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Businesses

Survey Says: Elon Musk Is Most Admired Tech Leader, Topping Bezos and Zuckerberg (teslarati.com) 115

First Round Capital conducted a poll of 700 tech company founders and found Elon Musk to be the most admired leader in the technology industry. Elon Musk received 23 percent of the votes; 10 percent said Amazon's Jeff Bezos, 6 percent said Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and 5 percent wrote in Steve Jobs. First Round writes: "We launched State of Startups to capture what it means to be an entrepreneur. We asked the leaders of venture-backed companies about everything from the fundraising environment to their working relationships with their co-founders to their office's price per square foot. [...] Once again, we asked founders to write in which current tech leader they admire the most and we tallied 125 names. The Tesla and SpaceX leader held firm at the top spot (23%)..." Teslarati reports: While the survey did not ask respondents to explain their choice, it is safe to assume that Elon's propensity for setting lofty and visionary goals, and then being able to execute on them, is one trait admired most by tech founders. Most recently, Musk moved the scheduled start of production for the upcoming Model 3 midsize sedan forward by a full two years. Tesla also recently celebrated a record-setting third quarter and has been moving aggressively to close the second half of this year with 50,000 cars delivered. The company has announced a series of sweeteners to motivate people to order and take delivery of new vehicles before the end of the year. Unlimited Supercharger access for long distance travel and a, then, upcoming price hike on its entry level Model S 60, announced by the Palo Alto-based electric car maker and energy company, were incentives to stimulate sales. With plans to increase annual vehicle production by a factor of ten to twenty-fold by the end of the decade, send humans to mars and transform the energy sector, Musk's innovative solutions to rewrite humanity as we know it joins an elite rank held by few genius inventors and industrialists who have gone on to change the world.
News

Right-Wing and Fake News Writers Are Now Going After Elon Musk (qz.com) 725

Fake news galvanized US president-elect Donald Trump's supporters, and sullied his enemies. Now it may be Elon Musk's turn. Quartz adds: The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has his fair share of detractors, but a new era in a public relations battle to discredit him appears to be taking shape. Bloomberg reports that hard-right groups are lining up to back misleading websites and fake journalists who attack Musk's business empire. Many of the attacks on Musk begin with something factual: His businesses were built, legally, with the help of billions in government contracts and incentives for renewable energy and space transport. But they go on to accuse Musk of fraud and wasting taxpayer dollars; some compare him to a convicted felon. At least three conservative sites have run negative pieces about Musk -- by a nonexistent writer named "Shepard Stewart" -- that include "Elon Musk Continues to Blow Up Taxpayer Money With Falcon 9" and "Elon Musk: Faux Free Marketeer and National Disgrace." Two later retracted the stories. "There's a very obvious precedent" for this, says Sam Jaffe, managing director of Cairn Energy Research Advisors. "That's Hillary Clinton." Musk tweeted this week, "Can anyone uncover who is really writing these fake pieces?"
Businesses

Tesla Acquires SolarCity: Little Can Stand in Elon Musk's Way When He Wants Something (cnbc.com) 161

An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: You have to hand it to Elon Musk. He didn't just sell the deal of his life last week when shareholders of Tesla and SolarCity agreed to a merger. He pulled off the deal amid widespread criticism from business ethics and corporate governance experts who slammed Musk from the moment the $2.6 billion deal was proposed. Any skepticism Musk deserves he created for himself, but that skepticism now needs to move from the deal to something else: Just what exactly have Tesla investors gotten themselves into? Some pundits point to the deal as part of Musk's master plan to create a car powered by solar and to develop batteries that radically change how we generate and store energy. Musk noted earlier this month that a solar roof for cars is "probably" going to be added as an option for Tesla buyers. But a good place to look at the lingering confusion as the combined electric-car and solar-power company moves forward is the reaction from stock analysts. Musk's vision is so bold that some on Wall Street remain unable to fully comprehend it or, in the least, grasp how it's a catalyst for Tesla shares in the short term. "Whatever the synergies are down the road, it's negative for current holders," said Efraim Levy, analyst at CFRA Research.
The Almighty Buck

Elon Musk: Tesla's Solar Roof Will Cost Less Than a Traditional Roof (bloomberg.com) 428

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: After Tesla shareholders approved the acquisition of SolarCity, the new company is now an unequivocal sun-to-vehicle energy firm. And Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk didn't take long to make his first big announcement as head of this new enterprise. Minutes after shareholders approved the deal -- about 85 percent of them voted yes -- Musk told the crowd that he had just returned from a meeting with his new solar engineering team. Tesla's new solar roof product, he proclaimed, will actually cost less to manufacture and install than a traditional roof -- even before savings from the power bill. "Electricity," Musk said, "is just a bonus." If Musk's claims prove true, this could be a real turning point in the evolution of solar power. The rooftop shingles he unveiled just a few weeks ago are something to behold: They're made of textured glass and are virtually indistinguishable from high-end roofing products. They also transform light into power for your home and your electric car. "So the basic proposition will be: Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and -- by the way -- generates electricity?" Musk said. "Why would you get anything else?" Much of the cost savings Musk is anticipating comes from shipping the materials. Traditional roofing materials are brittle, heavy, and bulky. Shipping costs are high, as is the quantity lost to breakage. The new tempered-glass roof tiles, engineered in Tesla's new automotive and solar glass division, weigh as little as a fifth of current products and are considerably easier to ship, Musk said.
Businesses

Tesla and SolarCity Merger Gets Approval From Shareholders (cnbc.com) 36

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Shareholders for SolarCity and Tesla voted Thursday to approve merging the two companies. "Tesla's shareholders have overwhelmingly approved our acquisition of SolarCity," said a statement from Tesla sent to CNBC. "Excluding the votes of Elon and other affiliated shareholders, more than 85% of shares voted were cast in favor of the acquisition. With SolarCity's shareholders also having approved the acquisition, the transaction will be completed in the coming days." The deal has divided investor and analyst opinion. Some Tesla shareholders have filed lawsuits against the deal, and critics have called it a bailout for SolarCity. Chairman Elon Musk, who holds about 22 percent of SolarCity stock and 22 percent of Tesla's, has recused himself from both votes, as have other insiders such as director Antonio Gracias and J.B. Straubel. Gracias, the founder of Valor Equity Partners, sits on both companies' boards, and Straubel was part of Tesla's founding team and serves as its chief technical officer, according to company filings. The merger comes as the solar energy business is showing signs of a slowdown.
Transportation

Tesla 'Easter Egg' Makes the World's Fastest Car Even Faster (bloomberg.com) 247

The world's fastest-accelerating car is about to get even faster. Tesla's high-end Model S will soon be able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 2.4 seconds, following a software enhancement next month that shaves off a 10th of a second. That's a new threshold that distinguishes it from any other production car on the road. From a report on Bloomberg: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk teased the update in a tweet on Wednesday -- but there's a twist. When the changes are delivered wirelessly next month to all P100D Model S vehicles, the owners will have to figure out how to enable it. It's what's known in the tech industry as an "Easter Egg" -- a hidden feature that requires a specific series of gestures to unlock. These speeds are crazy fast. For perspective, the Model S already outpaces sold-out supercars with tiny production runs, such as Ferrari's $1.4 million LaFerrari, Porsche's $845,000 918 Spyder, and Bugatti's $2.3 million Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. Tesla's seven-seat Model X SUV will also shed a 10th of a second, putting it on a par with a $1.15 million McLaren P1.
AI

Elon Musk Predicts Automation Will Lead To A Universal Basic Income (mashable.com) 426

An anonymous reader quotes Mashable's new article about Tesla/SpaceX founder Elon Musk: Tech innovators in the self-driving car and AI industries talk a lot about how many human jobs will be innovated out of existence, but they rarely explain what will happen to all those newly jobless humans. In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Musk said that he believes the solution to taking care of human workers who are displaced by robots and software is creating a (presumably government-backed) universal basic income for all. "There's a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation," said Musk. "I'm not sure what else one would do. That's what I think would happen."
And what will this world look like? "People will have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things," Musk told CNBC's interviewer. "Certainly more leisure time." President Obama has also talked about "redesigning the social compact" with MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito, and in August predicted the question of whether there's support for the Universal Basic Income is "a debate that we'll be having over the next 10 or 20 years."
Transportation

Tesla Adds An All-Glass Roof Option For Its Model S (fortune.com) 76

Elon Musk has had roofs on his mind lately. Last week, Musk unveiled the residential "solar roof," consisting of glass roof tiles with integrated solar panels. Today, he announced that customers will be able to add a glass roof to the Model S sedan for an extra $1,500. Tesla said that the glass roof can give passengers the feeling of "an open expansive cabin" that makes the Model S interior "feel amazing." Fortune reports: The move is another example of how Tesla continues to add new features and technology to its four-year-old vehicle, the second to debut in its growing lineup. In particular, Tesla has routinely updated the Model S with technology that has also been available in more recent car models. For example, the company's upcoming fourth car, the Model 3, will come with a glass roof. The new glass roof option also shows off Tesl'a new investment in automotive glass technology. Earlier this week Musk revealed that the company had created an automotive glass division. In the tweet on Friday, Musk said that the Model S glass roof was "very hard to develop."
Power

Why Tesla's New Solar Roof Tiles and Home Battery Are Such a Big Deal (techcrunch.com) 280

On October 28th, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk unveiled the residential "solar roof," consisting of glass roof tiles with integrated solar panels. Not only are they more durable than traditional roof panels, but they offer efficiency that is 98 percent as good as traditional, photovoltaic panels. The company also announced the Powerwall 2, a home battery that can store 14 kWh of energy, with a 5 kW continuous power draw, and 7 kW peak. It's designed to store the energy from the solar roof during day to power your home at night. Darrell Etherington via TechCrunch explains why these solar roof tiles are such a big deal: It's easy to dismiss the aesthetic import of how Tesla's tiles look, but it's actually important, and a real consideration for homeowners looking to build new homes or revamp their existing ones. The appearance of the tiles, which come in four distinct flavors (Textured Glass, Slate Glass, Tuscan Glass and Smooth Glass) is going to be a core consideration for prospective buyers, especially those at the top end of the addressable market with the disposable income available to do everything they can to ensure their home looks as good as it possibly can. As with other kinds of technologies that are looking to make the leap from outlier oddity to mainstream mainstay, solar has a hurdle to leap in terms of customer perception. Existing solar designs, and even so-called attempts to make them more consistent with traditional offerings like the above-mentioned Dow Chemical project, leave a lot to be desired in terms of creating something that can be broadly described as good-looking. Tesla has been referred to as the Apple of the automotive world by more than a few analysts and members of the media, and if there's one thing Apple does well, it's capitalize on the so-called -- halo effect. This is the phenomenon whereby customers of one of its lines of business are likely to become customers of some of the others; iPhone buyers tend to often go on to own a Mac, for instance. For Tesla, this represents an opportunity to jump-start its home solar business (which it'll take on in earnest provided its planned acquisition of SolarCity goes through) through the knock-on effects of its brisk Tesla EV sales, including the tremendous pre-order interest for the Model 3. Tesla's solar tiles claim to be able to power a standard home, and provide spare power via the new Powerwall 2 battery in case of inclement weather or other outages. Musk says that the overall cost will still be less than installing a regular old roof and paying the electric company for power from conventional sources. But Musk's claims about the new benefits of the new solutions don't end there. Tesla's tiles will actually be more resilient than traditional roofing materials, including terra-cotta, clay and slate tiles. Solar roofing, Powerwall and Tesla cars taken together represent a new kind of ecosystem in consumer tech, one that carries a promise of self-sufficiency in addition to ecological benefits. Tesla has already tipped its hand with respect to how it intends to make vehicle ownership a revenue generator for its drivers, rather than a cost center.
NASA

SpaceX Plan To Fuel Rockets With People Aboard Raises Alarm Bells (fortune.com) 190

Several space industry experts that advise NASA have told the US space agency there are safety risks in a proposal by Elon Musk's SpaceX to fuel its rockets while astronauts are on board. From a report on Fortune: "This is a hazardous operation," Space Station Advisory Committee Chairman Thomas Stafford, a former NASA astronaut and retired Air Force general, said during a conference call on Monday. Stafford said the group's concerns were heightened after an explosion of an unmanned SpaceX rocket while it was being fueled on Sept. 1. The causes of that explosion are still under investigation. Members of the eight-member group, which includes veterans of NASA's Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs noted that all previous rockets that have flown people into space were fueled before astronauts got to the launch pad. "It was unanimous ... Everybody there, and particularly the people who had experience over the years, said nobody is ever near the pad when they fuel a booster," Stafford said, referring to an earlier briefing the group had about SpaceX's proposed fueling procedure.
Mars

NASA: We're Not Racing SpaceX To Mars (seeker.com) 98

astroengine writes: According to NASA's new science chief Thomas Zurbuchen, the U.S. space agency doesn't see SpaceX as a competitor in a race to Mars and that if any private company gets there before NASA, it will be cause for celebration and a huge science boon. "If Elon Musk brought the samples in the door right now I'd throw him a party out of my own money," Zurbuchen told reporters on Monday. He also said that polarizing topics, including science issues, need to be tackled with empathy for and patience with people who have opposing viewpoints. "Just because somebody doesn't agree with us the first time we open our mouths doesn't mean that they're stupid, or we're smart, or the other way around. I think it's really important to create, bring some empathy to the table," he told Seeker. "There's a lot of stuff that can be learned by just talking to people." The report adds: "Before joining NASA, Zurbuchen was a professor of space science and aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His areas of expertise include solar and heliospheric physics, experimental space research, innovation and entrepreneurship, NASA said in a statement."
Earth

Where Does Jeff Bezos Foresee Putting Space Colonists? Inside O'Neill Cylinders (geekwire.com) 151

Elon Musk of SpaceX wants to settle humans on Mars. Some talk about taking the Moon Village route. But Jeff Bezos has a different kind of off-Earth home in mind when he talks about having millions of people living and working in space. His long-range vision focuses on a decades-old concept for huge artificial habitats that are best known today as O'Neill cylinders. From a report on GeekWire (edited and condensed): The concept was laid out in 1976 in a classic book by physicist Gerard O'Neill, titled "The High Frontier." The idea is to create cylinder-shaped structures in outer space, and give them enough of a spin that residents on the inner surface of the cylinder could live their lives in Earth-style gravity. The habitat's interior would be illuminated either by reflected sunlight or sunlike artificial light. Bezos referred to his long-term goal of having millions of people living and working in space, as well as his enabling goal of creating the 'heavy lifting infrastructure' to make that happen. In Bezos' view, dramatically reducing the cost of access to space is a key step toward those goals. "Then we get to see Gerard O'Neill's ideas start to come to life, and many of the other ideas from science fiction," Bezos said. "The dreamers come first. It's always the science-fiction guys: They think of everything first, and then the builders come along and they make it happen. But it takes time." For Musk, the prime driver behind settling people on Mars is to provide a backup plan for humanity in the event of a planetwide catastrophe -- an asteroid strike, for example, or environmental ruin, or a species-killing pandemic. Bezos sees a different imperative at work: humanity's growing need for energy. "We need to go into space if we want to continue growing civilization," he explained. "If you take baseline energy usage on Earth and compound it at just 3 percent per year for less than 500 years, you have to cover the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells. That's just not going to happen. [...] I predict that in the next few hundred years, all heavy industry will move off planet. It will be just way more convenient to do it in space, where you have better access to resources, better access to 24/7 solar power," he said last weekend. "Solar power on Earth is not that great, because the planet shades us half the time. In space, you get solar power all the time. So there'll be a lot of advantages to doing heavy manufacturing there, and Earth will end up zoned residential and light industry. [...] We want to go to space to save the Earth. I don't like the 'Plan B' idea that we want to go to space so we have a backup planet. ... We have sent probes to every planet in this solar system, and believe me, this is the best planet. There is no doubt. This is the one that you want to protect."
Power

Tesla Unveils Residential 'Solar Roof' With Updated Battery Storage System (theverge.com) 231

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk today unveiled the "residential roof" -- pegged as a roofing replacement -- with solar energy gathering powers. Unlike other solar systems which must be mounted on top of a traditional roof, these new panels are actually integrated within glass roof tiles, replacing a home's roof, Musk said. And because they're made of glass, Musk says they will last "quasi indefinitely," even in harsh conditions where snow and ice make short work of traditional asphalt shingles. Musk said that 50 years of lifespan should be no problem, and they offer efficiency that is 98 percent as good as a traditional, ugly photovoltaic panel. From a report on The Verge: There are a number of different versions of solar panels: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile. Tesla says its glass tiles are much more durable than conventional roof tile -- something that's important in areas with risk of hail.The products are a "joint collaboration" between SolarCity and Tesla, according to SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. Tesla is attempting to acquire SolarCity for $2.6 billion and shareholders of both companies will vote on the proposed acquisition in the middle of November. The Powerwall 2 can store 14 kWh of energy, with a 5 kW continuous power draw, and 7 kW peak. The battery is warranted for unlimited power cycles for up to 10 years. It can be floor or wall mounted, inside or outside. It can be used for load shifting or back-up power. Musk says there are three parts to the solar energy solution: generation (solar panels), storage (batteries), and transportation (electric cars). Musk's plan is to sell all three of those products through Tesla.
Transportation

Consumer Reports Ranks Tesla Model X Near Bottom For Reliability (cnn.com) 144

Last year, Consumer Reports withdrew its recommendation for the Tesla Model S after investigating its reliability. Today, the nonprofit organization released its 2016 Car Reliability Survey and found that, while the Tesla Model S has become more reliable, the Tesla Model X has proved to be unreliable overall. CNNMoney reports: CEO Elon Musk admitted that he wished he hadn't put so much new, complex technology on [the Model X] all at once when he unveiled the model last year. Apparently, he was right to worry. The Model X's complicated "falcon wing" doors have been a big trouble spot, said Jake Fisher, head of Consumer Reports' car testing unit. Even the front doors, which have electric motors that let them open on their own, have been a headache for customers, he added. As a result, Tesla ranks among the "Less Reliable" brands on Consumer Reports' list. The SUV's dependability is rated as "Much worse than average." Still, overall owner satisfaction with the vehicle is rated as "Excellent." For a long time, "dependability problems" have tended to be relatively trivial, said Fisher, as the industry has perfected the major mechanical aspects of the cars. In recent years, the problems have stemmed from the more high-tech additions to the newest cars, like the computer screens that work with phone, navigation and entertainment features, said Fisher. But now, with tougher fuel economy rules pushing more complex transmission technologies, dependability issues are once again starting to involve fundamental mechanical components. New eight- and nine-speed transmissions as well as dual-clutch and continuously variable transmissions have been suffering problems at a higher-than-average rate, Fisher said. It's been years since new car buyers would have to worry about things that could actually render their vehicle undrivable. But those concerns are coming back, Fisher said. As for the Model S, Consumer Reports says "Tesla's Model S has improved to average reliability, which now makes the electric car one of our recommended models."
Mars

Elon Musk's Mars Colony Would Have a Horde of Mining Robots (engadget.com) 222

An anonymous reader shares an Engadget report: If it wasn't already clear that Elon Musk has considered virtually every aspect of what it would take to colonize Mars, it is now. As part of his Reddit AMA session, the SpaceX founder has revealed that his vision of a permanent colony would entail a huge number of "miner/tunneling droids." The robots would build large volumes of underground pressurized space for industrial activity, leaving geodesic domes (made of carbon fiber and glass) for everyday living. As a resident, you might never see the 'ugly' side of settling the Red Planet. Musk also explained how his colony would get to the point where it can reliably refuel spacecraft all by itself. Dragon capsules would serve as scouts, helping find the "best way" to extract water for fuel reactions. An unmanned Heart of Gold spaceship would then deliver the basics for a propellant plant, while the first crewed mission would finish that plant. After that, SpaceX would double the number of flights between each ideal Earth-Mars rendezvous (every 26 months) until the colony can reliably produce fuel by itself. Oh, and don't worry about today's Falcon 9 rockets being consigned to the history books. Although the main booster for interplanetary travel will "have an easier time of things," Musk believes that the final iteration of Falcon 9 (Block 5) could be used "almost indefinitely" if properly maintained. Production on Block 5 should fly in the next 6 to 8 months.
Power

Will Tesla Install Home Solar Panels To Charge Cars? (buffalonews.com) 81

Earlier this week, Tesla signed a non-binding agreement to buy solar cells from a new Panasonic factory in Buffalo, New York -- but it's part of a much bigger maneuver. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "If all goes to plan, Tesla will be supplying customers with the solar panels that generate electricity that could then be used to charge the battery in their Tesla car or the battery in the Tesla Powerwall home energy storage system," reports the Christian Science Monitor. The Wall Street Journal reports that Musk's SolarCity "will sell, finance and install the panels."

But the Buffalo News suggests the deal is really "aimed squarely at skeptical shareholders" who may be leary of a proposed merger between Tesla and SolarCity," which one analyst calculates will require nearly $6 billion in extra capital. Panasonic could help shoulder the costs of the Buffalo factory, while also putting a more experienced manufacturer in charge of producing high-efficiency solar modules.

The Stack reports some shareholders have actually filed a lawsuit against the merger.
Space

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Thinks Space Can Be the New Internet (theverge.com) 90

Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco today, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said space is essentially a new internet, as it is the next frontier that needs new infrastructure to support new entrepreneurs. He said the purpose of Blue Origin is to build out a similar kind of infrastructure for space that Amazon used to operate during the days of the early internet, such as the United States Postal Service and long distance phone network. The Verge reports: "Two kids in their dorm room can reinvent an industry," Bezos said, referring to the strengths of the modern internet. "Two kids in their dorm room cannot do anything interesting in space." Bezos says rocket reusability needs to be improved, and both Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX are working toward the goal of vastly reducing the cost of sending payloads to space. Bezos said there's also a number of restraints right now that prevent the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that helped create Amazon do the same for a next-generation space venture. "We need to be able to put big things in space at low cost." Bezos talked of his earliest days at Amazon more than 20 years ago, where he was driving packages himself to the post office with a 10-person team. "We were sitting on a bunch of a heavy lifting infrastructure," he said. "For example, there was already a gigantic network called United States Postal Service. The internet itself was sitting on time of the long distance phone network." This is the kind of infrastructure Bezos hopes to build out with Blue Origin. "Every time you figure out some way of providing tools and services that allow other people to deploy their creativity, you're really onto something," Bezos said. But building that infrastructure space is still the grandest dream. "I think space is about to enter a golden age."
Media

Elon Musk: Negative Media Coverage of Autonomous Vehicles Could be 'Killing people' (theverge.com) 270

On the sidelines of the Tesla announcements, CEO Elon Musk accused media of "killing people" by dissuading consumers from using an autonomous vehicle. Musk said that media is aggressively reporting on autopilot crashes, but does "virtually none" reporting of hundreds of thousands of actual accidents that involve non-self driving cars. He said, via a report on The Verge:Once you view autonomous cars sort of like an elevator in a building, does Otis take responsibility for all elevators around the world? No, they don't. What really matters here at the end of the day is "what is the absolute safety." One of the things I should mention that frankly has been quite disturbing to me is the degree of media coverage of Autopilot crashes, which are basically almost none relative to the paucity of media coverage of the 1.2 million people that die every year in manual crashes. [It is] something that I think does not reflect well upon the media. It really doesn't. Because, and really you need to think carefully about this, because if, in writing some article that's negative, you effectively dissuade people from using an autonomous vehicle, you're killing people.
Software

All Tesla Vehicles Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware (jalopnik.com) 186

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Jalopnik: All current Tesla models that will be produced in its Fremont, California factory will come with self-driving hardware built-in capable of Level 5 autonomy, including the upcoming Tesla Model 3, the company announced tonight. According to the announcement, Tesla will manufacture all of its cars with the hardware necessary for Level 5 self-driving systems going forward, including the Model S, Model X and new Model 3. At the introduction of the Model 3, it wasn't clear whether or not every Model 3 package would come standard with the hardware and software to handle Autopilot and any other self-driving features. That's been cleared up now, but there's a kicker. Just like on current Model S and Model X models, you can purchase the cars with the self-driving hardware included. But, in order to activate the software and actually use the Autopilot or upcoming advanced self-driving safety features, you will have to option it when you order the car, or pay more for it later. Elon Musk stated that the new hardware in all of Tesla's cars going forward are Tesla's own vision software, with a Tesla-developed neural net. The new hardware and software capabilities still need to undergo all of the testing required by Tesla's own standards, as well as government approval before unleashing Level 5 autonomous cars onto the streets.
Transportation

Tesla's Sales Increase - But Next Will We Need Smart Roads? (backchannel.com) 168

Elon Musk says Tesla's autopilot has now driven over 222 million miles, and the company is now selling twice as many electric cars as it did in 2015. (Despite complaints from a coal-mining CEO that Tesla "is a fraud" because it receives tax-payer subsidies.)

But Slashdot reader mirandakatz writes, "It's not enough to build self-driving cars: we have to build the roads to accompany them. Roadside sensors might have once seemed a pipe dream, but with the advent of 5G internet infrastructure, they're not out of reach at all. And their implications span far beyond road safety, GMU researcher Brent Skorup explains at Backchannel: Cities could use sensor data for conducting traffic studies, pushing out real-time public bus alerts, increasing parking space occupancy, metering commercial loading times to prevent congestion, and enhancing pedestrian safety. There are also commercial applications for sensor data: How many cars drive by a billboard? How many people walk by a storefront per day? How many of those people have dogs? These are all questions we could easily answer with roadside sensors.

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