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Consumer Reports Ranks Tesla Model X Near Bottom For Reliability ( 114

Last year, Consumer Reports withdrew its recommendation for the Tesla Model S after investigating its reliability. Today, the nonprofit organization released its 2016 Car Reliability Survey and found that, while the Tesla Model S has become more reliable, the Tesla Model X has proved to be unreliable overall. CNNMoney reports: CEO Elon Musk admitted that he wished he hadn't put so much new, complex technology on [the Model X] all at once when he unveiled the model last year. Apparently, he was right to worry. The Model X's complicated "falcon wing" doors have been a big trouble spot, said Jake Fisher, head of Consumer Reports' car testing unit. Even the front doors, which have electric motors that let them open on their own, have been a headache for customers, he added. As a result, Tesla ranks among the "Less Reliable" brands on Consumer Reports' list. The SUV's dependability is rated as "Much worse than average." Still, overall owner satisfaction with the vehicle is rated as "Excellent." For a long time, "dependability problems" have tended to be relatively trivial, said Fisher, as the industry has perfected the major mechanical aspects of the cars. In recent years, the problems have stemmed from the more high-tech additions to the newest cars, like the computer screens that work with phone, navigation and entertainment features, said Fisher. But now, with tougher fuel economy rules pushing more complex transmission technologies, dependability issues are once again starting to involve fundamental mechanical components. New eight- and nine-speed transmissions as well as dual-clutch and continuously variable transmissions have been suffering problems at a higher-than-average rate, Fisher said. It's been years since new car buyers would have to worry about things that could actually render their vehicle undrivable. But those concerns are coming back, Fisher said. As for the Model S, Consumer Reports says "Tesla's Model S has improved to average reliability, which now makes the electric car one of our recommended models."

Will Tesla Install Home Solar Panels To Charge Cars? ( 81

Earlier this week, Tesla signed a non-binding agreement to buy solar cells from a new Panasonic factory in Buffalo, New York -- but it's part of a much bigger maneuver. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "If all goes to plan, Tesla will be supplying customers with the solar panels that generate electricity that could then be used to charge the battery in their Tesla car or the battery in the Tesla Powerwall home energy storage system," reports the Christian Science Monitor. The Wall Street Journal reports that Musk's SolarCity "will sell, finance and install the panels."

But the Buffalo News suggests the deal is really "aimed squarely at skeptical shareholders" who may be leary of a proposed merger between Tesla and SolarCity," which one analyst calculates will require nearly $6 billion in extra capital. Panasonic could help shoulder the costs of the Buffalo factory, while also putting a more experienced manufacturer in charge of producing high-efficiency solar modules.

The Stack reports some shareholders have actually filed a lawsuit against the merger.

Elon Musk: Negative Media Coverage of Autonomous Vehicles Could be 'Killing people' ( 269

On the sidelines of the Tesla announcements, CEO Elon Musk accused media of "killing people" by dissuading consumers from using an autonomous vehicle. Musk said that media is aggressively reporting on autopilot crashes, but does "virtually none" reporting of hundreds of thousands of actual accidents that involve non-self driving cars. He said, via a report on The Verge:Once you view autonomous cars sort of like an elevator in a building, does Otis take responsibility for all elevators around the world? No, they don't. What really matters here at the end of the day is "what is the absolute safety." One of the things I should mention that frankly has been quite disturbing to me is the degree of media coverage of Autopilot crashes, which are basically almost none relative to the paucity of media coverage of the 1.2 million people that die every year in manual crashes. [It is] something that I think does not reflect well upon the media. It really doesn't. Because, and really you need to think carefully about this, because if, in writing some article that's negative, you effectively dissuade people from using an autonomous vehicle, you're killing people.

Tesla Bans Customers From Using Autonomous Cars To Earn Money Ride-Sharing ( 305

Late Wednesday, Tesla announced the Model X and Model S electric vehicles, boasting that they will come with the necessary hardware to drive completely autonomously at some point in the future. Naturally, one of the frequent questions that followed the event was: "Can I use my Tesla car as a Uber driver?" Well, Tesla was anticipating this question and even buried the answer on its website. From an ArsTechnica report: On Tesla's website, the section that describes the new "Full Self-Driving Capability" (A $3,000 option at the time of purchase, $4,000 after the fact) states "Please note also that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year."

All Tesla Vehicles Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware ( 186

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Jalopnik: All current Tesla models that will be produced in its Fremont, California factory will come with self-driving hardware built-in capable of Level 5 autonomy, including the upcoming Tesla Model 3, the company announced tonight. According to the announcement, Tesla will manufacture all of its cars with the hardware necessary for Level 5 self-driving systems going forward, including the Model S, Model X and new Model 3. At the introduction of the Model 3, it wasn't clear whether or not every Model 3 package would come standard with the hardware and software to handle Autopilot and any other self-driving features. That's been cleared up now, but there's a kicker. Just like on current Model S and Model X models, you can purchase the cars with the self-driving hardware included. But, in order to activate the software and actually use the Autopilot or upcoming advanced self-driving safety features, you will have to option it when you order the car, or pay more for it later. Elon Musk stated that the new hardware in all of Tesla's cars going forward are Tesla's own vision software, with a Tesla-developed neural net. The new hardware and software capabilities still need to undergo all of the testing required by Tesla's own standards, as well as government approval before unleashing Level 5 autonomous cars onto the streets.

LeEco Who? Chinese Tech Giant Tries Its Luck In the US With 'More Products Than You've Ever Seen' ( 59

LeEco is often called the Netflix of China. Which is funny for two reasons: LeEco is bigger than Netflix, and it has been around for longer than the American on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service. Besides, LeEco runs a fleet of other businesses, including ecommerce portal, smartphones, TVs, and even an autonomous cars. A company executive said this month that this would be a better description of LeEco, "If you were to take Apple, Amazon, Paramount Pictures, Tesla, Uber and Netflix and combine all of those companies, you get what LeEco does in China" But you may not have heard much about LeEco, the company which was until earlier this year known as LeTv. But you will now, because the company today announced a range of products for the U.S. market. TechCrunch adds: Perhaps predictably, one of the first US-based offerings from the company often referred to as "the Netflix of China" will be a content platform. And, as with just about everything else at today's event, LeEco's coming out swinging. The list of partners for LeEco Live includes MGM, Lionsgate, Vice, Showtime, Sling and Magnolia Pictures, along with publication partners like Cosmopolitan and Esquire, to name but a few. From another CNET report, which lists the other things that LeEco announced today: UMax 85 TV is LeEco's flagship 4K smart television. It's 85 inches, comes with 4GB in RAM and 64GB in storage and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It will cost $4,999. Super4 X65 TV is LeEco's second biggest 4K smart television at 65 inches and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X55 TV is a 55-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X43 Pro TV is 43-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. LeEco has an upcoming prototype VR headset; it will have a gyroscope, bluetooth headphones and USB Type-C. LeSee Pro is LeEco's self-driving concept car. It will be fully autonomous and will have a connected interior to let people stream movies, music and work documents. LeSee is LeEco's semi-autonomous vehicle (level 3). It is internet-connected and has streaming content in rear seats. LeEco first unveiled this car in April.

More Lithium Battery Product Recalls Predicted ( 99

While "the vast majority" of lithium-ion batteries will never malfunction, lithium itself "is highly combustible and batteries made with it are subject to 'thermal runaway'," which can be triggered by damage -- or by bad design. An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News: Battery and electronics manufacturers take numerous steps to try to mitigate such dangers... But while the industry has tried to make lithium-ion batteries safer, 'the technology itself isn't foolproof,' said Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage research at GTM Research... And there's reason to think that the problem could get worse before it gets better. Consumer demand for devices that are ever more powerful and longer lasting has encouraged manufacturers to make batteries that can hold even more charge. To do that, they typically pack the battery cells closer and closer together...

Since June of this year, educational toy company Roylco recalled 1,400 light tables designed for kids... Razor, Swagway and some eight other manufacturers recalled a total of 500,000 hoverboards. And HP and Sony between them recalled more than 42,000 notebook computers. All for similar reasons -- lithium-ion batteries that either had caught fire or which have posed a fire hazard... Other notorious examples include the several different Tesla Model S's that have caught fire, typically after crashes compromised their battery packs, and Sony's wide-scale recall a decade ago of the batteries that powered its Vaio and other laptop computers.

In a related story, Samsung's recall of their Note 7 is now expected to cost $5.3 billion.

Germany Tells Tesla To Not Advertise Autopilot Feature, Fears Drivers Will Become Less Attentive ( 108

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has asked Tesla to stop advertising its electric vehicles as having an Autopilot function, as this might suggest drivers' attention is not needed, his ministry said on Sunday. Reuters reports: A spokeswoman for the ministry, confirming a report in the daily Bild am Sonntag (BamS), said the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had written to Tesla to make the request. "It can be confirmed that a letter to Tesla exists with the request to no longer use the misleading term Autopilot for the driver assistance system of the car," she said in a written response to a Reuters' query.

Tesla's Sales Increase - But Next Will We Need Smart Roads? ( 168

Elon Musk says Tesla's autopilot has now driven over 222 million miles, and the company is now selling twice as many electric cars as it did in 2015. (Despite complaints from a coal-mining CEO that Tesla "is a fraud" because it receives tax-payer subsidies.)

But Slashdot reader mirandakatz writes, "It's not enough to build self-driving cars: we have to build the roads to accompany them. Roadside sensors might have once seemed a pipe dream, but with the advent of 5G internet infrastructure, they're not out of reach at all. And their implications span far beyond road safety, GMU researcher Brent Skorup explains at Backchannel: Cities could use sensor data for conducting traffic studies, pushing out real-time public bus alerts, increasing parking space occupancy, metering commercial loading times to prevent congestion, and enhancing pedestrian safety. There are also commercial applications for sensor data: How many cars drive by a billboard? How many people walk by a storefront per day? How many of those people have dogs? These are all questions we could easily answer with roadside sensors.

Tesla Sues Michigan Over Sales Ban ( 261

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Electric automaker Tesla Motors filed a lawsuit Thursday against Michigan state officials, escalating its multi-year battle to sell vehicles directly to consumers. Tesla's action comes less than a week after Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson effectively rejected the automaker's application for dealership and service facilities by asking for proof that Tesla is a franchised dealer. Tesla, unlike other automakers, sells its cars directly to consumers through company-owned stores in other states. "Tesla Motors brings this lawsuit to vindicate its rights under the United States constitution to sell and service its critically-acclaimed, all-electric vehicles at Tesla owned facilities in the State of Michigan," the automaker said in its complaint in federal court. The California automaker named Johnson, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette as defendants. Tesla submitted an application for a dealership license in fall 2015 with a plan to open a retail gallery in Grand Rapids, Mich. In a Sept. 7 hearing, a panel of administrative law examiners heard arguments. Last Thursday, they rejected the license for Tesla. "The license was denied because state law explicitly requires a dealer to have a bona fide contract with an auto manufacturer to sell its vehicles," Johnson said in a statement. Tesla wants to sell its high-end battery-powered cars directly to consumers without a franchised dealer, much like Apple sells its products. The automaker's lawsuit asks a federal judge to declare that the state violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and the constitution's commerce clause. Snyder signed a law in October, 2014, that prohibited Tesla from selling cars directly to consumers by requiring all automakers to sell through a network of franchised dealers.

Elon Musk To Unveil Solar Roof With Storage, Charger Next Month ( 79

Elon Musk plans to unveil Tesla and SolarCity's new solar roof product, which will come integrated with version 2.0 of the Tesla's PowerWall solar storage battery for the home, as well as a Tesla car charger, he said today. Bloomberg adds: Billionaire Elon Musk, the chairman and the largest shareholder of both Tesla and SolarCity Corp., announced his plans to unveil the new product in a message on Twitter Thursday. SolarCity's board agreed to Tesla's offer to buy the biggest U.S. rooftop solar supplier on Aug. 1. The product fits into his long-term vision of helping provide green homes that run on solar energy and use battery storage to help power systems, including charging electric cars, even after sundown. He announced in August that SolarCity is developing a "solar roof," a roofing product that incorporates solar technology without using standard photovoltaic panels.

Tesla Fixes Security Bugs After Claims of Model S Hack ( 76

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Tesla Motors Inc has rolled out a security patch for its electric cars after Chinese security researchers uncovered vulnerabilities they said allowed them to remotely attack a Tesla Model S sedan. The automaker said that it had patched the bugs in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday, a day after cybersecurity researchers with China'a Tencent Holdings Ltd disclosed their findings on their blog. Tesla said it was able to remedy the bugs uncovered by Tencent using an over-the-air fix to its vehicles, which saved customers the trouble of visiting dealers to obtain the update. Tencent's Keen Security Lab said on its blog that its researchers were able to remotely control some systems on the Tesla S in both driving and parking modes by exploiting the security bugs that were fixed by the automaker. The blog said that Tencent believed its researchers were the first to gain remote control of a Tesla vehicle by hacking into an onboard computer system known as a CAN bus. In a demonstration video, Tencent researchers remotely engaged the brake on a moving Tesla Model S, turned on its windshield wipers and opened the trunk. Tesla said it pushed out an over-the-air update to automatically update software on its vehicles within 10 days of learning about the bugs. It said the attack could only be triggered when a Tesla web browser was in use and the vehicle was close enough to a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot to connect to it. Slashdot reader weedjams adds some commentary: Does no one else think cars + computers + network connectivity = bad?

Tesla Is Suing An Oil-Company Executive For Impersonating Elon Musk ( 170

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: Tesla is suing an oil executive under suspicion of impersonating Elon Musk to dig up confidential financial information from the company, Forbes reported on Wednesday. The lawsuit, reportedly filed Wednesday in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, claimed that Todd Katz, the chief financial officer for Quest Integrity Group, emailed Tesla's chief financial officer using a similar email address as Musk's looking to gain information that wasn't disclosed in an earnings call with investors. Quest Integrity Group has partnerships with BP, Chevron, and ExxonMobil, the Forbes report said. According to the lawsuit, Katz used "" to send an email to Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler asking about the company's sales and financial projections. The email named in the suit reads: "why you so cautious w Q3/4 gm guidance on call? also what are your thoughts on disclosing M3 res#? Pros/cons from ir pov? what is your best guess as to where we actually come in on q3/4 deliverables. honest guess? no bs. thx 4 hard work prepping 4 today. em." Tesla is seeking "undisclosed financial compensation," as well as compensation for the cost of the investigation and legal fees, according to Forbes.

Mobileye Says Tesla Was Dropped Because of Safety Concerns 218

An anonymous reader writes: On Wednesday, Mobileye revealed that it ended its relationship with Tesla because "it was pushing the envelope in terms of safety." Mobileye's CTO and co-founder Amnon Shashua told Reuters that the electric vehicle maker was using his company's machine vision sensor system in applications for which it had not been designed. "No matter how you spin it, (Autopilot) is not designed for that. It is a driver assistance system and not a driverless system," Shashua said. In a statement to Reuters, Tesla said that it has "continuously educated customers on the use of the features, reminding them that they're responsible to keep their hands on the wheel and remain alert and present when using Autopilot" and that the system has never been described as autonomous or self-driving. (This statement appears to be at odds with statements made by Musk at shareholder meetings.) It is also emerging that the crash which cost Joshua Brown his life in May of this year was unlikely to have been the first such fatal crash involving Tesla's Autopilot. In January of this year in China, a Tesla ploughed into the back of a stationary truck at speed, killing the driver.

Hacker George Hotz Unveils $999 Self-Driving Add-On ( 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PC Magazine: Hacker George Hotz is gearing up to launch his automotive AI start-up's first official product. In December, the 26-year-old -- known for infiltrating Apple's iPhone and Sony's PlayStation 3J -- moved on to bigger things: turning a 2016 Acura ILX into an autonomous vehicle. According to Bloomberg, Hotz outfitted the car with a laser-based radar (lidar) system, a camera, a 21.5-inch screen, a "tangle of electronics," and a joystick attached to a wooden board. Nine months later, the famed hacker this week unveiled the Comma One. As described by TechCrunch, the $999 add-on comes with a $24 monthly subscription fee for software that can pilot a car for miles without a driver touching the wheel, brake, or gas. But unlike systems currently under development by Google, Tesla, and nearly every major vehicle manufacturer,'s "shippable" Comma One does not require users to buy a new car. "It's fully functional. It's about on par with Tesla Autopilot," Hotz said during this week's TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

Elon Musk Says Tesla New Autopilot Features Would Have Prevented Recent Death ( 160

An anonymous reader writes:Tesla Motors Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Sunday the automaker was updating its semi-autonomous driving system Autopilot with new limits on hands-off driving and other improvements that likely would have prevented a fatality in May. Musk said the update, which will be available within a week or two through an "over-the-air" software update, would rely foremost on radar to give Tesla's electric luxury cars a better sense of what is around them and when to brake. New restrictions of Autopilot 8.0 are a nod to widespread concerns that the system lulled users into a false sense of security through its "hands-off" driving capability. The updated system now will temporarily prevent drivers from using the system if they do not respond to audible warnings to take back control of the car. Musk said it was "very likely" the improved Autopilot would have prevented the death of Brown, whose car sped into the trailer of a truck crossing a highway, but he cautioned that the update "doesn't mean perfect safety."

Steve Wozniak May Swap His Tesla For A Chevy Bolt ( 286

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a San Jose Mercury News article about "Apple co-founder and electric vehicle fan Steve Wozniak." Woz posted a picture of himself, smiling, next to a new, white Chevy Bolt. General Motors gave Woz the fully electric sedan for an extended test drive. He liked it. "I expect to be switching cars soon!" Woz wrote in a photo caption.

The battery-powered Bolt is due for release late this year. The four-door hatchback has an advertised range of 200 miles per charge, with a sticker price around $37,500. The EV will compete head-to-head with the Tesla Model 3. The Tesla entry-level sedan, expected to start at $35,000, will be released late next year.

It's interesting to read Wozniak's later comments on the post. "A lot of things wrong with the Tesla model S are done correctly (my opinion) in this car... It gets down to my product ideas of balance and getting the most from the least. Try to make things simple and affordable but very adequate. This car hits my sweet spot."

And in response to the obvious question, Woz replied "Maybe one Segway would fit. And a seat can be folded down."

IBM Launches New Linux, Power8, OpenPower Systems ( 61

An anonymous reader writes:IBM on Thursday rolled out its latest Power8 processor, which is designed to move data faster, and new servers with OpenPower features. For IBM, the OpenPower Foundation community is critical for its Power8 processor. A bevy of companies are in OpenPower, a group that aims to be a counterweight to x86-based servers. With the new systems, IBM is hoping to target more artificial intelligence, analytics, and deep learning workloads. The systems will be lumped into the Power Systems LC family of Linux servers. Big Blue's Power S822LC for High Performance Computing server is the headliner of the group, with the Power8 processor with Nvidia's Tesla P100 Pascal GPUs. The system also has Nvidia's NVLink processor that allows for high-speed bidirectional interconnects. IBM said the combination of IBM and Nvidia technology allows data to flow five times faster than an x86-based system.

Dutchman Dies in Tesla Crash; Firefighters Feared Electrocution ( 243

A Dutchman died on Wednesday after his Tesla collided with a tree, according to local authorities, and it took firefighters hours to remove his body from the vehicle due to fears they could be electrocuted. Reuters reports: The cause of the crash on a highway about 40 kilometers east of Amsterdam was not known. Photos of the crash scene published by local media showed the back of the car mostly intact but its front smashed in and parts strewn about. Tesla said it was "working with the authorities to establish the facts of the incident" and would publish its findings as soon as they were available. A spokeswoman said it was not known whether the car was using "autopilot", Tesla's driving assistance technology, at the time of the crash, and that would form part of the investigation. A fatal crash of a Tesla Model S in the United States earlier this year knocked the company's shares and raised concerns about whether automated driving technology was being released to consumers safely.

Not Just Samsung? The Increasing Frequency Of Battery Fires ( 89

Dozens of aircraft fires have been caused by lithium batteries, and after 2013 Tesla even strengthened their battery shields after several of their cars caught on fire. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the AP: Samsung's Note 7 isn't the only gadget to catch fire thanks to lithium-battery problems, which have afflicted everything from iPhones to Tesla cars to Boeing jetliners. Blame chemistry and the fact that the batteries we rely on for everyday life are prone to leaking and even bursting into flame if damaged, defective or exposed to excessive heat...

Still, lithium batteries are so ubiquitous that ordinary users of phones and computers shouldn't worry. Research suggests that you're more likely to get hurt by a kitchen grease fire or a drunk driver than the battery powering your iPhone, Kindle or laptop. "It's not like we live in a world where people's smartphones spontaneously combust," said Ramon Llamas, research manager of research firm IDC's mobile phones team. He said owners of Galaxy Note 7s should err on the side of caution and contact Samsung for a replacement that doesn't run the same risk.

The article also reports that hoverboards were linked to at least 99 electrical fires in America that were presumably caused by battery problems. "Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers dumped the products after videos of burning hoverboards went viral."

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