cartechboy (2660665) writes "Earlier in the week we heard that Tesla and Panasonic had reached an agreement to build the gigafactory together, and today that became official. Now it seems that things are farther along than anyone thought. In fact, construction of the plant might already be secretly underway in Nevada. This is of course interesting as Tesla hasn't officially announced where the gigafactory will be built. Something called Project Tiger is currently underway east of Reno, and there's a lot of construction workers, heavy equipment, and a heavily guarded fenced barrier around the site. The volume of dirt being moved is 140,000 cubic yards, which matches the gigafactory dimensions given earlier this year by Tesla. Is it possible that Tesla's actually building the gigafactory before even announcing its location? It seems so, yes."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tesla's been pretty quiet regarding its upcoming gigafactory lately, but that's about to change. It seems the Silicon Valley startup has reached an agreement with Panasonic in regards to the gigafactory, and Panasonic's going to end up having skin in the game. While the electronics giant was originally skeptical of Tesla's battery factory, it now isn't just on board, it's actually going to participate in the construction of this new facility. It's reported that Panasonic will invest 20 billion to 30 billion yen (194 million to $291 million at current exchange rates), and supply fabrication machinery necessary for cell production. That means Pansonic could end up footing the bill for $1 billion of the total $5 billion anticipated investment required for the gigafactory to get off the ground. If things continue to move forward the Gigafactory should be online by the end of 2017."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Golfing and cars, not much in common there. But that's about to change thanks to a new technology from a research lab at MIT called Smorphs. The idea is simple: put a set of dynamic dimples on the exterior of a car to improve its surface aerodynamics and make it slipperier, and therefore faster. Pedro Reis is the mechanical engineering and research spearheading this project. A while ago Mythbusters proved the validity of the dimpled car form in a much more low-tech way. The concept uses a hollow core surrounded by a thick, deformable layer, and a smoother outer skin. When vacuum is applied, the outer layers suck in to form the dimples. The technology is only in its very earliest stages, but we could see this applied to future vehicles in an effort to make them faster and more fuel efficient."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "A few weeks ago we heard about a challenge being thrown down to hack a Tesla Model S. It seem that challenge was both accepted and accomplished. Chinese internet security company Qihoo has announced it's found ways to remotely control aspects of the Model S, even while the car is in motion. The company posted screenshots showing several vital functions of the car disabled--such as ABS and traction control--while the company also "discovered ways to remotely control the car's lock, horn and flashing lights." Obviously this move could simply be a PR stunt by Qihoo. Forbes suggested it might be a way to scare Tesla's CEO Elon Musk into doing business with Qihoo. Tesla said, "WE hope that the security researchers will act responsibly and in good faith."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Most normal road cars aren't designed to handle track conditions, though, newer performance cars have become surprisingly good at going around a track. It seems the same can't be said for the Tesla Model S which faltered during a hot lap around the legendary Nürburgring. Racing driver Robb Holland piloted the electric car around the 14-mile track, but after just one third of the loop the Model S went into reduced-power mode to help preserve the battery. Before this happened Holland described the car as too heavy, too short of mechanical grip, and devoid of steering feel. He did praise the electric sedan saying it's probably capable of a 9-minute lap if it doesn't overheat, and for a brand new car company that didn't exist a decade ago, it's an impressive vehicle. So it seems the Tesla Model S isn't perfect at everything, yet."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Last summer Nissan said it would be launching a self-driving car with revolutionary technology in 2020. It seems the "revolutionary technology" Nissan was talking about won't actually be hitting by 2020, as the launch plan it just announced doesn't put a fully autonomous car on the road any time soon. The plan calls for a vehicle with automated lane controls and highway traffic management system (essentially a traffic jam assistant) to launch in 2016. Then by 2018 it will launch a vehicle with additional multiple-lane control system, which will allow the vehicle to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes. By the end of the decade Nissan plans to have a vehicle with intersection-autonomy, allowing a vehicle to negotiate city cross-roads without driver interaction. So by 2020, Nissan's autonomous car will still require a driver to remain in control and behind the wheel. This is a bit different than what Google's looking to launch. Which then begs the question, is this truly even going to be a self-driving car?"
An anonymous reader writes "If you're tired of yelling at the kids without the help of technology, Toyota has a van for you. From the article: "The latest version of the company's Sienna minivan has a feature called 'Driver Easy Speak.' It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent's voice through speakers in the back seats. Toyota says it added Easy Speak 'so parents don't have to shout to passengers in the back.' But chances are many parents will yell into the microphone anyway. And the feature only works one way, so the kids can't talk back. At least not with amplified voices. The feature is an option on the 2015 Sienna, which is being refreshed with a totally new interior. It also has an optional 'pull-down conversation mirror' that lets drivers check on kids without turning around.""
An anonymous reader writes "Thanks to some clean-energy tax incentives approved late this spring, California appears to be in the running again for Tesla's "Gigafactory". From the article: "The decision should have been made by now, and ground broken, according to the company's timeline, but is on hold, allowing California, which was not in the race initially — CEO Elon Musk has called California an improbable choice, citing regulations — to throw its hat in the ring. 'In terms of viability, California has progressed. Now it's a four-plus-one race,' said Simon Sproule, Tesla's vice president of global communication and marketing, referring to the four named finalists — Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada — for the prize. That's heartening. Having the Gigafactory would be a vindication of Gov. Jerry Brown's drive to make California the home of advanced manufacturing, of which Tesla's battery technology is a prime example. With its technology, 'Tesla may be in position to disrupt industries well beyond the realm of traditional auto manufacturing. It's not just cars,' a Morgan Stanley analyst told Quartz, an online business publication last year."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Remember about a year ago when a Tesla supported created a petition on WhiteHouse.gov asking President Obama to allow Tesla Motors to sell its vehicles directly to consumers in all states? The petition has the necessary 100,000 signatures and was completed properly. Well, the White House got around to responding, a year later. Basically, the answer was sorry, go talk to congress. The response from the White House was actually 10 paragraphs long, but two sentences basically sum it up: "As you know, laws regulating auto sales are issues that have traditionally sat with lawmakers at the state level." And also, "We understand that pre-empting current state laws on direct-to-consumer auto sales would require an act of Congress." Naturally Tesla and Tesla supporters weren't pleased to see this type of response."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "It's not uncommon for executives to talk about the competition, but it is unusual for them to not only trash talk them, but to literally call them out. That seems to be the scenario that just happened as a Hyundai executive has called out Tesla. Michael O'Brien is head of U.S. product planning for Hyundai called out Tesla by saying it bought and paid for its Supercharger network with "money that has come from grants and loans from the government." Meanwhile he's angry that the government has provided exactly zero dollars towards the development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Tesla of course was less than thrilled to hear about this and immediately refuted the claims made by Mr. O'Brien. Could it be that Hyundai is simply sour that it's chosen to invest in fuel-cells and that there's no infrastructure to refuel these vehicles?"
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Cars already have the technology to determine when you're drowsy, that's nothing new. But having seats with sensors in them monitoring your heart rate to determine if you're falling asleep, that's new, and creepy. A new project from Nottingham Trent University in the UK is working on an electrocardiogram (ECG) built into the driver's seat to detect heart rate and determine when the driver is too fatigued—or worse, falling asleep—in order to improve road safety. The tech uses circuits integrated right into the seats to monitor heart rate, respiration, and more to monitor alertness and health. The idea is the system can take over using active cruise control, lane-keep assist, and other safety technology if the driver were to be drowsy or fall asleep. Of course, the creepy part is the car knows your health and determines whether it would be more fit to drive than you. Maybe in the future you won't get to decide if you're fit to drive, your car will."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "It seems there's a new hack challenge set every week, but this time, it seems different. A challenge has been thrown down to hack a Tesla Model S with a $10,000 prize. The organizers of a computer security conference have set the challenge and it's open to anyone that registers for the Syscan conference. Taking place in Beijing from July 16-17, the rules for the hack competition haven't been revealed yet but a Model S will be on display for hackers to try their luck on. It's important to note that Tesla itself isn't involved in the competition in any official capacity, nor does it support the competition. If successful, this wouldn't be the first time a Tesla Model S has been hacked. In that instance Tesla was quick to warn people that making changes in the Model S' software would immediately void the car's warranty. Given the car's high-tech nature, it's no shock Tesla's taking security seriously. With $10,000 on the line, it'll be interesting to see if anyone manages to crack the code."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Looks like Tesla is battling copyright issues over its name in China, as a single businessman there trademark trolls them. Zhan Baosheng has sued Tesla to stop the company from selling cars in China because he filed for the Chinese copyrights of the Tesla name in 2006 and was granted those trademarks in 2009. Baosheng had also set up a website and trademarked the Tesla logo--hoping to profit from Tesla's expected plans to sell in cars in China. Tesla, meanwhile, says its claim to the name has already been upheld by other Chinese authorities and that the lawsuit is without merit. The electric car company has actually considered using the phonetic name "Te Su Le" to sell its cars if needed. China drivers now buy more cars than those in any other country and the market is a key for luxury car sales."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Travelers at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany don't even have to park their cars anymore. Last week the airport began testing a self-driving fork-lift like robot system called "Ray" that delivers cars to and from parking spaces. Drivers simply pull into the parking lot and check the car in on a digital touchscreen. The robot valet takes it from there. Sensors measure the vehicle dimensions so the robot can adjust its arms, pick the car up and park it in one of the 249 automated parking spots. The electric-powered Ray travels up to 6 mph.guided by laser navigation and mapping software With a smart phone app, drivers can even let Ray know they are going through customs, so the car is ready right when you return. Best part — the related video is narrated in German."