Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Automatic High Beams?!

I just discovered that I have friggin' automatic high/low beam headlights. Must be part of the autopilot upgrade.

We were driving to the grocery store last night, when I noticed something different. While using high beams on a back country road, there was a little "A" inside the blue symbol on the dash. Around that time, a car came over a hill, and my headlights went to low, along with a corresponding change of the icon to a gray color.

It turns out, the automatic high/low beams also work when there's a car in front of you, traveling in the same direction as you... not just oncoming cars.

I think the car is using the neural net capabilities of the front-facing camera to work this magic. Nice little surprise you got me with there, Tesla!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Autopilot Upgrade & First Impressions

Why didn't I get this sooner?
Seriously, if you're contemplating getting a Tesla, you really should opt for the Autopilot.

When I first ordered mine (not being one of those rich owners), I didn't have the luxury of opting for enabling the autopilot convenience features. Having recently somewhat replenished the retirement savings which I pilfered (spare me the lecture, I did it responsibly and in a well-planned manner), I got wifely permission to swing for enabling it.

The process was pretty simple. A ranger came out, hooked up a laptop to a cable exposed by removing the under-screen cubby, and used a special Tesla software to push the required firmware update to the car. After that (and waiting 2 hours for the update to finish installing), we went out to test it and for him to show me the basics.

TL;DR... there's definitely a learning curve... and a period of time to gain trust in it. But once it's gained your trust, you won't know what you've done without it.

We took a 200+ mile road trip over the weekend; and believe me, it made the trip SO much easier. I suppose you really don't really realize how much brain power is used to drive (even on a subconscious level), until the car manages much of driving's tasks for you. You arrive at your destination not as fatigued. You find yourself paying more attention to the idiots around you, watching out for troublesome deer, noticing debris in the road, etc. I think it can improve defensive driving skills, honestly (you hear that, State Farm? hint, hint, nudge, wink).

A few other thoughts about the experience:

  • It keeps the car dead-center in the lane; so if you're a line-rider, you may not like it.
  • But, it seems to notice and react to traffic around you. If you're beside a truck or car, it seems to shy away from that vehicle a bit - which, if true, is quite nice.
  • If one lane marking disappears (like for a ramp or widening of the roadway with another lane), it seems to veer a tiny bit outward. Nothing major, but noticeable.
  • If you use it in stoplight traffic, it waits until it's quite late before hitting the brakes. I tend to start coasting (regeneration) when a see stopped traffic far ahead (to avoid using brakes at all); however autopilot tends to wait until the last minute to brake, which is a bit unnerving and wasteful to the regeneration and brakes. I'd love to see the radar be used to its full capabilities here, and the system be a bit more proactive.

I'll probably write up more as I get used to it, but that's my initial impressions so far.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Unsolicited Tire Rotation & Service

The Tesla Model S has one big appeal: very little maintenance. The largest back-of-your-mind-worry you have to deal with is tires, in my opinion ~ changing them when the tread gets low and rotating them every 5,000 miles.

Anyway, after having just passed the 5,000 mile mark, I began to begrudge my first anticipated maintenance item. So I emailed my local Tesla service concierge, mentally preparing myself to have to deal with schedules, loners, costs, etc.

I was shocked to learn that they would simply come out and rotate my tires in the parking lot of my workplace. For free. FREE. And on-site.

During this service, I also just happened to get my tires aired up to spec (recently got cold here) - another annoying maintenance item, and a top-off of my washer fluid.

What sort of wizardry is this, Tesla??

I didn't hardly have to lift a finger. This car is really turning out to be worth every penny.

Let me just add one more thing about this...
The technician told me that Tesla had addressed the aggressive rear alignment that had caused so many previous owners to complain about uneven tire wear, and that my tread had evenly worn down only 1/32nd of an inch after 5,000 miles (and that's even with spirited driving), on all tires, inside / middle / outside tread. That was a BIG worry off my chest with this car.