Robert Scoble and Gail Alfar in Austin, Texas

Tesla FSD beta V11 Around Austin with Robert Scoble

Robert Scoble and Gail Alfar in Austin, Texas
Robert Scoble and Gail Alfar in Austin, Texas

Robert Scoble has been described as a “one-man media empire for all things cutting-edge consumer tech, especially AI and AR, and one of the most decent and interesting people to come across and a great friend to the AI Art community.”  

When I heard Robert was coming to Austin to meet with some of the leading young minds in Artificial Intelligence to hash through the rapid advances in AI, I thought I’d invite him onto my Podcast.  When I explained to Robert that my podcast would be about a 10-minute drive where I’d pick him up & bring him back and that we’d discuss FSD beta V11 he was quick to confirm. 

We had a great time and the result is two special Podcasts to share with you!

A Ten-Minute Ride Around West Campus on FSD Beta V11

Here’s some of the conversation from Gail’s Tesla Podcast #9 with Robert Scoble,

Robert: I love that you picked me up so I could see the latest version! I like the visualization on the screen, it’s more clear what it’s going to do and where it’s going to go and how it sees the world and what are the risks around you.  It’s smoother and more fluid going through alleyways like we did at the beginning of the ride. It’s cool!

The road is random, or rather, the road is there but things happen on the road that are random like people in the middle of the road will stop you.

As we move through West Campus the Model Y encounters buses pulled over, people walking in the street, a bicyclist, and some miniature roundabouts.  In every instance, the Tesla made perfect maneuvers in traffic and through roundabouts. 

Robert Scoble’s Thoughts on Tesla Autonomy

I asked Robert what he thinks is interesting about the development of Tesla’s autonomous software and what stands out to him. 

R: To me, it’s science fiction!  I had a famous blog back in the 2000s where a lot of companies and a lot of technologies launched on my blog.  I wrote about Silicon Valley innovation.

GailWas it called the Scobleizer?

R: Yes!  And so I saw the first Stanford autonomous car at Sanford University which won the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) grand challenge and became the Google car.  They bought the Stanford team, which became Waymo company, a competitor to this, but when I first saw it I thought it would never happen in my lifetime. 

I thought it was too much science fiction.  I thought the problems were too hard.  I mean, back then an autonomous car couldn’t even drive on a road in the desert with no people around or bicycles.  So, to watch this work, it’s like science fiction, right?  It’s like wow, this is the future, that I’ve been talking about for a long time!

I explained to Robert how I notice this same excitement in the Tesla community, where people are so excited over Tesla’s autonomous driving.  There’s a moment when the light bulb turns on and you realize, this is so much more than simple lane assist.  

RNo, it’s not lane assist, it’s full-on! It’s driving and not making mistakes.  I mean it makes a few mistakes here and there but it’s pretty good!  And it’s not about how many mistakes it makes right now, you have to watch it work.  It’s still not accurate enough to let it drive and (let the driver) go to sleep or not be involved at all or not have the driver be in the car at all or have your car go pick up some laundry or something like that.  

GUnless it’s a tried and true road that you’ve done multiple times?

RNo, the AI will get there but it will get there at a series of steps so it will just keep getting better every update and you have to watch how fast it’s getting better to know when it’s going to be perfect enough not to have a human involved, right?  But you can see, it’s a lot closer than it was yesterday!  

FSD Beta Begins Understanding Human Intentionality

Robert and I encountered a construction zone where the Tesla AI read a STOP and SLOW sign and obeyed when a worker waved the car ahead.  The camera was not on to record this stunning event, so we talk a little about it. Robert explained this, saying how the AI is “understanding human intentionality by reading the gestures that a human has on the road, saying ‘hey – go through this intersection.” 

I agree with Robert that V11 is more human-like and feels more flowy through an alley or around a lot of turns.  “It’s more competent, more flowy.  That’s the best way I can put it. But that’s not even the point.  The point is, it’s here and maybe it’s not good enough to go to sleep yet on it but it does help people a lot and it’s really amazing.  It’s the ‘how fast from here will it improve.’  My car is 5 years old already and it does this.   In 5 more years, what is it going to do?  It’s going to be perfect.”  

While interviewing Robert during the Podcast in my Model Y the vehicle made a stunning move around a bus.

A Complex Maneuver

On our drive, we passed a city bus that was stopped at a bus stop and the Model Y gently eased over the double yellow lines to follow the flow of traffic safely around the bus. Robert noted, “The bus was a fraction of a lane in our lane (it stopped on the right side), that was a complex maneuver because it had to decide whether to go across a double yellow line or not, which could have horrible consequences (if it does it wrong), and then flow back into the full lane after it got by the bus.  Just like a human being would do. It’s cool, it’s amazing!

What powers this amazing technology is complex but simple!

Tesla’s Small but Powerful Silicon Chip 

If you think about it, there’s a little piece of sand driving us around right now.  Isn’t it crazy that a little piece of melted sand is driving us around right now?” Robert explained that the Tesla has two chips the size of a thumbnail in the Tesla. I’ll save this discussion for another blog post and it is incredible that such a tiny piece of technology can operate with such precision in complicated city like Austin!

Tesla Full Self Driving Silicon Chip
Tesla Full Self-Driving Silicon Chip

About Gail’s Tesla Podcast

For those wondering, I do short interviews with people who are interested in Tesla’s technological advances and their effect on humanity. For now, I do all podcasts from within my vehicle while using FSD beta. My Podcasts are designed to be Twitter-only to support Twitter and produce content that is only on Twitter. You may watch the Podcast here, enjoy!

Bluebonnets under the Milky Way over the Texas Hill Country courtesy Shane Ware.
Bluebonnets under the Milky Way over the Texas Hill Country courtesy Shane Ware.

Gail Alfar, author. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – April 2, 2023. All Rights Reserved. My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization.


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