It’s been over a year since I started driving S.A.M. (my Tesla Model S 85D). And here’s what I can tell you: the nostalgia hasn’t worn off. I’m still amazed at the car, the performance, the technology, and the people / business behind it. They make me look forward to stepping inside that car each and every day and here’s why:
I didn’t care for the movie Hot Tub Time Machine 2. But there was one scene that definitely caught my attention – namely, when the characters are face to face with SMART cars that were actually smart (i.e. fully autonomous). This happens in the past (which looks like the future) after traveling through their Hot Tub Time Machine. These so called smart cars could drive all on their own, pick up / drop off passengers, assess the individuals in front of them (Terminator style), request permission to murder someone (presumably from the government) and accepted love and attention instead of money. To me, this was a huge play on what it meant to be a self-aware and fully autonomous vehicle.
Enter Tesla: Software Update 7.0
But now let’s think about our present time. This Thursday, October 15, Tesla Motors is rolling out (through an over-the-air update among its fleet of late 2014-present Model S and Model X vehicles) a software update that will allow drivers to drive on highways hands-free. It’s called “Lane Keeping”. It’s part and parcel of a much broader set of updates that are altogether called “Auto Pilot” which Telsa has been working on for years. Basically, after Thursday, many Tesla drivers will be able to engage “Adaptive Cruise Control” (which uses sonar, radar, and cameras all over the car to follow the car ahead of it in light of what you’ve set the speed limit to) COUPLED WITH “Lane Keeping” to give you a hands-free and foot-free driving experience. If the car cannot determine what it’s supposed to do next (e.g. speed up, slow down, curve around the bend) due to poor visibility or some inability to compute the raw data, then it will ask you to take over temporarily. Once you do, and it can then take a proper reading of the road and vehicles around it, then “Lane Keeping” will re-engage. If you don’t, then the car will apparently slow down, put on its hazards and pull over to the curb (it probably thinks you’re sleeping). Finally, while you’re driving, you’ll be able to execute lane changes by simply turning the signal; the car will do the rest when it’s safe to do so.
In future software updates, Tesla says you’ll be able to ‘summons’ your car on private property (Batman Style!). So it will come out of the garage, fully heated / cooled to your liking, playing your favourite music, knowing your destination, and head down to where you need it to be before you enter. Amazing!
Now, when I heard about this, I thought: crazy awesome! But it’s almost scary to think that we’re almost on our way to autonomous driving. We’ve all heard of Google’s self-driving car. Apparently, they’re relatively safe. And rumour has it that Apple is coming out with its own fully electric (and perhaps autonomous at some point) vehicle by 2017. And other manufacturers (e.g. Mercedes, Audi, etc.) have come out with some limited form of self-driving – but they’re not 100% electric, so why should we care?
Finally, Elon Musk (founder / principal of Tesla Motors, Space X, Solar City, and formerly PayPal) believes Tesla vehicles will have the technology in 3 years to be fully autonomous. Perhaps they’ll collect information from one another, be permanently synced to your life (think: Internet of Things), and allow you to use a computer / apps while it drives you to / from work. I’m looking forward to it, but also not: I might miss actually driving! I doubt self-driving cars know how to give passengers an exhilarating ride. But I’m hoping the number of accidents on the road is greatly diminished while our overall productivity (think: stuck in traffic for 3 hours a day doing nothing) is greatly increased if we’re able to do work while the car is self-driving.
Until then, we’ve got Tesla’s “Auto Pilot”. It’s one small step away from pushing pedals, one giant step for mankind.
UPDATE: I tested out Autopilot (beta) and it works! Look Ma: “No Hands or Feet!” Here’s a quick video of me driving to work (going 115 km / hour and then having the car do a lane change by simply signalling):
Note: I hate to say it, but I’m sure it won’t be long before someone does something stupid and ends up crashing their car due to not paying attention or using it inappropriately, etc.
Mind you: you should be keeping both hands on the wheel. Ontario laws look to be changing on January 1 to eventually allow autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles to operate (using cameras, radar, sonar, GPS, etc.). Drivers will likely need to carry extra insurance and apply for a permit to drive an autonomous car. And the driver must still be sitting in the driver’s seat and be able to take control. You can read this Ministry of Transportation press release for more information.
It felt weird. Being in a regular car. An engine – no, a really loud engine – sitting underneath the hood in front of me. I had to stick a key into an ignition and then turn the key to start the car. I couldn’t talk to the car. I had to go to a gas station to put petrol (refined fossil fuel) into the car so that, when I press on the gas pedal, tiny little explosions propel the vehicle forward. The car wasn’t connected to the Internet. I was stuck with the version of the car that was purchased as state-of-the art a decade ago; but it didn’t keep up with the times. I had to actually use the break to slow down and stop the car. The car didn’t know or care about my preferences when it came to things like: where I was going, what music I liked, how high / low I wanted the suspension, etc. I couldn’t control aspects of the car using an app on my cell phone. It was noisy. Yes, I mentioned that at the beginning. And it took forever for the RPM to rev up to get the car up to 100 km / hour – no matter how hard I pressed on that damn gas pedal!
But the reality was this: I was in a regular, everyday internal combustion engine motor vehicle. There were tons of them on the road. I was used to them. I had driven them all my life. But once I made the big bold leap a few weeks ago to go all electric with a Tesla Model S (not even hybrid), internal combustion engine vehicles now seem so strange… so foreign… so unnecessary. I couldn’t feel comfortable in one again. Somebody asked me: has the novelty of driving an electric car worn off on you? I say, to their amazement: “Yes, it has!” (I’ve only been driving my electric car for a few weeks)….”That is, until I drive an internal combustion engine vehicle and then I realize how great electric cars are and how internal combustion engine cars are so dated”.
FYI, here is S.A.M. at the Tesla service centre (Victoria Park and Lawrence) on delivery day:
Right now there’s a revolution happening in the automotive industry. It’s called the rise of fully connected and (semi) autonomous electric cars. And while it may seem like a quirky niche right now, these vehicles offer so many benefits to the end user and the environment generally that you’d be hard pressed to want to drive an internal combustion engine car ever again after sitting in one of these puppies.
So what does this have to do with your dental practice? Well, your dental practice does not exist in a vacuum. You have branded your practice (whether you wanted to or not) as a high end dental practice OR a family outfit OR a specialty dental practice, etc. And you operate within a broader industry that fight over a limited number of patients. And there are always revolutions / evolutions making their way into the mainstream that will change the industry forever. I’m sure you’ve noticed a few things – like going digital (charts, x-rays, etc.), offering implants and invisalign, and having an online presence (with social media) while focusing on patient education to attract and maintain patients.
So what can you possibly learn from Tesla Motors Inc., a California car manufacturer and distributor which makes 100% electric cars like the Tesla Roadster, the Model S, and Model X, and the Model III? Well, here are some key lessons that I learned by studying this innovative U.S. car company:
So going back to your dental practice… think about this:
If you answered “No” to a lot of these questions, you should look carefully at the Tesla example, the Tesla story, and start to think about and implement some of the things that they are doing on their journey to becoming a mainstream global automotive car company.
David Mayzel is your legal risk manager. He is a trained courtroom lawyer and has spent many years resolving disputes both in and out of court. He knows how to prepare documents and execute transactions in a way that avoids or mitigates legal risks. He can be reached at 416.528.5280. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Carabash is your business law adviser. He is an entrepreneur at heart who helps you see the big legal picture. He drafts clear and effective agreements that protect your rights while promoting your interests. He can be reached at 647.680.9530. or email@example.com.
Ljubica Durlovska is your transition lawyer. She helps you with staff and associates, maintaining your corporation, and other business matters. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonathan Borrelli is your employment lawyer. He helps you with staff and associates matters, including hirings, terminations, switching staff to written contracts and resolving disputes. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 204 or email@example.com.
Benjamin Kong is an experienced business law clerk. He assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Whitehouse is an experienced business law clerk. She assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 203 or email@example.com.
David, Michael, Ljubica, Jonathan, Ben and Julie are a truly dynamic team. Their diverse knowledge, skills, and experiences will help you get the best deal possible while promoting your interests and protecting your rights. You can read dentist testimonials here.