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Games

"Exploding Kittens" Blows Up Kickstarter Records 104

Posted by timothy
from the someone's-gotta-be-in-the-lead dept.
The Register reports that the crowdfunded Exploding Kittens card game from Oatmeal (and Tesla museum fund-raiser) Matthew Inman, along with X-box veterans Elan Lee and Shane Small, has become the highest-grossing game project yet on Kickstarter. After an intensive fundraising campaign, the trio collected $8.78m from 219,382 backers to launch the game. This breaks the record for the largest ever Kickstarter game project, previously held by hackable Android gaming console Ouya. According to the blurb on Exploding Kittens' (now closed) Kickstarter page, players "take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game."
Businesses

Tesla Factory Racing To Retool For New Models 257

Posted by samzenpus
from the build-it-faster dept.
An anonymous reader notes this story about what Tesla will have to do in order to double production every year for the next several years as Elon Musk intends. "Having just reported a $107.6-million fourth-quarter loss that sent its stock tumbling, Tesla Motors Inc. intends to double vehicle production in the next year as it finally introduces its Model X sport utility vehicle — after about two years of delays. Meanwhile, Tesla is racing to finish the design of its Model 3, the "affordable" Tesla, expected to sell in the $30,000 range after government subsidies. Musk's company is chasing General Motors Co., which plans a 2017 release of its all-electric Bolt, with a similar price and 200-mile driving range between charges."
The Almighty Buck

Hobbyists Selling Tesla Coil Kits To Fund Drone Flight Over North Korea 175

Posted by samzenpus
from the beats-lightbulbs dept.
An anonymous reader writes Imagine for a moment having at your fingertips the ability to send a small robotic messenger — a minion if you will — virtually anywhere in the world and back. Sure, you've seen those fun little drone toys at the mall and perhaps you have had a friend that likes to tinker around with model airplanes, but what you are about to see unfold here is genuinely an unprecedented work of good 'ol fashioned American ingenuity. Apparently a group of hackers has started a kickstarter to build and fly a small drone over North Korea and back and is selling mini tesla coils to do this. "All of the money from this project will be used to extend the distance our drone can fly, so the more backers we have, the farther it will be able to go," they say.
Transportation

Automakers Move Toward OTA Software Upgrades 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the granted-features-like-a-wizard dept.
Lucas123 writes: While some carmakers today offer over-the-air software upgrades to navigation maps and infotainment head units, Tesla became the first last week to perform a powertrain upgrade overnight. But as the industry begins adopting internal vehicle bus standards with greater bandwidth and more robust security, experts believe vehicle owners will no longer be required to visit dealerships or perform downloads to USB sticks. IHS predicts that in the next three to five years, most, if not all automakers, will offer fully fledged OTA software-enabled platforms that encompass upgrades to every vehicle system — from infotainment, safety, comfort, and powertrain. First, however, carmakers must deploy more open OS platforms, remove hardened firewalls between vehicle ECUs, and deploy networking topologies such as Ethernet, with proven security.
Mars

Elon Musk's Proposed Internet-by-Satellite System Could Link With Mars Colonies 105

Posted by timothy
from the in-case-you're-on-mars dept.
MojoKid writes You have to hand it to Elon Musk, who has occasionally been referred to as a real life "Tony Stark." The man helped to co-found PayPal and Tesla Motors. Musk also helms SpaceX, which just recently made its fifth successful trip the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver supplies via the Dragon capsule. The secondary mission of the latest ISS launch resulted in the "successful failure" of the Falcon 9 rocket, which Musk described as a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly (RUD) event. In addition to his Hyperloop transit side project, Musk is eyeing a space-based Internet network that would be comprised of hundred of micro satellites orbiting roughly 750 miles above Earth. The so-called "Space Internet" would provide faster data speeds than traditional communications satellites that have a geosynchronous orbit of roughly 22,000 miles. Musk hopes that the service will eventually grow to become "a giant global Internet service provider," reaching over three billion people who are currently either without Internet service or only have access to low-speed connections. And this wouldn't be a Musk venture without reaching for some overly ambitious goal. The satellite network would truly become a "Space Internet" platform, as it would form the basis for a direct communications link between Earth and Mars. It's the coming thing.
Movies

Silicon Valley Security Experts Give 'Blackhat' a Thumbs-Up; Do You? 98

Posted by timothy
from the but-nothing-beats-wargames dept.
HughPickens.com writes Cade Metz writes that last week Parisa Tabriz, head of Google's Chrome security team, helped arrange an early screening of Michael Mann's Blackhat in San Francisco for 200-odd security specialists from Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla, Twitter, Square, Cisco, and other parts of Silicon Valley's close-knit security community, and their response to the film was shockingly positive. "Judging from the screening Q&A—and the pointed ways this audience reacted during the screening—you could certainly argue Blackhat is the best hacking movie ever made," writes Metz. "Many info-sec specialists will tell you how much they like Sneakers—the 1992 film with Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Ackroyd, Ben Kingsley, and River Phoenix—but few films have so closely hewed to info-sec reality as Mann's new movie, fashioned in his characteristic pseudo-documentary style." "Unlike others, this is a film about a real person, not a stereotype—a real guy with real problems thrust into a real situation," says Mark Abene. "The technology—and the disasters—in the film were real, or at least plausible.

Director Michael Mann worked closely with Kevin Poulsen in researching, writing, and shooting the film. Like Hemsworth's character, Poulsen spent time in prison for his hacking exploits, and Mann says his input was invaluable. "It's the first crime-thriller to hinge so heavily on hacking without becoming silly." says Poulson. "We put a lot of work into finding plausible ways that malware and hosting arrangements and all these other things could be used to advance the plot and all of that I think turned out pretty nice."
I'm a fan of Michael Mann, and the previews I've seen of Blackhat make it look at least like a passable thriller. For anyone who's seen the film already, what did you think?
Transportation

Elon Musk Plans To Build Hyperloop Test Track 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-it-yourself dept.
An anonymous reader writes that Elon Musk wants to speed up the development of his proposed 800-mph tube transport. "Billionaire and entrepreneur Elon Musk is getting more hands-on with the Hyperloop. Musk, who heads up both space transportation outfit SpaceX and electric-vehicle maker Tesla Motors, casually announced via Twitter on Thursday that he's decided to help accelerate development of his vision for near-supersonic tube transportation, first outlined in August 2013. Musk said he will build a five-mile test track for the still-theoretical system for students and companies to use. A possible location would be Texas, he added, where presumably there is plenty of flat land to go around."
Censorship

Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression 894

Posted by timothy
from the what-else-would-the-pope-say? dept.
hcs_$reboot writes Pope Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right but a duty to speak one's mind for the sake of the common good. But he added there were limits. While Francis insisted that it was an "aberration" to kill in the name of God and said religion can never be used to justify violence, he said there was a limit to free speech when it concerned offending someone's religious beliefs. By way of example, he referred to a friend: "if someone says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch". "There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others," he said. "They are provocateurs."
Transportation

Tesla To Produce 'a Few Million' Electric Cars a Year By 2025 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Reuters reports that Elon Musk, speaking at an industry conference in Detroit, said Tesla may not be profitable until 2020 but that Tesla plans to boost production of electric cars to "at least a few million a year" by 2025. Musk told attendees at the Automotive News World Congress that "we could make money now if we weren't investing" in new technology and vehicles such as the Model 3 and expanded retail networks.

Musk does not see the Chevrolet Bolt as a potential competitor to the Model 3. "It's not going to affect us if someone builds a few hundred thousand vehicles," said Musk. "I'd be pleased to see other manufacturers make electric cars." On another topic, Musk said he was open to partnerships with retailers to sell Tesla vehicles, but not until after the company no longer has production bottlenecks. "Before considering taking on franchised dealers, we also have to establish (more of) our own stores," said Musk adding that "we will consider" franchising "if we find the right partner." Musk did not elaborate, but said Tesla "is not actively seeking any partnerships" with other manufacturers "because our focus is so heavily on improving our production" in Fremont. Last year, Tesla delivered about 33,000 Model S sedans and said the current wait for delivery is one to four months. Tesla has already presold every Model S that it plans to build in 2015. "If you ordered a car today, you wouldn't get it until 2016."
Transportation

Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show 426

Posted by timothy
from the no-accounting-for-taste dept.
MikeChino writes Tesla, take cover – General Motors is taking aim at the affordable electric vehicle market with the brand new Chevy Bolt, which was just unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The all-electric vehicle is able to travel 200 miles on a single charge, and it will cost about $30,000 – which puts it squarely in the ring with the Tesla Model 3. According to the article, "Chevrolet is planning to launch the Bolt EV in 2017, and inside sources say that it will be available in all 50 states."
Transportation

Tesla vs. Car Dealers: the Lobbyist Went Down To Georgia 190

Posted by timothy
from the which-interest-is-the-most-special? dept.
McGruber writes The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) newspaper's Jim Galloway has an update on the behind-the-scenes battles over who can sell you a new car: "Traditional car dealers are in the midst of a legal fight to push Tesla, the fledgling California electric car company, out of Georgia. Never mind that metro Atlanta is one of the hottest markets for electric vehicles in the nation. Signs point to a parallel battle in the General Assembly. Last week, the National Automobile Dealers Association began trolling for sympathetic lawmakers. While Georgia dealers say they have "no plans" to revisit an anti-Tesla bill that failed last year, Tesla is preparing a defense. It has already hired one of the top lobbying firms in Atlanta."

The Georgia Automobile Dealers Association wields considerable influence in the state Capitol; the AJC determined that the Georgia Auto Dealers Association (GADA) had made over $600,000 in recent campaign contributions to state lawmakers. Despite those contributions, a bill to boot Tesla from Georgia mysteriously died during last year's legislative session. While no legislator would claim credit for killing the bill, Galloway noted that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the Senate, drives a Nissan Leaf.
Transportation

Toyota Opens Patents On Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-you-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes that Toyota will share almost 6,000 hydrogen fuel cell patents. "Hoping to speed development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Toyota said Monday that it would offer thousands of patents on related technologies to rival automakers, for free. The announcement, made at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, echoes a similar move by electric car maker Tesla in 2014, when Chief Executive Elon Musk made Tesla patents available to all, hoping to spur innovation in the electric vehicle world (and, perhaps, to draw publicity.) Toyota has similar goals for the fuel-cell car market. 'At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen,' Bob Carter, senior vice president at Toyota, said before the announcement. 'The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration.'"
Businesses

The One Mistake Google Keeps Making 386

Posted by timothy
from the starry-eyed-dreamers dept.
HughPickens.com writes Gene Marks writes in Forbes Magazine that Google has brought us innovations that have literally changed our world yet the company continues to make the same mistake over and over. Google's mistake, which it keeps making, is building great products that no one will soon buy. Take Google Glass — a great idea with great technology that demonstrates the future power of the Internet of Things. There's just one problem: no one is buying Google Glass. And now there are driverless cars. After 700,000 miles of open road testing, Google has introduced its "first real build" of its driverless car and it's pretty amazing. But the mistake is the same as with Glass: it's a product without customers. "It's Google assuming that someday someone will actually buy a driverless car," writes Marks. "Not a hobbyist or an eccentric millionaire. But a customer who actually needs or desires a driverless car. Someone who, given the choice of spending $30K on a car that they fully control and can go anywhere they want at any speed they want – or another, likely more expensive buggy that will only travel on certain routes at slower speeds and with less options." Which car would you buy?

For driverless cars to work, to decrease congestion, increase safety, reduce lawsuits and lower our insurance premiums everyone would have to be driving one. For the driverless car system to truly work as desired, there would need to be more centralized control over our entire transportation system, from the roads and highways to the cars we're allowed to use, the speed we're allowed to travel and the places we're allowed to go. This, in the very country where the majority of the population fights against government regulations, red tape and bureaucracy. "But rest assured – Google knows this. They're not looking for short term profits," concludes Marks. "The dreamers behind Google, like the dreamers at Tesla and Virgin Galactic are people who are looking decades ahead."
Transportation

Tesla Roadster Update Extends Range 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-roading-along dept.
mrflash818 sends word that Tesla Motors has announced an upgrade for their Roadster vehicles that boosts the range from about 240 miles to almost 400. In addition to the battery improvements made since the Roadster launched in 2008, Tesla has a kit to retrofit the body to reduce its drag coefficient from 0.36 to 0.31. They also have new tires, which improve the rolling resistance coefficient by about 20%. They say, "Combining all of these improvements we can achieve a predicted 40-50% improvement on range between the original Roadster and Roadster 3.0. There is a set of speeds and driving conditions where we can confidently drive the Roadster 3.0 over 400 miles. We will be demonstrating this in the real world during a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the early weeks of 2015." Tesla stopped producing the Roadster in 2012.
Transportation

Tesla About To Start Battery-Swap Pilot Program 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-free-of-charge dept.
cartechboy writes: Remember 18 months ago when Tesla promised it was going to launch battery-swap stations? Well, it's finally happening, sort of. It seems Tesla's about to announce a battery-swap pilot program that will launch next week. The swap site will be located across the street from a Tesla Supercharger site in Harris Ranch, California — 184 miles south of San Francisco and about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. The pilot program will involve an unspecified number of Model S electric-car owners, who will be invited to take part in the test. For now, the battery-swap service will be offered by appointment only, at a cost of roughly a tank of gas in a premium sedan. Tesla's using words to describe this pilot program like "exploratory work" and "intended to test technology and assess demand" for a swapping service. While originally pitched that the battery swap would take less time than it would to take to refill the gas tank of a comparable luxury sedan, the company says now that "for this specific iteration" the swap process will take "approximately 3 minutes" — though it adds Tesla has "the ability to improve that time with future iterations." Is this test going to show that battery swapping is or isn't a realistic initiative?
Transportation

Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States? 141

Posted by timothy
from the did-you-get-a-look-at-the-license-plate? dept.
cartechboy writes The common assumption among Tesla fans seems to be that state auto-dealer lobbyists are working with Republican legislators to enact laws banning direct sales of Tesla's electric cars to retail buyers. Is it true? The New York Times published an article with some data points that assesses the supposition. While the article mainly focuses on the conflict between Uber and the Republican party, some quotes could be easily applied to Tesla. For instance, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus said, "It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that deicde what companies get our business." The author of the article, Josh Barro, wrote that 22 states permit direct sales of automobiles by Tesla to retail buyers, and of those the majority--14 of them-- voted for President Obama. He suggested that Democratic California, Illinois, and New York "have freer markets in auto retailing than Texas," which is presently Republican. When looking at a five-year-old article by Nate Silver that looked at political donations by car dealers, fully 88 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates, and just 12 percent to Democrats. That possibly suggests a propensity among Republican state legislators to support the interests for car dealers over those of electric-car buyers. Is the small bit of evidence enough to make a case? Good background on the current system of dealership sinecure can be found in this short 2009 Competition Advocacy Paper from the U.S. Department of Justice, which delves into the history and effects of the dealers-only system which still prevails.
Government

Tesla Wants Texas Auto Sales Regulations Loosened 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the click-and-drive dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tesla decided not to build its new $5 billion battery factory in Texas, but the company still wants to sell its electric cars directly over the Internet there. The automaker hopes that the possibility of future investment in the state will be enough to overcome the Texas Automobile Dealers Association lobby and change dealership laws. From the article: "Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's vice president for business development admits that getting the law changed won't be easy. 'Does the fact that we didn't site the factory there complicate things? Absolutely,' O'Connell said. 'But we're going to be doing a number of big battery factories in the coming years and we're going to need new vehicle factories as well, and there's a certain logic to doing those in Texas.' He didn't elaborate, but added that the state may not be so attractive if current sales regulations stand. 'If we're banned in Texas, why are we investing billions of dollars here?,' O'Connell asked."
Power

Why Elon Musk's Batteries Frighten Electric Companies 461

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-some-infrastructure-reliability-investments dept.
JoeyRox writes: The publicized goal of Tesla's "gigafactory" is to make electric cars more affordable. However, that benefit may soon be eclipsed by the gigafactory's impact on roof-top solar power storage costs, putting the business model of utilities in peril. "The mortal threat that ever cheaper on-site renewables pose" comes from systems that include storage, said physicist Amory Lovins. "That is an unregulated product you can buy at Home Depot that leaves the old business model with no place to hide."
Transportation

Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla? 293

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-in-the-air dept.
MojoKid writes After years of working on prototype vehicles, multiple car companies have announced a major push for hydrogen fuel cell automobiles. At the LA Auto Show last week, Toyota showed off its Mirai, a four-door passenger sedan with a $57,500 base sticker price and a hydrogen-only fuel system. Honda recently delayed its hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle until 2016, while Hyundai is planning to build 1000 fuel-cell powered Tucson's by the end of the year. Currently, most proposed hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are actually combined hydrogen-electric designs. Hydrogen gas, under enormous pressure, is used to drive a generator, which then charges a lithium-ion battery. Toyota plans to sell up to 3,000 Mirai a year by 2017, which would put it well below Tesla's own sales projections for its Model S — but at a lower overall price point. The pressurized fuel tanks in the Mirai can hold a total of 122 liters of hydrogen for an estimated range of 300 miles. A standard gasoline-powered car with a 122L capacity at 30mpg would be capable of traveling 960 miles. Proponents of hydrogen point to the vastly improved fueling time (roughly equal that of gasoline) as opposed to the 20-60 minutes required to recharge a vehicle like Tesla's Model S.
Power

Facebook Testing Lithium-Ion Batteries For Backup Power 41

Posted by timothy
from the economies-of-web-scale dept.
itwbennett writes Facebook has just started testing lithium-ion batteries as the backup power source for its server racks and plans to roll them out widely next year. Lithium-ion has been too expensive until now, says Matt Corddry, Facebook's director of hardware engineering, but its use in electric cars has changed the economics. It's now more cost effective than the bulky, lead-acid batteries widely used in data centers today.