Self-Driving: The New Joys Of

The Important

4Q19, bohcay will launch the Self-Driving Network Infrastructure subscription research service and consulting practice. I don’t know who was the first person in the industry to draw the analogy between self-driving cars and self-driving networks, I, previously being a Juniper Networks employee, heard it first from Kireeti Kompella.

Having just updated to a new car for the first time in 10 years, I am being dazzled with some of the new tech. I have a feeling, the self-driving car experience, and steps in-between, are going to become so commonplace, that the analogies between self-driving cars and self-driving networks will be flowing freely over the next few years. Self-driving cars will certainly stimulate thought about what experiences self-driving networks can provide. Bottom line, self-driving networks are going to be really cool: intelligent, efficient, fun, and with capabilities that will exceed today’s networks. This aspect of networking will reinvigorate the conversation about, and experience of, network infrastructure.

Discussion

Recently I had an enormous amount of fun driving a manual transmission Ford Mustang. Would be great to have one of those in my “stable” someday. The acceleration, hand-foot coordination when leveraging gear changes, and iconic driving experience, is something I definitely had not been getting from my mid-sized luxury sedan over the last decade. I felt like I was 17 again!

I’m not going to get that experience from my new Electric Vehicle (EV) either. Sure, I can play with the regen paddles a little, pretending they are some kind of gear change, all the while pursuing the fabled one peddle driving experience in this new world. EVs are such fast, smooth accelerating, and fun cars to drive, it’s a pity they don’t come with the same experience you get from driving a “stick”. It is the nature of the technology, I guess 🙁

However, there are other joys I am finding. Stop and Go cruise control, “magnetic pull”, distance adjustment, CarPlay, four drive modes with customizable settings for equipment operation, great acceleration from almost any speed, and so on.

Both gas-powered cars and EVs now come with an array of tech that is not self-driving, but on a large freeway, during the daily commute, has an experience that can feel that way. I remember the first time I used cruise control on my new EV, and the steering wheel started moving by itself. It was a little creepy at first, but now it is cool. Well as cool as it can be when an alert is going off to tell you to keep you hands on the steering wheel.  Stop and go cruise control combined with lane assist features, keep you in a lane, for long periods of time, and at a constant distance from the car in front of you when you are on major highways. Off major highways, your results may vary, depending on the car and the color/type of road markings.

The constant distance is selectable in my car from one of four lengths. I like to set the distance close when the traffic is moving slowly, and set the distance longer when the traffic is moving at high speed. Sure, one day, we might imagine an AI engine making such changes itself, but for now, this kind of customization combined with automation allows you to have a little fun, while still getting the benefit of automation. Even with my hand on the steering wheel, having the car make most of the steering, accelerating, and breaking decisions, is probably more efficient than me doing it. My favorite is when you have a car very close in front of you, moving slowly, and then it moves into the lane next to you, leaving a large distance of unopen road ahead of you, and your car automatically responds by accerlating, probably faster than I would respond myself. Love it when that happens.

I had an experience just today which I call “magnetic pull”. I was behind a car traveling at a constant speed, up a hill, a short distance in front of me. Visually it felt like the car in front of me was pulling my car up the hill with a magnetic, or something like that. I promise I was sober, and even though in California, I was not eating any special brownies. It was just one of those visual sensations that was neat.

Lastly for this blog, the four drive modes have been fun too. So far I have used sport (way cool – stiffens the steering, adjusts the regen, provides a little more pep), eco mode, and eco+ mode. So far I haven’t used “normal” mode, not sure why. I love how you have a little control over what electronics are shutdown in certain modes. That combination of intent, for example economy, combined with system customization, appeals to me. Of course, with any system, you expect intelligent defaults based on experience, and increasingly, based on machine learning / analytics and artificial intelligence.

For countries like China, where many people have not previously owned a car, the transition to a new world of driving experiences is going to be more rapid than in countries like America, where it will take some time to refresh the current cars in operation (in addition to getting SUVs and pickup trucks over to this new world). Nonetheless, just as the engines in cars today are totally different than they were when I was growing up, a new generation of engine technology and driver experiences is coming to all. As that now cliched saying goes, the future is here, it is just not evenly distributed.

Whether it is the $6,000 self-driving package you pay for on a Tesla 3, or less-capable driving assist packages from other manufacturers, driving as we know it is changing. At first the change was slow, but I suspect it is about to accelerate – all puns intended. I suspect great new driving experiences will become commonplace over the next few years. I suspect great new network operations experiences will as well, and that is why bohcay will launch the Self-Driving Network Infrastructure practice in 4Q19.

 

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