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Transportation

Tesla Unveils New Model S, Its Quickest Production Car (bloomberg.com) 173

Electric car maker Tesla said Tuesday that it is launching a 100-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery for its Model S and Model X cars. A report on Bloomberg says: Tesla is adding versions of its Model S sedan and Model X sport utility vehicle with a more powerful battery pack that the company said makes the Model S the world's quickest production car and gives it range of 315 miles on a single charge. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk is trying to appeal to sports car enthusiasts with the new Model S P100D with a 100 kilowatt-hour battery, which with Ludicrous mode can go from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds, compared with 2.8 seconds for the P90D Ludicrous version. The P100D Ludicrous upgrade costs $10,000 for customers who have ordered a P90D Ludicrous but haven't taken delivery, or $20,000 for owners who already have that vehicle type.
Businesses

SolarCity Plans To Release New 'Solar Roof' Product Next Year (computerworld.com) 160

An anonymous reader writes: SolarCity, the American provider of energy services recently purchased by Tesla Motors for $2.6 billion, is planning to produce a new "solar roof" product next year. Computerworld reports: "Five million roofs are replaced each year in the U.S., so instead of simply swapping out old shingles with new ones, why not turn the whole roof into a solar power generator that's integrated with your home's electrical utility? That is SolarCity's plan for a new product it expects to begin producing next year, according to statements made during the company's second-quarter earnings call last week. During the call, SolarCity Chief Technology Officer Peter Rive alluded to a new product that would be produced at the soon to open Buffalo, N.Y., solar panel manufacturing facility. Then SolarCity co-founder and Chairman Elon Musk interjected and said the product would be a solar roof, 'as opposed to a [solar] module on a roof.' The solar roof also has the advantage that it doesn't 'cannibalize' any existing SolarCity product, such as solar panels installed atop roofs, Musk said." "If your roof is nearing end of life, you definitely don't want to put solar panels on it because you're going to have to replace the roof," Musk said. "So there's a huge market segment that's kind of inaccessible to SolarCity. So, why not have a solar roof that's better in many other ways as well," he continued. "We don't want to turn over all our cards right now, but I think people are going to be really excited about what they'll see."
Space

Fourth SpaceX Rocket Successfully Landed on A Drone Ship (theverge.com) 71

Saturday a SpaceX rocket completed the company's fourth successful landing at sea (watched by over 100,000 viewers on YouTube and Flickr). Saturday's landing means Elon Musk's company has now recovered more than half the rockets they've launched. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Saturday's report from The Verge: Tonight's landing was particularly challenging for SpaceX... The Falcon 9 had to carry its onboard satellite -- called JCSAT-16 -- into...a highly elliptical orbit that takes the satellite 20,000 miles out beyond Earth's surface. Getting to GTO requires a lot of speed and uses up a lot of fuel during take off, more so than getting to lower Earth orbit. That makes things difficult for the rocket landing afterward...there's less fuel leftover for the vehicle to reignite its engines and perform the necessary landing maneuvers.

CEO Elon Musk said the company is aiming to launch its first landed rocket sometime this fall...SpaceX's president, Gwynne Shotwell, estimates that reusing these landed Falcon 9 vehicles will lead to a 30 percent reduction in launch costs.

SpaceX named their drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You."
Medicine

Man Says Tesla Autopilot Saved His Life By Driving Him To the Hospital (cnbc.com) 153

An anonymous reader writes: Last month a man sent an email to Elon Musk explaining how his Tesla Model S with Autopilot activated may have saved a pedestrian's life. Now, it appears Autopilot may have saved the life of a Tesla Model X driver. CNBC reports: "A Missouri man says his Tesla helped saved his life by driving him to the hospital during a life-threatening emergency. Joshua Neally is a lawyer and Tesla owner from Springfield, Missouri, who often uses the semi-autonomous driving system called Autopilot on his Tesla Model X. The system has come under fire after it was involved in a fatal Florida crash in May, but Neally told online magazine Slate that Autopilot drove him 20 miles down a freeway to a hospital, while Neally suffered a potentially fatal blood vessel blockage in his lung, known as a pulmonary embolism. The hospital was right off the freeway exit, and Neally was able to steer the car the last few meters and check himself into the emergency room, the report said."
Businesses

Tesla Posts 13th Straight Loss, Says On Track For Second-Half Deliveries (reuters.com) 177

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Tesla Motors Inc reported its 13th straight quarterly loss as a rise in sales of its Model S and Model X electric cars failed to make up for the huge cost of ramping up production. The company, run by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, said on Wednesday it was on track to deliver about 50,000 new Model S and Model X vehicles during the second half of 2016. Shares of Tesla, which has offered to buy solar panel installer SolarCity Corp for $2.6 billion, were volatile in after-hours trading. They were last up 1 percent. Tesla delivered 14,402 vehicles in the second quarter, missing its goal of 17,000. It delivered 14,810 vehicles in the first quarter, which was also less than its expectations. Tesla said its net loss widened to $293.2 million, or $2.09 per share, in the second quarter, from $184.2 million, or $1.45 per share, a year earlier. Total revenue rose 33 percent to $1.27 billion in the quarter ended June 30. In addition to acquiring SolarCity, Tesla has unveiled its massive $5 billion Gigafactory in Nevada last week and announced its "Master Plan, Part Deux" not too long before that, which includes manufacturing electric trucks and buses, as well as a ride-sharing program.
Businesses

Tesla Is Buying SolarCity for $2.6 Billion (thenextweb.com) 80

Tesla Motors announced Monday that it has reached a deal to buy SolarCity (San Mateo-based provider of energy services), the next step in Elon Musk's plan to combine his electric-car and solar-energy companies. It's already a family affair: Musk, Tesla's chief executive, owns about 21% of SolarCity and serves as chairman. His cousins Lyndon R. Rive and Peter J. Rive are SolarCity's chief executive and chief technology officer, respectively. The independent members of both companies' boards approved the $2.6-billion all-stock deal, Tesla said. Tesla said it expects to have cost synergies of $150 million in the first year after the deal closes. Tesla said it expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter, although the proposal must still be approved by a majority of the disinterested shareholders of Tesla and SolarCity and requires regulatory approval. It also contains a "go shop" provision that gives SolarCity 45 days to "solicit, discuss or negotiate alternative proposals from third parties."
Power

A Look Inside Tesla's $5 Billion Gigafactory (cnet.com) 60

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: A joint effort between Tesla and Panasonic, the Gigafactory is a $5 billion project that will create the world's premier battery manufacturing facility. The Gigafactory will not only be physically larger than any other cell-packing plant on the planet, it'll produce more batteries than the entire industry did back in 2013. That's a lot of batteries, enough to meet Tesla's 500,000-per-year manufacturing goals -- and potentially even more. When completed, the factory will cover five million square feet of the desert floor just outside of Reno, Nevada. Right now, the uncompleted but already-operational factory sits on 800,000 square feet. Over the next four years the building will grow and grow again, swelling to its full size while production dials up simultaneously. The roof will be covered in solar panels, with the goal of producing enough electricity to power the entire thing. Tesla is already assembling Powerwall units here, but the first Model 3 battery packs are expected to roll off the line by the middle of next year. From there, Tesla will have to scale quickly to meet the company's Model 3 production goals for 2018. And, once the company does, the cost savings will begin. The "Tesla Gigafactory Tour" video can also be viewed on YouTube via Roadshow.
Businesses

Tesla and Autopilot Supplier Mobileye Split Up After Fatal Crash (usatoday.com) 128

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Tesla and Mobileye, one of the top suppliers to its Autopilot partial self-driving system, are parting ways in the wake of the May accident that killed an owner of one of its electric Model S sedans. Mobileye is considered a leader in developing the equipment that will be needed for fully self-driving cars. The Israeli tech company will continue to support and maintain current Tesla products, including upgrades that should help the Autopilot system with crash avoidance and to better allow the car to steer itself, said Chairman Amnon Shashua in releasing the company's second-quarter earnings Tuesday. Shashua said moving cars to higher levels of self-driving capability "is a paradigm shift both in terms of function complexity and the need to ensure an extremely high level of safety." He added there is "much at stake" in terms of Mobileye's reputation, and that it is best to end the relationship with Tesla by the end of the year. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, meeting with reporters at the company's new battery Gigafactory outside Reno, indicated that Tesla can go forward without Mobileye. "Us parting ways was somewhat inevitable. There's nothing unexpected here from our standpoint," Musk said. "We're committed to autonomy. They'll go their way, and we'll go ours."
Transportation

Tesla's Autopilot Mode Reportedly Saves Pedestrian's Life (electrek.co) 219

An anonymous reader writes: Following reports of Tesla's Autopilot mode being linked to a fatal crash, one Tesla Model S owner is reporting that the Autopilot mode has likely saved a pedestrian's life. The driver sent an email to Elon Musk explaining the situation, which was confirmed by Tesla through the vehicle logs: "I wanted to let you know that I think my car probably saved the life of a pedestrian last night, 7/16 around 10:30pm when I was driving in Washington DC with my daughter." The driver says him and his daughter were trying to locate where sirens were coming from "when a pedestrian stepped out in front of [their] Model S in the dark with dark clothes and in the middle of the road." The car slammed on its breaks before he could and "stopped just inches from hitting the pedestrian." The driver said, "I am not sure if I would have been able to stop before hitting him but I am so glad the car did." The Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), which is standard on all Tesla vehicles and is part of Tesla's Autopilot mode, is what was at work here. It appears that many of the convenience features of Autopilot were not activated at the time of the incident. This is likely the first of many good press stories released by Elon Musk, who said he would consider releasing the stories of accidents prevented by the Autopilot mode with the authorization of the Tesla owners and by confirming the events through the vehicle logs. Elon Musk did also announce Tesla's 'Master Plan, Part Deux,' which includes new kinds of Tesla vehicles, expanded solar initiatives, updates on Tesla's 'autopilot' technology, and a ride-sharing program.
Businesses

Tesla's 'Master Plan, Part Deux' Includes Trucks, Buses and Ride-Sharing (latimes.com) 176

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Los Angeles Times: After teasing Part 2 of his "master product plan" for over a week, Elon Musk finally delivered. Los Angeles Times reports: "In a blog post published on the automaker's website, Musk introduced a multiyear, four-pronged strategy that includes new kinds of Tesla vehicles, expanded solar initiatives, updates on Tesla's 'autopilot' technology and a ride-sharing program. Commercial trucks, buses, a 'future compact SUV' and a 'new kind of pickup truck' will be added to Tesla's fleet of electric cars. A heavy-duty truck called the Tesla Semi and a shrunken bus that Musk called a 'high passenger density urban transport' vehicle are in early development stages 'and should be ready for unveiling next year,' he said. The smaller bus would be designed without a center aisle, with seats close to the entrances, and would be able to automatically pace themselves with traffic, the post said. The bus driver would become a 'fleet manager.' Musk also used the master plan to defend his bid for rooftop solar power provider SolarCity and said he aims to make Tesla's Autopilot robotic driver-assist system 10 times safer than cars that humans drive manually. Musk also plans to move Tesla into the popular ride-sharing business, not only with an Uber-like fleet but also with an app that lets Tesla owners rent out their vehicles when they're not using them, perhaps defraying a portion of their auto loans. This will happen, he said, 'when true self-driving is approved by regulators,' a turn of events that's at least several years away."
Space

SpaceX Successfully Lands Falcon 9 Rocket On Solid Ground For the Second Time (theverge.com) 103

SpaceX successfully landed another Falcon 9 rocket after launching the vehicle into space on Sunday evening from Florida. The Verge reports: Shortly after takeoff, the vehicle touched down at SpaceX's Landing Complex 1 -- a ground-based landing site that the company leases at the Cape. It marks the second time SpaceX has pulled off this type of ground landing, and the fifth time SpaceX has recovered one of its rockets post-launch. The feat was accomplished a few minutes before the rocket's second stage successfully put the company's Dragon spacecraft into orbit, where it will rendezvous with the International Space Station later this week. It's also the first time this year SpaceX has attempted to land one of its rockets on land. For the past six launches, each rocket has tried landing on an autonomous drone ship floating in the ocean. That's because drone ship landings require a lot less fuel to execute than ground landings.
Communications

Elon Musk: Autopilot Feature Was Disabled In Pennsylvania Crash (latimes.com) 166

An anonymous reader writes: In response to the third reported Autopilot crash, which was the first of three where there were no fatalities, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that the Model X's Autopilot feature was turned off. He tweeted Thursday afternoon that the onboard vehicle logs show that the semi-autonomous driving feature was turned off in the crash. "Moreover, crash would not have occurred if it was on," he added. The driver of the Model X told police he was using the Autopilot feature, according to the Detroit Free Press. The vehicle flipped over after hitting a freeway guardrail. U.S. auto-safety regulators have been investigating a prior crash that occurred while Tesla's Autopilot mode was activated. Late Thursday afternoon and into early Friday, Musk made some comments on the improvements made to its radar technology used to achieve full driving autonomy. "Working on using existing Tesla radar by itself (decoupled from camera) w temporal smoothing to create a coarse point cloud, like lidar," he tweeted. "Good thing about radar is that, unlike lidar (which is visible wavelength), it can see through rain, snow, fog and dust." Musk has rejected Lidar technology in the past, saying it's unnecessary to achieve full driving autonomy. Consumer Reports is calling on Tesla to "disable hands-free operation until its system can be made safer."
Businesses

Third Tesla Crashes Amid Report of SEC Investigation (usatoday.com) 297

An anonymous reader writes: Tesla hasn't had the best month so far as not one, not two, but a total of three crashes have been reported with the car's Autopilot self-driving system engaged at the time -- two of which resulted in fatalities. In addition, The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Tesla violated securities law by failing to disclose more quickly a fatal accident in Florida in May involving a Tesla Model S that was in self-driving mode. The SEC didn't comment on the report, and Tesla issued a statement saying it has "not received any communication from the SEC regarding this issue." As for the Autopilot crash that was reported today, the driver said he activated Autopilot mode at the beginning of his trip. Tesla is looking into the crash and has yet to confirm whether or not Autopilot was a factor. Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased a "Top Secret Tesla Masterplan, Part 2" via Twitter that he is "Hoping to publish later this week."
Software

Tesla Autopilot 2.0 Is Coming This Year, Source Confirms (technobuffalo.com) 136

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechnoBuffalo: A source close to Tesla Motors confirmed to TechnoBuffalo that Tesla Autopilot 2.0 is coming soon. Other media outlets like Teslarati have reported on prototype Model S and Model X vehicles operating in the wild sporting two forward facing cameras, which may indicate part of the new hardware necessary to take advantage of Autopilot 2.0's additional features. "The dual camera system is capable of recognizing and reacting to stop signs and traffic lights with no driver input," said the source. The current Autopilot software cannot simply stop itself at a light or a stop sign on its own -- it needs a car in front of it in order to automatically slow down or stop. The added cameras should help Autopilot 2.0 read and react to traffic lights and stop signs, and thus bring Tesla's cars closer to autonomous driving. The source did mention that Tesla's current test vehicles with Autopilot 2.0 are running "very beta" software that was likely the precursor to v8.0. U.S. regulators are actively investigating 25,000 Tesla Model S cars after a fatal crash involving a vehicle using the "Autopilot" mode was reported. Despite the tragedy, Elon Musk recently said that Autopilot could save half a million lives every year if Tesla Autopilot was universally available.
Transportation

Elon Musk: Tesla's Autopilot Software Could Save Half a Million Lives Every Year (fortune.com) 265

An anonymous reader writes: In the wake of a deadly crash involving a Model S that was driving with its Autopilot software turned on, Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a few interesting remarks on the technology to Fortune. Notably, the publication recently ran a piece attempting to portray Tesla in a bad light by noting that Musk sold more than $2 billion worth of Tesla stock just 11 days after the aforementioned May, 2016 accident. And all the while, shareholders were kept in the dark up until recently. "Indeed, if anyone bothered to do the math (obviously, you did not) they would realize that of the over 1M auto deaths per year worldwide, approximately half a million people would have been saved if the Tesla autopilot was universally available. Please, take 5 mins and do the bloody math before you write an article that misleads the public.
Transportation

Self-Driving Tesla Owners Share Videos of Reckless Driving (nytimes.com) 440

An anonymous reader writes: The driver killed in a Tesla car accident "celebrated the Autopilot feature that made it possible for him to cruise the highways, making YouTube videos of himself driving hands-free," reports the New York Times, adding that one of his videos of a near-miss went viral just 11 weeks before his death -- after it was shared on Twitter by Elon Musk. But USA Today reports that Tesla drivers have also filmed themselves playing Jenga and Checkers or sleeping while using the autopilot feature. "Even though Tesla tells drivers to 'keep your hands on the wheel at all times and stay alert,' the temptation to test a no-hands drive is just too much."

In April, a Volvo driver had criticized Tesla for releasing a dangerous "wannabe" Autopilot system. But when Tesla introduced the self-driving feature in October, Elon Musk argued that "Long term, it'll be way better than a person. It never gets tired, never has something to drink, never argues with someone in the car." He had also said that within three years Tesla cars should be able to drive a sleeping driver in to work -- but that that functionality is not currently supported.

Power

Tesla Owner Makes 'Solid Metal Snake' Self-Charging System That Elon Musk Promised (theverge.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: Nearly two years ago, Elon Musk teased us with a robotic snake that would automatically plug-in and charge your Model S. Well, many months have passed and there has yet to be an official "solid metal snake" available for Tesla owners. So, one Tesla owner decided to make his own autonomous charging station, as spotted by Electrek, that will automatically guide the Model S's charging cable into the waiting receptacle with no human intervention required. The inventor Deepak Mital posted a video showing how it works, and while it's incredibly slow, it does work. Compared to the demo video of the system teased by Elon Musk last year, this version appears much less threatening. Mital calls it the "Evtron," which is controlled with a Raspberry Pi and swings from one side to another before sliding forward to make the connection with the car.
Businesses

Elon Musk's Tesla Plans To Acquire Elon Musk's SolarCity For $2.7B In Stock (techcrunch.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechCrunch: Today, Elon Musk's electric car and battery company Tesla has announced its offer to buy solar panel installation company SolarCity. Now is a better time than ever to acquire SolarCity, as it recently had its value downgraded. If Tesla does acquire SolarCity, the companies could allow you to outfit your home with solar panels that power a giant battery for your various appliances, such as an electric vehicle. The deal, which has yet to be approved by SolarCity and its board, involves SolarCity's stock being exchanged for Tesla stock. TechCrunch reports that "the deal would pay a premium of 21% to 30% on top of SolarCity's value of $2.14 billion, so Tesla would be buying SolarCity for between $2.59 billion and $2.78 billion worth of its stock." The Tesla team writes, "It's now time to complete the picture. Tesla customers can drive clean cars and they can use our battery packs to help consume energy more efficiently, but they still need access to the most sustainable energy source that's available: the sun." Elon Musk has also been in the news today through OpenAI, the artificial-intelligence non-profit backed by Elon Musk, Amazon Web Services and others. OpenAI announced it is working on creating a physical robot that performs household chores.
AI

Elon Musk's Open Source OpenAI: We're Working On a Robot For Your Household Chores (zdnet.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes from a report via ZDNet: OpenAI, the artificial-intelligence non-profit backed by Elon Musk, Amazon Web Services, and others, is working on creating a physical robot that performs household chores. In a blog post Monday, OpenAI leaders said they don't want to manufacture the robot itself, but "enable a physical robot [...] to perform basic housework." The company says it is "inspired" by DeepMind's work in the deep learning and reinforcement learning field of AI, as displayed by its AlphaGo victory over human Go masters. OpenAI says it wants to "train an agent capable enough to solve any game," noting that significant advances in AI will be required in order for that to happen. In May, the company released a public beta of a new Open Source gym for computer programmers working on AI. They also have plans to build an agent that can understand natural language and seek clarification when following instructions to complete a task. OpenAI plans to build new algorithms that can advance this field. Finally, OpenAI wants to measure its progress across games, robotics, and language-based tasks, which is where OpenAI's Gym Beta will come into play.
Transportation

Tesla Model S Floats Well Enough To Act As a Boat, According To Elon Musk 238

It appears a Tesla Model S car can float and effectively drive on water. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted a video of a Model S car which was able to float well through a flooded tunnel in Kazakhstan. Musk also noted that the company "definitely" doesn't recommend trying this -- but still vouched for the availability of this feature. The Guardian reports: The car appears to power through the water using the thrust of the wheels turning in the water, as the bow wave laps over the car's bonnet. Most internal combustion engine cars are sunk in water when the exhaust becomes flooded, which is why serious off-roaders have big exhaust scoops leading to the roof. Electric cars don't suffer from that particular issue, but how the rest of the car will react is unknown.

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