January 28, 2023


Born to perform

Tampa Briefly Shut Down a Highway for Tesla Video Shoot

3 min read

Film Tampa Bay via Twitter

  • If you want to present the future of autonomous driving, you need to film it today.
  • Even though these Tesla Model 3 EVs were not actually driving fully autonomously, they were using Autosteer and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control.
  • Nine local Tesla owners volunteered their time to be a part of the video, which might come out in time for next year’s Super Bowl.

    Tesla drivers united in Tampa, Florida, earlier this month for a film shoot showing off the self-driving features of the Model 3 for an upcoming documentary on the future of transportation. Enthusiasm reigned, if social media posts about the experience are to be believed such as the images below, shared on Reddit.

    The shoot shut down about five and a half miles of the upper deck of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway near downtown Tampa during lunch hour on a Tuesday, following a call from local video production company Diamond View for local Tesla owners to join the fun. Local Tesla enthusiast Peter Bernard volunteered his time and later told Car and Driver that the organizers originally wanted only black Model 3s, but ended up happy to use his blue one. Overall, nine Model 3s participated, which gave the crew a convenient three-by-three fleet to film.


    blainestang via Reddit

    The drivers were asked to wear black clothes to the event and then to keep their hands low on the steering wheel as Steadicam operators, a camera truck, and drone cameras filmed the electric vehicles driving back and forth about eight times. Bernard said he did not know the other drivers and was told during the shoot that the footage would be used in an upcoming autonomous-driving segment for a documentary with the working title Building Tampa in time for next year’s Super Bowl, which will be played in Tampa.

    Tim Moore, CEO of Diamond View, told C/D that the documentary includes a section about the future of transportation. One of the experts they interviewed, he said, talked about the efficiency of autonomous vehicles and claimed that in the future, you could have fully autonomous cars that take up two lanes on the highway and they would be more efficient than three-lane highways are today.


    blainestang via Reddit

    “We kind of took that example to real life with some of the Model 3 Teslas and looked at what the modeling would show us if we had a fully autonomous highway,” Moore said. “The Model 3s that we brought out there all had the Autopilot feature on them. We did want to see a little bit of that functionality, like car spacing and how that would affect the efficiency.”

    Using Tesla’s terminology, what Moore is talking about are Autosteer and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control. Moore said that these technologies can help reduce congestion even today.

    “One of the big things that we learned,” he said, “if you look at traffic congestion today, a lot of it is because of user error, so when people are driving down the interstate, rubbernecking is a big issue. If someone gets in a fender bender, the whole interstate backs up because people are looking at it. Well, autonomous cars, because they’re computers, never look at accidents. They just keep driving.”

    Using shots of the real Model 3s, Diamond View is going to use digital effects to duplicate them in the video to show models of what a huge fleet of them would act like.

    “We have the nine, but we are really trying to see if you had 900,” he said.

    It wasn’t all electric vehicles and autonomy during the shoot. A more human-driven car was also filmed while the expressway was shut down.

    “One of the thing we modeled, was if you have a fully autonomous system, and a manual car goes into the mix, how does that dynamic affect things,” he said. “As you can imagine, not everyone is going to transition to autonomous at the same time and so do you have hybrid systems, do you have autonomous-only expressways?”

    And who are we to judge if that car happened to be a Lamborghini Huracán?

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