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Perdido Key Tesla
By John Mullen
Sept. 15 2017 – Perdido Key, FL (PKF) – With all of the stories about electric self-driving cars delivering pizza from Dominos and people from Uber and Lyft, we wanted to focus on where the technology is currently.
 
Electric cars are the future, but there are more of them than we realize already on the roads, including Perdido Key resident Bill Eshelman's 2016 Tesla Model S 90d. Eshelman is completely fascinated by the technology in his Tesla.
 
That fascination was fomented as he read about the feats of engineer Elon Musk who has pioneered a multitude of advances in rockets, solar power, and now, electric cars.
 
“He started this electric car company that I just marveled in,” Eshelman, a Perdido Key resident, said. “I thought ‘I’d like to try one of these cars.’ The technology on them is way, way out there and I wanted to be a part of it.”
And while he can’t say he has an autonomous self-driving car, he can say he has one that is capable of driving itself.
 
“I can sit up here in my condo and summon the car to back out of its parking space,” Eshelman said. “For safety reasons, though, you’ve got to watch out because the car doesn’t make any noise.”
 
While his fully electric car has the hardware to perform the solo feat, Tesla is still perfecting the software and government rules haven’t evolved enough to allow that to happen yet.
 
“You’ve got a lot of safety regulations with the states and each one of those has to be worked out before you can turn one of these cars loose, completely autonomous,” Eshelman said. “It’s all done in stages. The hardware is on there for it to go fully autonomous, but it won't be turned on until the states approve it.”
 
That doesn’t mean this amazing, technologically advanced car – he nicknamed his Magic – can’t go on auto pilot and take over in traffic or on interstates. The car’s cameras and sensors take pictures and follow the lines of the road and sense the vehicles around it.
 
“The first time I went to Colorado in the Tesla it started to take the exit off the interstate and I had to pull it back,” he said. “It started to follow the line down the ramp, but as soon as I grabbed the wheel, the auto pilot turned off."
 
A fix for that was quick in coming. Tesla has its own Wi-Fi and like your computer, Tesla makes software upgrades via Wi-Fi several times a year.
 
“I don’t have to worry about the exit turn anymore,” Eshelman said. “New software gives more priority to the center line vs. exit line, and to following a car in front, which seems to work for me. Tesla is always tweaking the software to make it better. It’s the safest car I’ve ever driven.
 
“I can put it on auto pilot, sit back, and as long as it senses my hand on the steering wheel, the car will stay between the lines, maintain a preset speed, and approach a car in front no closer than a preset distance. If the speed limit changes - it can read the signs and adjust accordingly. This works great on the interstates, but is not quite ready for prime time on city streets until the software can recognize stop signs and stop lights."
 
His long interstate trips to visit family in Virginia and Colorado have become a breeze. As long as he is touching the wheel, the Tesla is the driver. It can even change lanes with a touch of the turn signal. The sensors will check for any traffic and then clear the car to change lanes.
 
“If the car senses that I'm not touching the steering wheel, in about a minute for safety reasons, it will start telling me to hold on to the steering wheel,” Eshelman said. “If I don’t hold the wheel, the car will slow down, look to see if it can safely pull over to the side, and then pull over and stop. It won’t start again until you grab the wheel and start it up again.”
 
Tesla offers different battery options giving different mileage ranges on a full charge. Eshelman's 90d has a range of about 290 miles. Charging the battery is free at Tesla chargers, but he can also charge at any 110 or 220 outlet. Tesla superchargers are positioned about 150-200 miles apart along most of the country’s interstates and can charge at the rate of almost 300 miles in an hour. A 220-amp connection, like for a household dryer, gets you 25-30 miles of drive time in an hour, and a home 110-amp gives you only about four miles per hour.
 
Eshelman figures that when he charges at home if he paid for a 234-mile charge at his household rate, it would cost $9.40. That’s roughly four cents a mile. “I haven’t been to a gas station in two years,” he said with a grin.
 
That doesn’t mean he can’t give it the gas, in a manner of speaking. His Tesla will go from 0-60 in about four seconds. The performance model can do it in under three.
 
His model cost in the $100,000 range – a base of about $75,000 with extra options added “You order the car off the internet and I waited three or four months while they built and customized it for me,” Eshelman said. “Since there are no Tesla dealers in Florida or Alabama, they deliver the car right to your driveway.”
 
The closest service centers are in Jacksonville, Nashville or Dallas. But that wasn’t a problem for Eshelman, either. “They drove over from Jacksonville and did my annual check up right here in the drive for me,” he said.
 
According to the company website, the Tesla company is also making an SUV, the Model X, and a new smaller sedan, the Model 3, that will cost around $35,000. Orders are being taken already with delivery expected in 12 to 18 months, according to www.tesla.com
 
“About the end of this year or next year they’ll start delivering them to some folks,” Eshelman said. “I read when they first announced it, they had over 300,000 orders. They still have to start delivering them and start mass production.”