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Businesses

Survey Says: Elon Musk Is Most Admired Tech Leader, Topping Bezos and Zuckerberg (teslarati.com) 119

First Round Capital conducted a poll of 700 tech company founders and found Elon Musk to be the most admired leader in the technology industry. Elon Musk received 23 percent of the votes; 10 percent said Amazon's Jeff Bezos, 6 percent said Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and 5 percent wrote in Steve Jobs. First Round writes: "We launched State of Startups to capture what it means to be an entrepreneur. We asked the leaders of venture-backed companies about everything from the fundraising environment to their working relationships with their co-founders to their office's price per square foot. [...] Once again, we asked founders to write in which current tech leader they admire the most and we tallied 125 names. The Tesla and SpaceX leader held firm at the top spot (23%)..." Teslarati reports: While the survey did not ask respondents to explain their choice, it is safe to assume that Elon's propensity for setting lofty and visionary goals, and then being able to execute on them, is one trait admired most by tech founders. Most recently, Musk moved the scheduled start of production for the upcoming Model 3 midsize sedan forward by a full two years. Tesla also recently celebrated a record-setting third quarter and has been moving aggressively to close the second half of this year with 50,000 cars delivered. The company has announced a series of sweeteners to motivate people to order and take delivery of new vehicles before the end of the year. Unlimited Supercharger access for long distance travel and a, then, upcoming price hike on its entry level Model S 60, announced by the Palo Alto-based electric car maker and energy company, were incentives to stimulate sales. With plans to increase annual vehicle production by a factor of ten to twenty-fold by the end of the decade, send humans to mars and transform the energy sector, Musk's innovative solutions to rewrite humanity as we know it joins an elite rank held by few genius inventors and industrialists who have gone on to change the world.
Power

Nikola Motor Company Reveals Hydrogen Fuel Cell Truck With Range of 1,200 Miles (valuewalk.com) 105

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ValueWalk: Nikola Motor Company just unveiled a huge class 8 truck which will run on hydrogen fuel cells. Nikola claimed that the truck's operational range will be as much as 1,200 miles (1,900 km), and it will be released in 2020. Nikola designed the Nikola One for long-haul transport across a large landmass. The truck will deliver over 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 foot-pounds of torque. Provided these claims are true, the vehicle will provide nearly double the power of the current-gen diesel-powered semis/articulated lorries, notes Ars Technica. The leasing cost of the trucks will include the fuel price, servicing costs and warranty, but exactly how the lease will work is not known now, notes Ars Technica. The company says it has already accepted nearly $3 billion in future orders. A fully-electric drivetrain which gets power from high-density lithium batteries runs the vehicle, and a hydrogen fuel cell charges the batteries on the go. Its reach is presently limited, as hydrogen fueling stations currently exist in only small numbers. This made Nikola decide to construct a network of 364 hydrogen fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada, just like Tesla with its network of Superchargers. Milton claims it will come with a smart dashboard which has the capability of picking the most cost-efficient route for drivers. Also one or two full-size beds will be included inside the vehicle's enormous cab. It will have other luxuries and necessities as well, such as Wi-Fi, a refrigerator, 4G LTE connectivity, freezer, a 40-inch curved 4K TV with Apple TV and a microwave.
EU

Europe Is Getting a Network of 'Ultra-Fast, High-Powered' EV Chargers (theverge.com) 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford, and Volkswagen have entered into a partnership to create a network of high-speed charging stations for electric vehicles across Europe. The new chargers will be capable of doling out up to 350 kW of power -- which would make them almost three times as powerful as Tesla's Supercharging stations. The result will be "the highest-powered charging network in Europe," according to a statement released by the manufacturers. The automakers say that construction will begin in 2017 with "about 400 sites" being targeted, and that the network will have "thousands of high-powered charging points" available by 2020. Those four major conglomerates will be "equal partners" in the joint venture, but according to the statement they are encouraging other manufacturers to "participate in the network." One of the reasons for bothering to call on other automakers to hook into this system is because there's a standards war happening with fast charging networks. The charging network announced today will use the Combined Charging System (CCS) technology, which is what that most major automakers already use for their EVs. But Nissan, Toyota, and Honda are notable holdouts from CCS, because many of their EVs and plug-in hybrids use a competing standard known as CHAdeMO.
Transportation

Consumer Reports: Tesla's Model X Is 'Fast and Flawed' (marketwatch.com) 146

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MarketWatch: Tesla Motors Inc. was dealt a blow earlier this week as Consumer Reports magazine called the Model X, its much-awaited and much-feted SUV, a "flawed" vehicle. Beyond a "brag-worthy magic, the all-wheel drive Model X 90D largely disappoints," the magazine said, citing rear doors prone to pausing and stopping, second-row seats that can't be folded, and limiting cargo capacity. Even its panoramic, helicopter-like windshield won cranky-sounding disapproval from Consumer Reports: It's not tinted enough to offset the brightness of a sunny day, it said. Overall "the ride is too firm and choppy for a $110,000 car," Consumer Reports said. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports 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.
Android

Android Malware Used To Hack and Steal Tesla Car (bleepingcomputer.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: By leveraging security flaws in the Tesla Android app, an attacker can steal Tesla cars. The only hard part is tricking Tesla owners into installing an Android app on their phones, which isn't that difficult according to a demo video from Norwegian firm Promon. This malicious app can use many of the freely available Android rooting exploits to take over the user's phone, steal the OAuth token from the Tesla app and the user's login credentials. This is possible because the Tesla Android app stores the OAuth token in cleartext, and contains no reverse-engineering protection, allowing attackers to alter the app's source code and log user credentials. The OAuth token and Tesla owner's password allow an attacker to perform a variety of actions, such as opening the car's doors and starting the motor.
News

Right-Wing and Fake News Writers Are Now Going After Elon Musk (qz.com) 736

Fake news galvanized US president-elect Donald Trump's supporters, and sullied his enemies. Now it may be Elon Musk's turn. Quartz adds: The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has his fair share of detractors, but a new era in a public relations battle to discredit him appears to be taking shape. Bloomberg reports that hard-right groups are lining up to back misleading websites and fake journalists who attack Musk's business empire. Many of the attacks on Musk begin with something factual: His businesses were built, legally, with the help of billions in government contracts and incentives for renewable energy and space transport. But they go on to accuse Musk of fraud and wasting taxpayer dollars; some compare him to a convicted felon. At least three conservative sites have run negative pieces about Musk -- by a nonexistent writer named "Shepard Stewart" -- that include "Elon Musk Continues to Blow Up Taxpayer Money With Falcon 9" and "Elon Musk: Faux Free Marketeer and National Disgrace." Two later retracted the stories. "There's a very obvious precedent" for this, says Sam Jaffe, managing director of Cairn Energy Research Advisors. "That's Hillary Clinton." Musk tweeted this week, "Can anyone uncover who is really writing these fake pieces?"
Transportation

China's NextEV NIO EP9 Claims To Be 'World's Fastest' Electric Supercar (hothardware.com) 56

Brandon Hill, writing for HotHardware: NextEV, a Chinese manufacturer that fields a team in Formula E, is looking to take the world by storm with its EP9. Launching under the NIO sub-brand, the EP9 is said to accelerate to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds and can hit 124 mph in 7.1 seconds. After 15.9 seconds, the EP9 will be traveling at a heady 186 mph. The EV weighs 3,825 pounds, or 1,730kg (about 200 pounds heavier than the 918 Spyder), of which 1,400 pounds is devoted solely to the lithium-ion battery pack. Despite the fact that the EP9's motors combine to produce an astonishing 1390 horsepower, it still has a respectable driving range of 265 miles. So what do all of these performance numbers mean in the real world? Well, NextEV says that the EP9 is capable of lapping the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife race track in 7 minutes, 5 seconds. Interestingly enough, NextEV is claiming that the EP9 is the world's fastest EV, but we have the feeling that Rimac Automobili would take issue with that statement. Rimac's Concept_S can dash to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds and can hit 186 mph in 13.5 seconds. Likewise, the Concept_S is capable of topping out at 226.8 mph, whereas NextEV hasn't provided a top speed for the EP9.
Power

Tesla Runs an Entire Island on Solar Power (engadget.com) 191

Jon Fingas, writing for Engadget:Now that Tesla has officially acquired SolarCity, it's not wasting any time showing what the combined entity can do. Tesla has revealed that it's running the island of Ta'u (in American Samoa) on a solar energy microgrid that, at 1.4 megawatts, can cover "nearly 100 percent" of electrical needs. It's not just the 5,328 solar panels that are key -- it's the 60 Tesla Powerpacks that offer 6 megawatt-hours of energy storage. While Ta'u is normally very sunny, the packs can keep it running for three days without sunlight. They don't have to worry about a cloudy day leading to blackouts. The solar switch, which took a year to complete, has both its long-term environmental and immediate practical benefits. Like many remote communities, Ta'u previously had to run on diesel generators. That burns 300 gallons of fuel per day, which is neither eco-friendly nor cheap. Solar eliminates the pollution, of course, but it also saves the cost of having to continuously buy and ship barrels of diesel. And crucially, it provides a more reliable source of electricity.
Businesses

Tesla Acquires SolarCity: Little Can Stand in Elon Musk's Way When He Wants Something (cnbc.com) 161

An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: You have to hand it to Elon Musk. He didn't just sell the deal of his life last week when shareholders of Tesla and SolarCity agreed to a merger. He pulled off the deal amid widespread criticism from business ethics and corporate governance experts who slammed Musk from the moment the $2.6 billion deal was proposed. Any skepticism Musk deserves he created for himself, but that skepticism now needs to move from the deal to something else: Just what exactly have Tesla investors gotten themselves into? Some pundits point to the deal as part of Musk's master plan to create a car powered by solar and to develop batteries that radically change how we generate and store energy. Musk noted earlier this month that a solar roof for cars is "probably" going to be added as an option for Tesla buyers. But a good place to look at the lingering confusion as the combined electric-car and solar-power company moves forward is the reaction from stock analysts. Musk's vision is so bold that some on Wall Street remain unable to fully comprehend it or, in the least, grasp how it's a catalyst for Tesla shares in the short term. "Whatever the synergies are down the road, it's negative for current holders," said Efraim Levy, analyst at CFRA Research.
The Almighty Buck

Elon Musk: Tesla's Solar Roof Will Cost Less Than a Traditional Roof (bloomberg.com) 428

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: After Tesla shareholders approved the acquisition of SolarCity, the new company is now an unequivocal sun-to-vehicle energy firm. And Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk didn't take long to make his first big announcement as head of this new enterprise. Minutes after shareholders approved the deal -- about 85 percent of them voted yes -- Musk told the crowd that he had just returned from a meeting with his new solar engineering team. Tesla's new solar roof product, he proclaimed, will actually cost less to manufacture and install than a traditional roof -- even before savings from the power bill. "Electricity," Musk said, "is just a bonus." If Musk's claims prove true, this could be a real turning point in the evolution of solar power. The rooftop shingles he unveiled just a few weeks ago are something to behold: They're made of textured glass and are virtually indistinguishable from high-end roofing products. They also transform light into power for your home and your electric car. "So the basic proposition will be: Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and -- by the way -- generates electricity?" Musk said. "Why would you get anything else?" Much of the cost savings Musk is anticipating comes from shipping the materials. Traditional roofing materials are brittle, heavy, and bulky. Shipping costs are high, as is the quantity lost to breakage. The new tempered-glass roof tiles, engineered in Tesla's new automotive and solar glass division, weigh as little as a fifth of current products and are considerably easier to ship, Musk said.
Businesses

Tesla and SolarCity Merger Gets Approval From Shareholders (cnbc.com) 36

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Shareholders for SolarCity and Tesla voted Thursday to approve merging the two companies. "Tesla's shareholders have overwhelmingly approved our acquisition of SolarCity," said a statement from Tesla sent to CNBC. "Excluding the votes of Elon and other affiliated shareholders, more than 85% of shares voted were cast in favor of the acquisition. With SolarCity's shareholders also having approved the acquisition, the transaction will be completed in the coming days." The deal has divided investor and analyst opinion. Some Tesla shareholders have filed lawsuits against the deal, and critics have called it a bailout for SolarCity. Chairman Elon Musk, who holds about 22 percent of SolarCity stock and 22 percent of Tesla's, has recused himself from both votes, as have other insiders such as director Antonio Gracias and J.B. Straubel. Gracias, the founder of Valor Equity Partners, sits on both companies' boards, and Straubel was part of Tesla's founding team and serves as its chief technical officer, according to company filings. The merger comes as the solar energy business is showing signs of a slowdown.
Transportation

Tesla 'Easter Egg' Makes the World's Fastest Car Even Faster (bloomberg.com) 247

The world's fastest-accelerating car is about to get even faster. Tesla's high-end Model S will soon be able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 2.4 seconds, following a software enhancement next month that shaves off a 10th of a second. That's a new threshold that distinguishes it from any other production car on the road. From a report on Bloomberg: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk teased the update in a tweet on Wednesday -- but there's a twist. When the changes are delivered wirelessly next month to all P100D Model S vehicles, the owners will have to figure out how to enable it. It's what's known in the tech industry as an "Easter Egg" -- a hidden feature that requires a specific series of gestures to unlock. These speeds are crazy fast. For perspective, the Model S already outpaces sold-out supercars with tiny production runs, such as Ferrari's $1.4 million LaFerrari, Porsche's $845,000 918 Spyder, and Bugatti's $2.3 million Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. Tesla's seven-seat Model X SUV will also shed a 10th of a second, putting it on a par with a $1.15 million McLaren P1.
Cloud

Google Cloud Will Add GPU Services in Early 2017 (geekwire.com) 19

Google Cloud will add GPUs as a service early next year, the company has said. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM's Bluemix all already offer GPU as a service. From a report on GeekWire: Google may be seeking to distinguish itself, however, with the variety of GPUs it's offering. They include the AMD FirePro S9300 x2 and two offerings from NVIDIA Tesla: the P100 and the K80. And Google will charge by the minute, not by the hour, making GPU usage more affordable for customers needing it only for short periods. CPU-based machines in the cloud are good for general-purpose computing, but certain tasks such as rendering or large-scale simulations are much faster on specialized processors, Google explained. GPUs contain hundreds of times as many computational cores as CPUs and excel at performing risk analysis, studying molecular binding or optimizing the shape of a turbine blade. Google's GPU services will be available in early 2017 through Google Compute Engine and Google Cloud Machine Learning.
Games

In 5 Years, Games Experience Will Move From Discrete To Indiscrete, Says EA CEO (theverge.com) 182

The Verge has an insightful interview of Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts. In the wide-ranging interview, Wilson has talked about how the landscape of video games have changed over the years, and where it will be in the next few years. One remarkable comment he has made is about how video games will move from discrete experience that we have today to indiscrete experience in the next coming years. From the article (condensed): The biggest shift I think we'll see is games moving from being a discrete experience to an indiscrete experience. When I was 15 years old, if I wanted to listen to music, I had a couple of choices. I could sit up all night and hope they'd play what I liked on the radio, or I could go down to the record store. [...] Today, by virtue of the fact that almost every device I own plays me music, and services like Spotify curate and cultivate and personalize that music for me, music permeates almost every aspect of my life. It's moved from being something I have to make a conscious decision to engage with, to something that really surrounds every aspect of my life from the minute I get up in the morning to the minute I go to bed at night. When we think about games today -- already we've got more people playing more games on more platforms in more geographies around the world than ever before. It's not just a console business, or a PC business, or even a mobile business. We've now got virtual reality and augmented reality and streaming, too. Now fast-forward that to the future, and you think about what the world looks like with a 5G network streaming latency-free gaming to every device you own. It's really easy to imagine that games would permeate our lives much the way digital music does today. From the minute I get up in the morning, everything I do has an impact on my gaming life, both discrete and indiscrete. The amount of eggs I have in my internet-enabled fridge might mean my Sims are better off in my game. That length of distance I drive in my Tesla on the way to work might mean that I get more juice in Need for Speed. If I go to soccer practice in the afternoon, by virtue of internet-enabled soccer boots, that might give me juice or new cards in my FIFA product. This world where games and life start to blend I think really comes into play in the not-too-distant future, and almost certainly by 2021.
Government

US Finalizes Rules That Require Quiet Hyrbid and Electric Cars To Make Noise At Low Speeds (reuters.com) 361

In an effort to prevent injuries among pedestrians, the U.S. government has finalized rules that require quiet hybrid and electric vehicles to emit alert sounds when they are traveling at low speeds. Reuters reports: The rules, which were required by Congress, will require automakers like Tesla Motors Inc, Nissan Motor Co and Toyota Motor Corp to add the sounds to all vehicles by September 2019. The U.S. Transportation Department said it expects the rules would prevent 2,400 injuries a year by 2020 and require the addition of alert sounds to about 530,000 2020 model vehicles. The U.S. National Highway Transportation Department said the rules will cost the auto industry about $39 million annually because automakers will need to add an external waterproof speaker to comply. But the benefits of the reduced injuries are estimated at $250 million to $320 million annually. NHTSA estimates the odds of a hybrid vehicle being involved in a pedestrian crash are 19 percent higher compared with a traditional gas-powered vehicle. About 125,000 pedestrians and bicyclists are injured annually. The rules will also help the blind and visually impaired. The rules apply to hybrid and electric cars, SUVs, trucks and buses weighing up to 10,000 pounds and seek to prevent crashes at intersections or when electric vehicles are backing up. At higher speeds, the alert is not required because other factors like tire and wind noise adequately warn pedestrians, NHTSA said.
Transportation

Are Tesla Crashes Balanced Out By The Lives That They Save? (eetimes.com) 198

Friday EE Times shared the story of a Tesla crash that occurred during a test drive. "The salesperson suggested that my friend not brake, letting the system do the work. It didn't..." One Oregon news site even argues autopiloted Tesla's may actually have a higher crash rate.

But there's also been stories about Teslas that have saved lives -- like the grateful driver whose Model S slammed on the brakes to prevent a collision with a pedestrian, and another man whose Tesla drove him 20 miles to a hospital after he'd suddenly experienced a pulmonary embolism. (Slate wrote a story about the incident titled "Code is My Co-Pilot".) Now an anonymous Slashdot reader asks: How many successes has the autopilot had in saving life and reducing damage to property? What is the ratio of these successes to the very public failures?
I'd be curious to hear what Slashdot readers think. If you add it all up, are self-driving cars keeping us safer -- or just making us drive more recklessly?
Transportation

Tesla Tells Germany that 98% of Drivers Don't Find the Term 'Autopilot' Misleading (venturebeat.com) 168

An anonymous reader writes:Tesla has responded to Germany's request to stop using the word "autopilot" in its advertising, due to safety concerns, by carrying out a survey of Tesla-owners in Germany. It says that the overwhelming majority of customers it surveyed did not find the term confusing. Last month, German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt had asked Tesla to stop using "autopilot" in its messaging, as he felt the term implied that drivers could operate their vehicles without applying their attention to the roads. Tesla responded by saying that "autopilot" had been used in aerospace for a long time to describe a system that works in conjunction with a human operator. "Just as in an airplane, when used properly, autopilot reduces driver workload and provides an added layer of safety when compared to purely manual driving," a spokesperson said at the time. Without divulging exact numbers, Tesla has now said that it has "worked with a third party" to survey owners of its cars in Germany to "better understand how they perceive Autopilot." The company found that 98 percent of those surveyed "understand that when using Autopilot, the driver is expected to maintain control of the vehicle at all times."
Transportation

Tesla Crash Won't Stop Driverless Car Progress: Renault-Nissan CEO (cnbc.com) 96

Problems Issues with Tesla's self-driving software that were linked to the death of a driver this year would not block the development of autonomous vehicles, Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault-Nissan, said on Tuesday. From a report on CNBC: In September, Tesla revealed the death of a man in one of its cars in a crash in the Netherlands and said that the "autopilot" software's role in the accident was being investigated. "In the moments leading up to the collision, there is no evidence to suggest that Autopilot was not operating as designed and as described to users: specifically, as a driver assistance system that maintains a vehicle's position in lane and adjusts the vehicle's speed to match surrounding traffic," Tesla said in a blog post at the time. This incident shone a spotlight on autonomous driving features currently in cars as automakers are in a race to bring fully driverless cars on the road. During an interview at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Ghosn said that the teething problems with Tesla's autonomous software would not derail the industry's push.
Power

New Tesla Buyers Will Have To Pay To Use Superchargers (theverge.com) 174

Tesla has updated its Supercharging Network of free fast-charging stations. Customers who purchase Teslas after January 1st, 2017, will be required to pay "a small fee to Supercharge." The fee itself "will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car." The Verge reports: Current Tesla owners with Supercharger-equipped cars will be able to use the stations for free for the life of those vehicles, and a Tesla spokesperson tells The Verge that the free charging will transfer to successive owners. Customers who buy Teslas after that January 1st cutoff will be afforded 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits each year, good for about 1,000 miles, according to Tesla. The company says it will release more details about the change later this year, but added that "prices may fluctuate over time and vary regionally based on the cost of electricity." "Our Supercharger Network will never be a profit center," the company wrote in a blog post about the change. Tesla says that, by losing less money on providing free electricity at these stations, that the fees will subsidize the continued expansion of the Supercharger network. The Superchargers allow for a full charge in about 75 minutes or a half charge in about -- much faster than the standard Level 1 or Level 2 chargers found around the U.S. -- and Tesla has built 734 Supercharger stations (with nearly 5,000 chargers) since the network was started in 2012.
AI

Elon Musk Predicts Automation Will Lead To A Universal Basic Income (mashable.com) 426

An anonymous reader quotes Mashable's new article about Tesla/SpaceX founder Elon Musk: Tech innovators in the self-driving car and AI industries talk a lot about how many human jobs will be innovated out of existence, but they rarely explain what will happen to all those newly jobless humans. In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Musk said that he believes the solution to taking care of human workers who are displaced by robots and software is creating a (presumably government-backed) universal basic income for all. "There's a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation," said Musk. "I'm not sure what else one would do. That's what I think would happen."
And what will this world look like? "People will have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things," Musk told CNBC's interviewer. "Certainly more leisure time." President Obama has also talked about "redesigning the social compact" with MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito, and in August predicted the question of whether there's support for the Universal Basic Income is "a debate that we'll be having over the next 10 or 20 years."

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