juggernaut brand whose tagline is “The Best or Nothing.” When one does show up, it’s generally centered around criteria with little real-world impact—things like design, or zero-to-sixty times. Criticizing a major manufacturer for a perceived issue at the heart of their latest safety technology is basically unheard of.

Read the rest over at The Drive

It’s Not Just Tesla Autopilot—Everything Is in Beta

3 Aug

Everything Is In Beta

I remember my first real girlfriend. We were eleven; promises were made. My first car? I was going to keep it forever. My parents were together, until they weren’t. I remember the girl I wanted to marry—the first girl and the third. I remember my father’s voice from the next room. Then on an answering machine, which stopped working, then on a voicemail, which I lost when I switched to T-Mobile. Then, only in my memory.

Nothing is static. The world, with all of us in it, is in a constant state of change. Everything is in beta, and anyone who says otherwise is selling you something.

Love or hate Elon Musk, his greatest societal contribution isn’t “Premium Electric Vehicles” or reusable rockets. It might just be his use of language—specifically that phrase, “in beta.” Did you think that term means “not ready,” “incomplete,” or “needs testing”? It can, and it does, but now, it also means something else: In the world of automotive technology, especially autonomy, “in beta” now means: We have to move faster.

Read the rest over at The Drive

The War For Autonomous Driving: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class VS. 2017 Tesla Model S

27 Jul

Drive Pilot

Looking for a comparison of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the 2016 Tesla Model S? This is not that. Both are brilliant, gorgeous cars—best-of-breed luxury sedans in the war between internal combustion and electricity—but who cares?

The future belongs to Autonomous Driving.

The 2017 E-Class is the first Mercedes-Benz available with Drive Pilot—the brand name for their latest semi-Autonomous Driving (AD) suite—and is the first direct assault on Tesla’s Autopilot, which has captured the public’s imagination, for better or worse, since its release in 2015.

What is AD? It’s what happens when you combine Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Automatic Steering, and then a car begins to drive itself. How long, how well and how safely it does this is the difference between today and tomorrow, between semi-Autonomous and truly Self-Driving Cars.

Does Mercedes’ Drive Pilot deliver what it calls The Best or Nothing? Or is Autopilot—despite recent controversy—still the state-of-the-semi-Autonomous-art?

That depends on your expectations.

Read the rest over at The/Drive

Tesla Is Right. Consumer Reports Is Wrong. And Trying To Kill You.

16 Jul

Tesla Is Right. Consumer Reports Is Wrong. And Trying To Kill You.

Consumer Reports is trying to kill you. It’s true: The non-profit my parents trusted for advice on washing machines, coffee makers and sunscreen has crossed the line. CR, an organization claiming to serve consumers through unbiased product testing has chosen to enter the debate over Tesla’s Autopilot in the most ill-informed and irresponsible way possible. In doing so, the brand is putting additional lives at risk.

No company has done more to bring autonomous driving (AD) to market than Tesla, and yet they are now the target of a misinformation campaign rapidly coalescing around a single message: Tesla Autopilot is dangerous.

This is nonsense.

Read the rest of over at The/Drive.com

In Defense of Tesla’s Autopilot, Part 1

8 Jul

Tesla Autopilot Accident

Before Joshua Brown was killed in his Tesla Model S while watching a movie on Autopilot, I had a conversation with my friend, Comms. “The first person to kill someone in a Tesla on Autopilot,” Comms said, “is going to be responsible for 340,000 deaths.”

Comms is an old friend working in communications for a major automotive manufacturer. He’d just spent an hour failing to convince me Elon Musk was the modern Preston Tucker, but I couldn’t argue with his newest line of reasoning.

“Nonsense,” I said. “It’s great. I know its limitations.” Continue reading

Alex Roy Digest 5.9.16: Is Driving The New Smoking? Cheap Oil & Tesla

9 May

Is Driving The New Smoking

Driving Will Be The New Smoking? There is a War On Driving, and this is exactly what I’m against.

Will EV Sales Growth and Global Spread of Fracking Keep Oil Cheap Forever?

Can Tesla afford to keep the Supercharger Network running? Another interesting article from the usual skeptics at Seeking Alpha.

Continue reading

Alex Roy’s Digest 5.6.16: Alfa Romeo Team Polizia, GM, Lyft, TVR, Tesla, Iran

6 May

Alfa Romeo Team Polizia 144

Team Polizei? Meet Alfa Romeo Team Polizia 144.

Iran Bans Chevy imports, criticizes rich kids. Does that mean the Gumball 3000 won’t be going there anytime soon?

Lyft Will Pick You Up In Self-Driving Electric Cars Within A Year. Funny thing is, I can do that now. With a Tesla. If I had one.

Continue reading

Alex Roy’s Digest: 5.5.16.2: Charging, Gumball 3000, Ford, Tesla, Porsche, Satan

5 May

Gumball 3000

I was arrested, then kidnapped during the Gumball 3000. How amateur. Actually, wait. I was too. Once. Article coming.

A map of Electric Vehicle charging sites from 1914. Thanks, pluginsites.

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Alex Roy’s Digest 5.5.16: Tesla Crash, Sex, Idiots, Rail, CDL

5 May

 

Tesla Crash

Hooning a Model S? Looks like five German kids who survived this Tesla crash got off lucky. I wonder what would have happened in my E39 BMW Polizei M5.

Authorities are worried that sex behind the “wheel” in Self-Driving Cars is dangerous. Which makes no sense.

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Chevy Jolt Is The Tesla Model 3 Competitor GM Should Build, But…

4 May

Chevy Jolt

The Chevy Jolt is the Tesla Model 3 competitor GM should build, if only it wasn’t a hoax. Our friends at electrek just found this brilliant hoax page that looks just like the real thing (except for the typos), and lays out precisely how GM could own Tesla:

An all-electric sports car offering an estimated 230 miles of range per charge for an affordable price is finally here. Designed utilizing Chevrolet’s new EV platform from the ground up, the Jolt EV delivers: from the sport sculpted proportions to its distinctive technology, efficiency and performance are combined to make driving the Jolt EV an experience like never before.

Continue reading