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8:19pm on Wednesday, 11th November, 2015:



I went to Leamington Spa today to visit Radiant Worlds, who make SkySaga, and have a joint interview with them for the Develop web site.

Never mind that — I got my first ride in a driverless car! Andrew Oliver, one of the brothers who heads up Radiant Worlds, has a Tesla and it recently got a software update that allows it to drive without a driver. Apparently, the EU regards the legality of hands-free driving as the purview of nation states, and the UK hasn't got around to banning it yet.

It worked well. I've been in a car before where the driver took his hands off the wheel and gesticulated while talking, but that was an Italian taxi in which accident-avoidance was entirely down to a system known as "complete luck". With the Tesla, the car was supposed to be driven hands-free. It was basically the same as cruise control, except it did steering, too. I was quite impressed.

Two other things impressed me. One was the acceleration, which was excellent — on a par with the Ford XR2 we had in the 1980s (so, like the acceleration on a roller-coaster). The top-of-the-range model can go from 0 to 60mph in 2.8 seconds. That's the kind of acceleration where you want a camera to take a photo of the passenger's face to show the face-flapping like you get on those 1960s astronaut training videos testing the effects of high G on the human body.

The other thing that impressed me was the complete disregard the suspension had for speed bumps. We drove directly over several of them in quick succession and it was as if they weren't there. This was probably the feature that made the biggest impact on me, and not only because I have to drive over what's effectively a speed dip on my way to work every day.

I'm sold on electric cars, anyway. I'd be even more sold if I could affort to buy one (they're around £50,000 each).

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Copyright © 2015 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).