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Businesses

Tesla and Autopilot Supplier Mobileye Split Up After Fatal Crash (usatoday.com) 126

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) 589

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) 174

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."
Transportation

Consumer Reports Calls For Tesla To Disable Autopilot (consumerreports.org) 330

Reader parallel_prankster writes: Consumer Reports is calling on Tesla to disable its "Autopilot" feature that enables hands-free operation. Citing the recent fatal accident involving a car with Autopilot engaged, Consumer Reports labels the feature as "Too Much Autonomy Too Soon." In an extensive article posted at the top of its website Thursday morning, Consumer Reports said Tesla should "disable hands-free operation until its system can be made safer." "By marketing their feature as 'Autopilot,' Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security," said Laura MacCleery, vice president of consumer policy and mobilization for Consumer Reports, in the article. "In the long run, advanced active safety technologies in vehicles could make our roads safer. But today, we're deeply concerned that consumers are being sold a pile of promises about unproven technology. 'Autopilot' can't actually drive the car, yet it allows consumers to have their hands off the steering wheel for minutes at a time. Tesla should disable automatic steering in its cars until it updates the program to verify that the driver's hands are on the wheel."

Tesla says it will continue development of Autopilot, insisting that drivers supported by Autopilot "remain safer than those operating without assistance."

Businesses

Third Tesla Crashes Amid Report of SEC Investigation (usatoday.com) 297

An anonymous reader writes: Tesla hasn't had the best month so far as not one, not two, but a total of three crashes have been reported with the car's Autopilot self-driving system engaged at the time -- two of which resulted in fatalities. In addition, The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Tesla violated securities law by failing to disclose more quickly a fatal accident in Florida in May involving a Tesla Model S that was in self-driving mode. The SEC didn't comment on the report, and Tesla issued a statement saying it has "not received any communication from the SEC regarding this issue." As for the Autopilot crash that was reported today, the driver said he activated Autopilot mode at the beginning of his trip. Tesla is looking into the crash and has yet to confirm whether or not Autopilot was a factor. Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased a "Top Secret Tesla Masterplan, Part 2" via Twitter that he is "Hoping to publish later this week."
Government

Second Tesla Autopilot Crash Under Review By US Regulators (time.com) 392

An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal and many other publications are reporting that U.S. auto-safety regulators are currently reviewing a second crash that occurred while Tesla's Autopilot mode was activated. The Detroit Free Press reports that a Michigan art gallery owner told police that he survived a rollover crash that happened when his Tesla Model X was in self-driving mode last Friday. The newspaper didn't disclose any additional details regarding what led up to the accident and whether or not the driver was to blame. Last week, it was reported that U.S. regulators were investigating Tesla after a fatal crash occurred involving a vehicle using the Autopilot mode. Tesla said in a statement after that incident, "This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated." They also said Autopilot "is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times."
Software

Tesla Autopilot 2.0 Is Coming This Year, Source Confirms (technobuffalo.com) 136

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechnoBuffalo: A source close to Tesla Motors confirmed to TechnoBuffalo that Tesla Autopilot 2.0 is coming soon. Other media outlets like Teslarati have reported on prototype Model S and Model X vehicles operating in the wild sporting two forward facing cameras, which may indicate part of the new hardware necessary to take advantage of Autopilot 2.0's additional features. "The dual camera system is capable of recognizing and reacting to stop signs and traffic lights with no driver input," said the source. The current Autopilot software cannot simply stop itself at a light or a stop sign on its own -- it needs a car in front of it in order to automatically slow down or stop. The added cameras should help Autopilot 2.0 read and react to traffic lights and stop signs, and thus bring Tesla's cars closer to autonomous driving. The source did mention that Tesla's current test vehicles with Autopilot 2.0 are running "very beta" software that was likely the precursor to v8.0. U.S. regulators are actively investigating 25,000 Tesla Model S cars after a fatal crash involving a vehicle using the "Autopilot" mode was reported. Despite the tragedy, Elon Musk recently said that Autopilot could save half a million lives every year if Tesla Autopilot was universally available.
Transportation

Elon Musk: Tesla's Autopilot Software Could Save Half a Million Lives Every Year (fortune.com) 265

An anonymous reader writes: In the wake of a deadly crash involving a Model S that was driving with its Autopilot software turned on, Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a few interesting remarks on the technology to Fortune. Notably, the publication recently ran a piece attempting to portray Tesla in a bad light by noting that Musk sold more than $2 billion worth of Tesla stock just 11 days after the aforementioned May, 2016 accident. And all the while, shareholders were kept in the dark up until recently. "Indeed, if anyone bothered to do the math (obviously, you did not) they would realize that of the over 1M auto deaths per year worldwide, approximately half a million people would have been saved if the Tesla autopilot was universally available. Please, take 5 mins and do the bloody math before you write an article that misleads the public.
Power

SolarCity Pushing Industry To 40% Increase In Useful Lifetime of Solar Power Installations (electrek.co) 109

An anonymous reader writes: SolarCity released a new report that says solar power systems have a usable lifetime of at least 35 years, which is 40% longer than what the market expects. Electrek reports: "The key finding of the report is that power degradation (annual efficiency loss) of solar panels supplied to SolarCity is as much as 35% lower than for a comparable industry-wide selection of non-SolarCity panels, which are typically expected to last for 25 years. In the study here, SolarCity looked at greater than 11,000 panels to determine their data points and come to their conclusion that their solar panels are performing well beyond expected industry standards. Today, standard efficiency solar panels put out by Tier 1 suppliers are generally warranted to lose no more than 0.7% efficiency per year for the first 25 years -- this is the Power Production Warranty. The key finding in this study is that the annual 0.7% efficiency loss is too high an estimation -- and that the number ought be closer to 0.5%. While it might seem a small number -- a difference of 0.2% -- when applied over a multiple decades timeframe, it means that instead of the standard twenty five year assumed productive life, we can expect at least another ten years of production above 80% of the original system output. Large installers like SolarCity, able to do this type of wide-scale research -- and to also demand higher quality, are showing their ability to pull the manufacturers of the world upward. With SolarCity building their own solar panel Gigafactory we ought expect the quality levels to be even greater in the near future.
Transportation

Self-Driving Tesla Owners Share Videos of Reckless Driving (nytimes.com) 440

An anonymous reader writes: The driver killed in a Tesla car accident "celebrated the Autopilot feature that made it possible for him to cruise the highways, making YouTube videos of himself driving hands-free," reports the New York Times, adding that one of his videos of a near-miss went viral just 11 weeks before his death -- after it was shared on Twitter by Elon Musk. But USA Today reports that Tesla drivers have also filmed themselves playing Jenga and Checkers or sleeping while using the autopilot feature. "Even though Tesla tells drivers to 'keep your hands on the wheel at all times and stay alert,' the temptation to test a no-hands drive is just too much."

In April, a Volvo driver had criticized Tesla for releasing a dangerous "wannabe" Autopilot system. But when Tesla introduced the self-driving feature in October, Elon Musk argued that "Long term, it'll be way better than a person. It never gets tired, never has something to drink, never argues with someone in the car." He had also said that within three years Tesla cars should be able to drive a sleeping driver in to work -- but that that functionality is not currently supported.

Movies

DVD Player Found In Tesla Autopilot Crash, Says Florida Officials (reuters.com) 485

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A digital video disc player was found in the Tesla car that was on autopilot when its driver was killed in a collision with a truck in May, Florida Highway Patrol officials said on Friday. "There was a portable DVD player in the vehicle," said Sergeant Kim Montes of the FHP in a telephone interview. She said there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage. A lawyer for a truck driver involved in the accident with the Tesla told Reuters his investigators had spoken to a witness who said the DVD player was playing a "Harry Potter" video after the accident, but the lawyer was unable to verify that beyond the witness account. Lawyers for the family of the victim, 40-year-old Joshua Brown, released a statement Friday saying the family is cooperating with the investigations "and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways." Lawyers for the family of the victim, 40-year-old Joshua Brown, released a statement Friday saying the family is cooperating with the investigations "and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways." Tesla said in a statement Friday, "Autopilot is by far the most advanced driver assistance system on the road, but it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility."
Businesses

US Regulators Investigating Tesla Over Use of 'Autopilot' Mode Linked To Fatal Crash (cnbc.com) 379

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Thursday it is opening a preliminary investigation into 25,000 Tesla Motors Model S cars after a fatal crash involving a vehicle using the "Autopilot" mode. The agency said the crash came in a 2015 Model S operating with automated driving systems engaged, and "calls for an examination of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash." It is the first step before the agency could seek to order a recall if it believed the vehicles were unsafe. Tesla said Thursday the death was "the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated," while a fatality happens once every 60 million miles worldwide. The electric automaker said it "informed NHTSA about the incident immediately after it occurred." The May crash occurred when a tractor trailer drove across a divided highway, where a Tesla in autopilot mode was driving. The Model S passed under the tractor trailer, and the bottom of the trailer hit the Tesla vehicle's windshield. Tesla quietly settled a lawsuit with a Model X owner who claims his car's doors would open and close unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X's Auto-Pilot feature poses a danger in the rain.
Intel

BMW, Intel, Mobileye Partner On Self-Driving Cars, 'Turning Point For Automotive Industry': Reports (bloomberg.com) 59

BMW, Intel, and Mobileye NV are working to develop autonomous-car technology, reports Bloomberg, citing multiple sources. Senior executives from each company will hold an event on Friday to discuss the driverless-vehicle initiative, the report adds. From the article:Jerusalem-based Mobileye has been an early leader in providing cameras, software and other components that allow vehicles to see the world around them. BMW has been a client of Mobileye, along with General Motors Co. and Tesla Motors Inc. As automakers and their suppliers race to create systems to replace human drivers, most companies are betting on some form of artificial intelligence, which requires powerful processing.Reuters, citing one source, reports the same thing. The announcement will be a "turning point for the automotive industry," Amnon Shashua, the chairman and co-founder of Mobileye.
The Courts

Tesla Admits Defeat, Quietly Settles Model X Lawsuit Over Usability Problems (bgr.com) 129

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: We can talk about how innovative Tesla is for days on end. Indeed, there's no disputing the fact that the company, in injecting a bit of Silicon Valley ingenuity into the tried and true auto design process, has completely turned the auto industry on its head. At the same time, Tesla helped kickstart the EV revolution, even causing traditional automakers like Porsche and BMW to start taking electric cars more seriously. But in Tesla's zeal to move extraordinarily quickly, problems have inevitably begun to creep in. Specifically, quality control issues still seem to be plaguing the Model X. According to a recent report, avowed Tesla fan named Barrett Lyon recently returned his Model X and filed a lawsuit against Tesla arguing that the Model X was "rushed" and released before it was ready for sale. Now comes word that Tesla has since quietly settled the lawsuit. "In Lyon's lawsuit," Fortune writes, "he claimed the cars doors opened and closed unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X's Auto-Pilot feature posed a danger in the rain. He also shared a video that shows the car's self-parking feature failing to operate successfully." Tesla's response: "We are committed to providing an outstanding customer experience throughout ownership. As a principle, we are always willing to buy back a car in the rare event that a customer isn't completely happy. Today, the majority of Model X owners are loving their cars."
Power

Tesla Owner Makes 'Solid Metal Snake' Self-Charging System That Elon Musk Promised (theverge.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: Nearly two years ago, Elon Musk teased us with a robotic snake that would automatically plug-in and charge your Model S. Well, many months have passed and there has yet to be an official "solid metal snake" available for Tesla owners. So, one Tesla owner decided to make his own autonomous charging station, as spotted by Electrek, that will automatically guide the Model S's charging cable into the waiting receptacle with no human intervention required. The inventor Deepak Mital posted a video showing how it works, and while it's incredibly slow, it does work. Compared to the demo video of the system teased by Elon Musk last year, this version appears much less threatening. Mital calls it the "Evtron," which is controlled with a Raspberry Pi and swings from one side to another before sliding forward to make the connection with the car.

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