Other automotive blogs I have started …

I have not posted much over the recent months as I have been deepening my knowledge on electrical vehicles, both for my work as well as for replacing my private car. For this last purpose it has resulted in the purchase of a Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD, and in order to share my experiences I have started first a Dutch blog called Tesla Model 3 Ervaringen & Weetjes and I am in process to put the same up in English to cover Europe of which the blogs name is Tesla Model 3 Experiences & Good to Know.

So in case you have an interest in a Tesla Model 3 and want to capture some knowledge and experiences, then check these sites out. When you are going to purchase a Tesla you can consider to use my referral code/link https://ts.la/frank41619. This will give both of us the benefit being getting 1500 km of free Tesla Supercharging, which is a nice gift for starting your Tesla time.

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Garmin City Navigator Europe 2019.30 NTU available

Garmin_West-Europe_overviewGarmin has released at the beginning of this new year a map update for Europe with version number 2019.30 for the devices supporting the NTU maps which are the zumo 340, 345, 350, 390, 395, 590 and 595. For the zumo series supporting the NT maps, which are the older series, Garmin releases new maps in a lower frequency and 2019.20 NT is the last update which came available October 2018.

So first update Garmin Express to the latest version, and then connect your compatible Garming zumo for updating the maps.

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Garmin City Navigator Europe 2019.20 NT available

I just checked whether there is an updated map for my Garmin zumo 660. And there is … apparantly Garmin had issued version 2019.20 in October of 2018. Version 2019.20 is now the latest version of the so called NT series of maps and are foreseen for the older zumo series. For the newer zumo series there is the NTU serie of maps.

So fire up Garmin Express on your computer, connect your Garmin, and update.

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Does Tesla Autopilot Detect Lane Splitting Motorcycles?

Within the motorcycling community there are serious concerns on autonomous vehicles and their ability to properly detect motorcycles. As I have a vast interest in EV (Electrical Vehicles) and autonomous driving, I am following a great number of sites and YouTube channels. I came across YouTube channel of Scott Kubo who has posted a number of video’s on day-to-day use of Tesla’s Autopilot in his Model 3, and one of them touched the subject of Autopilot 2 detecting motorcycles performing Lane Splitting. I found it interesting to share: you can find it at the end of this blog post.

His experiences are fully inline with my vision on the subject, being that Tesla’s Autopilot 2 is a great system but it is not a safety feature you can rely on blindly. It does a great job, but the AI (Artificial Intelligence) is not on par of what is required to rely on level 5 autonomous driving (no human interaction needed, and driving more safely than human can). An example is the movement of a biker (not to mistaken by motorbikers) on the road at big junctions, where humans understand that vast majority of bikers will make way for a car behind them but the biker will come back onto the driving lane when having crossed the big junction and the right lane is full with parked cars … Autopilot 2’s AI will not act like a human driver anticipating this movement, so will start acceleration and might hit the biker! Also the hardware is not yet on the performance level needed: when doing the math each camera is able to be processed 25 frames per second which is impressive but too low for fast moving objects. The processing power should vastly improve with the upcoming Autopilot 3 hardware (about 10x the current processing power), and would be upgradeable in vehicles having Autopilot 2.

Coming back to the subject of Tesla’s ability of detecting Lane Splitting motorcycles. The situations that Scott Kubo shows in the video below does prove that there is some capability of detecting it or via Autopilot’s cameras and/or Autopilot’s ultrasonic sensors but it it not a 100% hit. Plus Autopilot 2 does not yet support to make way for Lane Splitting motorcycles, so he intervenes manually by deactivating Autopilot, make way, and then resume Autopilot.

I think it is good to continue to keep a good eye on developments in the area of autonomous driving and autonomous driving systems. It will somewhere in the future get there, but there is still a long way to go. Till that time, motorcyclists need to continue to having a defensive mindset while driving!

On the topic of Lane Splitting and what you see in the video below, I must admit that I was somewhat amazed by the difference in speeds that some Lane Splitting motorcyclists in California (where this video was made) have versus the cars/trucks driving on the road. I am way more cautious when doing this, and when traffic is above 30 – 40 km/h (that is 20 – 25 mph) I stop doing Lane Splitting (which is allowed in the Netherlands) and the speed differences I have to standing still cars / trucks will be way, way lower. It might be a cultural difference as in the US the habit is of “keeping your lane” whereas here in the Netherlands a lot of cars like to change lanes to the one driving the fastest.


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Experience with my TomTom VIO

I am having my TomTom VIO now for 1 year and 10 months and noticed that I had not yet blogged about my experience with it. So here you go.

The TomTom VIO is not a typical navigation system: the navigation software is running on your smartphone which is connected to the VIO via Bluetooth. The only thing the VIO is doing is showing the map and directions on its screen, provide some rudiment user interface possibilities, and it hosts a GPS to assist your smartphone in the navigation work (especially when the smartphone is securely stored in a location shielded from GPS signals). It is targeted for scooters, so in the box you will find a mount which is enabling you to have your VIO on your mirror.

Assembling the VIO mount to the mirror is simple. And then mounting the VIO onto the mount is even simpler: put the VIO to the mount, turn it 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise and your done. The mounting is rigid enough, so I had so far no separation of both during a drive.

Most interaction with the system is taking place via your smartphone. Roughly every 4-6 months a map update becomes available, and maps are stored on you smartphone … so when connected to WiFi you simply let it download the new map, so also extremely simple.

Voice directions are available when you have your smartphone paired to a Bluetooth set in your helmet. I did noticed that when you have a lot of Bluetooth connections on your smartphone, then the Bluetooth connections sometimes disconnects. I had that on my iPhone 6S being paired simultaneously to TomTom VIO, Apple Watch, and Schuberth helmet. With my iPhone 8 I did not notice this issue so far so it might also be an issue with the 6S (underpowered?).

In use the TomTom VIO is useful for navigating from A to B. There is no option to load a route, except when using via-points. On a full charge it is possible to use it for approximately 4 hours. Charging it takes some time, so when you would be able to charge a little during a break then do in order to extend your usage time. The mount is rigid, so I have not experienced any separations of unit from its mount. The screen is good readable in sunlight, and the software does its work well.

Is the VIO worth the investment? In my view YES when you need a very simple navigation system taking you from A to B without a huge investment. You need to have 2 devices cooperate to get the job done: smartphone + paired TomTom VIO. So having the ability to charge your smartphone during operation is an advantage, and on my Vespa there is a USB port available in the glove compartment.

I am not using the VIO extensively, but that is not due to its functionality but rather my using pattern of my Vespa versus my BMW touring machine. The VIO has some power drain when it is lying around and that is the only disadvantage I see: when not having used the VIO for a month or so, then it has lost some battery power reducing the navigation time you then have. Recharging it before use solves this, but some trips are not planned so this is a little disadvantage I see.

And, you can order the VIO to match your taste by swappable rubber housing … see picture below.

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Claim your space on the road

Autopilot_recognizing_motorcycleMore and more technology becomes available in vehicles on our roads. The Dutch RDW, which is among others responsible for the type and roadworthiness approvals of vehicles on public roads, has investigated how well motorcycles are recognized by adaptive cruise control systems currently available on cars. The tests showed that not all systems recognize motorcycles driving close to the edge of the lane. This is not unknown at vehicle OEMs and the limitations of their adaptive cruise control systems are described in the owner manuals of cars and trucks. But you can also add to the visibility by claiming your space on the road around the center of the  lane you are driving!

With more automation entering vehicles, even to the level of full autonomous driving, we motorcyclists need to also understand and anticipate weaknesses of these systems in order to stay save.

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Garmin City Navigator Europe 2018.2 NT available

I just noticed that I had forgotten to post that an update of Garmin City Navigator Europe 2018.2 NT is available since mid of November 2017. This update is only for the devices supporting the NT maps which are the zumo 220/450/550/660/665.

So fire up Garmin Express on your computer with your Garmin attached via USB, and let it do its magic to update your Zumo. On my iMac with the latest version of Garmin Express all went flawless.

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