I had a very interesting and exciting exchange with a Tesla employee today. While waiting at a Supercharger, a Tesla pulls in with MFG plates. The individual who got out nodded to a group of us owners chatting, so I went over and said hello and asked if they works for Tesla per the MFG plates. Yes. I then asked if this car was being used to test anything (didn't see extra cameras or anything obvious). To my surprise, the answer was yes, testing Autopilot. A near 30 minute conversation followed, as the individual was much more open than I would have expected. I am being a bit vague in elements, in an attempt to protect this individual. Feel free to believe or not believe the following, I obviously have no proof (my wife would vouch for it, as she heard most of the exchange, for what that is worth lol). - This person stated they were quite high level within Tesla (my impression, based on the title they gave) - Autopilot is very close to ready - i did not press for more specifics. They were unaware of Elons comments about the 405 or whatever highway with faded white lines and light concrete. - To that end, there is consideration that the system may talk to the mothership to know areas where autopilot can't be relied upon, so the car will give the driver notice in advance - "you are approaching an area where autopilot cannot function reliably, prepare to take control" (my words based on this persons comments) - Having seen a situation where a 110km speed sign was read as 10k by the car, I mentioned this to this person. They were quite shocked this happened. They did confirm the intention is that the system will automatically adjust the speed of the car (as seen in the initial demonstration, and as an improvement to the current "set cruise to speed" function we have now). - I suggested/asked if the system had a threshold - don't adjust speed if delta is greater than x. That is not part of the system, but they were intrigued by the idea. - I asked if the car 'tells' tesla when a speed sign is 'ignored' by the driver, ie that the car detected it wrong. No such communication happens. - In stop and go traffic, the system is reliable enough that the driver could be distracted while driving and still be safe (not saying this is a good thing or the intention!). This individual gave examples of doing tasks very not related to driving, and having nothing untoward result. - There appears to be a bit of 'debate' within Tesla over how much the car should pester the driver to stay focused on driving. A 'new' feature just put into the software recently goes quite far towards pestering. This individual really disliked it, and was trying to get it reverted. It has to do with, and is in stark contrast to some statements Elon made a while back. I joked "the lawyers must be getting involved" and the response I got was a slight chuckle. We all will hope this individual gets this change reverted (but I am not so sure Tesla as a company will revert it) - I brought up Elon mentioning sensor suite 2. This person confirmed that more sensors are needed for autonomous driving. No surprise. Did not ask about the Model S seen with additional cameras. - Some discussion was had about laws - Tesla is keenly aware that autonomous features in cars are a grey area, that laws are typically not in place about them, and Tesla wants to implement it to be safe enough that laws don't need to get written, with the fear being that when government writes such laws, they will be too overboard on safety and will prevent features. - I mentioned having owned an Infiniti Q50 for a short time - "oh, the car that ping pongs between the lanes"... this person knew about the car. It was mentioned the team has a Merc S Class, and that is the benchmark they are trying to beat. There was confidence implied that they had beat the S Class in lane keeping. - No discussion about self parking - I mean, this person got out of the car and it parked itself next to the Supercharger, but I wasn't about to point out that we all saw that (just kidding) - This person mentioned it was much more relaxing driving in autopilot mode. Something said to the effect of 'if you are tired, you still are able to monitor the car just fine (autopilot on), whereas you might not be as able to drive the car safely (autopilot off)'. Again, I don't think this individual nor tesla (nor I) advocate driving a car with autopilot when you shouldn't be/when you wouldn't be able to safely drive a car without autopilot. - I asked if I could see v7 which was running in the car, after a quick 'thought' ('yes' was not immediate), I was let in the drivers seat - it was made VERY clear not to try to take any pictures. I was very surprised to be allowed to sit down. - The person did almost all of the interaction, except when I asked to press CONTROLS once (this was out of respect, but it seemed like this person would have been ok with me pressing buttons at will) - I didn't think to press the T to see version number - As talked about on here (TMC), it is the dark/flat look that was in the demo cars at the D launch. - I was a bit overwhelmed, and didn't take too many mental notes about the specific looks. Icons were less cartooney. - There is less contrast between the background and the text/icons - sun was shining brightly on the screen, and even the individual had trouble making out the bottom row of buttons (settings, temp, etc). - The layout exactly mimics what we have - everything is in same place on the 17" screen - There is a new icon indicating charge port is open - On a very quick pass through, the CONTROLS screen seemed to be the same. The individual jumped through some pages, I didn't notice anything, but certainly may have missed items. - It was implied that there were not any BIG new features - I did not see an APPS icon for instance - and it is still the same 2 open windows layout. This relates to my perception the person would have let me press buttons at will - in that there wasn't anything present they thought needed to be hidden. - The top icons (nav, music, etc) did not seem to be 'in a tray' as they are now (or so my memory recalls - again, didn't think to pay enough attention) - This individual stated being very bothered when various button presses would take time to activate - so the team spent considerable effort speeding response times up - but are limited by the hardware (I did not ask about model X having a faster processor) - This person never uses the web browser (who does LOL), so couldn't comment if it was much faster. When launched, it was set to go to youtube.com - but didn't load in a few seconds and we moved on. Typing this now, youtube is an odd site for it to automatically launch to, I wonder if they added in video playback? but again, the site didn't load, so that is just a guess on my part. - Car was running 3G - From what I read here, LTE hasn't really sped things up for owners, but this individual indicated it should, FWIW - Nothing obvious changed with backup camera. - Panning in Nav seemed smoother/quicker. - Did not see Music or Energy windows. - I did joke about there being a bunch of little features that likely were added, the person indicated indeed there are. - One such little feature, and one this person never even noticed before I pointed to it (in this persons defence, autopilot was their focus, not the V7 overhaul), was a LOCK icon at the very top left of the screen. It appeared to indicate if the doors are locked or not. This individual never actually noticed it there before. Did not test, but I suspect it may be a quick way to lock/unlock the doors - yay. - The instrument cluster follows the same dark/flat approach. - The energy graph and nav were on screen. As much as I said 'flat', these two were 'rounded', in the sense of round dials - the energy graph no longer is the rectangular design. - v7 UI Overhaul is very close, again except for the rounded energy graph (and I'm pretty sure Nav was rounded as well, but less certain) - As the car wasn't in motion/on (i didn't step on the brake), nothing of note was displayed in the center area. - It was mentioned that the center area got a large redesign. I honestly couldn't grasp/picture what was being explained to me - it sounded like the round dial interface was gone - which would seem to be represented in the above link/picture. - The center area is going to show the cars position in relation to the lane markings - It (or somewhere) will also indicate the position and distance of cars/objects around you - "very dynamic" were the words used. - It was mentioned that if you got too close to an object beside you, the car would move you away. I interpreted that as a means to prevent/reduce impact of side swiping. - I asked about working with Elon. This individual apparently works closely with Elon. Elon is is very demanding, but a good guy. Nothing surprising there! - Ludicrous mode came up. This person stated that after doing several launches, they felt sick - and such was not the case with Insane launches. It sounded pretty intense - but at the same time, this person stated that their opinion was it was not worth the $5000 it would cost to upgrade my P85D. My wife liked hearing that. I'll still likely try to get the upgrade regardless - Talked about what led to the titanium shield. It was stated at the time the cars ride height was super lower "basically scraping the pavement... similar or lower than ferarri/lambo". Implying our current low (air suspension) ride height is quite a bit higher. - An unlucky/lucky driver ran over something after getting the titanium shield installed. Tesla service brought the car in, the shield did exactly what it was supposed to and there was no damage to the battery pack - The titanium shield could need replacement if 'used' - if you run over something that it has to 'crush'. It was made to be very quick and easy to replace. - This person mentioned that in the 2 instances that resulted in fire (and let to titanium shield), if there wasn't a battery pack under the car (ie gas car) and if everything else was equal, the object would have went through and into the passenger compartment, possibly causing injury/accident. I think that is about it. There may be a tidbit here or there I forgot to mention. Given that this was very impromptu and that I was super excited to be talking to a Tesla person who was more than willing to answer questions, I'm sure there are questions I should have asked but did not. I tried not to be too bothersome, and I cut it off out of respect to this individual (and my wife, who wanted to get on with our vacation in Cali). Unrelated, but info gleaned from the factory tour: - It sounded like tours are handled by 3 people. As a small team, they simply can't handle public tours yet. My wife asked about school tours (being a teacher) - that is in the works, it sounds like some additional staffing is planned, and early next year they want to open it up to public (and school) tours - The TMC banner that resulted from the pizza drive is in the main employee entrance. Staff had no idea where it was or what I was talking about, but kindly took us there on a whim and it was the right location. These 2 staff walk by it occasionally but just never notice it. Pictures were allowed, but only of the sign. - Our tour guide was 11am Friday, same time as the announcement. At the beginning of our tour, someone asked our guide what the announcement would be, the guide said they didn't know. I thought he might be faking it. After the tour, when we could use our cell phones again and it was determined it was ludicrous mode and larger battery, that same individual seemed VERY surprised/interested, so I believe he knew nothing (which makes sense, given his role is to talk to the public LOL). Another employee, slightly more senior, admitted he was briefed on some of the announcement, but with minimal detail (of course, he could just be saying minimal detail, I have no idea) - I feel sorry for Tesla staff at the time of big announcements - people were there picking up their cars after the tour and after the news broke, and people seemed disappointed that their new car wasn't the latest/greatest anymore. - Out of respect for NDA, won't say much about the tour itself. It wasn't as great as I anticipated it being (expectations maybe too high) - but it was good of course. We had a very pleasant surprise Tesla let a 'skeleton' out of the closet so to speak - and this 'skeleton' had LOTS of signs demanding no photos. Was the highlight of the tour. The "bones" of this "skeleton" were also visible at times through the tour - if you made a point to look for them. - Model X and Model 3 were mentioned numerous times - although not much was said about the model 3... - 200 cars a day/1000 a week are being made currently we were told.