Tesla Motors has announced that every car it now builds comes ready with the hardware needed for fully-autonomous driving.
The American automaker is a strong believer that full autonomy will make our roads much safer. To that end, every single one of its vehicles, including the highly-anticipated Model 3 sedan, will come standard with eight 360-degree cameras that can “see” for about 275 yards, 12 ultrasonic sensors, a forward-sensing radar, and a more powerful on-board computer that’s better able to process all necessary data.
New Model S and Model X already come with the hardware, but buyers will have to wait a while for the arrival of the software that makes it all work. Moreover, current Tesla owners will not be able to upgrade their vehicles with the new, autonomous-ready hardware, though the company will continue to improve and fine-tune the existing Autopilot technology.
CEO Elon Musk confidence in Tesla’s new fully-autonomous driving technology, predicting that a Tesla should be able to self-drive from Los Angeles to New York without any driver input by the end of 2017.
The software will launch as an $8,000 option, a notable premium over the $3,000 price of the brand’s existing Autopilot software.
Porsche Buys 10-Percent Stake In Croatia’s Rimac
The small Croatian start-up gets a piece of the spotlight.
Porsche has purchased a 10-percent stake in Rimac, a little known automaker that specializes in electric high-performance cars. Both companies seek a technology transfer.
There is a good chances you never knew who or what Rimac was before this development, but the company has been slowly making a name for itself with its namesake electric supercar.
You know you’re special when an automotive powerhouse like Porsche wants your technology. Founder and CEO Mate Rimac stated:
“This partnership now is an important step for Rimac on our way to become a component and system supplier of choice for the industry in electrification, connectivity, and the exciting field of advanced driver assistance systems.”
Rimac is privately owned so it’s difficult to determine its overall value and how much Porsche spent for the 10 percent stake. While the German automaker hasn’t revealed whether it desires to buy more of the Croatian firm or if it’s happy with its 10-percent stake, it clearly wants a development partnership. Porsche board member Lutz Meschke noted:
“We feel that Rimac’s ideas and approaches are extremely promising, which is why we hope to enter into close collaboration with the company in the form of a development partnership.”
Porsche plans to launch its first-ever electric car, the Model S-fighting Taycan in 2019, while Rimac is busy at work on the the Concept Two (pictured), a sold-out 2,000-horsepower hypercar that will make the new Tesla Roadster brush.
It will be interesting to see if the Taycan uses Rimac components and whether the Concept Two benefits from Porsche’s engineering know-how.
Tesla Lays Off Nine Percent Of Its Workers
In what can be considered the company’s biggest layoff to date, Tesla Motors has cut nine percent of its workforce as part of a “company-wide restructuring.”
This is not a surprising development considering that the company hasn’t made a profit in years. However, despite being a ‘company-wide’ layoff, most of the cuts were to its salaried workforce. All production associates keep their jobs, which makes sense in light of the Model 3 production woes.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that the decision was “Difficult, but necessary Tesla reorg underway,” adding:
“Given that Tesla has never made an annual profit in the almost 15 years since we have existed, profit is obviously not what motivates us. What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable. That is a valid and fair criticism of Tesla’s history to date.”
Fortunately, it’s not a hard landing for those laid off. They will receive a salary and vesting stock.
Tesla Roadster Uses Rocket Thrusters To Go Faster, Turn Better
No, this is not science fiction. The new Tesla Roadster does indeed use thrusters to improve its acceleration, top speed, braking and cornering ability.
Telsa CEO Elon Musk confirmed in a post that the electric sports car will be available with a SpaceX package that, among other features, gives it 10 small rocket thrusters placed seamlessly around its body to “dramatically” enhance overall performance and possibly enable it to “fly short hops … maybe.”
He explained that pressure for the thrusters will be generated on-board via electric air pumps and composite-overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs), similar to how the system works in the SpaceX rockets:
“The air exiting the thrusters would immediately be replenished whenever vehicle pack power draw allowed operation of the air pump, which is most of the time. Total energy stored even in ultra-compressed air is low vs battery, but power output is insane.”
Even without the fancy thrusters, the new Tesla Roadster is stupid fast, capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in a neck-snaping 1.9 seconds thanks to its three powerful electric motors. Musk intendeds it to “beat gas sports cars on every performance metric by far, no exceptions” and set a new benchmark for pure speed.
I can only imagine what such complexity means for reliability and safety…