Businesses

Tesla Is Talking To the Music Labels About Creating Its Own Streaming Service (recode.net) 55

An anonymous reader shares a Recode report: Music industry sources say the carmaker has had talks with all of the major labels about licensing a proprietary music service that would come bundled with its cars, which already come equipped with a high-tech dashboard and internet connectivity. Label sources aren't clear about the full scope of Tesla's ambitions, but believe it is interested in offering multiple tiers of service, starting with a Pandora-like web radio offering. The bigger question: Why doesn't Tesla simply integrate existing services, like Spotify or Apple Music, into all of its cars from the start -- especially since Tesla already does a deal with Spotify for Teslas sold outside the U.S.? "We believe it's important to have an exceptional in-car experience so our customers can listen to the music they want from whatever source they choose," a Tesla spokesperson said. "Our goal is to simply achieve maximum happiness for our customers."
Apple

Chris Lattner, Poached From Apple To Become Tesla's Top Software Executive, Quits After 6 Months (bizjournals.com) 139

Tesla said last night Chris Lattner, the vice president of Autopilot software, has left the company about six months after the electric car-maker hired him away from Apple. From a report: Lattner had led the software development team in charge of Autopilot. Tesla executive Jim Keller is now in charge of Autopilot hardware and software. The company announced it had also hired OpenAI research scientist Andrej Karpathy, who will serve as Tesla's new director of artificial intelligence and Tesla Vision. "Chris just wasn't the right fit for Tesla, and we've decided to make a change," the company told reporters in a statement. "We wish him the best." Lattner tweeted last night, "Turns out that Tesla isn't a good fit for me after all. I'm interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!" Lattner is a widely respected figure in the industry. He is the main author of LLVM as well as Apple's Swift programming language. We interviewed him earlier this year.
Transportation

Driver Killed In a Tesla Crash Using Autopilot Ignored At Least 7 Safety Warnings (usatoday.com) 489

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: U.S. investigators said a driver who was killed while using Tesla's partially self-driving car ignored repeated warnings to put his hands on the wheel. In a 538-page report providing new details of the May 2016 crash that killed Ohio resident Joshua Brown in a highway crash in Florida, the National Transportation Safety Board described the scene of the grisly incident and the minutes leading up to it. The agency, which opened an investigation to explore the possibility that Tesla's Autopilot system was faulty, said it had drawn "no conclusions about how or why the crash occurred." The NTSB report appears to deliver no conflicting information. The agency said the driver was traveling at 74 miles per hour, above the 65 mph limit on the road, when he collided with the truck. The driver used the vehicle's self-driving system for 37.5 minutes of the 41 minutes of his trip, according to NTSB. During the time the self-driving system was activated, he had his hands on the wheel for a total of only about half a minute, investigators concluded. NTSB said the driver received seven visual warnings on the instrument panel, which blared "Hold Steering Wheel," followed by six audible warnings.
Math

The Quirky Habits of Certified Science Geniuses (bbc.com) 190

dryriver shares a report from the BBC: Celebrated inventor and physicist Nikola Tesla swore by toe exercises -- every night, he'd repeatedly "squish" his toes, 100 times for each foot, according to the author Marc J Seifer. While it's not entirely clear exactly what that exercise involved, Tesla claimed it helped to stimulate his brain cells. The most prolific mathematician of the 20th Century, Paul Erdos, preferred a different kind of stimulant: amphetamine, which he used to fuel 20-hour number benders. When a friend bet him $500 that he couldn't stop for a month, he won but complained "You've set mathematics back a month." Newton, meanwhile, bragged about the benefits of celibacy. When he died in 1727, he had transformed our understanding of the natural world forever and left behind 10 million words of notes; he was also, by all accounts, still a virgin (Tesla was also celibate, though he later claimed he fell in love with a pigeon). It's common knowledge that sleep is good for your brain -- and Einstein took this advice more seriously than most. He reportedly slept for at least 10 hours per day -- nearly one and a half times as much as the average American today (6.8 hours). But can you really slumber your way to a sharper mind? Many of the world's most brilliant scientific minds were also fantastically weird. From Pythagoras' outright ban on beans to Benjamin Franklin's naked "air baths," the path to greatness is paved with some truly peculiar habits.
Transportation

Tesla Model X the First SUV Ever To Achieve 5-Star Crash Rating in Every Category (tesla.com) 103

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded the 2017 Tesla Model X five-star crash safety ratings in every category. From the company's blog: More than just resulting in a 5-star rating, the data from NHTSA's testing shows that Model X has the lowest probability of injury of any SUV it has ever tested. In fact, of all the cars NHTSA has ever tested, Model X's overall probability of injury was second only to Model S. Model X performs so much better in a crash than gas-powered SUVs because of its all-electric architecture and powertrain design. The rigid, fortified battery pack that powers Model X is mounted beneath the floor of the vehicle creating a center of gravity so low that Model X has the lowest rollover probability of any SUV on the road. No other SUV has ever come close to meeting and exceeding this rollover requirement.
AI

Cook Says Apple Is Focusing on Making an Autonomous Car System (bloomberg.com) 146

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: After years toiling away in secret on its car project, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has for the first time laid out exactly what the company is up to in the automotive market: It's concentrating on self-driving technology. "We're focusing on autonomous systems," Cook said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "It's a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects," Cook said in his most detailed comments to date on Apple's plans in the car space. "It's probably one of the most difficult A.I. projects actually to work on." [...] "There is a major disruption looming there," Cook said on Bloomberg Television, citing self-driving technology, electric vehicles and ride-hailing. "You've got kind of three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame." Cook was also bullish about the prospects for electric vehicles, a market which last week helped Tesla become the world's fourth-biggest carmaker by market capitalization, even as it ranks well outside the top 10 by unit sales."It's a marvelous experience not to stop at the filling station or the gas station," Cook said.
Power

Tesla Plans To Disconnect 'Almost All' Superchargers From the Grid In Favor of Solar and Battery Power (electrek.co) 230

Only half a dozen Supercharger stations or so out of the over 800 stations have solar arrays and batteries, but that may be about to change. Elon Musk said Tesla plans to deploy more battery and solar systems with the upcoming "Version 3" of the Supercharger, adding that "almost all Superchargers will disconnect from the electricity grid." Electrek reports: Previously, Musk said that Tesla's new Powerpack and solar arrays will power some Supercharger stations in sunny regions to go off-grid -- adding that "the grid won't be needed for moderate use Superchargers in non-snowy regions." While it makes sense to add solar arrays and battery packs, it's not clear why there would be a need to completely disconnect from the grid, which is often still useful -- especially if net metering is available. Even in regions where coal dominates electricity generation, electric cars are still more efficient than some of the most efficient gas-powered cars. Therefore, the argument could have ended here, but Musk apparently wants to take Tesla's Supercharger network off-grid as part of the company's mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. Depending on the size and popularity of a Supercharger station, which generally varies from 6 partly used stalls to 20 stalls in almost constant use, Tesla would need some significantly large solar arrays at some stations -- almost football field in size. Unless there are some impressive advancements in efficiency, it's not clear how they would make it happen.
Transportation

US Insurer Hikes Tesla Premiums Due To 'Higher-Than-Average' Claim Rates (theverge.com) 125

An anonymous reader writes: "National insurer AAA is raising its prices for Tesla's Model S and Model X, citing higher-than-average claim rates and repair costs for the two cars," reports The Verge. "According to a report from Automotive News, AAA said it could raise its premiums by as much as 30 percent for the vehicles. Other large insurers including State Farm and Geico told the publication they couldn't say whether or not they would also increase prices, but noted that data about claim frequency is always used to calculate insurance premiums." Musk claims that AAA doesn't know what they are doing, but fails to be specific as to what is incorrect about their data or its usage. [The company says the AAA has made its decision based on faulty information from the Highway Loss Data Institute.]
Transportation

Denmark Is Killing Tesla and Other Electric Cars (bloomberg.com) 172

An anonymous shares an article: The electric car has dropped out of favor in the country that pioneered renewable energy. Sales in Denmark of Electrically Chargeable Vehicles (ECV), which include plug-in hybrids, plunged 60.5 percent in the first quarter of the year, compared with the first three months of 2016, according to latest data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). That contrasts with an increase of nearly 80 percent in neighboring Sweden and an average rise of 30 percent in the European Union. Denmark, a global leader in wind power whose own attempt at an electric car in the early 1980s famously flopped, used to be enthralled with them. Its bicycle-loving people bought 5,298 of them in 2015, more than double the amount sold that year in Italy, which has a population more than 10 times the size of Denmark's. The figures suggest clean-energy vehicles still aren't attractive enough to compete without some form of subsidy. However, it turns out that those phenomenal sales figures had as much to do with convenience as with environmental concerns: electric car dealers were for a long time spared the jaw-dropping import tax of 180 percent that Denmark applies on vehicles fueled by a traditional combustion engine.
Businesses

Tesla Fires Female Engineer Who Alleged Sexual Harassment (theguardian.com) 221

Tesla has fired a female engineer who accused the company of ignoring her complaints of sexual harassment and paying her less than her male counterparts. AJ Vandermeyden, who went public with her discrimination lawsuit against Tesla in February, was dismissed from the company this week. The Guardian reports: Vandermeyden had claimed she was taunted and catcalled by male employees and that Tesla failed to address her complaints about the harassment, unequal pay and discrimination. "It's shocking in this day and age that this is still a fight we have to have," she said at the time. In a statement to the Guardian, Tesla confirmed the company had fired Vandermeyden, saying it had thoroughly investigated the employee's allegations with the help of "a neutral, third-party expert" and concluded her complaints were unmerited. "Despite repeatedly receiving special treatment at the expense of others, Ms Vandermeyden nonetheless chose to pursue a miscarriage of justice by suing Tesla and falsely attacking our company in the press," a Tesla spokesperson said. "After we carefully considered the facts on multiple occasions and were absolutely convinced that Ms Vandermeyden's claims were illegitimate, we had no choice but to end her employment at Tesla."
Government

Elon Musk Joins CEOs Calling For US To Stay in Paris Climate Deal (bloomberg.com) 304

Billionaire Elon Musk said on Wednesday he would leave President Trump's Business Advisory Council if the White House withdraws from an international agreement aimed at curbing climate change. From a report: The appeals from chief executives such as Tesla's Musk, Tim Cook of Apple and Dow Chemical's Andrew Liveris come as Trump's advisers also present him with closing arguments on the potential risks and rewards of remaining a party to the global pact. Trump also got an earful from foreign leaders and Pope Francis urging him to stay in the agreement during his first international trip as president. Cook placed a call to the White House on Tuesday to urge the president to keep the U.S. in the agreement, according to a person familiar with the move. Liveris was the driving force behind a letter from 30 major company executives backing the deal. And Musk tweeted Wednesday that he has "done all I can to advise directly to" Trump. If the U.S. leaves Paris, Musk said he would drop participation in White House advisory councils. [...] Twenty-five companies, including Intel, Microsoft and PG&E, have signed on to a letter set to run as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Thursday arguing in favor of climate pact.
Businesses

Apple Co-founder Thinks Apple Is Now Too Big a Company To Come Up With the Next Big Thing (9to5mac.com) 211

When it comes to the next great tech breakthroughs, Steve Wozniak isn't betting on the company he founded. Instead, he believes Tesla is at the forefront of anticipating the world to come. From a report: Interviewed by Bloomberg on what are likely to be the biggest tech breakthroughs in the coming years, and which companies are likely to make them, Woz didn't list Apple as a contender. He said, "look at the companies like Google and Facebook and Apple and Microsoft that changed the world -- and Tesla included. They usually came from young people. They didn't spring out of big businesses." Small businesses, he argued, take bigger risks -- and their founders create the products they really want, without the dilution that occurs with multiple decision-makers. "I think Tesla is on the best direction right now. They've put an awful lot of effort into very risky things. I'm going to bet on Tesla," he added.
Businesses

Tesla Factory Workers Reveal Pain, Injury and Stress: 'Everything Feels Like the Future But Us' (theguardian.com) 255

Workers at Tesla's California car factory have been passing out and requiring rides in ambulances, the Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday. The conditions at the factory suggest the lengths the company is going to in order to meet its extremely ambitious production goals, and the tension employees feel between their pride in being part of the company and the stress and exhaustion the company's goals are causing them, according to the report. From the article: Ambulances have been called more than 100 times since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing and chest pains, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian. Hundreds more were called for injuries and other medical issues. In a phone interview about the conditions at the factory, which employs about 10,000 workers, the Tesla CEO conceded his workers had been "having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs," but said he cared deeply about their health and wellbeing. His company says its factory safety record has significantly improved over the last year. Musk also said that Tesla should not be compared to major US carmakers and that its market capitalization, now more than $50bn, is unwarranted. "I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve," he said, pointing out his company produces just 1% of GM's total output. "We're a money-losing company," Musk added. "This is not some situation where, for example, we are just greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits and dividends and that kind of thing. It's just a question of how much money we lose. And how do we survive? How do we not die and have everyone lose their jobs?" The article also sheds light on the kind of manager Musk is. In early 2016, Musk slept on the factory floor in a sleeping bag "to make it the most painful thing possible. I knew people were having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs. I wanted to work harder than they did, to put even more hours in," he was quoted as saying. "Because that's what I think a manager should do."
Transportation

Elon Musk Posts New Video of 'Boring' Equipment and Company's First Tunnel (cnbc.com) 118

Elon Musk has posted a new video and several pictures of equipment that will be used to start digging tunnels beneath Los Angeles. There's a picture of boring machine segments that are being lowered into the start tunnel at SpaceX, a front view of the tunnel, an inside view of the tunnel, and a picture of the front of the boring machine that will cut through underground rock. Additionally, the video shows a version of the "skate" that will cary cars through the tunnel at a speed of 125 mph. CNBC reports: The project is one of Musk's latest ventures, which was inspired by a desire to alleviate "out of control" traffic in Los Angeles. He aims to first dig a tunnel from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to the nearby Los Angeles airport. Musk frequently flies from Los Angeles to the San Francisco area, where he runs Tesla. Eventually, he envisions a deep, multilayered network of underground tunnels spanning the city.
AI

NVIDIA Unveils Tesla V100 AI Accelerator Powered By 5120 CUDA Core Volta GPU (hothardware.com) 37

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang just offered the first public unveiling of a product based on the company's next generation GPU architecture, codenamed Volta. NVIDIA just announced its new Tesla V100 accelerator that's designed for AI and machine learning applications, and at the heart of the Tesla V100 is NVIDIA's Volta GV100 GPU. The chip features a 21.1 billion transistors on a die that measures 815mm2 (compared to 12 billion transistors and 610mm2 respectively for the previous gen Pascal GP100). The GV100 is built on a 12nm FinFET manufacturing process by TSMC. It is comprised of 5,120 CUDA cores with a boost clock of 1455MHz, compared to 3585 CUDA cores for the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and previous gen Tesla P100 AI accelerator, for example. The new Volta GPU delivers 15 TFLOPS FP32 compute performance and 7.5 TFLOPS of FP64 compute performance. Also on board is 16MB of cache and 16GB of second generation High Bandwidth (HBM2) memory with 900GB/sec of bandwidth via a 4096-bit interface. The GV100 also has dedicated Tensor cores (640 in total) accelerating AI workloads. NVIDIA notes the dedicated Tensor cores also allow for a 12x uplift in deep learning performance compared to Pascal, which relies solely on its CUDA cores. NVIDIA is targeting a Q3 2017 release for the Tesla V100 with Volta, but the timetable for a GeForce derivative family of consumer graphics cards has has not been disclosed.
Businesses

Tesla's Highly-Anticipated Solar Roofs Go Up For Pre-Order Today (inhabitat.com) 143

Kristine Lofgren writes: Get ready: Tesla's ground-breaking Solar Roof tiles are available for order in the U.S. starting today. In typical fashion, CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter that the anticipated tech would be available to order this afternoon with installation happening later this year. Tesla's tiles look like traditional roof tiles but they soak up all that delicious sunlight in order to power your home. According to the company, the tiles will be more affordable than typical roofing and can be paired with their Powerwall battery to power a home completely using solar energy.
Businesses

Tesla Executives Linked To Investment In a Startup That Focuses On 'Materials Recycling' (cnbc.com) 20

According to CNBC, "Two Tesla executives have been named as directors of a company called Redwood Materials, which appears to focus on technology to recycle and reuse manufacturing materials." From the report: Jeffrey Straubel, chief technical officer, and Andrew Stevenson, head of special projects at the auto firm, were on a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing highlighting a $2 million fundraiser for the Redwood Materials. The document was first uncovered by data platform CB Insights on Monday. Straubel and Stevenson are named as executive officers and directors of this company. Stevenson is also down as chief financial officer. Redwood Materials describes itself as making "advanced technology and process development for materials recycling, remanufacturing, and reuse," on its website. The SEC filing shows that the company was set up in 2017 and is based in Redwood City, California. It has raised $2 million from just one investor but the name of the backer is not disclosed. The extent of Tesla's involvement with Redwood Materials is unclear, but if it were a partner, customer or even investor, it would certainly make sense. The company, which is run by billionaire Elon Musk, has been focused on ways to make its supply chain more efficient in order to scale and meet demand. Using a company like Redwood Materials would allow Tesla to own more of the supply chain, potentially helping to boost production, and in a more sustainable way, given that it would be recycling materials to be manufactured into different parts.
Transportation

Apple, Tesla Ask California To Change Its Proposed Policies On Self-Driving Car Testing (reuters.com) 30

Tesla and Apple have asked the state of California to change its proposed policies on self-driving cars to allow companies to test vehicles without traditional steering wheels and controls or human back-up drivers, among other things. Reuters reports: In a letter made public Friday, Apple made a series of suggested changes to the policy that is under development and said it looks forward to working with California and others "so that rapid technology development may be realized while ensuring the safety of the traveling public." Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies Inc, Toyota Motor Corp, Tesla Motors Inc and others also filed comments suggesting changes. Apple said California should revise how companies report self-driving system "disengagements." California currently requires companies to report how many times the self-driving system was deactivated and control handed back to humans because of a system failure or a traffic, weather or road situation that required human intervention. Apple said California's rules for development vehicles used only in testing could "restrict both the design and equipment that can be used in test vehicles." Tesla said California should not bar testing of autonomous vehicles that are 10,000 pounds (4,535 kg) or more. Tesla also said California should not prohibit the sale of non-self-driving vehicles previously used for autonomous vehicle testing.
Transportation

Elon Musk Outlines His 'Boring' Vision For Traffic-Avoiding Tunnels (axios.com) 171

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed new details about his futuristic tunnel-boring project during his TED talk on Friday. Ina Fried, writing for Axios: In an appearance at the TED conference in Vancouver, Musk showed off a new video visualization of electric skates transporting cars in a narrow tunnel, then raising them back to street level in a space as small as two parking spaces. Inside the tunnels, Musk said cars could travel as fast as 200 kilometers per hour (roughly 130 MPH). "You should be able to go from say Westwood to LAX in 5-6 minutes," the Tesla and SpaceX founder said, adding he is spending only 2-3 percent on the tunnel effort. The Boring Company is currently building a demo tunnel in SpaceX's parking lot, but will need permits from the city of Los Angeles to extend beyond the property line. Musk added, "I'm not trying to be anyone's savior. I'm just trying to think about the future and not be sad." You can watch the video here.
Transportation

Tesla's German Automation Expert Klaus Grohmann Ousted After Clash With CEO Musk (reuters.com) 69

According to Reuters, "Tesla executive Klaus Grohmann was ousted last month after a clash with CEO Elon Musk over the strategy of Grohmann's firm, which Tesla had acquired in November." Grohmann Engineer's automation and engineering expertise is being relied upon by Tesla to help it increase production to 500,000 cars per year by 2018. From the report: Tesla planned to keep Grohmann on, and Grohmann wanted to stay, but the clash with Musk over how to treat existing clients resulted in his departure, the source said. Grohmann disagreed with Musk's demands to focus management attention on Tesla projects to the detriment of Grohmann Engineering's legacy clients, which included Tesla's direct German-based rivals Daimler and BMW, two sources familiar with the matter said. "I definitely did not depart because I had lost interest in working," Grohmann said, without elaborating. A Tesla spokesman, asked about Grohmann's departure, praised him for building an "incredible company" and said: "Part of Mr Grohmann's decision to work with Tesla was to prepare for his retirement and leave the company in capable hands for the future. Given the change in focus to Tesla projects, we mutually decided that it was the right time for the next generation of management to lead."

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