Video Released of Tesla Autopilot Avoiding a Collision!

It’s true that some drivers are still having a hard time placing their safety in the hands of an autopilot system, but judging from what we’ve seen in a recent video, it looks like Tesla’s autopilot is definitely capable of keeping a Model S and its driver safe. Model S driver Joshua Brown has recently posted a YouTube video that clearly shows how his car’s autopilot system managed to save him from a nasty collision with a large truck.

“I was driving down the interstate and you can see the boom lift truck in question on the left side of the screen on a joining interstate road. Once the roads merged, the truck tried to get to the exit ramp on the right and never saw my Tesla. I actually wasn’t watching that direction and Tessy (the name of my car) was on duty with autopilot engaged. I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the immediately take over warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision.”

Upon seeing the video, Elon Musk has decided to upload it to Twitter so more people can see exactly what the Model S is capable of. Tesla wants to implement similar autopilot features in the Model 3, which already enjoys more than 400,000 pre-orders. You can see the hero autopilot in action in the video below.

Faraday Future Pins Hope of Beating Tesla on “Extreme” Electric Supercar

A mysterious US-based, Chinese-backed electric car manufacturer has opened up to provide us with a glimpse of its future – a stunning new electric supercar, and an equally impressive new factory complex – as it attempts to position itself above Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors as the premier electric vehicle maker in the world.

Faraday Future, after the showing off its beautiful FFZero1 concept car earlier this year, has unveiled its new factory, which has begun construction in Las Vegas, Nevada, the same state as Telsa’s Gigafactory. The Apex Industrial Park – a 3-million square-foot facility, which will handle the manufacture the company’s series of as-yet-unknown electric car fleet – is due to be completed in 2018, backed by $335 million of incentives from the state of Nevada.

‘”Our aim is to complete a program that would normally take four years and do it in half the time, while still doing it right,” Dag Reckhorn, Faraday Future global manufacturing Vice President, told the Daily Mail.

“We are moving extremely quickly for a project of this size,” Reckhorn added. “We have received tremendous support from local government officials and the community, and look forward to making a significant, positive impact on the local economy.”

Faraday Future revealed its remarkable new concept car, the FFZero1, at CES 2016 back in January, where it earned comparisons to the Batmobile and was described by the company as “the most extreme iteration of what it can build.”

“To be like the Batmobile is not a bad thing right?’ Chief Designer Richard Kim said. ‘If Batman wants to drive this then tell him to come and talk to me.”

Kim revealed that its first production car is being road-tested and will be revealed “very soon”.

Tesla Autopilot Now Lets You Drive on Rainbow Road

Yesterday, Tesla CEO tweeted some unusual instructions for owners of Tesla vehicles that are equipped with the autopilot feature.

While this may be an effort to distract users from the recent issues found in a number of their Model X vehicles, the result of Musk’s instructions is certainly amusing.

Normally, when you put a Tesla Model S or Model X into autopilot mode, the instrument display switches over to show a car travelling down a road, which is used to indicate where the car believes it is on the current road or lane it is in as well as any cars it detects nearby. Typically, this road is just like any other, normal and gray, but after the latest software update activating Autopilot four times sequentially changes this into the far more exciting Rainbow Road of Mario Kart fame.

It’s not just Rainbow Road either, also included is the cowbell audio from the famous Saturday Night Live sketch that plays over the stereo. Thanks to Brian Stucki for sharing a clip of this feature in action.

https://vine.co/v/iTpji7QVpp5

Exactly what this “more cowbell” that Musk refers to is currently unknown, but Tesla’s car software containing easter eggs is nothing new. Afterall, the Model S has a James Bond Mode, which turns the representation of the car in on the in-car display into the submersible Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me.

Elon Musk Says Sea Landed Falcon 9 Could Relaunch Soon

The Falcon 9 rocket that SpaceX successfully landed at sea yesterday could be the first of its kind to be relaunched into space revealed Elon Musk at a press conference held by NASA. The first rocket that was landed successfully back in December was kept in storage instead of reused with Musk wanting to keep it as it was the first vehicle they had ever landed and this made it “unique”. As a result, this re-launch will be the true test of the reusability of SpaceX’s rocket and help them gain some ground on Blue Origin, who already launched one of their rockets for the third time.

Firstly, the Falcon 9 must be retrieved, which will be a tricky process in itself and will involve welding the rocket onto the deck of the drone ship, Of Course I Still Love You. From there, it will be delivered to port by Sunday and once safely back on land it will be put through a series of engine test fires to see how well they are working. According to Musk, the rocket’s engines will be test fired as many as 10 times in a row, and if everything is working fully, the Falcon 9 could be well on its way to another mission by as soon as May or June. In future, SpaceX hopes to reduce the process of preparing a rocket for relaunch to as little as a couple of weeks.

Musk said that it hadn’t been decided whether this next launch would be for a paying customer or not, saying that “We think it’ll be a paying customer, but we have to have discussions on it.” He was also positive about the amount of reuse the rockets were capable of, with each Falcon 9 potentially being usable for 10 to 20 missions and even up to 100 with minor refurbishments made to it during its lifespan.

Tesla Model 3 Receives 325,000 Preorders in Just One Week

There was no doubt that the Tesla Model 3 was going to be a big hit after last week saw the newly announced electric vehicle receive 180,000 preorders in just 24 hours. One week on and Tesla has revealed that the preorders kept flowing in, with the number already having reached 325,000.

If all of the preorders are converted into sales when the Model 3 is released next year, Tesla is set to make around $14 billion from sales of the Model 3 alone which will make it the single biggest one-week launch of any product ever. Due to the required $1000 preorder deposit too, Tesla have already made $325 million just for the orders so far and although the deposit is refundable for those who change their mind, it should certainly keep Tesla going until the Model 3 makes it to market. In a tweet today, Musk revealed that despite the cap on preordering two Model 3’s for each person, only 5 percent of customers ordered two cars

Furthermore, the EV firm boasts that they got this huge amount of preorders without advertisement or paid endorsements with only the enthusiasm and passion of the Tesla team and the fans who believe in them and their vision having pushed them and the Model 3 to this level of popularity. In fact, Musk himself was shocked at the number of preorders, stating on Saturday that he expected only between a quarter and a half of the 235,000 preorders that had already been placed although now he expects that it could hit half a million before the second part of the reveal later in the year.

The Model 3’s enormous popularity could just be the stepping stone that electric vehicles need to go truly mainstream, a dream that I am sure Musk and many others share. For other manufacturers hoping to release their new electric offerings in the near future, the bar has certainly been set high by Tesla and the Model 3 is the success story that many will hope to match.

Tesla Have Taken $7.5 Billion Worth of Model 3 Preorders According to Elon Musk

Yesterday, Tesla unveiled their long-awaited affordable electric car, the Model 3. Tesla may have expected that there would be great interest in this new car for the masses, but the response to it has been enormous, with over 180,000 pre-orders being taken in the first 24 hours alone.

Despite not knowing anything about the new car prior to the reveal, Tesla enthusiasts were queuing up at their dealerships around the US in order to be one of the first to pre-order the Model 3 and gain a favorable spot on the pre-order list. Even by the time that Musk had finished his presentation of the Model 3 at their Hawthorne facility, he announced that 115,000 preorders had already been placed that day, even though each one required a $1000 deposit.

After pre-orders had been made available for over 24 hours at US dealerships, Musk announced via Twitter that 180,000 Model 3 pre-orders had been taken by Tesla. According to Musk’s estimate of the car’s price, $35,000, that’s $7.5 billion worth of cars sold is just one day. The pre-orders show no sign of stopping either, with Musk continuing to tweet that the pre-order numbers had reached 198,000, growing the waiting list considerably.

This is a massive victory for Tesla and the electric car industry, which just shows how adoption for these types of cars is growing. Now, however, Tesla are under massive pressure to deliver on these orders, as 180,000 cars is no small amount, especially when the firm manufactured only 50,580 cars throughout 2015. Tesla claims that after production has been ramped up, they will be capable of delivering as many as 500,000 cars per year. Let’s hope that Tesla and Musk can make good on this figure, or they could be facing a lot of upset customers who may start to consider another competing electric vehicle, such as the Chevrolet Bolt.

Tesla Quietly Drops its 10kWh Powerwall

Elon Musk’s Tesla has quietly removed all mention of its 10kWh Powerwall home battery from its website and press kit, leaving the 6.4kWh model as the only version on sale, only a year after the pair were launched. Tesla has since admitted that the 10kWh iteration of the Powerwall has been discontinued.

“We have seen enormous interest in the Daily Powerwall worldwide,” Tesla told Greentech Media. “The Daily Powerwall supports daily use applications like solar self-consumption plus backup power applications, and can offer backup simply by modifying the way it is installed in a home. Due to the interest, we have decided to focus entirely on building and deploying the 7-kilowatt-hour Daily Powerwall at this time.”

Tesla’s 10kWh Powerwall, while a useful innovation, was significantly overpriced at $3,500, especially when compared with back-up generator options that can provide greater power output for around the same money.

“Even some of the deep cycling lead acid batteries offer 1,000 cycles and cost less than half of the $3,500 price tag for Tesla Powerwall,” Ravi Manghani, Senior Energy Storage Analyst at GTM Research, said. “For pure backup applications only providing 500 cycles, lead acid batteries or gensets are way more economical.”

The 10kWh Powerwall also failed to reap the benefits of California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program due its size, which meant that it did not meet the requisite five cycles-per-week threshold.

“In current discussions on SGIP program overhaul, it is very likely that stronger performance requirements may get added, which will make a 10-kilowatt-hour/500 cycles product outright ineligible (if cycled only once a week), or last only 2 years (if cycled every weekday for about 500 cycles over 2 years),” Manghani added. “In short, the market’s expectation is that for a $3,500 price tag, the product needs to have more than just 500 cycles (i.e., only backup capabilities).”

 

Hyperloop is Coming to Europe

With Elon Musk’s Hyperloop currently stalled on US soil, a crowdsourced engineering project could bring the ‘mass transit system of the future’ to three European countries. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has agreed a deal in Slovakia which aims to connect three European capital cities via Hyperloop tracks: Slovakia’s Bratislava will be the central point in a route that runs from Vienna, Austria to Budapest in Hungary, according to Engadget.

The total length of the proposed Hyperloop track is estimated to be around 160 miles – the distance between Vienna to Bratislava is approximately 35 miles, while Bratislava to Budapest is just over 100 miles – which, end-to-end, could transport passengers in around 20 minutes. The plan even has the potential to expand beyond the three proposed cities, with an additional line running to Košice in Bratislava.

While the proposal is just that at the moment, the first step will be to assess the viability of creating a three-city, high-speed Hyperloop route.

HTT is also responsible for the planned Hyperloop test track in California, an initiative that has recently suffered delays. The crowdsourced group – a collaboration between scientists, engineers, and designers, all donating their time to help make Hyperloop a reality – is still hoping to have the California track functional by 2018.

Super-Charged P100D Tesla Plans Discovered in Firmware Update

Tesla enthusiast and self-proclaimed white hat hacker Jason Hughes has been doing some digging, taking apart the latest Tesla firmware update that was sent his own Tesla P85D, and it looks like he’s uncovered a secret!

The Model S currently comes in three variants, but it seems Elon Musk has a fourth model in the pipeline, and it’s going to be powerful! Jason claims to have spotted files pointing towards a 100kWh car, which is quite a bump from the current 70 and 90kWh models available. With the available models being named the 70D, 90D and the P90D, it would be safe to assume that a new 100kWh model would be called the P100D.

The information was discovered in Firmware Update 7.1 and while he could have release the information immediately, he decided to tease Elon a little bit first with the following tweet as well as some forum posts. Followed up later the next day with “You guys are great. Fun to get home and find people have cracked some SHA256 I posted. Nice work.”

I don’t have to tell you this whole thing needs a pinch or fist full of salt, but it’s certainly believable that some information to a future car would be held within the firmware. Tesla would likely use their cars firmware to test future models and we’ve seen similar leaks in the past for graphics cards and other bits of tech.

“There are quite a few things that are in the firmware that I’m not prepared to share publicly. Just like the P100D has been in there for months with my lips mostly sealed.” said Hughes.

However, Tesla rolled back an update, perhaps to remove the files or tighten up the encryption keys on the files unlocked, and potentially other parts of the system that used the same keys, who knows. Either way, Elon seems to be playing it cool right now, so we’ll have to wait and see.

 

Tech Giants Plot to Stop Trump

The CEOs of Apple, Tesla Motors, and Alphabet joined a group of tech industry leaders and politicians at a secretive event where the key agenda was to stop Donald Trump from becoming the Republican Presidential candidate.

Tim Cook, Elon Musk, and Larry Page rubbed shoulders with the likes of Napster founder and Facebook investor Sean Parker, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), political guru Karl Rove, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican Senators Tom Cotton (Ark.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Rob Portman (Ohio), and Ben Sasse (Neb.) at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum, which was held on a private island of the coast of the US state of Georgia, according to the Huffington Post.

“A specter was haunting the World Forum–the specter of Donald Trump,” wrote Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, in an emailed report from the conference. “There was much unhappiness about his emergence, a good deal of talk, some of it insightful and thoughtful, about why he’s done so well, and many expressions of hope that he would be defeated.”

“The key task now, to once again paraphrase Karl Marx, is less to understand Trump than to stop him,” Kristol added. “In general, there’s a little too much hand-wringing, brow-furrowing, and fatalism out there and not quite enough resolving to save the party from nominating or the country electing someone who simply shouldn’t be president.”

According to a presentation at the event by Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, Trump’s weakness is the perception of him by the general public that he does not appear “presidential”, is not a strong role model for children, and should not be trusted with his “finger on the nuclear button”.

Image courtesy of Vanity Fair.

SpaceX Rocket’s Sea Landing Fails – Again

Once again, another successful launch by SpaceX, and sadly, another failure to land their Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship at sea. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, said that the Falcon 9 rocket had “landed hard on the droneship.” SpaceX had expected this landing would likely fail due to the mission requirements set out, including a very hot reentry and lack of propellant to arrest momentum.

This marks the fourth attempt by SpaceX to land a Falcon 9 rocket on one of their drone ships, and sadly, also the fourth failure, despite the third attempt coming very close. This landing would be especially difficult for the rocket as the SES-9 is a larger and heavier satellite than those previously launched, as well as targeting a higher orbit than most, requiring the Falcon 9 to travel a lot faster and consequently, burn more fuel that could be used to slow the rocket’s descent.

Despite the failure of the landing, the mission was a success, with the SES-9 satellite was delivered to a high enough altitude that it can now use its own power to arrive in the intended orbit. Once in position, SES-9 will loiter at 22,000 miles above the equator, able to providing a satellite communication service to Northeast Asia, South Asia, and Indonesia.

This failed landing certainly won’t be SpaceX’s last attempt at landing the Falcon 9. Whether the next landing will be another sea landing or a return to the already successful ground landing remains to be seen, but with an ISS supply mission scheduled for the next few weeks, we should know soon enough. Musk, at least, seems far more confident about this next landing being a success.

Image credit to SpaceX

Tesla Pick up Tesla.com Domain

Often the simplest domain names are the best and unfortunately for Elon Musk, Tesla Motors has had to settle for the teslamotors.com domain instead of the more highly prized tesla.com. The tesla.com domain has been held since 1992 by a Nicola Tesla fan, Stu Grossman, however, it has remained largely unused for the last 24 years. Now a Tesla spokeswoman has confirmed that the electric car company has taken over the domain, with tesla.com now redirecting to the existing teslamotors.com.

It is unclear what prompted the acquisition of the domain after settling for the use of the Teslamotors.com domain for so long. The domain issue was raised by Elon Musk during the launch of Tesla Motors’ Tesla Energy wing when asked if he had plans to rebrand the company to simply ‘Tesla’ to match its new scope. With this solved, a Tesla rename could be coming up as well as giving Tesla a better grasp on the web for both their electric car business and battery units, as well as whatever Musk may have planned for the company’s future.

What caused Grossman to give up the Tesla domain is currently unknown. According to Bloomberg, John Berryhill, an attorney in Pennsylvania who represented Grossman in a past dispute with Tesla Industries Inc stated that Grossman had bought the domain for personal use due to his affinity for the inventor Tesla. Berryhill said that “Grossman had been approached by many people about giving up the name.” He went on to surmise that Tesla Motors’ acquisition of the tesla.com domain name was part of a voluntary arrangement between the two parties.

Whether it was due to a voluntary arrangement or a lapse in occupancy of the domain by Grossman, the tesla.com domain undoubtedly belongs to Tesla Motors now. This occupation of the tesla.com domain could kick-start a rebrand of the Tesla Motors company and allow them to expand their web presence beyond just cars, whether that expansion will include Musk’s desired electric VTOL remains to be seen.

Elon Musks Hyperloop Construction Delayed

Everyone travels these days, be it for work or to see family and friends, we live in a world where going from A to B is as casual as breathing. You can fly or catch trains, drive or even hire a taxi with your phone, but there are still other ways. With the addition of  electric streetcars coming to New York, the next revolution to travel is set to be the Hyperloop.

The Hyperloop is a new train system that will use a vacuum tube to help trains reach speeds of over 700mph. Recently they announced that construction had been started with the completion date set for public access in 2018 on its test track. That was until recently when Tech Insider revealed that there may be a delay to that timeline.

In an email sent to the Student teams that are working on the pods that will shoot down the track, SpaceX (the company responsible for the Hyperloop) could have the final part of the competition, to see which pod would be best chosen for the project, happening in August (or even later). In the email, SpaceX stated,

“Our best guess for Competition Weekend is early-to-mid August, but this could move in either direction (based on construction and post-construction testing)”

With the original date set for June, the delay is minor if it still happens in August, but if is delayed even further behind then the 2018 opening gets more and more like a pipe dream with each week.

AI Could Make Half the World Unemployed Within 30 Years

A computational engineer has warned that artificial intelligence could leave half the world unemployed within 30 years, and that he fears for the psyche of the human race, asking, “what can humans do when machines can do almost everything?”

“We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task,” Moshe Vardi, a professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas, told attendees of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference, The Guardian reports. “I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?”

Eminent figures in science and technology, including Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, have expressed their fear over the rise of artificial intelligence. Musk has called AI “our biggest existential threat”.

“I do not find this a promising future, as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing,” Vardi added. “I believe that work is essential to human wellbeing.”

Vardi predicts that AI will only exacerbate the global economic downturn, and that few human professions will be immune. “Are you going to bet against sex robots? I would not,” he pondered.

Elon Musk “Tempted” to Build Electric VTOL Jet

Not content with his fleet of Tesla electric cars, his astronautics startup SpaceX, and his attempts to revolutionise public transport with Hyperloop, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has revealed that he is “tempted” to build an electric vertical-take off and landing (VTOL) jet plane.

“I’ve been thinking about the vertical-take off and landing electric jet a bit more,” Musk said at a recent Hyperloop event, International Business Times reports. “I think I have something that might close. I’m quite tempted to do something about it.”

While the audience initially responded with disbelieving laughter, the statement was met with cheers and applause once it was clear that Musk was being serious. Though, it did prompt a question: “How do you convince people that your ideas aren’t crazy?”

“In starting SpaceX, they definitely thought I was crazy,” Musk replied. “One of my best friends compiled a long video of rockets crashing and made me watch the whole thing. Other friends involved in a rocket startup said it was a terrible idea, and I thought we had a really tiny chance of succeeding anyway, like 10%… and it was very close [to failure] but I think, ultimately, seeing is believing… that’s what convinces people.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab2VVp1GfmA

Musk has voiced his desire to build an electric VTOL jet before. “I do like the idea of an electric aircraft company,” he told Marketplace in 2015. “I do think one could do a pretty cool supersonic, vertical-take off and landing electric jet. That would be really fun.”

Elon Musk Bans Venture Capitalist from Buying Tesla Model X over Blog Post

A venture capital investor has been banned from buying a Tesla Model X by company CEO Elon Musk. Stewart Alsop, who has a history with Musk, wrote a post on Medium entitled “Dear @ElonMusk: You should be ashamed of yourself,” in which he detailed how he and others had been invited to an event to showcase the Model X electric car, which was slated to begin at 7pm.

Every member of the crowd had paid a $5,000 deposit on a pre-order for the Model X, and was expecting to be given a test drive of the electric vehicle. After being made to wait close to two hours for Musk to show up – sans apology – Stewart was given a token to determine his place in the queue for his test drive: no. 1344. After calculating that he would have to wait until about 2am for his go in Model X, Stewart chose to go home, instead writing his critical blog post.

“You should have apologized right then, but you didn’t,” Stewart wrote. “You have our email addresses, since we’re all the people who put a $5,000 deposit on your new Model X. When I was invited to the launch event, I was excited to hear that I could drive to the factory and see and touch a new Model X, even if I’ll have to wait another 3–4 months to actually get mine.”

Instead of apologising, though, Musk threw his toys out of the pram and banned Stewart from ever purchasing a Tesla Model X. In a follow-up Medium post, entitled “Banned by Tesla!“, Stewart revealed: “Dear @ElonMusk: Thank you for reaching out to me. I heard from our phone conversation that you feel that my post, “Dear @ElonMusk: You should be ashamed of yourself”, was a personal attack on you. I also hear that you are not comfortable having me own a Tesla car and have cancelled my order for a Tesla Model X.”

“It’s funny because I wasn’t acting in my old role as a press pundit critiquing companies and their executives. I have done that a lot over the last 30+ years and am used to having CEOs of companies get upset with me,” Stewart continued. “In this case, I was actually just a customer who felt he had been ignored at an event designed for customers and ripped off the odd post about that event.”

It seems that Stewart and Musk aren’t entirely strangers, though; the pair were involved in discussions over PayPal funding back in 1999, according to Techly, a deal Stewart chose to walk away from.

Musk appeared pretty apathetic over the whole affair, tweeting:

Elon Musk Believes We Need to Build More Tunnels to Alleviate Traffic Congestion

Elon Musk is quite a vocal figure in the technology world and known for making some rather intriguing predictions.  Recently, Musk answered a number of questions during the Hyperloop Design Competition awards ceremony across a wide range of topics including Hyperloop, SpaceX, Tesla and Mars. On the Mars project, Musk said:

“I think the most important thing is to maintain a self-sustaining city on Mars,”  

“I think that’s the most important thing for humanity. If we have a self-sustaining city on Mars … that could ultimately lead us to go beyond the solar system.”

He also went onto discuss the current traffic congestion problems around the world and suggested a suitable fix:

“Tunnels are great. It’s just a hole in the ground” 

“It’s not that hard, but if you have tunnels in cities, it would massively alleviate congestion. You could have tunnels at all different levels, you could have 30 layers of tunnels and completely relieve the congestion problem in high-density cities. So, I highly suggest tunnels.”

This is an interesting theory and it could help reduce traffic congestion by a significant margin. As the population increases, and major cities become extremely packed, it’s vital to find new ways to reduce the stress on public transport. Musk’s concept is practical but it could take a long time to even be considered. In huge cities like London, commuters usually have to deal with large crowds, and it can be challenging to find a comfortable form of transport. Vehicles also have the problem of moving at a very pedestrian pace, as traffic jams become a regular occurrence.

Something has to be done, because the population density in major cities is increasing. I can’t really think of an alternative to Musk’s idea, but then again, it’s going to take an absurd amount of time to even analyse the potential for underground tunnels on a mass scale.

Elon Musk Says Hyperloop “Is Really Going to happen”

SpaceX just staged a 3-day event at the Texas A&M University, where the pioneering space company brought together teams of engineering students from around the world to compete for a chance to have their pod designs built and tested on SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s proposed Hyperloop transportation system. Musk himself even made a surprise appearance on stage during the event, where he was met with whoops, cheers and clapping from the crowd who may not have been expecting the chance to meet their inspirational icon.

“I’m starting to think that this is really going to happen,” said Musk as he took the stage, with many of the teams in attendance holding their hands up in groups in the hopes of drawing the SpaceX founder’s attention during his Q&A session. Musk going on to say, “the work that you guys are doing is going to blow people’s minds.”

The rest of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition Design weekend went on to pit over 1000 student teams from 120 colleges and 3 high-schools worldwide against each other in the design competition. This stage of the competition intended to create a shortlist of at least 22 teams, which may be invited to the Californian headquarters of SpaceX this summer to build and test their designs. Judges from Musk’s SpaceX and Tesla companies as well as university professors were in attendance to judge the teams’ 20-minute pitches and grill them with 10 minutes of questions on their designs. The contest challenged the students, not just as engineers, but also their business and marketing skills with many presenting business cards, prototype models and high-quality marketing videos, making the contest a good chance for enterprising engineers to network with their peers.

By the end of the weekend, the team from Massachusets Institute of Technology were deemed the winners, with the Delft University of Technology from the Netherlands finishing second and University of Wisconsin, Virginia Tech and the University of California filling the rest of the top 5.

It is always great to see Elon Musk continuing to engage with rising engineering stars and his positive effects on the field. It really pays off too, with both Tesla and SpaceX already performing feats beyond many of their rivals and with the Hyperloop on the horizon, Musk’s legacy will only continue to grow.

Processor Design Expert from AMD and Apple Hired by Tesla

The race to develop self-driving cars is very competitive, with a growing number of companies doing their utmost to beat out the competition to develop the technology. One company, in particular, is taking self-driving car technology very seriously, Tesla, who have already rolled out a very limited form of the technology to their popular Model S. Now according to Electrek, Elon Musk’s car company have recently hired a veteran of processor design, Jim Keller to assume the lead of their Autopilot hardware engineering team.

Exactly what Keller will be working on a Tesla is currently undisclosed, with there being no implications that Tesla will be developing in-house microprocessors to use in their vehicles’ systems. Self-driving systems like Tesla’s Autopilot certainly require a lot of processing power in a tight space, however, and Tesla intends to make full use of Keller’s hardware engineering experience and especially his low-power design expertise.

Keller himself is a renowned and respected figure in his field, having worked on a number of AMD’s flagship processors over the years, including their upcoming Zen architecture. Not only that, but he has held a high-profile engineering role at Apple where he played a crucial role in the development of their A4 and A5 processors, which went on to power most of Apple’s mobile devices and Apple TVs from 2010 to 2012.

Could Keller’s expertise be just what Tesla needs to transform their Autopilot technology from a limited option to a fully fledged driving assist or self-driving system? The right hardware could allow the company to solve the tough computational problems that come with such systems.

Elon Musk’s Supersonic Hyperloop Opening Time Revealed

The future of tomorrow, today. Well not entirely, but it is getting closer and we know have an official time frame for the Supersonic Hyperloop train by Elon Musk and his team. The plans have long existed and they’ve come closer to reality every day. 2016 will be the year where it all starts, but it won’t be the year that we get to ride this hyperspeed train yet.

The construction of the 760mph (about 1220 km/h) Supersonic Hyperloop is set to begin within weeks where a five-mile long test track will be built around Quay Valley in Kings County, California. Elon Musk first revealed the train in a whitepaper three years ago, which isn’t that long ago. He himself won’t be actively involved in these steps of the process for the Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) company, as he’s already CEO of Tesla and SpaceX that surely keeps him more than busy.

The new Hyperloop won’t just be built around an existing town as Elon Musk is a man that thinks big. Quay Valley is a proposed 75,000-resident community that will be solar powered and placed halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The land will be surveyed in the coming few weeks over February and March while the actual construction set to begin in the middle of 2016. So when will the public be able to ride this new supersonic train? That date is a bit further down the road, but not too far either as it will open to the public in 2018. At least that is the plan according to HTT.

Now we just need to cross our fingers and hope that it doesn’t turn into a Simpon’s styled Monorail and that it can stop better than the Falcon 9 can land. The only really sad part thing around the hyperloop is, that it is being built so far away for most of us that we don’t really have the biggest of chances to ride it.

Falcon 9 Sea Landing Meets an Explosive End

It was the first Falcon 9 launch by SpaceX of 2016, as well as the first since their successful rocket landing. It may have been a different rocket than the one that made the previous landing, but nonetheless, SpaceX planned to land this one too. The rocket wasn’t the only difference either, the landing target was a drone ship instead of solid ground. Sadly it wasn’t to be two great successes in a row, and while it was a close call, the rocket tipped over after landing resulting in a fiery end for the spacecraft.

The main objective of the launch was completed successfully, with NASA’s Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite delivered into orbit where it will monitor sea levels and currents. The rocket even managed to return to the platform successfully after sending the second stage off into orbit. Problems only arose once the first stage had set down on the drone ship. Due the instability of the platform and a failure of one of the rocket’s four lockout collets, the landing was short-lived, as it slowly tipped over before exploding spectacularly. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX posted a video on Instagram of the dramatic moment, as well as hinting that the cause of the failure could have been due to a buildup on ice on one of the rocket’s landing legs due to condensation from the fog at launch.

Despite being another failure in the SpaceX campaign to land a rocket on a platform at sea, it is clear that they are learning from their mistakes. Despite ending more dramatically that their other attempts, the landing itself showed that clear progress had been made towards a successful landing. Being able to land a rocket on a ship is important to SpaceX’s campaign for rocket reusability, as it allows for a wider variety of launch locations to be used, without requiring a ground landing site nearby.

Elon Musk Welcomes Apple’s “Open Secret” Electric Car

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of the Telsa Motors electric car company, has confirmed that, as far as he knows, Apple is developing its own electric vehicles, calling it an “open secret”, and a welcome one at that. Speaking to the BBC, Musk said that increased competition for electric cars means a healthier market and a big step towards his idealised world of electric cars, whether they are produced by Tesla or not.

“I think companies like Apple will probably make an electric car. It seems like the obvious thing to do. It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it,” Musk told the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones. When pressed by Cellan-Jones as to whether that means he knows that Apple is definitely developing an electric car, Musk responded, “Yeah, I do. It’s an open secret.”

Musk is supportive of Apple’s endeavour, claiming that “It will expand the industry.”

“Tesla will still aspire to make the most compelling electric vehicles, and that would be our goal, while at the same helping other companies to make electric cars as well,” he added, saying that, “In the long term, nobody will buy a car unless it is autonomous. You will only drive if you want to drive.”

Elon Musk Claims Tesla Cars Are Two Years Away From Self-Driving

Hot on the heels of the beta release of Tesla Motors’ Summon software, which adds automated parking to the Model S range of electric cars, founder and CEO Elon Musk has predicted that Tesla cars will be fully automated by 2018.

Musk reiterated statements he made last month regarding the future of Tesla’s self-driving program during a press conference on Sunday night, The Guardian reports, saying, “I actually think, and I might be slightly optimistic on this, within two years you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country.”

“I think we have all the pieces, and it’s just about refining those pieces, putting them in place, and making sure they work across a huge number of environments—and then we’re done,” Musk told Fortune back in December 2015. “It’s a much easier problem than people think it is. But it’s not like George Hotz, a one-guy-and-three-months problem. You know, it’s more like, thousands of people for two years.”

Musk made the same assertion during a call with reporters, according to The Verge. “Ultimately you’ll be able to summon your car anywhere … your car can get to you.” he said, “I think that within two years, you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country.”

Tesla Model 3 Will Be Released

Tesla has been pioneers in the electric car field, this has helped by charismatic CEO Elon Musk who has pushed Tesla firmly into the mainstream with innovations that capture consumer imagination. Tesla now plans to launch the “Model 3” with speculation that it will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on March 1st, 2016; this new model will sit alongside the current range that includes the model S and X.

Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen had stated that the Model 3 will be conveyed to journalists and the public alike at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, but that year has well and truly passed without a sign of Tesla’s new model. Now, Tesla’s spokesman Khobi Brooklyn has confirmed that the Model 3 will follow the original plan of it being released in March of this year, a slight caveat to this is that the car is not expected to be on general sale until around 2017.

As for the price, reports suggest that it will be around the $35,000 mark (£24,103.85) or around £30,000 once various taxes have been added on. Reports also suggest that this car will be limited to 300,000 units, although, this could change depending on the popularity etc.

 

Tesla’s projects are always worth following and this one should be no different.

Elon Musk Nominated for Luddite Award Over “Alarmist” Views on AI

Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has had a fine year, capped off with the first successful Earth landing from space of one of his Falcon 9 rockets. The billionaire entrepreneur is being recognised for a less distinguished honour, however, with a nomination for this year’s Luddite Award.

A luddite, named to 19th Century loom saboteur Ned Ludd, is someone who seeks to suppress technological innovation. So, how can Musk, who has pioneered the electric car and launched the world’s most successful private astronautics endeavour, be accused of holding back innovation? For years now, Musk has been vocal about the dangers of emerging artificial intelligence, describing it as “our biggest existential threat” and “more dangerous than nukes”. Bill Gates and Professor Stephen Hawking have also been included in the nomination for holding similar views on AI.

The Luddite Award is an annual prize hosted by US thinktank, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

“In his book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, Oxford professor Nick Bostrom reflected the general fear that ‘superintelligence’ in machines could outperform ‘the best human minds in every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills’. He argues that artificial intelligence will advance to a point where its goals are no longer compatible with that of humans and, as a result, superintelligent machines will seek to enslave or exterminate us,” the IFIT’s nomination list reads [PDF]. “Most of us are rightly amazed at AI applications like IBM’s Watson, our Nest thermostat that learns, and other learning devices. But to say that these devices and systems will be smart enough to take over the world is to misunderstand what AI is and where it stands today.”

The nomination comes at an odd time, not long after a new AI initiative, OpenAI, launched with the financial support of Musk.

Image courtesy of Business Insider.

SpaceX Successfully Land Falcon 9 Rocket

Last night’s Falcon 9 launch was important to SpaceX for a number of reasons. For one, it was the 20th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket, but, more importantly, it was its first flight since the incident back in June, where a Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after lifting off on an ISS supply mission. SpaceX wouldn’t be satisfied with just getting their rocket back in the air either, with the further aim of landing the rocket’s first stage intact on a landing pad in Cape Canaveral. This time, SpaceX pulled it off, with both the launch and landing going off without a hitch.

This launch isn’t the first time SpaceX have tried to land a rocket vertically, having made previous attempts to land Falcon 9 rockets on barges, but never quite making the mark. It is, however, a historic event in space technology, with no other rocket ever able to land vertically after an orbital trip. The success also shows SpaceX engineers constant steps to improve their rockets, with this flight (and landing), being the maiden flight of the newest version of the Falcon 9, the v1.1 Full Thrust.

SpaceX believes that the success of this mission is a landmark in making space travel more affordable, as now rockets can be recovered and refurbished, instead of requiring a new unit for each launch. Entrepreneur Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX took to Twitter to proclaim the success of the launch and landing “Welcome home, baby!” The entire launch and landing were streamed live across the world from the SpaceX website, with people around the world, not just near Cape Canaveral to experience the groundbreaking event.

What this really proves to me is that despite the loss of the Space Shuttle back in 2011, the space industry still has plenty of innovation and improvement to show. Even though some would consider the return to rockets a step backwards from the Shuttle, SpaceX has shown that they can make rockets reusable, the main selling point of the Shuttle. With SpaceX now set up for a manned mission by as soon as 2017, it will be exciting to see how much they can continue to revolutionize the space industry and what long-time aerospace companies, such as Boeing can do to keep up.

Elon Musk Wants VW Forced to Produce Zero-Emission Vehicles

Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk – together with a group of 44 businesses and environmentalists – thinks that the punishment for Volkswagen’s lies regarding the exhaust emissions of its diesel cars should be to force the manufacturer to produce zero-emission vehicles, in lieu of fines and “impractical” recalls.

In an open letter to California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols, the group asks that they “cure the air, not the cars.” Instead of forcing a recall and repair of VW vehicles will emission-cheating software, the letter asks California to give VW the option of building zero-emission vehicles to allow it to make amends.

The letter proposes:

  1. Release VW from its obligation to fix diesel cars already on the road in California, which represent an insignificant portion of total vehicles emissions in the State, and which cars do not, individually, present any emissions-related risk to their owners or occupants
  2. Instead, direct VW to accelerate greatly its rollout of zero emission vehicles, which by their very nature, have zero emissions and thus present zero opportunities for cheating, and also do not require any enforcement dollars to verify
  3. Require that this acceleration of the rollout of zero emissions vehicles by VW result in a 10 for 1 or greater reduction in pollutant emissions as compared to the pollution associated with the diesel fleet cheating, and achieve this over the next 5 years
  4. Require that VW invest in new manufacturing plants and/or research and development, in the amounts that they otherwise would have been fined, and do so in California to the extent that California would have been allocated its share of the fines
  5. Allow VW some flexibility in the execution and timing of this plan by allowing it to be implemented via zero emission vehicle credits.

Image courtesy of International Business Times.