Instead of building an autonomous something that’s complex and a bit over our head still yet, like a George Jetson’s Rosie on wheels, why don’t we start with something we can better relate to that we all love, like George’s dog, Astro? It has now been a year since the horrible Tempe Arizona Uber crash, and we’ve obviously had to do some rethinking about driverless cars, since. So car makers are reshaping their autonomous deployment strategy and marketing into the passenger car market, by either starting with the very simple, or the very subtle:
* Since Tempe, many driverless concepts needed to go back to the drawing board.
* Instead of ramming autonomy down our throats which is what AI techies and car makers inadvertently and initially tried, they instead had to find more subtle approaches for their customers to embrace the technology.
* Volvo for example makes autonomy more active and less passive only as a last resort in its collision avoidance computer suite. It first uses interior cameras to check for the wellness of the driver to then engage a Volvo On Call driver assist specialist who then makes the car’s autonomy more aggressive against unwieldy measures to eventually park and shut off the car. Otherwise, you’d wonder if it was working.
* Tesla however, has found a completely different way to capitalize, now enhance the autonomous experience, and that’s by perfecting the single behavior that we love about “man’s best friend” that’s makes them lovable to put them into their cars.
* What better way to make skeptical customers find lovable and useful ways for autonomy than to make our iron puppies find us in the parking lot when we’re done shopping or working, without hitting or getting hit by a car, or biting anyone for that matter. “Good Girl!” when they do!
* By starting with the more simplified aspects of AI functions by improving the more useful specific parts at a time, or have autonomy work in the background to intervene subtly and only when necessary, the makers are trying to make the soon coming but already here driverless car more palatable for a skeptical, unconvinced, yet new human market.
The March 19, 2018 Tempe, Arizona Uber crash fatality involving pedestrian Elaine Herzberg was in many ways, a game changer not just for the ride services and AI tech industries, but also a jarring course correction for the auto industry as well. Not only did AI autonomous code need changing, but car makers needed to ask themselves what kind of driverless car they wanted to test, let alone sell? The Tempe crash forced manufacturers and AI coders to make driverless cars look and feel more approachable and friendly, and less like wild beasts. Enter Tesla’s Enhanced AutoPilot Version 9 with Hardware Update HW 3.0. “Come. Sit! Stay! Atta Boy! Good Boy!”
Although it’s been release delayed and limited into the hands of a certain small amount of beta testers, “iron puppy whisperers” if you will, the Enhanced Summon upgrades now give you a choice of having the car find you from where you’re presently located or for you to drop a pin in the Tesla remote app, for the car to find you elsewhere. No more ball, sticks, or even treats required!
And this is where puppy love takes on a new kind of meaning for the automobile. It’s quite endearing to watch. If one is not careful, one could see a “Stepford Wife” aspect to the dark side of all of this, but it is fascinating to watch a subcompact car suddenly come to electric life, as if it were an iron puppy an ion restricted diet, bred with Summons Enhancement, and no differently than a Golden Retriever, even a Blood Hound! This compact iron puppy slowly but surely starts eagerly “sniffing” for its master’s remote to reconnect with its owner, once again! Parents of small children could have lots of fun with this! Separation Anxiety resolved! Still limited to about 150 feet of leeway, you can tell these latest upgrades are a vast improvement over the past year’s effort to introduce Enhanced Summons Mode, but it’s still a tiny bit rough around the edges. As Tesla advances its real road tests on ESM, it’ll release more puppy love to more customers. You as the owner take care of the weening, Tesla will take care of the rest, including shots at first maintenance!
And what better way for a customer to get so turned on not only to autonomy, but also to the brand when a product starts behaving more like Astro, as opposed to a malfunctioning Road Killing Rosie? By doing this, not only is Tesla taking their loyal customers one step at a time through the next step of autonomy, they’re also giving their cars personality features that can only enhance their brand, and a face only a momma or a present and future owner could love, a genius marketing strategy! Good girl!
Photos: Any images used here are part of the news making national discussion on Tesla products. This makes them newsworthy, including this YouTube video and screen grab. So all images are published here fall under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, and news reporting.
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Al Castro is a security expert and a retired LEO who is a staff and opinion piece writer on electric and autonomous vehicles for Torque News.
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