Category Archives: Autopilot

1257 Miles in an Electric Car – Part 1 – A Plan is Hatched.

Holzhausen’s drawings of the Model S
Holzhausen’s original drawings of the Model S

10th July 2017

I was sitting in my office in Martlesham on the 10th July 2017 chatting to a colleague about Tesla cars. The conversation had started after he noticed the framed artists sketch hanging on my wall.

I have driven a number of Tesla Model S cars in the past from the excitable P85+ to the ‘Insane’ P85D. They are very exciting cars to drive, not just because they are fully electric and pack extremely powerful single gear motors, but because you feel your are riding on the coattails of automotive history, participating in an irreversible shift change in motorvehicle technology. It’s very exciting!

The conversation moved on the the Model X and Model 3, Tesla’s entries in to the SUV and ‘affordable’ markets. The Model X has recently appeared in the UK, the Model 3 is two years away from being available. We continued to chat for the rest of lunch, but the seed was planted.

That evening I wrote an email to Tesla’s press office requesting the loan of a Model X for review. Nothing specific, simply available dates.

The next day I received a reply from Tesla, it’s explained that things were very busy with the Model X, but the 5th and 6th of October was available for a test drive, did that suit? I puzzled for a while, in the past I had been loaned vehicles for a little longer, to give me time to get to know the vehicle, two days seemed a bit short to get a proper review in place. So, I followed up with an email, requesting a little longer.

I quickly received a reply from Tesla asking what my plans were? OK, good question, time to put on my thinking cap.

15 July 2017

My initial idea was driving from Lands End to John O’Groats, but after a little bit of Googling, I discovered that this had already been done in a  Tesla and well documented on YouTube, there was nothing original to achieve in travelling down this this ‘road’.

But wait a minute! Was there? I live about 40 minutes from Ness Point, the most easterly point in the UK. Nestled in Lowestoft, Ness Point at first glance seemed a little unloved. Some thought and effort has been made to build a stone circle, with plaques showing distances to well known points in the UK. It’s quite nice, but the surroundings aren’t that impressive, but it seemed like the obvious starting point for a challenge and wasn’t too far from home.

Now to find the most westerly point of the UK.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse sits on the most westerly mainland point of the UK accessible by a short ferry ride at Corran and a two hour drive along single track roads across an extinct volcano. There even appeared to be a ‘rapid’ charge point a few miles away at Kichoan Pier, which would set a challenge outside of Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ network.

The plan was hatched, but it was just the beginning.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

The Gadget Man – Episode 105 – On the Sofa with Sarah Lilley at BBC Radio Suffolk

As I continue to ride the wave of euphoria of completing the 1200 mile east to west  Gadget Road Trip with my lifelong friend Andy. Today I joined BBC Radio Suffolk’s Sarah Lilley on the Sofa in Ipswich and explained how the challenge came about and how it felt to drive 1200 miles in an Electric Car and why I love Gadgets!

I also talked about how I met Vanessa, how I listen to music and an ill fated trip to Tunisia in 1996.

Listen in to the stream, bookmark the site, we have a LOAD of reviews coming up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

The Gadget Man – Episode 87 – Drones. Should they be licensed?

I was back on air this morning with Mark Murphy and James Hazell to talk about drones and the immense rise in their popularity.

With popularity comes a degree of public worry and a much larger degree of press coverage. Should drones be licensed? Should people need to take a proficiency test to use them? All of this was covered on BBC Radio Suffolk this morning along with interviews with The Civil Aviation Authority and local pilots.

Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes and can range in price from £10 to literally thousands. Many of the more expensive semi professional drones have ‘Geo Fencing’ which stops the drones from flying in banned areas or ‘No Fly Zones’.

Of course it is possible to build your own drone. Kits are widely available and many people have built their own drones from scratch using light weight computers such as the Raspberry Pi. In this case, no licensing is going to stop the production of these kinds of drones and increasingly advanced techniques such as GPS ‘way point’ route planning means that the pilot does not need to be in radio contact during the flight and therefore distances of 7km possible before battery charging is necessary.

Currently in the UK, I can’t see how any ‘proficiency’ testing can be brought in being, it would be far too costly and reliant of the purchaser of the drone. Tracking the drones is equally difficult without elaborate (and expensive) tracking transmitter/receivers being added to the drone.

Consequently, it lays with the manufacturers of these devices to ensure that their equipment is safe, easy to use, legal and abides by any global no fly zones.

I will be reviewing the Parrot Bebop 2 camera drone very soon, so stay ‘tuned’.

 

The Gadget Man : Parrot Bebop 2 Drone with “Follow Me Bebop”

I‘ve finished testing the Parrot Bebop 2 camera drone. A fully review is coming up shortly. In the meantime here is a selection of footage I have taken over the last couple of weeks.

The Gadget Man Episode 87 – Self Driving Cars / Driverless Cars / Autonomous Vehicles

Self Driving Cars are never far from the news, and last week whilst taking a few days away in sunny West Sussex, I spoke to Mark about what the future holds for Self Driving Cars and Truck Platooning.

Tune in to the audio stream to find out what we had to say on the matter, and whether I think you would will have ‘had it’ if a fuse blows in your autonomous vehicle.

Below is a also a video where Google talk about their dreams of driverless cars and truck platooning technology.

 

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 86 – Tesla Model S P85D – Auto Pilot

The Gadget Man - Episode 86 - Tesla Model S P85D - Auto Pilot
The Gadget Man – Episode 86 – Tesla Model S P85D – Auto Pilot

I have been driving the latest Tesla Model S P85D over the past few days, specifically to experience software update 7.1 and the improvements to Autopilot functionality.

 

Tesla Model S P85D
Tesla Model S P85D

We discussed the technology behind Tesla Autopilot and also the future of autonomous and driverless cars.

 

You can listen to a recording of the stream and find out what we thought.

 

The Gadget Man – Tesla Model S P85D – Autopilot – Part 1 – Auto Park

I thought I would post a short video showing the Tesla Model S P85D performing an Auto Park manoeuvre. This will hopefully form a series of posts and videos detailing the new updates to the car which include ‘Autopilot’ which is basically an advanced cruise control system. In the meantime, enjoy…