It looks like there is a lot of action going on at Tesla‘s giant Gigafactory.
The factory, which is located in Sparks, Nevada, is where Tesla is producing the battery cells for its electric cars and drivetrains for its Model 3, the company’s first mass-market electric car.
Tesla aims to ramp up production of its Model 3 to some 20,000 units per month by December and some 10,000 units per week in 2018, CEO Elon Musk has said.
But in order for the company to meet these lofty goals, it must also ramp up battery cell production.
That’s where the Gigafactory comes in.
New drone footage posted by YouTube user California Phantom last Thursday captures the factory’s massive size, but it also appears to show a lot of work happening at the factory. Scroll down for a closer look:
Tesla’s Gigafactory is located on a 3,000-acre lot of land in Sparks, Nevada.
And as you can see, the company needs that land not only for its giant factory, but also for parking so that it can accommodate its growing number of employees.
Construction at the factory has come a long way in just a few months. This shot of the factory’s roof was taken in December.
It doesn’t look like there’s been much more expansion of the main building externally since December, but the footage does appear to show a much busier atmosphere, suggesting there’s some expansion going on inside.
The Gigafactory will be more than five million square feet (including several floors) once it’s completed, and it will be capable of producing more battery cells than any other lithium ion battery factory in the world, Musk has said.
Check out more footage of the factory in the video below:
This past April, German company Lilium Aviation enjoyed a successful flight test of its full-scale prototype flying car. Now, the company behind this vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft has made more significant progress in building the business as this technology develops. Specifically, Lilium has hired two new executives who will focus on scaling the business as it advances successful commercial applications for its VTOL planes and on-demand air taxis.
Executive Remo Gerber will serve as Lilium’s chief commercial officer. Gerber has experience both in physics and managing a ride-hail business. It is this latter experience that he might be calling on more in his new role, as he will be instrumental to the success of Lilium’s long-term plan to become the flying version of Uber by creating an on-demand network of VTOL jets. The jets would take off and land from pads throughout cities where passengers could hail rides. In true startup style, Gerber will also be wearing the CFO/COO hat and managing finances and investor relations. Gerber told Recode that Lilium is “laser focused” on bringing its VTOL jets to market and the business is already starting to collaborate with regulators and commercial partners.
Ready To Transform Transportation
Lilium may not be the only company on the market with a dream of making this kind flying car service a reality. It is competing against the likes of Larry Page-backed Kitty Hawk and Uber. However, Lilium has the distinct advantage of a proven business concept and $11.4 million raised in venture capital.
Lilium plans to manufacture its aircraft in-house, which brings us to the other new executive: Dirk Gebser, who will serve as VP of production. Previously, Gebser served as VP of assembly at Airbus for two models and was also the director of manufacturing engineering at Rolls-Royce. At Lilium, Gebser will be lending his experience to the company as it strives to meet its 2019 deadline for launching its first crewed flight. Meanwhile, Uber hopes to demonstrate the abilities of its flying cars in Texas and Dubai by 2020. As more and more new modes of transportation come to market, we can expect to see a lot of progress in the field of flying cars.
With vehicular deaths in the United States spiking – new data shows a 14 percent rise over the past two years, the first such rise in 50 years – the search for solutions is urgent. Crashes on American roads claim 1,000 lives every nine days.
In a recent article in The New York Times, “A Public-Health Crisis That We Can Fix” (7 March 2017), the writer, David Leonhardt, argued persuasively that distracted driving due to smartphone use is the leading cause of this spike.
Leonhardt suggested that if automation has brought U.S. airline deaths to virtually zero, why not apply it to create driverless cars?
Setting aside for the moment the irony of using wireless communications to prevent deaths ostensibly due to wireless communications, let’s examine the proposition. Certainly, driverless cars have been receiving significant attention due to their promise of increased safety and, tragically, because last year an engineer in a trial run lost his life in a driverless vehicle crash.
How far apart are the promise and the current development of driverless cars? As an engineer working on future wireless communications technologies, I can provide perspective on the challenges in technology, policy and standards that lie between the promise and performance of driverless vehicles.
Cars, Electrification, and Communication
The electrification of vehicles already allows a vehicle to closely monitor its own performance and the condition of its components, increasing safety by notifying the driver of trouble or impending trouble. “Connected” vehicles are in touch with cellular networks, the cloud and/or cloud-based service offerings, including diagnostics, maps, infotainment and roadside assistance, to name a few.
Then there is the “driverless” vehicle. These are still on the drawing board and in occasional trials on public roadways, at least in the U.S. and the UK. Roughly two schools of thought guide their development. One has the driverless vehicle depending on sensors along its route. The other, truly “autonomous” option describes a vehicle equipped with enough artificial intelligence (AI) to sense its surroundings, communicate with other vehicles in its vicinity for collision avoidance and make independent decisions on its navigation. The possibility of a hybrid of these two approaches remains in play.
Situational Awareness Needed
We know that one famous automaker is exploring the combined use of radar and a computer-based vision system for the situational awareness needed to pilot an autonomous vehicle. Another company, famous for its algorithms, is basing its navigational and decision-making system on Lidar (light detection and ranging), which involves a car-top unit that develops a precise map of its surroundings as it progresses down the road.
Though onboard technology for autonomy is also required, such a vehicle will likely communicate with similar vehicles in its vicinity to inform and expand its situational awareness. Whichever technology is used to provide situational awareness, some form of AI is needed to process and act on the incoming data to make driver-like decisions.
Clearly, there is little if any room for error in such a system. And just as technology options exist for situational awareness, options exist for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and, ultimately, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications.
Thus a key question remains: how can we develop wireless connections between autonomous vehicles that are so reliable we’ll stake our lives on it?
5G and Wi-Fi
With connectivity as the new goal to make driverless, autonomous vehicles a reality, what exact technology or technologies will deliver it? And what information would be shared between vehicles? These remain open questions, but let’s look at two leading candidates: 5G and dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) that depends on a variant of Wi-Fi known as IEEE 802.11p™ may well provide the wireless communication protocol(s). One requirement, apart from reliability, will be low latency. Information between multiple, perhaps hundreds of moving vehicles, must get information from A to B with super-low latency, say, 1-2 milliseconds. Another consideration is whether the radio spectrum is available and possesses sufficient bandwidth to carry these bursts of data at speed and scale.
5G is in its infancy, but its many expected innovations over what’s available today will include extremely high data speeds, significantly lower latency and increased network flexibility that may go a long way to solving some – though perhaps not all – of the challenges inherent in autonomous vehicles, including V2V communication. I’m personally skeptical that 5G in its cellular configuration – that is, vehicle-to-cell-tower-to-vehicle – will provide the super-low latency needed to avoid collisions, but 5G capabilities may work for relatively short-range V2V. 5G’s performance may be impacted by having many vehicles in dense traffic attempting to communicate simultaneously – precisely when safety measures are most needed. 5G’s journey to fruition will have to include favorable public policy and standards to support it.
In contrast, the IEEE 802.11p™ standard has been ratified and commercial off-the-shelf products are available. The main technological difference between 5G and IEEE 802.11p is that the latter relies on what we call a “contention base.” It’s akin to Wi-Fi performance. Anyone can log on, but the data speeds aren’t extremely fast. Both technologies have their supporters. It is conceivable that a hybrid approach could use the best of both methods for V2V connectivity.
Searching for Spectrum
Though the communications technologies for data exchanges between vehicles is currently in flux, one constant is the need to transmit that data over the airwaves, so sufficient spectrum is a must. Since 1999, the Federal Communications Commission has allocated 75 MHz of wireless bandwidth around 5.9 GHz for vehicular communication in the U.S. Due to underuse by the automotive industry up until now, this bandwidth is under pressure for use by other industries, even though we’re now seeing how it should be used by driverless vehicles. Still, such a narrow band might be swiftly overcome by the amount of data transmitted by driverless vehicles in traffic.
One possible solution to that challenge involves spontaneous access to wireless spectrum, which is a problem I’ve studied for a dozen years. It remains a challenge without a firm solution. I think that 5G’s support for something known as cognitive radio offers a potential solution. Cognitive radio would enable a vehicle to locate and lock in on available spectrum, whether it’s dedicated for vehicular communications or is simply unused at the exact moment a vehicle needs spectrum to communicate. And one model for algorithms that can perform this task comes from studies of bumblebee communication. Bumblebees act both in concert and individually as they seek the best source of nectar. A brief explanation of this concept is offered in “Cars Could Follow the Flight of the Bumblebee,” published by IEEE Spectrum (3 December 2015).
Solutions Bring Spin-Off Benefits
Ultimately, we’ll need to figure out how to accomplish all these actions on a highly dynamic topology, meaning numerous cars moving in different directions at various speeds. This remains a pressing research and development issue that will take at least a half-decade to resolve.
If the use of wireless communications tempts humans to distraction, perhaps it’s fitting that it can also offer a solution to make our roads safer. And if we can solve the challenges of mobile communications between a multitude of fast vehicles, we can apply those solutions in other areas, including the Internet of Things (IoT), which promises to connect a gazillion devices. Safer roads are just the beginning of a longer journey.
The integration of autonomous cars into society appears inevitable. A number of companies and organizations, including Tesla and Apple, are already testing them on roads, and others, such as GM and Uber, are looking for ways to merge self-driving cars and the growing rideshare industry.
Once all the kinks are worked out, fully autonomous systems will allow drivers to do other things during their travels, such as sleep, eat, or text. However, some are concerned that driver-assist technologies are having an adverse effect on our ability to drive right now.
While cars that can travel across the country without any human input are on the way, they aren’t yet available. However, specific technologies that can handle tasks like checking a driver’s blindspots, making sure they stay in their lane, and ensuring they don’t rear-end the car in front of them are.
The problem is that relying on these systems can make drivers less likely to consider those tasks when they get behind the wheel of a car. The effect of this many not be immediate, but gradually, our driving capabilities will be impacted.
“There are lots of concerns about people checking out and we are trying to monitor that now,” Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told Bloomberg. “Everything we do that makes the driving task a little easier means that people are going to pay a little bit less attention when they’re driving.”
According to Bloomberg, the automotive industry is desperate to come up with ways to keep drivers-turned-passengers engaged and focused on their surroundings while their car handles an increasing larger share of the work, and several manufacturers are already making progress.
Conversely, GM’s Super Cruise eye-tracking technology doesn’t require that drivers keep their hands on the wheel, but it does force them to keep their eyes on the road. The system will pull the car over if the driver doesn’t respond to prompts to return their attention to the road soon enough.
Even if autonomous systems do negatively impact our ability to drive, the trade off may be worth it. Nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. alone die from traffic accidents each year, and upwards of 2 million people are injured.
Even though laws meant to prevent distracted driving practices — texting or talking on phones, eating, fiddling with the radio, etc. — are on the books, not everyone abides by them, and in 2015 alone, nearly 3,477 people died as a result of distracted driving.
Earlier this year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles tracked the performances of autonomous cars from 11 companies, revealing a reduced number of incidents compared to their performance in 2016. Many of the incidents and accidents that were reported were caused by bad weather, debris on the road, or construction — not the technology of the autonomous cars.
Some of the most notable experts in the fields of science and technology think self-driving cars are worth the investment and much safer than their human-operated counterparts.
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said that those skeptical of autonomous cars are slowing progress and “killing people,” while astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explained in a tweet in June that car accidents will eventually become the leading cause of death if autonomous systems aren’t adopted: “When we cure all disease & stop aging, the leading cause of death will be Car Accidents, unless we develop Self-driving Cars.”
Autonomous cars may impair our ability to drive, but if they are able to meet the safety expectations of people like Musk and Tyson, that may be a fair price to pay.
China once held the title for the world’s fastest train, but a devastating crash in 2011 forced the country to slow down their transits, lest they experience another tragic event.
Next month, however, China will regain is lost title, as it plans to introduce several new bullet trains that will move at the speeds necessary to once again be the world’s fastest. Prior to the aforementioned accident, China’s bullet trains traveled at 350 km/h (217 mph), but were then reduced to 250-300 km/h (155-186 mph).
Come September 21, when the new trains are up and running, speeds will return to 350 km/h, but will be capable of going 400 km/h (248 mph). For comparison, the still-in-development Hyperloop One recently reached speeds of 308 km/h (192 mph), though the plan is to hit 402 km/h (250 mph) while still in testing.
Zhao Jian, Beijing Jiaotong University professor and a leading researcher on China’s high-speed railway network, told the South China Morning Post that in order to avoid more accidents at higher speeds, the railway operator will need to reduce the number of trains in use at one time.
According to the Associated Press, China has laid over 20,000 kilometers (12,400 miles) of high-speed rail, and intends to add another 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles) by 2020. To date, over $360 billion has been spent on the railway’s creation.
“We expect Ford to go ‘all-in’ on EVs. With an emphasis on pure EV,” writes Jonas. “Hybrids? Not so much. Prior management was vague with how its $4.5b investment in ‘electrification’ would be allocated. We are hopeful for a significantly upgraded level of transparency, given the pace of change in EV adoption and expenditure worldwide.”
Despite his optimism, and Ford’s previous announcements, Jonas is not confident in the company investors’ support the initiative.
“We expect Ford’s next strategy to be more open to partnerships, new structures and entities, and a far greater emphasis on all-electric powertrains. However, we are not convinced investors are prepared for the required sacrifice to near term profit.”
Elon Musk has teased a major new feature for Tesla vehicles via his Twitter account. The company is planning to switch to a profile-based system that would allow drivers to access their preferences from any vehicle in the world.
A Tesla owner tweeted Musk a question about the possibility of setting a different work location for separate drivers sharing the same car. The CEO responded with talk of a plan to move “all info and settings” to a cloud-based server, making them accessible from anywhere and any vehicle.
We are going to move all info and settings to the “cloud” (aka server) so any Tesla you drive in the world automatically adjusts to you
However, in this case, he stopped short of announcing when this functionality would be made available. Now, in the past, Musk has used Twitter to brief drivers on when new firmware updates would be distributed, so it’s likely that this information will be dispersed on twitter when the time is right.
On August 19, Volkswagen announced at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California that its electric microbus, the I.D. BUZZ concept car, will go into production. The new microbus will debut in dealerships throughout China, Europe, and North America in 2022, after the compact four-door version arrives.
“After the presentations at the global motor shows in Detroit and Geneva, we received a large number of letters and emails from customers who said, ‘please build this car’,” Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess said at the event. Diess explained to attendees that the location of the announcement was deliberately chosen: “The Microbus has long been part of the California lifestyle. Now we’re bringing it back by reinventing it as an electric vehicle.”
New Tech, Classic Style
The production model I.D. BUZZ will feature all of the benefits of electric drive components, including a long wheelbase and lots of interior space. According to a CNET reviewer who drove the bus, its doors open and close automatically, like Tesla’s Model X, and with a 0-60 acceleration in under 5 seconds, it has the speed to match other electric vehicles— not that anyone driving one will be in much of a rush. The battery pack has a range of around 270 miles, on par with the Model X and the Chevy Bolt, and more than the Tesla’s Model S. The nearly flat front of the classic VW microbus will be retained, because the batteries will be mounted in the floor of the vehicle, just as they are in the concept version shown in Detroit in April.
The I.D. BUZZ is designed for multiple purpose: as a passenger vehicle, but also to carry freight just as the classic T2 did. “Along with a minibus version, we’ll also be offering an I.D. BUZZ CARGO variant for zero-emissions delivery of goods,” Volkswagen’s CEO of Commercial Vehicles, Dr. Eckhard Scholz said at the event. “With Level 3 autonomous capability, this is an ideal concept for an electric van, particularly for delivering packages and goods to the inner cities.”
The iconic VW microbus has a long history in America. It began production in 1950, and by the late 1960s had become a symbol of the hippie counterculture, with enough space to transport groups to rallies, concerts, and anyplace else. This new version of the classic retains a lot of this classic style and nostalgia, with maximum space utilization and recognizable elements of the beloved microbus style. The I.D. BUZZ will also incorporate various design ideas from the concept car, including interactive connectivity, multi-variable seating, and highly automated driving. It’s the hippie’s choice for the electric car revolution.
In the last few years, electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way, with carmakers like Tesla, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and many others developing efficient, sleek, new models. Currently, Tesla is leading the pack, launching both luxury and more affordable models that range from sedans to semi trucks. But other companies are hot on Tesla’s trail, eager to reveal their impressive, energy efficient models.
This past Friday, Mercedes-Maybach launched its new concept vehicle, the Vision 6 Cabriolet, at the 2017 Monterey Car Week in California. The concept car is a glamorous, luxury convertible that runs 100 percent on electricity.
Gorden Wagener, Daimler AG chief design officer, said in a Mercedes-Benz press release, “The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet takes modern luxury into the realms of the ultimate in luxury and is the perfect embodiment of our design strategy. Breathtaking proportions combined with a luxurious haute couture interior help to create the ultimate experience.”
Future of EVs
The vehicle has 750 horsepower and can go more than 320 km (200 miles) on a single charge. This new model is a brilliant follow-up to the previous Vision 6 Coupe, which was unveiled last year. The new model has a boat tail end, and is almost 6 meters (20 feet) long, giving the car an appearance akin to a luxury yacht.
The Tesla Model 3 has an estimated demand of over half a million, and Elon Musk recently leaked information about the impressive long-range capacity of the vehicle. While Tesla is continuing to produce quality options, competition from more affordable and even equally luxurious models isn’t necessarily a bad thing for consumers. And with this luxurious option scoring high on performance, efficiency, comfort, and — most obviously — style, it gives a big boost to the future of EVs.
If electric cars could recharge while driving down a highway, it would virtually eliminate concerns about their range and lower their cost, perhaps making electricity the standard fuel for vehicles.
Now Stanford University scientists have overcome a major hurdle to such a future by wirelessly transmitting electricity to a nearby moving object. Their results are published in the June 15 edition of Nature.
“In addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cellphones, our new technology may untether robotics in manufacturing, which also are on the move,” said Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering and senior author of the study. “We still need to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars, but we may not need to push the distance too much more.”
The group built on existing technology developed in 2007 at MIT for transmitting electricity wirelessly over a distance of a few feet to a stationary object. In the new work, the team transmitted electricity wirelessly to a moving LED lightbulb. That demonstration only involved a 1-milliwatt charge, whereas electric cars often require tens of kilowatts to operate. The team is now working on greatly increasing the amount of electricity that can be transferred, and tweaking the system to extend the transfer distance and improve efficiency.
Wireless charging would address a major drawback of plug-in electric cars — their limited driving range. Tesla Motors expects its upcoming Model 3 to go more than 200 miles on a single charge, and the Chevy Bolt, which is already on the market, has an advertised range of 238 miles. But electric vehicle batteries generally take several hours to fully recharge. A charge-as-you-drive system would overcome these limitations.
“In theory, one could drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to stop to recharge,” Fan explained. “The hope is that you’ll be able to charge your electric car while you’re driving down the highway. A coil in the bottom of the vehicle could receive electricity from a series of coils connected to an electric current embedded in the road.”
Some transportation experts envision an automated highway system, where driverless electric vehicles are wirelessly charged by solar power or other renewable energy sources. The goal would be to reduce accidents and dramatically improve the flow of traffic while lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Wireless technology could also assist GPS navigation of driverless cars. GPS is accurate up to about 35 feet. For safety, autonomous cars need to be in the center of the lane where the transmitter coils would be embedded, providing very precise positioning for GPS satellites.
Mid-range wireless power transfer, as developed at Stanford and other research universities, is based on magnetic resonance coupling. Just as major power plants generate alternating currents by rotating coils of wire between magnets, electricity moving through wires creates an oscillating magnetic field. This field also causes electrons in a nearby coil of wires to oscillate, thereby transferring power wirelessly. The transfer efficiency is further enhanced if both coils are tuned to the same magnetic resonance frequency and are positioned at the correct angle.
However, the continuous flow of electricity can only be maintained if some aspects of the circuits, such as the frequency, are manually tuned as the object moves. So, either the energy transmitting coil and receiver coil must remain nearly stationary, or the device must be tuned automatically and continuously — a significantly complex process.
To address the challenge, the Stanford team eliminated the radio-frequency source in the transmitter and replaced it with a commercially available voltage amplifier and feedback resistor. This system automatically figures out the right frequency for different distances without the need for human interference.
“Adding the amplifier allows power to be very efficiently transferred across most of the three-foot range and despite the changing orientation of the receiving coil,” said graduate student Sid Assawaworrarit, the study’s lead author. “This eliminates the need for automatic and continuous tuning of any aspect of the circuits.”
Assawaworrarit tested the approach by placing an LED bulb on the receiving coil. In a conventional setup without active tuning, LED brightness would diminish with distance. In the new setup, the brightness remained constant as the receiver moved away from the source by a distance of about three feet. Fan’s team recently filed a patent application for the latest advance.
The group used an off-the-shelf, general-purpose amplifier with a relatively low efficiency of about 10 percent. They say custom-made amplifiers can improve that efficiency to more than 90 percent.
“We can rethink how to deliver electricity not only to our cars, but to smaller devices on or in our bodies,” Fan said. “For anything that could benefit from dynamic, wireless charging, this is potentially very important.”
The Tesla Model S will soon be seen paroling the streets of Luxembourg, as a pair of the electric cars has been chosen to become patrol vehicles used by the Grand-Ducale Police.
The Ministry of Sustainable Development decided to purchase the Model S for the police force in an effort to begin a shift towards electric cars. However, the police aren’t the only ones who will get new wheels, as members of the administration are also expected to receive new electric vehicles.
There are currently four versions of the Model S: the 75, 75D, 100D and P100D, but it’s unknown which version will be used for these patrol cars. Regardless, every Model S is designed to be extremely fast; they’re able to go from 0-60 in less than 3 seconds. In fact, just last month, a Model S was used to set a record for the fastest transcontinental run, making the trip from California to New York in 52 hours.
As explained by Electrek, the Model S’ agility paired with this push towards electric vehicles makes this partnership ideal for Luxembourg, which is only 82 km (51 miles) long and 57 km (35 miles) wide. Its implementation in the area could prompt other countries and companies to do the same, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air, which is a huge contributing factor to global climate change.
As new electric vehicles (EVs) like Tesla’s much-anticipated Model 3 continue to hit the market with considerable fanfare, choices for consumers multiply. Existing EVs are now being priced to sell more quickly in many cases.
Electrek reported that new Leafs have been selling at a rock bottom $13,000 in Florida and Ohio. This may be in part due to new vehicles coming on the market, but it is mainly due to a partnership between Nissan and local electric utilities that beefs up the existing federal incentives to purchase EVs.
DeLorean cars have become a staple of ’80s pop culture thanks to their starring role in Robert Zemeckis’s iconic Back to the Future trilogy. Now, a new generation of the DeLorean family is looking to put the brand back into the spotlight by giving new meaning to a line kooky inventor Doc Brown delivers at the end of the first film: “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
In a recent Wired profile, Paul DeLorean, nephew of the original carmaker and current CEO and chief designer of DeLorean Aerospace, revealed that his company is joining the likes of Uber, Airbus, Kitty Hawk, and a few others in attempting to build a flying car.
DeLorean says the company is working on a two-seat, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle meant for personal transport and that will eventually be capable of autonomous flight. “We are moving forward on a full-size, piloted prototype which will carry two passengers and is designed to operate, fully electric, for a range of [193 kilometers (120 miles)],” he explained to Wired.
Other flying cars in development are only expected to have ranges of around 40 to 80 kilometers (25 to 50 miles), so DeLorean’s target is well above the norm.
As for design specifics, the DeLorean DR-7 aircraft sports two sets of wings, one at the vehicle’s front and the other at its back, with another pair of winglets under the hind wings. The vehicle’s takeoff and forward propulsion rely on a pair of fans, which are powered by electricity and mounted along its center. The fans swivel after takeoff to push the vehicle forward.
In all, the aircraft is about 6 meters (20 feet) long, with a wingspan of about 5.6 meters (18.5 feet). To help the aircraft fit into a (large) garage, the wings are capable of folding against the vehicle’s sides.
Regulating the Skies
Whether they be of the self-driving or flying variety, the cars of the future need to surmount regulatory hurdles before we’ll see any kind of widespread adoption. The use of traditional vehicles and aircraft is currently regulated by numerous laws, and the advanced capabilities of autonomous or flying vehicles are presenting lawmakers with a slew of unprecedented questions.
Along with the need to upgrade our laws to govern this next step in the evolution of personal transport, we also need to upgrade our infrastructure. Electricity is emerging as the energy source of choice for this next generation of vehicles, yet much of the world lacks the infrastructure necessary to meet the refueling needs of a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs).
We still have some time to wait before we can hope to see these flying vehicles in action, as experts don’t expect the first models to be ready for another five to 15 years, but we are well on our way to a future in which roads won’t be the only places we see cars.
The Hyperloop One’srecent speed record of 308 kmh (192 mph) is an important step (however small) toward surpassing the first goal of the Hyperloop: to achieve quicker transit than other alternatives. But, while the hyperloop was initially designed to achieve 1,200 km/h (750 mph) with a chic micro-craft built for three passengers, it is developing into something quite different.
In his original outline, Musk illuminated some glaring problems at the conceptual stage of several other “high speed” rail systems — namely the high expense per mile, the cost of operation, and that other propositions were less safe than flying by two orders of magnitude.
No one thought the proposal would come so far a mere four years after Elon Musk released his initial plans for Hyperloop system. But with tubes 3.3 meters (11 feet) in diameter, the craft looks more like the cargo version from Musk’s original concept. Instead of a bobsled, we’re seeing something more like an ordinary train. Additionally, the thin concrete pylons planned for minimal terrestrial footprint will be significantly larger. Since this is more on the scale of a train or highway, the disruptive potential of compact tubes would seem, alas, reneged.
The environmental pitch of Hyperloop was simple. Having speed, high acceleration and deceleration, and a high frequency of available stops would give the world’s population centers incentive to switch away from “traditional” modes of transportation. This would mean less greenhouse gases emitted, potentially slowing the advance of global climate change.
However, the recent Hyperloop One test shows multiple branching routes that resemble more of a linear track than a loop, which was a key factor for energy efficiency of the system. Without high-speed winds that travel in a constant direction, the main form of propulsion would seem to default to the magnetic levitation system, omitting the complex on-boarding/off-boarding feature that made Hyperloop feel not only innovative, but feasible.
But last month Musk moved back towards that feasible direction when he announced that Boring Company’s boring (if not mysterious) tunnels could create a Hyperloop vacuum-tunnel betwixt New York and Washington, D.C., with a transit time of 29 minutes. He then met with Hawthorne, Calif., Mayor Alex Vargas to explain the physics, and (presumably) the economics of implementing the Hyperloop, which on the scale of the state of California, was estimated to cost $7.5 billion.
It may sound cynical, but — at its core — engineering is physics with compromise. And as these compromises mount, it’s difficult to keep sight of the final goal. But as with any technological revolution, it takes a prolonged and sober engagement with the real-world drawbacks, and even failures, to predict the final outcome.
At this point, everyone has heard about Tesla, the company that specializes in electric cars, energy storage, and solar panels. Elon Musk, the CEO, is a respected figure in the tech world, and is paving the way for electric cars to enter the mainstream as part of an ambitious plan to save our environment. But what is the reality behind the headlines and the hype — is Tesla all it’s cracked up to be?
Tesla’s market capitalization reached $51 billion in April, and the company has now surpassed numerous other major manufacturers, including BMW, GM Motors, and Ford, despite all of those companies selling thousands more cars than Tesla and actually making a profit.
Numerous experts have reported on this discrepancy: Christopher Mims, a tech columnist at the Wall Street Journal, tweeted: “Tesla: delivered 76,000 cars last year, deeply in debt. Ford: 20x more revenue, billions in profits on millions of cars each year. And yet,” referring to Tesla passing Ford on market cap. Walt Mossberg, executive director of The Verge replied, agreeing with Mims, “I admire Tesla and @elonmusk, but this is the billionth example of why stock market valuations don’t reflect reality.”
Elon Musk himself stated, “I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve,” in an interview with The Guardian. However, on Twitter, he pointed out that Tesla’s stock price represents possible future cash flow.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson sums up the spectrum of where Tesla could go in the future, saying that the company is “either one of the greatest Ponzi schemes of all time or it’s gonna work out.” A Ponzi scheme is when investment is generated by false claims, and each round of investment pays the return for the previous generation.
David Einhorn, a Wall Street investor, sits on the skeptical end of this spectrum, comparing the enterprise to the “March 2000 dot-com bubble” in a conference call by saying, “while we don’t know exactly when the bubble will pop, it eventually will.” Barclays analyst Brian Johnson said in a research note that choosing the company is like taking the “blue pill” in The Matrix — it is not facing up to the company’s many problems.
Likewise, Adam Jonas, Morgan Stanley’s Tesla analyst, claimed in a research note in March that Tesla has the potential to become a key player in the future of transport. He wrote, “we think the Model 3 will feature hardware and software that provide a level of active safety that could significantly lead all other cars on sale today.”
Tesla Breaking Barriers
Whether Tesla is overhyped in terms of its market cap is still undecided. But what we do know is that, if nothing else, Tesla has broken barriers down in the electric vehicle and clean energy sectors, and for that it should be praised.
BMW Executive Ian Robertsontold Car and Driver that, “I’m very supportive of what Tesla has done. The world needs that sort of new competitor.” Whether or not it can live up to the hype concerning itself, it has created public interest for environmental solutions to our transport and energy needs — and encouraged other companies to do the same through the competition it has generated, driving them forward to better, greener, innovations.
Elon Musk’s explanation to Goalcast of what he hoped he could do with SpaceX — his space company — is the kernel of what he has achieved with Tesla. He said, “If we could just move the ball forward, even if we died, some other company could pick up the baton and keep moving it forward […] that would still do some good.” Tesla may remain unprofitable, it may crash in spite of its high market cap, but at the very least it has changed the playing field for the better.
In the same interview, Musk went on to state that, “there are just times when something is important enough, you believe in it enough, that you do it in spite of fear” and “if you just accept the probabilities, then that diminishes fear.” It is an attitude like this that Musk, and Tesla, should be lauded for, because it is belief in strong ideals that will drive us forward into a better future, rather than the clumsy and dangerous mechanisms of amassing profit.
When we cut through the speculation, the debate, and the verbiage we realize that charismatic, idealistic individuals who are willing to put their fortunes and reputations on the line are necessary, even if they may be valued incorrectly or overhyped. Elon Musk is one such individual; let us hope for many more. As Walter Lippman once said, “when all think alike, then no one is thinking.”
In February, Dubai, a city known for its active pursuit of all things futuristic, revealed plans to partner with German startup Volocopter on a flying taxi service. The city then updated the timeline for those plans in June, and now, it has moved one step closer to implementing them thanks to a €25 million (roughly $29.5 million) investment in Volocopter by Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler AG, Berlin tech investor Lukasz Gadowski, and a few others.
“The strong financial commitment of our new investors is a signal as well as proof of the growing confidence in the newly emerging market for electrically driven [vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles] put to use as personal air taxis,” Florian Reuter, Volocopter managing director, said in a press release announcing the new round of funding.
The startup has been working on a flying car for some seven years now, and the Volocopter 2X, a two-seater VTOL vehicle powered by electricity and capable of autonomous flight, is their second-generation vehicle.
Volocopter’s AAT would work like most ride-hailing services — a passenger would be able to summon the service on demand and then be ferried to their destination. The company will work closely with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) during a five-year testing period for this autonomous aerial taxi (AAT), which is set to begin by the fourth quarter of 2017.
Changing Urban Transportation
The benefits of a flying car or a flying taxi service seem obvious enough. For one, you’d avoid the usual traffic congestion of busy urban centers. Secondly, Volocopter 2X is safe and quiet, thanks to the 18 rotors that lift it off the ground.
According to the company, it won’t require heavy infrastructure support, either. “One moment, it is the replacement for a bridge that is being repaired, the other moment it is an air taxi used as a shuttle to a trade fair,” they explain on their website. This would effectively eliminate the typical concerns regarding the use of VTOLs in cities, such as the ones Elon Musk previously raised.
It’s no secret that Tesla has plans to build an electric semi-truck: the idea was floating around as early as September 2016. CEO and founder Elon Musk confirmed in April this year that an electric truck was indeed in the works, and a working prototype is expected to come out this September. Now, a leaked email exchange between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), seen by Reuters, reveal that the company is developing electric, self-driving semis that move in “platoons” trailing a lead vehicle.
The email conversations dated from May and June 2017 included Tesla and various representatives of the Nevada DMV discussing potential road trials for prototype semis — which could be the first such test run on the city’s roads for autonomous trucks without a person in the cab. In one of these exchanges, Tesla regulatory official Nasser Zamani wrote to DMV official April Sanborn about the agenda for a July 16 meeting.
“To insure we are on the same page, our primary goal is the ability to operate our prototype test trucks in a continuous manner across the state line and within the States of Nevada and California in a platooning and/or Autonomous mode without having a person in the vehicle,” Zamani wrote. Then, on July 10, Zamani asked the DMV for testing license terms. No particular date was mentioned, however, as to when this road testing would be.
Nevada DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez told Reuters that Tesla requested for a meeting with California officials on Wednesday “to talk about Tesla’s efforts with autonomous trucks,” as well as to introduce new staff.
There are also a number of Silicon Valley startups working on platooning technology for fleets of long-haul trucks. Among these is automated vehicle technology company Peloton, whose current work involves several truck makers including Volvo. Peloton considers platooning as an important precursor to autonomy when it comes to long-haul driverless trucks, in order to increase safety and efficiency.
With all these efforts, it seems that self-driving trucks are close to becoming a reality. Yet Tesla is unique in developing an all-electric version — and for good reason. One of the greatest challenges truck manufacturers and autonomous vehicle companies face is battery range limitations. Venkat Viswanathan, a lithium ion battery researcher from Carnegie Mellon, told Reuters that long-haul electric trucks aren’t commercially feasible yet. Such trucks would require huge batteries, he said, so the “cargo essentially becomes the battery.”
Perhaps this is an area where Tesla has an edge over its competitors, thanks to its experience with developing powerful batteries. In any case, with barely a month before the promised prototype, we can’t wait to see just what Musk’s electric autonomous semi could offer. If you’re driving through Nevada, keep an eye out — the road testing might soon follow afterwards.
If there’s one complaint Tesla drivers have — especially those in urban centers without garages — it’s that charging can be a challenge. Back in April, Tesla announced that, within 2017, it would double the number of its Superchargers and Destination Charging connectors both on long distance routes and in urban centers. By the end of 2017, there would be more than 10,000 Superchargers and 15,000 Destination Chargers globally, an increase in Superchargers of 150 percent in North America.
On August 9, Elon Musk responded to a Twitter user desperate for more charging stations in Miami, pledging that she and other Tesla drivers would see “Major increases in the Supercharger and Tesla urban charger network happening over the next several months”:
Major increases in the Supercharger and Tesla urban charger network happening over the next several months
If it does become much easier and more practical to charge Tesla Vehicles, they’ll be even more popular, and we will all benefit. The Model 3 has achieved the top safety rating from Consumer Reports, and, as a primary driving force bringing autonomous vehicles to the road, Tesla is making its vehicles even safer. While electric vehicles will push us further away from fossil fuels in the fight against climate change, autonomous cars will save lives, according to the experts, so more popularity for Tesla will ultimately mean more safety for everyone.
The app, called Cruise, is part of the “Cruise Anywhere” service that GM and Cruise Automation are now offering to their employees, who can use the app and self-driving cars anytime, any day of the week…provided a car is available. It provides a similar service to other ride-sharing services, albeit without a driver in control of the car. Due to California law, however, a driver must be present behind the wheel in the event manual control is required.
“We’re really excited about how the technology is evolving, and the rate at which it’s evolving. This is a manifestation of that — putting the app in people’s hands and having them use it for the first time and make AVs their primary form of transportation,” said Cruise CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt in an interview with TechCrunch.
The Best Is Yet To Come
While the app and Chevy Bolt EV are currently exclusive to GM and Cruise employees, it’s only a matter of time before they, and other autonomous cars, are publicly available. Their presence on the road, even if only for testing purposes, can help prepare drivers for future interactions with them.
If the fleet tests proceed without accidents or even the need for manual control, those still wary of the concept might be put at ease, to say nothing of the benefits of serving the public trust. Autonomous cars, combined with Elon Musk’s underground tunnel system, could not only free up space on streets and highways, but make driving from place to place more efficient, providing additional free time for professionals weary of bumper-to-bumper transit.
Tesla hasn’t been shy about sharing their long-term goal of achieving level 5 autonomous driving.
Since October 2016, every electric vehicle the company has produced has been equipped with Autopilot 2.0 hardware, with the idea that it would eventually be made capable of fully autonomous driving through future software updates. That hardware package received one such software update in March (April outside North America), and now, Electrek is reporting that the hardware has gotten a tweak as well.
According to the site, Tesla is now shipping a new suite of Autopilot hardware with a more powerful iteration of their onboard computer. The fact that the Model 3 was equipped with a driver-facing camera was a tip-off that the vehicle’s hardware was unique, and according Electrek‘s sources, the Model 3’s onboard computer is also unlike the one released with the Model S or Model X.
Those sources told Electrek that the new Autopilot hardware suite is referred to as “HW 2.5” internally and that it has added computing power thanks to a secondary GPU. However, a Tesla spokesperson told Electrek differently.
While they did confirm that the new hardware suite exists and that all Model 3, Model X, and Model S vehicles ordered today now come with it, they claim the system does not merit the “2.5” moniker: “The internal name HW 2.5 is an overstatement, and instead it should be called something more like HW 2.1. This hardware set has some added computing and wiring redundancy, which very slightly improves reliability, but it does not have an additional Pascal GPU.”
The Road Ahead
Tesla appears to remain confident in their ability to eventually achieve level 5 autonomy even without the upgraded hardware.
“[We] still expect to achieve full self-driving capability with safety more than twice as good as the average human driver without making any hardware changes to HW 2.0,” the spokesperson told Electrek. “If this does not turn out to be the case, which we think is highly unlikely, we will upgrade customers to the 2.5 computer at no cost.”
Though some have doubts, Tesla is still certain they will achieve their goal of “driving from a parking lot in downtown LA to a parking lot in downtown NY without touching the controls by the end of the year.” With 2017 more than half over, the company only has a few months left to prove their critics wrong.
Mazda has announced its intention to make autonomous driving technology standard in all of its vehicles by 2025. This is firmly in line with comments made by Elon Musk last month, in which he predicted that almost all cars would have such capabilities ten years from now.
Previously, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai has downplayed the company’s plans for self-driving vehicles, instead focusing on the idea of making active driving a more pleasurable experience.
This change of heart could stem from the 5 percent stake in Mazda that Toyota acquired earlier this month. The two companies are set to spend $1.6 billion on a manufacturing plant in the United States, which will be tailored toward producing cars with advanced driver-assistance systems and wholly self-driving vehicles.
Tesla has helped to lead the current movement toward autonomous driving, with its Autopilot technology going a long way to acclimatize the general public to the concept. While accidents have occurred, a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association has indicated that Tesla’s vehicles have been involved in 40 percent fewer accidents after the introduction of Autosteer.
Experts have concluded that a wider rollout of self-driving cars will help to make our roads much safer. The key is removing human error from the equation, so once autonomous driving systems have been put through their paces, it makes sense to transition as many vehicles to the technology as possible.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are still far away from widespread popularity, but they are well on their way. As with most new technologies, the first iterations have a significant cost barrier that, at least initially, keeps them out of reach for the average consumer. However, EV tech is far enough along for more affordable options to become available.
Tesla is gearing up to release its, relatively, affordable EV option with its Model 3. The base offering of the model starts at $35,000. Chevrolet’s model, the Bolt, begins at an MSRP of $37,495 (though it can be purchased as cheaply as $30,000 with tax credits). Now, Nissan is joining the fun of launching more affordable EVs with its 2018 Leaf model. The base model will cost $29,990, more than $5,000 less than Tesla’s Model 3.
However, there is a reason for that cheaper price. According to leaked information published by Autoblog, the base vehicle’s battery will have a 40 kWh capacity, which will be good for 150 – 160 miles of travel on one charge. Compare this to the Model 3’s 75 kWh battery and it’s easy to see what a consumer is sacrificing for the cheaper price tag.
The availability of cheaper EV’s is a welcome trend, especially considering the cost savings of recharging these vehicles compared to refueling a gas powered car. Tesla estimates that its Model 3 could save consumers $3,584 on gas within five years, which is about $716 per year. Perhaps more importantly, more accessibility to EVs will have an even greater impact on the environment.
Elon Musk’s Gigafactories are not even complete and they are already making huge waves in the field of energy storage. Sources talking to Fred Lambert of Electrek commented that Elon Musk recently stated that Gigafactory 1 in Nevada is “…already producing more batteries than any other factory in the world.” The 455,22 square meter (4.9 million square foot) facility began producing Powerwall and Powerpack battery cells back in January and then began production on Model 3 battery cells in June. The facility is said to be only at about 30 percent capacity.
The goal for the finished Gigafactory is to be able to produce 35 GWh’s worth of storage capacity within 2018.
Giles Keating, the chairman of Werthstein Institute, an investment consultancy, told CNBC, “There’s a kind of arms race on batteries around the world. We know that Elon Musk with Tesla has got this Gigafactory. The Chinese are racing to overtake him; they’ll have three times the capacity. And then in Germany, we’ve just heard announcement of a new plan for a $1 billion factory on batteries.”
It is clear that the competition is stiff in the battery business and, while this may not be welcome news to Mr. Musk, the rest of us, and the Earth will benefit immensely from the increased capacity to store clean energy. This competition will drive companies to create safer, higher capacity, and more efficient batteries that will continue to help us wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.
The Hyperloop’s story is going full circle, returning to the man who first encouraged the idea: Elon Musk. Four years after releasing the white paper that started the modern Hyperloop frenzy, the entrepreneur and innovator has confirmed that his Boring Company is working on their own version of the high-speed transport system.
This is a bit of a surprise as for four years, the CEO had been encouraging others to pursue the technology through various initiatives. These included a competition run by SpaceX, which previously noted on their website that they won’t be developing a Hyperloop themselves — a message that disappeared this year.
The news isn’t entirely unexpected, though, as clues that Musk was working on a Hyperloop have been surfacing recently. The first was the Boring Company’s website, which stated that the electric skates that would run through their tunnels could easily be transformed to support a Hyperloop by adding a vacuum shell. Then Musk announced via Twitter in July that he’d received “verbal permission” for a DC to New York Hyperloop.
Now, both Bloomberg and WIRED say they’ve received confirmation from sources close to Musk that he plans to pursue a Boring Company Hyperloop.
“At the Boring Company, we plan to build low cost, fast-to-dig tunnels that will house new high-speed transportation systems,” a Boring Company spokesperson told WIRED. “Most will be standard pressurized tunnels with electric skates going 125+ mph. For long distance routes in straight lines, such as NY to DC, it will make sense to use pressurized pods in a depressurized tunnel to allow speeds up to approximately 600+ mph (aka Hyperloop).”
All these efforts have received considerable attention and financial support thanks in part to Musk’s encouragement. Now, some are anxious that the Boring Company CEO might snuff out the competition.
“You would at least have wanted Musk to say, ‘OK guys, how can we do this together?’ or ‘How can I help?’, rather than saying ‘Hey, I’m just gonna do it, thank you for making this known worldwide even more than it was before and showing the progress and making sure that people believe in it,’” Dirk Ahlborn, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies’ CEO, told WIRED.
Perhaps Musk found that other Hyperloop plans weren’t moving fast enough. “He said at the time [he released his white paper] that he would only seek to commercialize Hyperloop if after a few years other companies were not moving quickly enough,” a Boring Company spokesperson said in a statement, according to WIRED. “While we’re encouraged that others are making some progress, we would like to accelerate the development of this technology as fast as possible.”
Brogan BamBrogan, founder of Hyperloop company Arrivo, believes the move could spark industry-wide progress. “The industry can’t get built by any one company, and to have a heavyweight like Elon put his hat in the ring says a lot of good things,” he told WIRED. “It validates the market and the idea that the tech can create some real value for people.”
One thing is for sure. With Musk officially in the Hyperloop game, the futuristic transport may see commercial use sooner rather than later.
The Model 3 is here — at least a few of them. Tesla has released 30 of the estimated 500,000 vehicles that have been reserved. The overwhelming number of orders and last week’s fanfare at the release of the electronic, autonomous car are indicative of how highly Tesla’s product is revered by many.
However, a great product alone is not enough to guarantee a company’s success. So how is Tesla looking on other fronts?
Well, not super. For one thing, Tesla’s customer service does not seem to have been prepared for the challenges presented by the Model 3’s release. People who have tried to cancel their Model 3 reservations have reported that their refunds regularly take more than a month to arrive — some say they’re still waiting after three months.
This is a far cry from the “refunds can take up to three weeks depending on your country of delivery” Tesla had stated on their “Frequently Asked Questions” page, according to Wired – although Tesla seems to have removed this from their website.
Also, by Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s own estimations, the car marker is facing “six months of production hell” to release the targeted numbers of Model 3 vehicles. The difficulty in mass producing a vehicle with about 10,000 unique components is going to be extreme.
And the Model 3 is not the only production challenge Tesla must overcome — it also has at least four other vehicles in the works. The Model Y, a new Roadster, a pickup truck, and an autonomous semi-truck all have estimated release dates around 2019 — and each of these vehicles are ambitious and challenging in their own way.
For example, the Model Y will likely be built on an entirely new, more automated platform, and its design goals include increasing cargo space compared to the Model X while maintaining a similar range of at least 383 km (238 miles) per charge. All of this is on top of Elon Musk’s reported goal of producing one million of the vehicles at a lower price tag than the Model X by 2020.
A Long Journey Ahead
All of these projects will require an explosion in Tesla’s productivity compared to even last year, when it produced 83,922 vehicles. However, Tesla will likely be spending at least half of the time between now and then getting production of its Model 3 up to speed. Is the company likely to complete so many challenging projects in the space of a couple of years?
Probably not, if the recent stock market has been any indication. Despite the rave reviews of its latest offering, Tesla continues to be an unusually volatile automaker, which actually has some investors betting against its success in the coming week. While Friday’s release of the new vehicle gave Tesla’s stocks a boost, attaining a high of $339, the company’s value never regained the record high it reached in June. Additionally, Friday’s bump has since evaporated, with stocks falling and climbing again since.
These concerns also present themselves in the numbers for Wednesday’s second-quarter earnings report. While Tesla’s revenue increased, its earnings per share is still negative — in keeping with the company’s recent trend. In other words, Tesla is selling more cars, but its production costs and other financial burdens are lowering the company’s value.
What it all boils down to is that Musk really has his work cut out for him. Tesla has some great products, but to say its timeline for new vehicle production is a little overly ambitious is an understatement. Tesla’s first task will be to streamline production of the Model 3, its customer service support, and its associated infrastructure. The other projects will need to take second seat to this.
And Musk, just remember — we’ll all still be here until 2025. It’s OK if it takes you a few more years to get some of these projects done.
2017 has been the year to set (and break) driving records with electric vehicles. The latest record-breaking event happened in Italy just last week. Tesla Owners Club Italia drove a Model S P100D for 1,078km (669.8 miles) on a single charge, breaking the long-distance record that had been in place since June. The previous record, from Belgium, was a mere 901.2km (560 miles). This makes the Tesla Owners Club Italia the first to drive a production EV more than 1,000km between charges.
Officially verified as the first production electric car to exceed 1000km on a single charge! Congratulations Tesla Owners Italia!! https://t.co/r8fFZIFEP2
This victory is in large part symbolic, because to break the record at this point it’s necessary to drive in a way you’d never want to duplicate in real life. Hypermiling, optimizing driving behaviors to maximize a charge, isn’t fun or efficient from a “getting somewhere” perspective. The team toured Salerno at a sluggish 40km/h (24.9MPH) without air conditioning on low rolling resistance tires, and used Autopilot to ensure they employed smooth driving techniques to get the most from the battery. In the end, the trip took 29 hours — 29 hours that were almost certainly exciting only for serious Tesla and/or EV fans.
However, the outcome should be exciting to everyone. Although EVs are not likely to achieve mileage like this anytime soon, the basic achievability shows how far the engineering and design of EVs has come. Tesla rates the range of the P100D at 337 miles (and the range jumps up when you drop the traveling speed below 65MPH). This rate reflects the reality of a vehicle needing to stop and go, negotiate turns and uneven terrain, and handle other issues encountered on the road — all of which shrink the range. However, the achievement reveals that EVs that are truly long-range really aren’t so far off in the future.
Elon Musk’s plans for the coming decade are nothing short of ambitious.
Among other things, Tesla‘s CEO has promised to dramatically increase car production, launch several completely new cars, and conquer self-driving vehicles by 2020.
Here’s a closer look at what exactly Musk has promised Tesla will accomplish during the next few years.
Complete its giant Gigafactory.
Musk’s giant battery factory in Nevada is key to Tesla’s future because it is expected to help the company cut the cost of its batteries by as much as 30%.
The Gigafactory, about 5.5 million square feet, would help the company dramatically cut the cost of its batteries once it’s fully operational in 2018 by “using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing process under one roof.”
In fact, Tesla has said it will create more battery cells at the Gigafactory than all of the lithium-ion battery makers combined did in 2013.
Bring the Model 3 into production.
The batteries created at the Gigafactory would enable Tesla to produce its first mass-market car, the Model 3.
It will be about $35,000 and have a range of more than 200 miles per charge.
Tesla started production of the Model 3 earlier this month and planned to begin deliveries at a company event on Friday, July 28.
Launch a compact SUV, dubbed the Model Y, by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
In July 2016, Musk confirmed Tesla planned to bring to market a new compact SUV, dubbed the Model Y.
But a timeline for the vehicle wasn’t disclosed until May, when Musk said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call that it would arrive by late 2019 or 2020. He also said the vehicle would be built on a platform separate from the Model 3.
“We are showing off a working prototype at the end of September, but we have shown it to people who buy heavy-duty trucking, and they all love it,” Musk said during Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting. “They just want to know how many can they buy and how soon.”
While we will most likely get a look at the electric semi in a few months, it’s still not clear when the truck would be available.
…and an electric pickup truck before the close of 2019.
Musk said in April that Tesla would reveal its semitruck in September and its consumer pickup truck in 18 months to two years, meaning sometime between October 2018 and April 2019.
Increase the range of Tesla cars to 1,000 kilometers per charge.
Tesla’s cars already boast the best range on the market, but Musk has said he aims to dramatically increase how far Tesla’s cars travel on a single charge.
“The record right now for the Model S is 800 kilometers (497 miles). That is the furthest that anyone has driven a Model S,” Musk told the Danish news site Borsen in September 2015. “My guess is probably we could break 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) within a year or two. I’d say 2017 for sure.”
Tesla began rolling out its new Enhanced Autopilot hardware in October. Musk said at the time that the hardware would enable full autonomy once the software was ready.
However, Musk has said it’s unlikely regulators will have laws in place by the time Tesla’s autonomous cars are ready, so drivers may have to wait a little longer before getting to go hands-free.
While the company plans to do a demo drive in a Tesla in self-driving mode from Los Angeles to New York City by the end of this year, Musk said during a TED Talk in April that it would most likely be 2019 before a driver could take a nap behind the wheel of a Tesla.
To help put this in perspective, Tesla delivered a little more than 76,000 vehicles in 2016.
Tesla has acknowledged this is an aggressive target, but it’s not shying away from the challenge.
“Increasing production fivefold over the next two years will be challenging and will likely require some additional capital, but this is our goal, and we will be working hard to achieve it,” the company said in its 2016 letter to investors.
Why? Demand for the Model 3 was greater than expected, forcing Tesla to reassess its goals. The company had about 325,000 reservations for the Model 3 during the first week of taking deposits.
While it’s no doubt an ambitious plan, Musk has said he is confident Tesla can achieve such aggressive growth.
Double the number of Superchargers by 2018.
With more Tesla vehicles on the road, Musk is also aiming to build out Tesla’s charging infrastructure.
During the Model 3 unveiling in March 2016, Musk said the company planned to expand its Supercharging network. Superchargers are stations that can charge a Tesla enough almost 200 miles of range in just 30 minutes.
Musk said during the Model 3 event that Tesla would double the number of its Superchargers worldwide, from 3,600 to more than 7,000, by 2018.
As of July, Tesla had increased the number of Superchargers to just over 6,000.
Turn Tesla into an energy company.
Musk doesn’t just want Tesla to make electric cars — he also wants the company to produce the energy that powers the cars.
In November, Tesla acquired SolarCity, a solar-power company founded by Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive.
Musk has made clear that his long-term vision for Tesla is a full-service sustainable-energy company.
“The opportunity here is to have a highly innovative sustainable-energy company that answers the whole energy question from power generation and storage to transport,” Musk told reporters during a call shortly after the announcement in June 2016.
“We are a sustainable-energy company,” he added. “This is, broadly speaking, right in line with that. In order to solve the sustainable-energy problem you need generation, storage, and electric cars.”
In October, right before shareholders voted on the SolarCity acquisition, Musk revealed the Tesla Solar Roof. It’s composed of solar shingles and is Tesla’s energy-generation solution.
The company began taking orders in May for its Solar Roof, which costs about $21.85 per square foot.
The company is expected to disclose details about its Tesla Network, a mobility service, sometime this year.
At the time, Musk said that once Tesla vehicles were fully autonomous, the company would set up a program for owners to make money off their car by letting other people use it.
“You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and, at times, potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost,” he said.
In October, the company said Tesla owners who wanted to make money from ride-hailing or ride-sharing could do so only on its ride-hailing network and that it would disclose more details about it this year.
Tesla’s second-quarter earnings for 2017 are in. That means there’s also a bunch of updates and sneak-peaks inside the company’s world of innovation. These tidbits more often than not come from CEO and founder Elon Musk himself, and this time, he revealed an interesting detail about SpaceX.
Yes, that’s no typo. After some investors asked how innovation at SpaceX (which is also run by Musk) could be applied to Tesla, Musk recalled a particular instance when it actually happened. It’s not about rocket propulsion or anything of the sort, of course. Instead, Musk talked about how SpaceX helped fix a major issue in Tesla cars that resulted in saving eight hours of work per vehicle.
Jon McNeill, Tesla President of Global Sales and Services, supplied the details. “We had a challenge in service just over the past week where we needed to determine the quality of an object deep within our structure, an aluminum casting. That’s something that SpaceX knows how to do,” he said during the earnings call. “Our team reached out to the SpaceX team, the SpaceX team provided us with some ultrasonic sensors so we could quickly take corrective action.”
The Perks of Running Both
This was made possible because both SpaceX and Tesla are run by the same person. But just as much as this collaboration is about Musk, it’s due due to the kind of work being done by both companies. Each one’s determined to build better products — cars for Tesla and rockets for SpaceX. That determination makes it necessary, and even inevitable, for both to share research behind building their materials.
“This cross-fertilization of knowledge from the rocket and spacecraft industry to auto and back and forth I think has really been quite valuable,” Musk said during the call. It’s a shortcut, really. Tesla and SpaceX need not look far for support when it comes to the “high-volume manufacturing of something that has to be extremely reliable,” Musk said. The same can be seen in how Musk’s relatively newer tunnel-digging venture has been depending on SpaceX for its tunneling machine.
For Tesla and SpaceX, this combination of minds is obviously a benefit — one that could help ensure the quality of materials and products developed by both. It’s certainly not impossible for SpaceX’s rockets to run a similar autonomous system found in Tesla’s vehicles. Who knows?
On an August 2 earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said efforts to bring the forthcoming Model Y electric crossover vehicle to market sooner rather than later are underway. Part of those efforts include building the Model Y on a similar architecture as the new Model 3.
“Upon the council of my executive team to reel me back from the cliffs of insanity, the Model Y will, in fact, be using substantial carry over from Model 3 in order to bring it to market faster,” Musk said, according to The Verge.
Musk may still ditch the 12-volt battery architecture used in other Teslas to reduce the wiring requirements and pare down the production process. The Model Y is also likely to share certain features with other models, such as the falcon-wing doors of the Model X. However, the single vehicle architecture shared with the Model 3 will mean more automation, a simplified process, and lower costs.
Tesla needs the Model Y to be produced more quickly and easily if it wants to meet its 1 million cars delivered by 2020 goal. Previously, Musk said the Model Y wouldn’t be in production until late 2019 or early 2020 — so this development indicates the cars could go into production sooner.
In Q2, Tesla delivered 22,026 Model S and Model X vehicles, bringing the 2017 total to 47,077 so far.
As automakers like Tesla, Toyota, and Volvo focus on developing vehicles that can interact autonomously with their environments, Ari Teman is exploring ways the cars of the future could interact with you. The inventor, designer, and technologist told Futurism he sees biometrics, which is “the ability for a vehicle, an environment, or a service to recognize who you are and how you are,” as one of the biggest developments in transportation in recent years.
Though the tech may sound futuristic, biometrics are already a part of our everyday lives — the fingerprint sensor you use to unlock your smartphone or the voice recognition software that lets you command your tech via speech are two fairly prevalent examples. While the use of biometrics in the automotive sector isn’t as common, it is predicted to grow steadily over the next few years, and a report by Frost & Sullivan’s Intelligent Mobility Team predicts that a third of new cars will incorporate biometric sensors by 2025.
“The car will really respond to you. There will be a deep intuition.”
Teman is currently working with Deutsche Telekom’s datacom division to take biometric technology to the next level. He envisions a future in which cars are able to do far more than simply transport passengers from point A to point B. This “smart” transportation experience will begin before you even enter the car, he predicts.
“Your vehicle will recognize you as you approach,” says Teman. “There’s no driver who’s going to look out the window and go, ‘Oh, it’s Neil.’ It’s going to be a camera, and it’s going to say, ‘I have to pull up to Neil, who’s standing on the sidewalk, and not Joe, who’s standing 10 feet away from him.’”
As soon as a rider enters the vehicle, the car’s biometric sensors will go to work. “Once you’re in the car, we’re reading your vitals, and we’re reading your neurological signs,” asserts Teman. Everything from how a car operates to the route it chooses can be automatically adjusted based on this information to best suit the passenger.
“The car may notice that every time it makes a turn, your heart rate rises,” Teman explains. The vehicle could interpret this information as a sign that you’re nervous and that it should make an adjustment. “The car will think ‘Maybe I should slow down’ or ‘Maybe there’s something in this neighborhood that is bothering this passenger,’ and it will consider taking a detour or different route next time,” says Teman.
He thinks the biometric-equipped car of the future will even be able to make subtle environmental changes based on the biological data it collects: “If the car sees you’re tired, it can dim the lights. If it sees you’re shivering, it can turn up the heat.”
While the technology Teman is working on is still on the horizon, several companies have already demonstrated examples of how biometrics can be applied to the transportation sector to make driving safer and more comfortable today.
At the 2017 Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas, German automaker Continental debuted their Biometric Access System. Drivers in cars with the system must provide fingerprint authentication to start the engine, helping prevent theft. Meanwhile, an interior camera uses facial recognition software to adjust the car’s settings based on the driver, ensuring a more comfortable, personalized experience.
At the same event, electronics company Gentex revealed their biometric system. This iris-scanning technology can be incorporated into a vehicle’s rear-view mirror and is 99.9 percent accurate at confirming a driver’s identity. If the person in the car isn’t recognized, the system can text the car’s owner or limit functionality. If the driver is recognized, everything from the seat to the radio can be adjusted automatically to suit their preferences.
Other companies are taking a focus on safety with their biometric innovations.
Meanwhile, Olea Sensor Networks has created a device that attaches to the seat belt in a car to monitor the driver or passenger’s vital signs. In the case of an accident, it can even automatically notify first-responders, letting them know the passengers’ identities and conditions.
These innovations are just the beginning. The relationship between ourselves and our cars is poised to shift dramatically in the coming years, transitioning from one in which we dictate the transportation experience into one in which we are quite literally along for the ride.
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity and brevity.
On August 1, Jason Hughes, Twitter user @wk057 and , asked the internet if anyone else noticed that Model 3s appear to be equipped with driver-facing cameras. He then confirmed with sources that it’s a camera.
Later in the day, Electrek reported on the camera, after confirming with Tesla that the camera is there but inactive, and will only go active after future software updates. They also reported that the camera is not only focused on the driver but on the cabin as a whole. They speculate that this feature could become useful for Tesla’s future (hopeful) ride-sharing network. It could also prove to be a valuable safety feature, depending on how it is implemented. But, of course, there still exists the privacy issue of having cameras connected to a larger network situated inside of your private property staring right at you.
Hyperloop One tests are growing ever more impressive, reaching faster speeds and, in the process, showing us what the technology is really capable of. During the latest evaluation, on Saturday, the pod reached speeds of 308 km/h (192 mph) down the company’s 500-meter (1,640-foot) test track in Nevada, before gliding to a graceful halt.
This is a remarkable improvement on the company’s first full system test earlier this summer. During this outing, it traveled farther by a factor of 4.5 times, reached speeds 2.7 times faster, and achieved 3.5 times the horsepower.
Shervin Pishevar, Hyperloop One co-founder, told CNBC, “We’ve got the Hyperloop working. It’s the dawn now […] of the commercialization of the hyperloops. We’ve got conversations and dialogues with governments around the world.”
Pishevar was referring to the worldwide travel he has been undertaking recently. The company is currently looking at various cities in the U.S. to build a loop and is also planning on installing the system in Europe. In fact, Hyperloop One is already undertaking feasibility studies in Finland, Moscow, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.K.
Despite these successes, there are still hurdles that need to be overcome before we see the transportation system of the future. Most prominently, it will need to achieve the right-of-way allowances, land acquisitions, and regulatory approvals that other means of transportation like the railway enjoy.
However, this announcement gives us a reassuring reminder that the future of transport isn’t far away.
As the Tesla Model 3 launch was imminent, Jack Stewart of Wired wrote, “The arrival of Tesla’s Model 3 signals a new chapter in automotive history, one that erases 100-plus years of the gas engine and replaces it with technology, design, and performance hot enough to make electric vehicles more than aspirational — to make [electric vehicles (EVs)] inspirational.” But would it live up to its promise?
If you’re still feeling skeptical about Tesla’s Model 3, the reviewers definitely aren’t. Here’s what they have to say now that they’ve driven it.
Magic, I’m telling you. Magic. – Kim Reynolds
In a piece prefaced with, “The Tesla Model 3 is here, and it is the most important vehicle of the century. Yes, the hyperbole is necessary,” Kim Reynolds of Motor Trend raved: “If anybody was expecting a typical boring electric sedan here, nope.”
“Magic, I’m telling you. Magic. And this is the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive starting point. The already boggled mind boggles further at the mention of Dual Motor and Ludicrous,” Reynolds continued. “Have I ever driven a more startling small sedan? I haven’t. At speed, it gains a laser-alertness I haven’t encountered before […] [The] 2.0-liter Alfa Romeo Giulia […] feels like a wet sponge by comparison.”
Electrekis reporting that Tesla is preparing to begin fulfilling their Model 3 orders. Right now, employees who have priority reservations are being given access to an online configurator to help build their cars to a host of specifications.
One of the Model 3’s biggest selling points is its low price tag, relative to other electric vehicle options. However, the available specs on this round of shipments require customers to drop at least $48,000, a far cry from the starting price of the $35,000 base vehicle. This added cost covers the longer range battery, which can take the vehicle 499 km (310 miles) versus 354 km (220 miles) for $9,000. Other “Premium Upgrades” include a glass roof which accounts for the remaining $5,000. There is another option to wait for the cheaper features to be available if a customer decides thrift is more important than expedience.
But, behind the grand designs, consumer interest, and seductive new cars is a real world question of how to reify his zero-emission transport dreams. Writing in the MIT technology review, James Temple has given a three part argument discussing Musk’s recent prediction that “in 10 years, more than a half of new vehicle production is electric in the United States.”
An Awful Lot of Batteries
Temple’s first is an argument of scale. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates, if half the vehicle demand in 2027 is for electric vehicles, this would come to around 9.1 million vehicles in America alone. In order to supply this demand, 546 gigawatt-hours’ worth of battery packs would have to be created annually if every vehicle ran on the 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery packs that the Model 3 uses.
The final and maximum capacity of the gigafatory will be 150 gigawatt-hours, meaning that four will have to made to meet demand. Given that the first one took six years to construct, the idea that four more will be created in the next decade is ludicrously optimistic.
A Matter of Taste
Second, Temple argues that the introduction of electric cars will be hampered by consumer tastes and the simple economics of supply and demand. Jeremy Michalek, director of the Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University, explained incisively to MIT that electric vehicles are “more expensive, they don’t drive as far, and it takes time to recharge.” Although the electric car has enthusiasts, “for mainstream consumers it’s still just an inferior product.”
While estimates vary, Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that it won’t be until 2025 that electric vehicles achieve price and quality parity, which will provide a practical and economic reason for people to buy them rather than the current ideological one. Given that this is eight years away, and not everyone will want a new car at this point, Musk’s prediction of a decade again seems highly optimistic.
Polluting to Go Green
Finally, Temple picks up on the irony embedded in the introduction of electric vehicles — that they require emission-belching machines to introduce. Electric cars are often billed as better for the environment, but in order for them to be adopted, charging stations need to be a lot more common. Because there are no electric construction vehicles yet, creating the infrastructure is, in part, counterintuitive to the eventual aim.
Electrical vehicles (EVs) are the next evolution in personal transportation. A large-scale shift toward the technology has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental impact of simply getting around, leaving our reliance on gas powered vehicles behind.
However, given that the technology is in its relative infancy, the lack of established infrastructure to support a major shift to EVs remains a significant roadblock to adoption. EVs are limited by their range, and while developing the technology does continue to lengthen the range, many models are best suited for shorter trips.
Designing the Model 3 to meet pricing and production goals has been a nightmare, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk revealed during a press briefing Friday night.
“The major challenge we faced with the Model 3 is not really the product,” TechCrunch reported that Musk said at the briefing. “It’s going to be pretty great, but it’s going to be quite a challenge to produce this car.”
Musk went on to describe the “six months of production hell” Tesla is facing in order to meet its production target of rolling out 500,000 Model 3 vehicles per year – a goal that Musk hopes to meet within the next year or so.
To a greater degree than Tesla’s earlier vehicles, the Model 3 has been built for “mass appeal.” This has required “10,000 unique components in the car,” Musk emphasized. If the manufacturing of any of these parts is particularly cumbersome, it will slow the entire production line down.
To avoid this, Tesla engineers had to simplify some of the car’s components. Among other changes, “[w]e’ve intentionally gone for a very simple interior with a single screen,” Musk said at the briefing.
But one feature that the Model 3 does not cut corners on is autonomous driving. Musk said that the vehicle is equipped with the same sensor devices that are used in the Model S and Model X, and that Tesla plans to continue to build on this foundation.
Ultimately, the simpler design of the Model 3 has allowed Telsa to manufacture the vehicles at about 1/5 the cost of Model S cars. The affordable pricing will tap into a demand that not even the Model 3’s reservations have truly revealed yet, Musk postulated.
“If we did anything to even not put the brake on demand, it would go bananas,” Musk said according to TechCrunch reports.
On Friday night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk held a special event to hand over the keys for Tesla’s new Model 3 to the EV’s first 30 customers. The very first Model 3 owner was Musk himself, of course — then, the next 29 ultimately went to Tesla employees (who made up 10,000 of the 500,000 supposed preorders).
The event marked an exciting moment for Tesla and, no doubt, those 29 new owners, who had deposited $1,000 to reserve one of the company’s first mass-market EVs. Everyone else on the list still has a bit of a wait before they’ll have keys in hand: the rate of production for the Model 3’s is to be 100 cars built by August, ultimately building up to 1,500 cars by September. Also, before buyers are guaranteed a unit, they have to configure the vehicle online before they can place an order. Tesla plans to produce 20,000 Model 3s per month by September.
If you’re wondering what the hype over the Model 3 is all about, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not just going to be another new electric car; it’s anticipated to be one of the world’s cheapest EVs. “The Model 3 is far more than just another car,” Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader, told The Verge. “If successful, it would mark a breakthrough for electric vehicles and would be promising in terms of the proliferation of the technology.”
The Model 3 signals a change in the air, perhaps heralding an end to the era of the combustion engine. It’s expected help to increase adoption of EVs — since several countries are already firming up policies to eliminate petrol and diesel vehicles in favor of cleaner alternatives. The average passenger vehicle releases some 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, and replacing these with 500,000 EVs would be a major step in clean energy adoption. Further, energy stored in EVs could also be used to power microgrids.
The Model 3 also comes with an autonomous driving system — another technology that’s set to revolutionize transportation. So, it’s not just going to make EVs more accessible, it’s also putting self-driving cars within reach of the general public. That’s important, as some research has indicated that autonomous vehicles could significantly lower the number of car-related deaths caused by human error — which is roughly 40,000 every year in the case of the U.S. alone.
It’s the first significant federal legislation on self-driving cars, and it is designed to facilitate the deployment of driverless vehicles while preventing states from blocking such efforts.
“Our aim was to develop a regulatory structure that allows for industry to safely innovate with significant government oversight,” U.S. congressman Greg Walden, chair of said committee, told Reuters.
Concretely, the bill would allow car manufacturers to put up to 25,000 autonomous vehicles on the roads in the first year of deployment. Over three years, that number would increase to a 100,000 annual cap. These vehicles would not be required to meet existing car safety standards.
The House of Representatives plans to tackle the bill when it reconvenes in September. Auto and tech companies in support of the SELF DRIVE bill are hopeful Congress will pass legislation before the year ends, and plans to introduce a similar measure in the U.S. Senate are already in the works.
On Wednesday, Elon Musk shared a video showing The Boring Company’s first car elevator being tested. The elevator, installed on June 30, is part of the Boring Company’s electric sled concept, which was designed to ferry vehicles — and eventually even people — down to the tunnel system.
According to the Boring Company’s website, the electric sleds are capable of traveling at speeds of 200 k/h (125 mph). The sleds are a critical component of Musk’s revolutionary transportation concept, and would also allow the Boring Company to construct tunnels that are supposedly smaller in diameter than regular tunnels in order to reduce costs.
Musk already has his hands full this year, with the recent release of the Tesla Model 3 and SpaceX’s reusable rocket launches and ever-evolving plans for Mars. Musk also recently stated that he’d received verbal approval from a federal official to build a DC-New York Hyperloop — which would also make use of the Boring Company’s tunnels — but that plan is still a long way off.
NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) — an experimental X-plane the organization has been developing with Lockheed Martin to decrease the strength of sonic booms — has passed an initial design review. It flew successfully in an 2.5-meter by 2-meter (eight-foot by six-foot) supersonic wind tunnel at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.
The plane is the first stage in NASA’s wider plan to make the Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) airplane, and it completed its objective comfortably. A NASA statement said “the QueSST design is capable of fulfilling the LBFD aircraft’s mission objectives, which are to fly at supersonic speeds — 1.4 times the speed of sound — but create a soft ‘thump’ instead of the disruptive sonic boom associated with supersonic flight today.”
The next stages in the plan are to hire a contractor to build the piloted, single-engine plane, with initial flight testing ideally occurring in 2021. The next test will focus on ascertaining the consequences the atmosphere has on supersonic speed and quantifying the effect the plane will have on people on the ground through a combination of measurement and survey findings.
Year of the Plane?
NASA’s experimental plane is one of many test aircraft that are looking to push the boundaries of aviation in different directions.
In terms of pure speed, Lockhead Martin has confirmed that the SR-72 — reportedly capable of mach 6 speeds — will be made for surveillance purposes, while British-based Skylon is planning to use a 5.4 mach plane to deliver payloads into space.
Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen is also looking to apply planes to cosmic ends, but has developed the biggest plane ever rather than one of the fastest. After testing is complete, the Stratolaunch will be used to ferry spacecraft into orbit where they will require less energy to reach space when compared to a ground take off.
Eviation Aircraft will target the green aviation industry by producing an all-electric prototype which could be the first stage in decreasing the carbon footprint of the aircraft industry. The plane is produces zero-emissions and is capable of flying 965 km/h (600 mph).
Consumer Reports and Tesla have been at odds quite a bit in the past few years. In October of 2015, Tesla stocks fell when Consumer Reportscalled the cars unreliable. Then again this year, Tesla’s stock fell after Consumer Reports downgraded the Model S because the second generation Autopilot hardware’s Automatic Emergency Braking wasn’t enabled at highway speeds.
Tesla’s big party for the Model 3 kicks off on Friday.
The electric automaker will reveal the production version of its long-awaited sedan to the first 30 customers who ordered one at a handover party. Tesla will then kick Model 3 production into high gear with the goal of producing 1,500 sedans in September and 20,000 cars in December.
We decided to take a look back at just how far Tesla cars have progressed, and within just the last year there’s been a lot of change. Scroll down for a closer look.
Tesla garnered a lot of attention in 2008 when it released its very first electric car — the wildly sexy Tesla Roadster.
The Roadster Sport boasted a range of 245 miles and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. Its base price in 2008 was $98,000, according to Car and Driver.
Tesla sold more than 2,400 Roadsters across 30 countries, the company wrote on its webpage.
In 2012, Tesla released its Model S — the first luxury electric sedan on the market.
But the car was pricey at $106,900 before federal tax exemptions.
In late 2014, Tesla released two dual motor all-wheel drive configurations for the Model S, the world’s first dual electric motor car.
It was also the first time Tesla made Autopilot, its semi-autonomous package, standard on every car. The car came in three versions — the 60D, 85D and the top-of-the-line P85D. Above you see the P85D.
The P85D could reach a top speed of 155 mph and could accelerate to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, outperforming the McLaren F1 supercar, Tesla wrote on its blog at the time.
The P85D had a range of about 285 miles and cost $71,200 MSRP, according to Car and Driver. But that model was discontinued in February 2016.
Tesla offered three new versions of the Model S in early 2015, the 70D, 90D, and P90D. At the time, the P90D was coveted for its Ludicrous mode.
The P90D could go from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds while driving in Ludicrous mode. When it first came out, people went bananas for the new feature. It also had a range of 253 miles and could reach a top speed of 155 mph.
At the time, the Model S started at around $68,000.
Tesla introduced its Model X with its stylish falcon wings to the world in September 2015.
Like the Model S, the Model X comes in three different versions. At the time, the vehicle started at $74,000 before tax incentives.
The highest performance version at the time of its release was the P90D. It came with a range of 250 miles and could reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds in ludicrous mode and had a top speed of 155 mph.
Tesla rolled out its 7.1 software update at the beginning of 2016 — giving the Model S and Model X several cool new semi-autonomous features.
The software update offers safety features like automatic braking, lane switching, and blind-spot warnings. The cars also gained the ability to autosteer without a center divider, self-parallel park, and manage speed using traffic-aware cruise control.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the new update was giving drivers the power to summon their cars at the click of a button — it’s like a personal, robotic valet. At the time of its release, the Autopilot package cost an extra $2,500.
Since the 7.1 software release, Autopilot has gotten another massive upgrade. Cars built after October 2016 are equipped with a suite of new hardware that advances Autopilot’s capabilities.
The software hasn’t been fully released yet, but it will eventually allow cars to match their speed to traffic conditions, automatically change lanes without driver input, merge on and off highways, and park itself. It will also be able to maneuver around objects in a more complex environment than it could before when you summon it.
The software costs $5,000 at the time of purchase. Tesla says the hardware will also support full, self-driving capabilities, which will cost an additional $8,000 at the time of purchase.
The Model S and Model X got a major battery upgrade to extend their ranges.
In August 2016, Musk announced the new 100-kilowatt-hour battery upgrade for the Model S and Model X cars that have Ludicrous modes last August.
The new battery option extends the range of the Model S to 315 miles per charge, making it the first electric car on the market to exceed 300 miles of range. The new battery option also extends the range of the Model X with Ludicrous mode to 289 miles.
The upgrade also enables the Model S P100D Ludicrous to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds, making it the world’s third-fastest production car. The larger battery pack also makes the Model X the world’s quickest SUV with the ability to accelerate to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds.
But the upgrade isn’t cheap — those who already own the car can upgrade for $20,000. If you don’t own it yet, it will tack an extra $10,000 on the price.
All of these releases have led up to Tesla’s biggest car launch yet: The Model 3. the sedan was first unveiled in March 2016 and it got almost 325,000 pre-orders.
The Model 3 will start at $35,000 without federal tax exemptions, making it a huge competitor in the EV market. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 6 seconds and will boast a range of at least 215 miles.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that these are baseline specs Tesla hopes to exceed.
We got a glimpse of a pre-production version of Tesla’s Model 3 on Interstate 680 in the San Francisco Bay Area last week.
The Model 3 has a very smooth and restrained design, which is the handiwork of Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen. The sedan has a more subtle rear haunch than the Model S and a continuous glass roof that starts at the windshield and run through the rear spoiler.
We’ll get to see more soon!
Tesla has a lot more in the works. The automaker is working on an electric truck and another SUV that would be dubbed Model Y.
But, in order for this machine to successfully complete such a monumental task, the physics of tunnels must, obviously, be well understood. This is why Musk recently met with Hawthorne Mayor Alex Vargas, who has a lengthy background in physics, to discuss the matter.
Discussing physics of tunnels with Mayor Vargas (who has a physics background). Hawthorne support for The Boring Company much appreciated. https://t.co/UAOCildbnT
Mayor Vargas told The Daily Breeze, “It’s an awesome feeling knowing that the future of transportation is being developed here in Hawthorne, in particular this underground tunneling project…Hawthorne is booming because of SpaceX, Tesla, and The Boring Co. [Musk] basically reaffirmed his commitment to helping the community.”
Reporter Sandy Mazza of The Daily Breeze shared images from the meeting via a tweet.
These tunnels will be a feat of physics and engineering. Musk has previously suggested that you could potentially “have 30 layers of tunnels.” His TBM would act as a sort of “mole,” boring through practically anything that would realistically be found in its path, from soft sand to hard rock.
Layers upon layers of tunnels, weighed down by a wide variety of vehicles, will be an ambitious creation, but they could be a game-changer in the future of transportation.
Elon Musk shocked the internet Thursday when he announced that The Boring Company had received “verbal governmental approval” to build the DC-New York Hyperloop with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia. A flurry of speculations on what this might mean quickly arose, fanned by the fact that there is no such thing as “verbal governmental approval” — municipal projects cannot be commenced without written approvals, contracts, and other more formal measures.
If you want this to happen fast, please let your local & federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you.
Officials in those four cities were even more surprised than everyone else.
“Nobody in City Hall, or any of our city agencies, has heard from Mr. Musk or any representatives of his company,” deputy press secretary for the New York’s mayor office, Ben Sarle, told Business Insider. Philadelphia’s deputy communications director for the city of Philadelphia, Mike Dunn, told the publication, “We do not what he means when he says he received ‘verbal government approval.’ There are numerous hurdles for this unproven ‘hyperloop’ technology before it can become reality.”
The Guardian reports that a spokesman with the Maryland department of transportation asked, “Who gave him permission to do that?”
Musk finally answered that question early this morning on Twitter.
Verbal approval was at Federal level. Still a lot of work before formal, written approval, but this opens door for state & city discussions.
Musk’s revelation is confirmation what Business Insider was told by a White House spokesperson referred by the Department of Transportation: “We have had promising conversations to date, are committed to transformative infrastructure projects, and believe our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector.”
“The Boring Company has had a number of promising conversations with local, state, and federal government officials,” a spokesperson from The Boring Company told Business Insider. “With a few exceptions, feedback has been very positive and we have received verbal support from key government decision-makers for tunneling plans, including a Hyperloop route from New York to Washington DC.”
This development means that the Hyperloop still has to gain approval from the effected states, cities, and other regional agencies. Some officials seemed nonplussed, yet excited about the project upon it’s confusing announcement, perhaps signalling that this process may go smoothly.
Anthony McCarthy, the spokesman for the mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, told The Guardian: “Mr Musk’s announcement on Twitter was the first that the city heard of the Hyperloop project. ” However, Pugh said she thinks the project could “create new opportunities for Baltimore and transform the way we link to neighboring cities.”
LaToya Foster, the spokeswoman for Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, said to The Guardian: “We can’t wait to hear more.”
Musk may not be the only person that state officials will be hearing from. He also urged followers who care about the project to contact their local officials, saying in a tweet, “If you want this to happen fast, please let your local and federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you.” Then, about 90 minutes after Musk’s initial announcement, he mentioned his project in Chicago, which has received high levels of local support.
City of Chicago already approached us about doing a high speed tunnel from O’Hare to downtown. They’ve been great.
This, along with his tweet that Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could be added to the line, may reveal Musk’s true agenda with the first announcement: stirring up interest in the project, drawing local officials into the conversation, and ensuring throngs of people living in those cities would be listening and watching when the conversation began. Musk knows that local pressure from residents can help move the project forward, and he likes his timeline progression like he likes his intercity transportation — fast.
Elon Musk has announced via Twitter that he received verbal approval for this plan to build an underground Hyperloop between New York and Washington — which would also stop at Philadelphia and Baltimore. As a result, one could get from New York to D.C. in just 29 minutes.
City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city
It’s worth noting that the approval is only verbal at this point. Which means that it isn’t set in stone. Musk will likely still have to deal with regulatory concerns, and some red tape. He did note, however, that “support would be much appreciated,” in the meantime.
Musk also did not reveal who the permission came from or give any details concerning when the project will start and finish — although he did later reveal that he also plans to build a Hyperloop in Texas and the west coast.
For sure. First set of tunnels are to alleviate greater LA urban congestion. Will start NY-DC in parallel. Then prob LA-SF and a TX loop.
The Hyperloop seems to already be disrupting the transportation industry due to the incredibly short journey times, positive environmental consequences, and comparatively low cost of the project. As long as governmental support continues, this can only be a good thing.
A U.S. House panel will vote this Wednesday, July 19 on a proposal to allow automakers to release up to 100,000 self-driving vehicles onto the road. The measure would allow automakers to sell self-driving cars that have been proven to “function as intended and contain fail safe features” without being burdened by either additional driverless car rules at the state level or a duty to meet existing auto safety standards.
The move, if it is successful, will be the first major federal legislation designed to hasten self-driving cars to market. It would not require pre-market approval of self-driving technologies, although it would require automakers to submit safety assessment reports to federal regulators.
In November 2016, Elon Musk said that the upcoming Tesla Model 3 would incorporate the technology of the new solar roof. However, on July 15 at the National Governors Association meeting, Musk squelched the idea in his remarks. When asked about the solar roof, he indicated that he would “scrap that idea” which requires some very complicated engineering. He explained:
I really thought about this. I pushed my team. Is there some way we can do it on the car? Technically, if you have some sort of transformer-like thing that will pop out of the trunk like a hardtop convertible that ratchets solar panels over the car. . .and provided you are in the sun, that would be enough to generate 20 to 30 miles a day of electricity. It’s a difficult way to do it.
“It will be rare to find one that is not, in ten years. That’s going to be a huge transformation,” Musk asserted.
While he believes autonomous systems will comprise the vast majority of newly produced cars by then, however, the shift to self-driving cars outnumbering traditional ones on the roads will take about five to ten more years. That doesn’t mean all human-driven cars will be gone 20 years from now, however.
Musk expects the shift to autonomous systems will be similar to the one that took place following the introduction of the first mass-produced automobiles about a century ago, which displaced the previous mode of transportation: horses.
“It will be like having a horse. People have horses, which is cool. There will be people who have non-autonomous cars, like people have horses,” he explained. “It would just be unusual to use that as a mode of transport.”
With autonomous vehicles predicted to be safer and more efficient than their traditional counterparts, hopefully these owners of the next-generation of “classic” cars will choose to keep them in the garage more often than they take them on the road.
During a talk at the National Governors Association on Saturday, Elon Musk shared a bold prediction for the future of personal transportation. Not only does he believe that half the cars produced in the United States just 10 years from now will be electric, he thinks almost all cars produced by then will be autonomous.
“In 10 years, half of all production will be EV,” he told the governors. “I think almost all cars produced will be autonomous in 10 years, almost all. It will be rare to find one that is not, in 10 years.”
While EVs and autonomous cars will comprise a bulk of new vehicles, however, that doesn’t mean they will be the majority on the roads. “New vehicle production is only about five percent of the size of the vehicle fleet,” Musk explained, and because a car or truck can last for 15 to 20 years, it will take some time for the old to be replaced by the new. “Even when new vehicle production switches over to electric or autonomous…that still means the vast majority of the fleet is not,” he noted.
Musk estimated that we’ll have to wait a bit longer before we see a significant change in the types of vehicles on the road, but two decades from now, he expects an overwhelming portion of vehicles to be electric and fully autonomous.
The shift won’t be limited to cars and trucks, either. He predicts that eventually “all transport will go fully electric” with the exception of spacecraft.
Musk is at the forefront of this driverless and electric revolution. Tesla recently began production on their Model 3, which is poised to make electric vehicles more affordable, and the company’s cars have been breaking EV industry records for hypermiling and cannonball runs.
Tesla’s progress has spurred their competitors into action, with other industry leaders like Volvo making the decision to go all electric. If the trend continues, Musk’s predictions could prove true and we could be just a few short years from entering the age of electric, autonomous vehicles.
Faraday Future, the California startup that set out to dethrone Tesla in the electric-car business with ambitious plans to build a self-driving, 1,000-horsepower entertainment hub on wheels, is officially in trouble.
The company, at least for now, is abandoning one of its cornerstone projects, a 1-million-square-foot assembly plant in North Las Vegas, it announced on Monday. Business Insider has also learned that the company is significantly pulling back on its operations at its Los Angeles-area headquarters amid a deepening cash crunch.
“We are in a precarious situation right now,” a senior-level Faraday Future employee told Business Insider. “The generous funding we had in the past is no longer here.”
The developments represent a big change in Faraday’s public posture. Though reports of cash shortages and internal strife have circulated for months, the company had continued to insist that it was on track to build the Nevada plant — itself a scaled-down version of a planned 3-million-square-foot facility — and that its electric SUV was on track to hit the market by the end of 2018.
Though it still doesn’t have a production-ready car, Faraday has frequently sought to grab public attention with high-profile presentations and bold claims about the capability of its technology.
Monday’s news is an acknowledgment that things aren’t going as well as the company had hoped. It also suggests that efforts to raise new funding, to ease dependence on its Chinese billionaire backer, failed — at least for now.
“We at Faraday Future are significantly shifting our business strategy to position the company as the leader in user-ship personal mobility — a vehicle usage model that reimagines the way users access mobility,” Faraday Future said Monday in a statement.
“As a result of this shift in direction, we are in the process of identifying a manufacturing facility that presents a faster path to start-of-production and aligns with future strategic options.
“Accordingly, we have decided to put a hold on our factory at the APEX site in North Las Vegas. As the land owner, we remain committed to the buildout of the APEX site for long-term vehicle manufacturing and firmly believe North Las Vegas is an ideal place for us to be.”
Current Faraday employees told Business Insider the company would search for an existing facility in either California or Nevada rather than build its own factory at the North Las Vegas site, which they said would require $80 million to $100 million the company did not have.
Day-to-day operations at Faraday’s Gardena, California, headquarters will continue, but these people said some belt-tightening was required. No layoffs are planned in the near term, but a dearth of financial resources means the development of the company’s FF91 electric SUV is expected to slow down as well.
Who’s Paying for Faraday?
Faraday relies heavily on its owner, Jia Yueting, the founder of the Beijing-based tech giant LeEco, which is having cash-flow problems of its own.
Trading in Leshi was suspended in April for a restructuring review — one of several suspensions for the stock in the past 12 months.
Faraday’s recently hired chief financial officer, Stefan Krause, had set out to corral new investors for Faraday in recent weeks to stave off fallout from Jia’s cash crisis. Krause told Business Insider in a May interview that he had hoped to round up $1 billion in a series A round of funding. His worldwide blitz took him to the Middle East, London, Germany, China, and back to the US to speak with roughly 35 investors — mostly private individuals — to fund a two-year plan designed to get Faraday’s factory off the ground and move the FF91 closer to production.
Faraday employees with knowledge of the talks told Business Insider the endeavor was unsuccessful because of the uncertainty surrounding Jia and LeEco.
“The noise around him really makes it difficult to find investors right now,” one senior-level employee said of Jia. “There’s a lot of interest — the story sells very well — but his situation makes them all stand on the sidelines and they’re not really willing to provide the money.”
Expanding Too Quickly, Setting off Alarms
Jia, who goes by the nickname YT, has personally backed Faraday since the company was founded in 2014, but the blows the billionaire’s financial portfolio has taken in the past year have created problems throughout his sprawling empire.
LeEco sought to expand rapidly in the US last year, opening new offices in San Jose, California, with plans for a larger campus to be built on some 50 acres the company bought from Yahoo. LeEco also planned to buy the TV-maker Vizio for $2 billion. Separately, Faraday bought 900 acres of land in North Las Vegas for its inaugural factory and made deals with the San Francisco Bay Area city of Vallejo to secure property for a second facility.
All of those plans were canceled. LeEco sold off the Yahoo property less than a year after the purchase, laid off 70% of its US workforce, and dropped the $2 billion Vizio deal. Construction was halted at Faraday’s North Las Vegas site before any foundation was laid, and suppliers began suing Faraday over unpaid bills.
More than $2 billion in fresh investment from a Chinese real-estate business late last year did little to slow LeEco’s bleeding, and several high-profile executives left Faraday in a hurry. A handful of Faraday’s suppliers sued the company for millions, claiming they were not paid. And creditors occupied LeEco’s Beijing offices for a week in June, demanding payment.
Jia acknowledged last fall that LeEco expanded too quickly and required more cash than the company anticipated. Jia wrote a public plea for leniency on China’s biggest social-media site, Weibo, last week, promising to repay his debts while also saying he would throw all of his energy into his electric-car business.
“Please give LeEco some time, please give LeEco car some time,” Jia wrote. “We will pay back creditors, suppliers and any other debts.” Jia told stakeholders that his empire’s financial troubles were “more severe than we expected” and said the company “made some mistakes” in allocating its funds.
He promised to dive headfirst into the car business with Faraday Future, but critics have said the capital-intensive endeavor is what caused his troubles.
Faraday’s Fight to Survive
Krause said Faraday would search for an existing facility to build its FF91 self-driving cars once they were ready for production. For the Deutsche Bank and BMW veteran, the rationale is straightforward: An operational factory is the key to new investor cash.
“Some of them would like to see a factory and would like to see us moving a little bit further down the road,” Krause told Business Insider in a phone interview last week. “We will secure an existing facility that we can lease or buy at a low cost and then bring in our equipment and be faster to market with the FF91,” Krause said, adding that Faraday had already purchased some of the equipment for the factory that was planned for North Las Vegas.
But the startup still faces a dire outlook in the short term. The company is slowing down development of the FF91, which has been undergoing beta testing for months. Faraday has sought to keep some positive buzz going, participating last month in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where it beat a Tesla Model S P90D in a 12-mile high-altitude race in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Still, publicity stunts have done little to deflect the real concern that Faraday’s days may be numbered. The company says that, while it no longer has access to generous funding through Jia, it is still able to cover payroll for its roughly 1,000 employees. Faraday executives declined to clarify what the company spent to maintain staffing and routine operations.
Exhibiting the same kind of dogged determination of its owner, Faraday Future insists it will push forward. Jia has other financial holdings in the US, including some real estate, which could be liquidated for cash. And the acreage Faraday owns in North Las Vegas could also be sold to replenish its reserves.
It is unclear how long Faraday can hobble into the future with its visions of immersive self-driving, electric transport, but, at least for now, the company remains intent to fight a while longer.
Maybe you saw Spiderman: Homecoming over the weekend and thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could crawl to the top of buildings like that?” Soon, you might be able to, though not exactly the way Spidey does.
“There are currently two main methods for vertical transportation that have prevailed for the last 100 years, the stairs and the lift,” Larriba explained to design magazine Dezeen, which spotted the Vycle at the RCA’s graduate exhibition.
“Stairs are bulky and unattractive, especially in high rise buildings where people don’t often use them, and lifts require a lot of energy in order to move one person a couple of meters up,” said Larriba. “This carves out an area of opportunity that sits between the two.”
In its first full system trial at the test track in Nevada, Hyperloop One has successfully created vacuum conditions that allowed it to travel at speeds of about 110 km/h (70 mph). While this does not seem dizzyingly fast, it means that the system achieved its primary function of reducing air resistance to a level similar to a plane flying at 61,000 meters (200,000 feet) — this is what will, eventually, allow it to travel at hyperspeed.
The achievement marks a successful jump over the first hurdle in a series that will lead to the Hyperloop’s implementation. The next test it will undertake is to travel 400 km/h (250 mph) on the same track, although the final goal will be to travel at speeds of up to 1,200 km/h (750 mph) in a real world setting. This break-neck speed should be easier to achieve on the intercity tracks that will be significantly longer track than the test course in Nevada, which would allow the pod to build up a little more steam.
City to City Transport
Hyperloop has significant advantages for travelers, the economy, and the environment. Eventually, it will be able to travel far faster than any method of land based transport currently available — with its closest competitor, the bullet train, only capable of speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph). Projections indicate that it will also be cheaper to build than bullet train systems. To compare, California’s bullet train will cost $12.7 billion to install, while Elon Musk predicts a Hyperloop will cost $7.5 billion.
The hyperloop will also beat out other means of transportation for convenience and value — it is designed to arrive at stops every 30 seconds. Due to this increased frequency and decreased cost, the hyperloop offers a viable alternative to road-based transport, which means that it will lower our emissions of greenhouse gases — a characteristic augmented by the installation of solar panels on the roofs of the carriages.
The self-driving car market, which used to a niche one, is slowly going mainstream. Industry veterans are taking on the autonomous vehicle challenge, and the German automaker Audi is not getting left behind.
The company recently announced the production of an all-electric SUV, and now it’s gearing up to release the A8, which was unveiled yesterday at the Audi Summit in Barcelona. Not only is the vehicle at the top of Audi’s luxury sedan lineup, but the A8 will also come with Level 3 autonomy. That’s right, it’s going to be capable of driving itself.
The A8 comes with a ton of impressive features, but let’s focus on Audi’s pilot-driving software. There’s the “traffic jam pilot” which is activated by pressing the artificial intelligence (AI) button found on the center console for autonomous driving in slow-moving traffic, according to an Audi press release. To do this, the A8’s central driver assistance controller combines sensor data from a front camera, ultrasonic sensors, radar, and — a first in a production car — LIDAR.
The A8 also introduces the Audi AI remote parking pilot and garage pilot. The driver can remotely monitor the car as it parks itself using their smartphone with the new myAudi app, where they can watch a live display from the A8’s 360° cameras.
The A8 is a “mild hybrid,” and gas and diesel models will be available, both equipped with tech to lower fuel consumption. This may make it more attractive to customers who dread having to charge electric cars.
However, customers will have to be willing to pay significantly more for these features, as the A8 is set to start at a $103,243 (90,600 EUR), compared to Tesla’s Model 3, which is going for $35,000. We will soon see if drivers accept the expense, as the A8 is set to hit German roads late this fall and the U.S. by mid-2018.
Tesla just released a new video revealing how they plan to expand and improve their automotive services, giving car maintenance a special Tesla twist.
The company’s electric vehicles will feature over-the-air software updates and remote diagnostic features, which, according to the video, will be able to identify 90 percent of vehicle issues.
Tesla is also making it easier for customers to get help from humans by employing mobile technicians who will be able to take the shop to the car instead of vice versa. Additionally, if a car does need to be brought in for repairs or maintenance, drivers can make appointments through a feature in the vehicle itself.
Tesla is committing to streamlining the service center experience, promising that services will be four times faster than conventional repair shops.
Tesla’s decision to build 100 more optimized service centers is part of a wider strategy to create the infrastructure necessary to fully integrate electric, autonomous vehicles into our future. We may have a few more years before we reach that goal, but the wait for Tesla’s update service system won’t be that long. According to Elon Musk, the vision of Tesla service revealed in the video represents “the very near future, not, like, the far away future.”
Tesla has a bunch of lofty goals for the next few years — and all of them rely on its massive battery plant known as the Gigafactory.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has always been forthcoming about the size of the Gigafactory. He has said it will be the world’s largest building by footprint — big enough to fit 100 Boeing 747 jets. But from the ground, it can be difficult to appreciate the sheer size of the facility, which stretches 5.5 million square feet.
Instagram user Eva Kaplan, however, was apparently able to capture the magnitude of the Gigafactory while on a flight traveling to Reno, Nevada.
From the photos, it’s easy to see why Musk has called the building an “alien dreadnought.”
Tesla did not immediately confirm the veracity of the images to Business Insider, but the building in Kaplann’s photos appears to be identical to prior images we’ve seen of the plant.
A Key Role
The Gigafactory will play a key role in helping Tesla meet its lofty goal of producing 500,000 vehicles annually in 2018, a five-fold production increase. The electric car maker is producing its lithium-ion batteries at the plant as part of a partnership with Panasonic.
The $6 billion plant doesn’t only supply the batteries for the Model S, Model X, and newly released Model 3 vehicles. It also supports Tesla’s growing energy division, which develops the company’s at-home battery, the Powerwall, and commercial battery, the Powerpack.
Tesla will aim to sell more Powerwall batteries now that it has entered the solar business with the launch of its solar roof product. The company acquired solar panel installer SolarCity in a deal worth $2.1 billion in November.
But Tesla is also making strides with its Powerpack projects — Tesla announced last Friday that it will build the world’s largest battery in Australia. The Powerpack system will store energy from a wind farm in South Australia to power up to 50,000 homes.
But Tesla is far from the only company making a big investment in battery production.
Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company, broke ground on its second battery plant in Germany in May, which will begin production in 2018. Chinese companies are also set to bury Tesla when it comes to battery production in 2021, Bloomberg reported.
Jaguar is releasing its Model X competitor in 2018 — and the vehicle is absolutely gorgeous.
The SUV will be Jaguar’s very first electric car. Jaguar is smart to start with an SUV at a time where US consumers are consistently opting for more space.
The move puts Jaguar in direct competition with Tesla’s Model X, which has also experienced strong demand. In fact, Tesla sold roughly the same number of Model X SUVs (11,550) as Model S sedans (13,450) in the first quarter.
Here’s what you need to know about Jaguar’s very first electric car:
Behold: Jaguar’s I-PACE, a five-seat SUV. Here it looks somewhat similar to Tesla’s Model X.
See what I mean?
The I-PACE is a preview of Jaguar’s electric, five-seat production car coming in 2018. That production car will be Jaguar’s first ever battery-powered vehicle. The brand new red I-PACE debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
The car features a “cab-forward design.” Jaguar was able to execute this design because the car doesn’t need an engine upfront. Jaguar said in a statement that taking a cab-forward design approach frees up room in the interior to make it more spacious.
The I-PACE’s design is why many will consider the vehicle a crossover SUV. It has a compact body and is fairly low to the ground for a traditional SUV, but it still seats five while offering plenty of cargo space.
The Jaguar I-PACE has the same suspension system as the F-PACE, which Business Insider’s Matt DeBord called “the most beautiful SUV on planet Earth” in 2015.Jaguar has admitted the design it chose is unique in that sense.
“The I-PACE Concept is, however, something altogether new: not a traditional sports car, saloon or SUV and absolutely not a traditional Jaguar,” the automaker wrote in a press statement.
The car comes with a 90 kWh battery pack that powers two, 200 hp electric motors sitting over each axle.
Jaguar claims the car has a range of 220 miles, allowing it to compete most closely with the Model X 75D that offers 237 miles of range and starts at $85,500.
There’s no word on how much the Jaguar electric SUV will cost yet, so it’s hard to really compare it to the competition just yet. But Joe Eberhardt, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America, said in a Business Insider interview it will be comparable to luxury offerings from brands like Porsche.
As Business Insider’s Benjamin Zhang pointed out, that means you’re looking at an asking price north of $50,000, which, again, not to beat a dead horse, really places it as a competitor with the luxury Model X in both offerings and price.
Jaguar said the car will offer 400 hp and 516 lb./ft. of torque, allowing it to accelerate to 60 mph in 4 seconds. That outpaces the Model X 75D and 90D, which can accelerate to 60 mph in 6 seconds and 4.8 seconds, respectively.
The I-PACE comes with a rear spoiler and a full-length panoramic sunroof.
Using a 50 kW DC rapid charger, it will charge the car in two hours.
The interior itself is striking. The seats are made of fine Windsor leather that matches the light color palette used inside.
The cockpit comes with two touchscreens on the center console.
The traditional driver’s instrument was also replaced with a virtual screen that can be controlled using buttons on the steering wheel. The buttons offer haptic feedback when in use.
Here’s another shot of the cockpit, which was finished with dark walnut veneers.
It’s easy to see the attention to detail, from the stitching on the seats…
… To the seamless integration of metal and wood…
… To Jaguar’s personal engraving etched with laser on the instrument panel’s wood surface.
From what we know about the car so far, it seems Jaguar’s car has the potential to be a real contender in the electric car space when it arrives in 2018.
After teasing that the Tesla Model 3 was headed to production last week, Elon Musk tweeted out a photo of SN1 on Saturday night. Earlier this month, Musk tweeted that the Model 3 was headed to production after passing the last round of regulatory requirements with flying colors. The Model 3 serial number 1 (SN1) was slated to roll off the production line on Friday, and based on Musk’s photos it looks like that goal was met. In terms of customer’s expectations, if the photos of the sleek new Tesla are any indication, they’ve likely not just been met, but exceeded.
The most anticipated Tesla model yet, the Model 3 will be the most affordable electric vehicle to date. By the end of the July, at least 30 Tesla customers will have theirs in hand: Musk indicated in earlier tweets that the first 30 preorders would be fulfilled at a party on the 28th of this month.
For the other 400,000-some people who preordered (and anyone else hoping to snag one for $35,000), Tesla’s aiming to produce 20,000 Model 3’s each month by December — a goal they’ll reach gradually, starting with 100 produced by August, then 1,500 by September. While it might seem like an ambitious timeline, it’s hardly the most ambitious a company of Musk’s has undertaken. And with the help of the legion of robots at the Tesla Gigafactory (where the Model 3 batteries are being manufactured), the Model 3’s rollout will no doubt continue right on — if not ahead of — schedule.
At present, there are already a number of vehicles that feature autonomous driving softwares. As advanced as they are, these vehicles still haven’t attained Level 5 autonomy — reserved for truly autonomous systems. For Swedish startup Einride, however, this is the bar to meet, and they have developed a prototype vehicle that fully embraces the autonomous future.
Einride’s T-Pod is an all electric truck built for long-haul deliveries. The trailer, which is a little over 7 meters (23 feet) has space for cargo but lacks a cabin for a human driver or operator — as well as everything else that goes in a driving space, i.e. pedals, a steering wheel, and a windshield. It can be remotely controlled by a human operator or run completely free of human control.
The goal is to setup a complete transport system “running between the cities of Gothenburg and Helsingborg, Sweden, and the first active system will cover a capacity of 2,000,000 pallets per year,” according to an Einride press release. The prototype, unveiled at a week-long Swedish political event, is set for testing this year. If all goes well, international distribution would soon follow.
Long-haul trucking has always been the number one industry that seemed viable for a full autonomous takeover, as its mostly confined to the highway. Back in 2016, Uber demonstrated the potential for driverless trucks. Einride wants to turn that potential into reality.
The Hyperloop, a transportation concept that features ultra-fast pods that run in specialized tubes, was first imagined by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk. Now, several startups are hard at work in turning this futuristic transportation system into reality. One of these is Pacific Hyperloop, and this team wants to bring you from Seattle to Portland in just 15 minutes.
Pacific Hyperloop was among the 35 finalists, out of 2,600 applicants worldwide, from last April’s Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Building a Hyperloop route connecting Seattle to Portland wasn’t a random idea. “Seattle and Portland are known for having some of the worst traffic in America (No. 4 and No. 7 respectively),” the group posted in their Change.org online petition. “Implementing Hyperloop would not only alleviate traffic on highways for others, but also create a consistent and reliable commuting experience that would not be affected by factors like car accidents or crazy weather.”
For the study, 105 participants were put in a virtual reality (VR) scenario during which they drove around suburbia on a foggy day. They then encountered unavoidable dilemmas that forced them to choose between hitting people, animals, and inanimate objects with their virtual car.
The previous assumption was that these types of moral decisions were highly contextual and therefore beyond computational modeling. “But we found quite the opposite,” Leon Sütfeld, first author of the study, told Science Daily. “Human behavior in dilemma situations can be modeled by a rather simple value-of-life-based model that is attributed by the participant to every human, animal, or inanimate object.”
Better Than Human
A lot of virtual ink has been spilt online concerning the benefits of driverless cars. Elon Musk is in the vanguard, stating emphatically that those who do not support the technology are “killing people.” His view is that the technology can be smarter, more impartial, and better at driving than humans, and thus able to save lives.
Currently, however, the cars are large pieces of hardware supported by rudimentary driverless technology. The question of how many lives they could save is contingent upon how we choose to program them, and that’s where the results of this study come into play. If we expect driverless cars to be better than humans, why would we program them like human drivers?
As Professor Gordon Pipa, a senior author on the study, explained, “We need to ask whether autonomous systems should adopt moral judgements. If yes, should they imitate moral behavior by imitating human decisions? Should they behave along ethical theories, and if so, which ones? And critically, if things go wrong, who or what is at fault?”
Just how safe driverless vehicles will be in the future is dependent on how we choose to program them, and while that task won’t be easy, knowing how we would react in various situations should help us along the way.
Chinese officials in Qinghuangdao have stated that the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) — which made headlines after it conducted its first road test in August 2016 — was probably a scam, along with the platform it used to attract investment. The officials have made over 30 arrests in connection to the hoax, including Bai Zhiming — CEO of the company and patent owner of the bus.
Specifically, the company behind the TEB is being investigated for illegal fundraising on Huaying Kailai, an online fundraising platform, which was using private investment opportunities to finance the development of the bus, promising investors that they would see a 12 percent return. Law suits against the company are already being filed by 72 individual investors, and Autek, the company that designed the bus, is still owed money.
The 300-meter (985-foot) stretch of track that the bus traveled on has started to be dismantled, and any investors in the project have been advised to approach authorities with any complaints or queries.
While this is sad news for what appeared to be a promising solution to China’s traffic congestion crisis, it is a small failure in the much wider field of innovative transportation — which is currently booming. There are still numerous viable options for dealing with congestion: most of which, like the TEB, seek to make use of developing transports for spaces other than on roads.
Dubai has targeted the skies as the next arena for transportation by developing autonomous flying taxis that will follow set routes: they are rumored to begin testing later this year. In a sense, this is the extreme version of the TEB, travelling hundreds of meters above traffic instead of two or three.
In the U.S., we can see the emergence of the inverse of the TEB: Elon Musk’s boring tunnels, which opt for traveling under traffic rather than over it. The tunnel system will contain a hyperloop, sleds, and elevator shafts, as well as roads for the cars of the future to travel.
He expects that the serial number 1 (SN1) for Tesla’s electric vehicle will be finished by the end of this week. Musk also said in a second tweet that the “handover party” for the first 30 Model 3 customers will take place on the 28th of this month.
Musk was clearly pleased to make the announcement, and he’d done the legwork ahead of potential questions, too. He also shared on Twitter just how many Model 3s are expected to be rolled out by the end of 2017. Continuing on in his Twitter thread, the Tesla CEO said that they expect 100 cars by August and over 1,500 by September. By December, Tesla hopes to be producing 20,000 Model 3s per month.
Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in Dec
Even before electric cars officially take over as the new normal, clean driving just isn’t enough for some. One company is looking to take green personal transportation to unprecedented heights. Lightyear is a next-generation car company from the Netherlands that is making some truly lofty promises. The company is working on bringing the world a vehicle powered not just by electricity, but by energy generated from the sun.
According to the company’s website, “all cars of the world combined drive one light year, every year.” Their mission is to switch from a fossil fuel powered light year of travel to one powered by the sun by 2030.
Lightyear is hoping to sidestep one of the major limitations and anxieties of electric vehicles: range. Mass adoption of electric vehicles could be hindered by a lack of investment in charging infrastructure. The website claims that “[o]nly 3% of the world population lives within 100 km of a publicly accessible charging station.”
Everything the Light Touches
The vehicle promised will be powered by energy stored in a battery that can be charged both by a standard (3.7 kW) outlet, as well as solar panels in the vehicle’s body. In a sunny environment like Hawaii, the car could theoretically run for months between charges. Even without the sun, the car could run for a significant range. “Depending on your battery configuration you have between 400 – 800 km of range buffered in the battery,” Lightyear says on their website’s FAQ section.
This technology has yet to be proven, although the company is planning to have ten vehicles produced in 2019. Cost is also a considerable barrier to obtaining one of these future cars. You can reserve one for €19,000 (around $21,700) — a small chunk of the overall €119,000 ($135,800) price tag. It’s an interesting addition to the EV lineup, so we’ll be sure to keep an eye on the development of this technology as the first prototype gets closer to hitting the road.
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to revolutionize travel, but there is one segment of society, who have so far been overlooked, that they could greatly benefit: people with disabilities. Driverless cars, according to a report by the Ruderman Foundation “offer significant potential for reducing transportation obstacles for Americans with disabilities.”
The report is divided into subsections that make suggestions for specific disabilities. For the deaf community, it states that visual cues and instruction capabilities would be helpful. Intellectual and developmental disabilities could be provided for by creating a means of operation with minimal complexity, and caretakers for those with these disabilities could ensure their safety if tools such as GPS tracking and remotely accessible video cameras were provided.
For those with physical disabilities, the priority is to make the vehicle accessible, which an automatic ramp could do. A Siri-esque, voice-controlled communication system between car and driver would help them operate the vehicle once they are inside.
In order to benefit the disabled community to the maximum degree possible, solutions such as these will have to be designed and integrated “as early as possible in the design and manufacturing process,” according to the report. If not, the disabled community may face clumsy, expensive, and inefficient solutions when fighting for back-end accessibility.
Helping the Economy by Helping Millions
In 2015, statistics from the CDC showed that one in every five American adults has a disability; they also wrote that because of their data source, this number was likely underestimated. Designing driverless cars that accommodate this community therefore has the potential to help more than 22% of the population. Getting from point A to B independently is a huge problem for many people in the community, and therefore designing autonomous cars with disabled people in mind would not only increase their travel situation, but quality of life in general.
While public transport provides a partial solution to travel for people with disabilities, driverless cars could represent a huge step forward for accessibility and independence — and in the process rectify the imbalance of opportunity, wage, and education that those with disabilities face. This would be beneficial not only to individuals, but to the US economy as a whole, because it would decrease the rate of unemployment and the market failure caused by immobility of labor.
While the future of driverless cars looks bright and exciting — with companies like Mercedes making sports car versions and stories such as autonomous vehicles preventing traffic jams becoming more common — perhaps car manufacturers should instead focus on the opportunity of improving the living standards of nearly one in every five Americans. If driverless cars are a revolution, let them be a revolution for all of us.
If you’ve been waiting for more details about the Tesla Model 3 launch, you’ll want to stay tuned this Sunday, July 2. Late last night, Elon Musk responded to a Twitter user’s query about the exact release date of the latest Tesla model:
In the past, both Tesla as a company and Musk personally have stated that deliveries of the Model 3 will begin in July. Obviously, once the new models are in circulation, the final details will no longer be rumor, but verified fact. For instance, fans are waiting to see whether there will be a solar roof or windshield, and how much the car’s final look will resemble leaked photos of prototypes.
Only the most hardcore Tesla loyalists and employees will be driving Model 3s from the first production run, but the plan has been for production to scale up by September. Sunday may also be when we find out what the configuration process looks like — although Musk has already said it will be limited. In order to limit complexity and achieve an economy of scale, Model 3 buyers will probably choose their car’s color and the size of its wheels.
On Friday, Elon Musk posted a series of tweets that at first seemed a bit odd (“I love floors”), but that quickly proved to be a lead-up for an exciting update about The Boring Company. Musk’s thread of tweets ended with a video that showcased one of the most intriguing parts of The Boring Company’s forthcoming tunnel system: the elevator for the electric sled.
Musk’s concept for tunnels running under the streets of Los Angeles won’t feature regular roads, so that’s where the need for this “electric sled” comes in. According to The Boring Company’s website and the concept video they released, the components of the elevator (shafts, sleds, and skates) will facilitate carrying cars down into the tunnel, as well as ferrying people. The sled itself is capable of traveling at speeds of 200 k/h (125 mph).
Ready for Testing
According to Musk, the first elevator for the electric sled could be operational by as soon as next week. This would indicate that construction of the first part of the L.A. tunnel — the Culver City route which would connect to the LAX — is well underway. With support from L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti, the progress isn’t too surprising. That being said, just because some steady progress has been made and there’s government support for Musk’s project, until the Hyperloop is fully realized it’s unlikely that there will be an immediate use for the electric sled’s elevator. Other than for the purpose of testing, of course.
Still, seeing the inner workings of the project’s progress is pretty neat, as was emphasized by a short video Musk posted that shows the area around the tunnel site.
Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker has unveiled a prototype of his luxury electric vehicle (EV) — the EMotion — on Twitter, ahead of the official unveiling event that will occur later today. Pre-orders for the $129,000 vehicle have also opened, which require a $2000 deposit. Production of the car is set to begin in 2019.
“The EMotion will be equipped with hardware that will allow fully autonomous driving when approved and released by a soon-to-be-announced partnered supplier. The interior will emphasize ultimate comfort and user interface from both front and rear seats, and all seats will have access to screens and infotainment features.”
The Luxury EV Market
The development of EVs at all ends of the spectrum is pivotal to the success of the technology. Fisker’s price indicates he is aiming for the luxury car price range, and if the figures stand up to scrutiny, the vehicle will be able to compete with its petrol or diesel powered counterparts.
If Fisker’s bold claims are true, the car will exceed almost any other EV on the market — including the Tesla model S, the car Fisker claims to have helped design and now seems to be taking aim at. Tesla’s vehicle has a range of up to 300 km (186 miles) if you use the $10,000 85-kwh battery, and takes an hour to charge if you use a Tesla Supercharger station.
There is also promising competition from Porsche in the form of the Mission E. The company aims to be producing the EV by 2020, which they estimate will have a range of 450 km (250 miles), and a charge time of 15 minutes.
This competition is good news for the EV market, as it will encourage innovation that will drive the more environmentally friendly type of car forward. Whoever wins the EV supercar race, the planet wins too.
Private companies in China and America are achieving hypersonic speed in aircraft — speeds categorized as those which exceed five on the mach scale, which equates to 3,835 miles per hour or above. At this speed, an aircraft could travel the circumference of the Earth in approximately 6 and a half hours.
We could see this speed attained and made commonplace within the next few years, with estimates stretching from 2020 to 2030. Alan Bond, a co-founder of Reaction Engines, said that this could be “a revolution in transportation equivalent to the jet engine.”
It is only now that we really have the technology required to overcome the extreme heat (surface temperatures exceed 1,000 degrees Celsius) and changes in air that occur at these ludicrous speeds. as well as developing ways to introduce them into common usage by tackling factors like the deafening boom caused by breaking the sound barrier.
Among the most prominent companies working on this is Lockheed Martin, whose SR-72 will reportedly be used to carry out surveillance missions as a successor to the SR-71 blackbird. The company announced earlier this month that it would begin production.
Nissan is trying to return its all-electric Leaf to its former state of glory.
The Nissan Leaf is the world’s best-selling electric car, but that’s largely been a product of it being a very early, affordable contender in the electric vehicle space. The Leaf, which can drive 107 miles on a single charge, has lately been eclipsed by incumbents like the Chevy Bolt, a $37,495 car with 238 miles of range.
As Tesla prepares to officially launch its mass-market Model 3 in July, Nissan’s Leaf is set to get more competition.
But Nissan is gearing up for a fair fight: the automaker will attempt to challenge Tesla’s Autopilot by installing its ProPILOT Assist in the 2018 Leaf, which is expected to drive 200 miles on a single charge.
ProPILOT allows vehicles to drive autonomously on highways by keeping the car in a single lane even when the road curves. The system will also automatically brake if it detects an obstacle in front of it.
ProPILOT, which is essentially adaptive cruise control, is not as sophisticated as Tesla Autopilot, which offers active cruise control, forward collision warning, autosteer, and automatic parallel parking.
By the end of the year, Autopilot will be able to handle even more complex tasks, like automatic lane changes and the ability to merge on and off highways.
But Nissan has big plans for its ProPILOT technology, saying it will support level 4 autonomous driving by 2020. That means the cars can handle any driving scenario without relying on a driver.
Nissan first installed its ProPILOT technology in its Serena minivans in Japan last August. As part of its ramp-up efforts, Nissan said last year that ProPILOT will allow cars to automatically change lanes by 2018.
A Nissan spokesperson declined to say whether the 2018 Leaf will come with the automatic lane change feature, but said the automaker is still committed to its 2020 timeline.
If not next year, Nissan will need to add features like automatic lane change soon if it wants to compete with Tesla.
Despite all the buzz and excitement over Elon Musk’s new tunnel-digging venture, the Boring Company seemed stalled at SpaceX’s Hawthorne headquarters. Apart from experiments in said parking lot, the company wasn’t really doing much actual digging in Los Angeles — until today.
Taking to his favorite platform for announcements, Musk tweeted that “Godot” — the Samuel Beckett-inspired Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) weighing 109,000 kg (1,200 tons) and measuring some 122 meters (400 feet) long —has been on the move in L.A.
No longer waiting for Godot. It has begun boring and just completed the first segment of tunnel in LA.
Clearly, the Boring Company and the city of L.A. have discussed the project, though there’s no information yet regarding the details. We do know thanks to a tweet from Musk earlier this month that L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti is supportive of the plans to tunnel below the city’s traffic, so that’s no doubt making it easier to get the necessary permits to actually start digging.
Not Your Ordinary Tunnel Network
The Boring Company isn’t your ordinary tunneling company. Aside from wanting to make the digging process more efficient, Musk also wants to build something far beyond a simple network of underground roads.
The tunnels would eventually run under the greater part of L.A., but initial plans would connect Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood, and Sherman Oaks. The Culver City route was the first to start construction.
Garcetti isn’t the only one digging the tunneling idea. Recently, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he’s also in talks with Musk for a high-speed rail line that would run from downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport. This could potentially be the Boring Company’s second tunnel site.
Drive.ai is not your typical startup. The company’s website says that a couple of former lab mates out of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab formed the venture. Their focus is on developing the brains behind autonomous vehicles. To accomplish this, the company has recently raised $50 million.
Drive.ai is not interested in creating self-driving vehicles in the same way that Tesla or Mercedes-Benz are. Instead the innovators are focusing on creating a system to retro-fit vehicles with self-driving technology. “What we are building at Drive.ai is the brains for self-driving cars,” CEO Sameep Tandon told Business Insider. “We think self-driving cars are going to make roads safer, give us our time back, and re-imagine our cities.”
Experts assert that self-driving cars are the wave of the future. This technology could both help to bridge the gap between traditional and autonomous vehicles as well as help consumers who may not be in the market for a brand new car.
What makes Drive.ai’s technology special is that its “brain” utilizes deep learning software to become a better driver. The artificial intelligence operating the vehicle can actually learn from its experiences out on the road, making it more adaptable than what can be programmed in a lab. This will help the software to learn to deal with difficult situations much faster than a firmware update.
After a recent announcement that Volvo will attempt to challenge Tesla in the electric vehicle market, the car manufacturer has now also made a gambit to join the autonomous vehicle competition. The Swedish car giant has teamed up with Nvidia for the project, specifically utilizing Nvidia’s Drive PX, which is capable of processing data from 12 video cameras as well as lidar, radar, and ultrasonic sensors.
This news comes in the wake of an announcement from the CEO of Volvo, Hakan Samuelsson, that the company intends to square off with Tesla at the expense of diesel engines. Samuelsson explained in an email to Reuters, “We have to recognize that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up. In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design.”
The software that will govern the driverless system is provided by Autoliv, who Volvo is partnering with under the new name Zenuity for this venture. Although some parts of the collaboration will be exclusive for Volvo, other aspects that Autoliv will develop could be sold to other car makers.
Volvo and Nvidia have teamed up before for Volvo’s autonomous car pilot program, “Drive Me,” but this the first time they have teamed up for a commercially available vehicle, which the company aims to launch in 2021.
Plenty of Fish in the AV Sea
The ever growing hype around driverless car technology — which has the potential to make our roads safer and faster — has encouraged several other notable players in the motor vehicle and computer industries to start developing their own variants of the technology. Volvo is another racehorse in stable of big-name, big-money ventures.
Also joining the race for the future of transport are: Tesla, who arguably pioneered driverless technology and have a potential industry changer in their hotly anticipated Model 3; Google, who have also entered the fray by launching — as Volvo did — a separate company called Google Auto LLC to develop their driverless cars; and Ford, who have gone as far to test their cars in snowy conditions last year.
There is, therefore, a huge amount of competition among car makers, which is exciting for our driverless future as it will lead to the best autonomous cars possible on our roads. Competition breeds innovation, after all.
Serial entrepreneur and innovator Elon Musk is truly the 21st century’s transportation guru. He’s had a stake in the transport sector ever since the first Tesla rolled out of production, then he got into the higher-stakes world of space transport with SpaceX. Most recently, he took his talents underground, founding a tunnel startup to bore below Los Angeles traffic.
Now that construction and testing is well on its way in L.A., other cities have shown interest in Musk’s solution to heavy traffic. The latest is Chicago, whose mayor Rahm Emanuel has expressed interest in assessing the potential of Musk’s Boring Company to improve his city.
According to local daily The Chicago Tribune, the mayor told reporters on Monday that he is in talks with Musk about the possibility of creating an underground high-speed rail line to connect downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport: “[Elon Musk] has expressed an interest in what Chicago’s doing…They are very interested, and we’re going to have them now out to the city to explore further what we are doing and planning and to see if the tunnel approach is an alternative to the ones we’ve been discussing.”
More Than Just a Rail Line
Airport traffic seems to be a primary concern for major cities reaching out to Musk. Recently, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti expressed interest in Musk’s tunnel project to improve traffic to and from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
“Like many other cities have, I’d love to see maybe even with the new tunneling technology that people like Elon Musk is looking at, whether we could have a quick and direct route from LAX to Union Station,” he told ABC reporters.
If Musk has his way, the tech will most definitely be quick. The tunnels he creates are likely to incorporate a Hyperloop system, which, according to the Boring Company’s website, could transport passengers at speeds exceeding 965 kph (600 mph).
Whatever the case may be, the willingness of Chicago and other cities to work with Musk is a huge step in revamping transportation infrastructure, which will be essential to supporting the growing world population.
New photos of the Tesla Model 3 — the most anticipated electric car of the decade, if not all time — have been leaked by You You Xue, who claimed on Reddit that Xue came across the new model randomly in San Matteo, and “jumped straight out of the car and started snapping photos!” The car is due to be launched sometime this year.
Tesla has been extremely secretive about the project, going as far as to camouflage and cover the vehicle in every road test it has conducted to date.
The photos show us the interior of Tesla’s upcoming vehicle, including its dashboard with a 43-cm (17-inch) display, the steering wheel, charging ports, and wheels.
At this point, 2017 looks to be the year of Elon Musk, who is pushing the boundaries of almost any industry he enters: from space rockets, to solar panels, to autonomous vehicles — the sky seems to be the limit for the modern technological prophet.