Self-Driving Commentary: This and That

This post belongs to a series I’m calling Self-Driving Commentary, in which I spout and ramble on whatever is rattling around in my head pertaining to self-driving cars. Enjoy!

On this week’s episode of Autonocast, after a heated discussion about Tesla’s long-term viability as it shifts from the niche luxury space (at the top of the Alex Roy-coined Maslow’s Hierarchy of Transportation pyramid) toward the average consumer space closer to the pyramid center, host Damon Lavrinc announced his departure from the show. (Side note: It’s hilarious to hear them talk about Tesla’s bloated portion of press coverage relative to other automakers, and yet they’re contributing to it.) Say it ain’t so, Damon! He is reportedly taking a position at an automaker pursuing autonomy and felt that continuing to host Autonocast would be a conflict of interest and compromise the journalistic integrity of the show. Well, kudos to that, and congratulations to Damon on the new position. If his LinkedIn profile is to be believed, he is now Communications and Marketing Manager at NIO. Exciting!

Meanwhile, yes - I am still working on the Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree. I hope to have a blog post for the first of three projects for Term 3, Path Planning, ready for next Friday. I am now almost two weeks overdue, and the reason for that is what I’m here to talk about. Three days before the project was due Udacity released a Q&A and walkthrough. It turned out to be far simpler than I had expected, and incorporated very few of the techniques we had been introduced to throughout the lessons. At that point, I had already put in a lot of work implementing a more robust solution, so I continued with it… and continued with it. No joke - every day since the walkthrough was released I considered scrapping my solution in favor of implementing something simpler, and every time I’ve instead made progress and gotten so close (yeah, every time) that I’ve carried on with the slog. So today I’m throwing in the towel. I might have to come back to it someday, but I’ve gotten quite a bit out of my probably fifty-plus hours of working on it. Maybe that’s enough. It raises a good question, though. At what point does tenacity turn into stubbornness? I think I crossed that line long ago.