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Transportation

Tesla Unveils New Model S, Its Quickest Production Car (bloomberg.com) 171

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.
The Courts

Tesla Owner in Autopilot Crash Won't Sue, But Car Insurer May (bloomberg.com) 93

Dana Hull, reporting for Bloomberg: A Texas man said the Autopilot mode on his Tesla Model S sent him off the road and into a guardrail, bloodying his nose and shaking his confidence in the technology. He doesn't plan to sue the electric-car maker, but his insurance company might. Mark Molthan, the driver, readily admits that he was not paying full attention. Trusting that Autopilot could handle the route as it had done before, he reached into the glove box to get a cloth and was cleaning the dashboard seconds before the collision, he said. The car failed to navigate a bend on Highway 175 in rural Kaufman, Texas, and struck a cable guardrail multiple times, according to the police report of the Aug. 7 crash. "I used Autopilot all the time on that stretch of the highway," Molthan, 44, said in a phone interview. "But now I feel like this is extremely dangerous. It gives you a false sense of security. I'm not ready to be a test pilot. It missed the curve and drove straight into the guardrail. The car didn't stop -- it actually continued to accelerate after the first impact into the guardrail." Cozen O'Connor, the law firm that represents Molthan's auto-insurance carrier, a unit of Chubb Ltd., said it sent Tesla Motors Inc. a notice letter requesting joint inspection of the vehicle, which has been deemed a total loss.
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."
Transportation

Uber's First Self-Driving Fleet Arrives in Pittsburgh This Month (bloomberg.com) 128

Ride-hailing app Uber will introduce self-driving cars in Pittsburgh as soon as this month, Bloomberg reports citing many officials and engineers at the company. The move is the first part of a pilot program to explore the future of the technology, the report added. The company plans to test 100 Volvo XC90s outfitted to drive themselves. Still, the cars will be accompanied by two humans: an engineer who can take control of the vehicle when needed and a co-pilot who takes note. Bloomberg reports: The Volvo deal isn't exclusive; Uber plans to partner with other automakers as it races to recruit more engineers. In July the company reached an agreement to buy Otto, a 91-employee driverless truck startup that was founded earlier this year and includes engineers from a number of high-profile tech companies attempting to bring driverless cars to market, including Google, Apple, and Tesla. Uber declined to disclose the terms of the arrangement, but a person familiar with the deal says that if targets are met, it would be worth 1percent of Uber's most recent valuation.
China

Tesla Removes 'Self-driving' From China Website After Beijing Crash (reuters.com) 85

Last week, a Tesla owner in China blamed electric vehicle's "autopilot" feature for a crash. Amid the reports, Tesla quietly removed the term "self-driving" feature from its Chinese website. Reuters report: The Tesla driver crashed earlier this month while on a Beijing commuter highway after the car failed to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side but partially in the roadway, damaging both cars but causing no injuries. It was the first known such crash in China, although it follows a fatal accident in Florida earlier this year that put pressure on auto executives and regulators to tighten rules for automated driving. A check of Tesla's Chinese website on Sunday showed that the word "autopilot" had also been removed. But that term was subsequently reinstated on Monday. "At Tesla we are continuously making improvements, including to translations," a Tesla spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to Reuters when asked about the removal of the terms "autopilot" and "self-driving."
Power

Tesla Preps Bigger 100 KWh Battery For Model S and Model X (theverge.com) 113

An anonymous reader writes: Tesla will soon offer a 100 kWh battery for the Model S and Model X that will allow for increased range -- perhaps as much as 380 miles for the Model S. Currently, the 90 kWh batteries are the company's largest capacity. Kenteken.TV is reporting that the Dutch regulator that certifies Tesla's vehicles for use in the European Union, RDW, has recently published a number of new Tesla variants. RDW's public database now includes entries for a Tesla "100D" and "100X," which are titles that follow Tesla's current naming system based on battery capacity. The listing for the 100D claims the vehicle has a range of 381 miles or 613 kilometers. The motor output is reported as 90 kilowatts (121 horsepower), which is the maximum output the Tesla motors can sustain without overheating. Autoblog notes that EU range estimates tend to be more optimistic than those issued by the U.S. EPA. A more realistic range might be 310 to 320 miles.
China

Tesla Owner In China Blames Autopilot For Crash (usatoday.com) 277

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: The owner of a Tesla Motors Model S sedan in China reportedly said his vehicle crashed into a car on the side of the road while the vehicle's Autopilot system was engaged, but the automaker said the driver was using the system improperly. Luo Zhen, 33, of Beijing told Reuters that his vehicle collided with a parked car on the left side of a highway, damaging both vehicles but injuring no one. He criticized Tesla sales people for allegedly describing the vehicle as "self-driving." "The impression they give everyone is that this is self-driving, this isn't assisted driving," he told Reuters. In the new case in China, Tesla said the Model S was "following closely behind the car in front of it when the lead car moved to the right to avoid hitting the parked car." "The driver of the Tesla, whose hands were not detected on the steering wheel, did not steer to avoid the parked car and instead scraped against its side," Tesla said Wednesday in a statement. "As clearly communicated to the driver in the vehicle, Autosteer is an assist feature that requires the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times, to always maintain control and responsibility for the vehicle, and to be prepared to take over at any time."
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."
Transportation

Researchers Discover How To Fool Tesla's Autopilot System (cnet.com) 177

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNET: Researchers from the University of South Carolina, Zhejiang University and Qihoo 360 have discovered how to fool Tesla's Autopilot sensors, according to a report from Wired. The researchers were able to trick the system into thinking an object didn't exist when it did, and that an object existed when in fact it did not. Therefore, possible security concerns arise as Autopilot could drive incorrectly, potentially putting passengers and others in danger. CNET reports: "Two pieces of radio equipment were used to convince Tesla's radar sensor that a cart was not placed directly in front of it. One of those pieces, a signal generator from Keysight Technologies, costs about $90,000. The group also tricked the car's short-range parking sensors into malfunctioning using about $40 worth of equipment. Wired points out that this was, thankfully, a rather difficult feat. Most of the technological tomfoolery was done on a stationary car. Some of the required equipment was expensive, and it didn't always work. But it brings up an important point -- even though Autopilot is quite capable, there's still no substitute for an attentive human driver, ready to take control at a moment's notice."
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."
Software

Tesla Model S In Fatal Autopilot Crash Was Going 74 MPH In a 65 Zone, NTSB Says (latimes.com) 623

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Los Angeles Times: The Tesla car involved in a fatal crash in Florida this spring was in Autopilot mode and going about 10 miles faster than the speed limit, according to safety regulators, who also released a picture of the mangled vehicle. Earlier reports had stated the Tesla Model S struck a big rig while traveling on a divided highway in central Florida, and speculated that the Tesla Autopilot system had failed to intervene in time to prevent the collision. The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Tuesday that confirms some details of the May 7 collision, along with a photo that shows the car with its windshield flattened and most of its roof sheared off. The federal agency also included a photo of the big rig, circling an area on the right side of the tractor-trailer that showed the light damage the truck received from the collision. The 2015 Model S was moving at 74 mph, above the posted 65 mph speed limit, when it struck a 53-foot trailer being pulled by a Freightliner Cascadia truck. Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot driving feature was engaged, the report says.
China

Chinese Giant LeEco Buys Vizio For $2 Billion, Gets Instant Foothold In US Market (phonedog.com) 56

Chinese electronics conglomerate LeEco is purchasing American TV manufacturer Vizio for $2 billion, the company announced at a press conference in China on Tuesday. The announcement effectively gives LeEco, formerly known as LeTV, an instant foothold in the U.S. television market. For a refresh, for those who haven't heard much about LeEco, it's one of China's biggest electronics companies. Founded in 2004, it offers a range of services including live-streaming, e-commerce, cloud, smartphones, TV set-top boxes, and smart TVs among many other products and services. One of the recent areas where it has invested its time on is an electric car, which we talked about here a few weeks ago. From a report: Vizio is primarily known for its televisions, like the P-Series sets that we recently unboxed, but they've also dipped their toes into Android. For example, Vizio released a 10-inch tablet a few years ago, and the aforementioned P-Series TV set ships with a 6-inch Android tablet that you use as a remote. Once Vizio is acquired by LeEco, it'll be operated as an independent subsidiary and the current management will remain in California. LeEco CEO Jia Yueting commented on the deal, saying, "We hope that we can use the ecosystem model and create a great integration between Vizio and LeEco and create new values for U.S. users."Having talked to the executives of LeEco in the past few months, I understand that the company intends to bring its products to the American market before its rival Xiaomi does. Xiaomi also intends to bring its smartphones and TVs to the U.S. and European market, but is currently dealing with different regulations.
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."
Transportation

Germany To Require 'Black Box' in Autonomous Cars (reuters.com) 56

Autonomous cars should be able to account for themselves, that's the thinking behind new legislation proposed by German's transport ministry. The country is planning new laws that require self-driving cars to include a black box, Reuters reports, similar to the flight recorder required on aircraft. From the report: The fatal crash of a Tesla Motors Inc Model S car in its Autopilot mode has increased the pressure on industry executives and regulators to ensure that automated driving technology can be deployed safely. Under the proposal from Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, drivers will not have to pay attention to traffic or concentrate on steering, but must remain seated at the wheel so they can intervene in the event of an emergency. Manufacturers will also be required to install a black box that records when the autopilot system was active, when the driver drove and when the system requested that the driver take over, according to the proposals. The draft is due to be sent to other ministries for approval this summer, a transport ministry spokesman said.
Facebook

Google, Tesla, and Facebook Attract 'Hordes of Tech Tourists' To Their Headquarters (siliconvalley.com) 80

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "We just came from Oracle, then we go to HP, Google; we're going to do Tesla, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. And Apple, I forgot Apple..." says one San Francisco resident, describing a tour he's providing for his friend from Tokyo. In fact, Silicon Valley's iconic tech companies have discovered tourists are now dropping in on their headquarters. "It was nice to walk between the buildings, take some pictures and see the employees enjoy their lunch break," wrote one visitor to Google's campus, before complaining that Google hadn't also provided them with bathroom access. "We got told not to use the Google bikes as they are for employees only, which was a bit of a shame," another visitor complained.

"Hundreds of people a day visit the Facebook sign and Google's Android sculpture garden in Mountain View," reports the Bay Area Newsgroup, "with many stopping at other tech giants as well, snapping photos and shooting video..." In fact, Tesla, Apple, Facebook, and Google have all now installed stores where tourists can purchase branded merchandise. (Google sells figurines of their Android mascot for $15). "What you're seeing are people on a pilgrimage..." said Stanford communications professor Fred Turner. "Folks are looking for a physical place behind the kind of dematerialized experience that they have online."

Intel has its own museum, and the Los Altos garage where Steve Jobs started Apple has even been designated a historic site. Are there any other historic tech sites that should be preserved to inspire future generations of tourists?
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."

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