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charlesarthur : tesla   52

Why Teslas aren't the future • The Week
Navneet Alang:
<p>technological change is a funny thing — unpredictable, non-linear, and often like a perpendicular slash against the present rather than a simple evolution. Far from being the thing that will save us, we would be better off if Teslas and electric cars in general weren't the future of transportation. Instead, the only thing that will lead to better, greener, healthier cities is, quite simply, fewer cars.

That's not to say that electric cars don't have a place — or aren't very cool. I've been learning a lot about the Model 3 in particular lately, and its minimalist interior, quiet ride, and ginger steps toward automated driving seem like they would be a significant upgrade for many drivers. For long distance trips, inclement weather, or for the elderly or disabled, of course cars will still play a role.

Yet, the idea that Teslas are the future is predicated on a more basic idea: that the role of the car in society shouldn't change. Instead, the current car — noisy, polluting, backwards — gets replaced by a cleaner, more efficient one.

Technology, however, has a tendency to change in far less predictable ways. The most obvious example is, well, the car itself. The famous Henry Ford quote (which in truth was never said by Ford) is that if he had asked people in the early 20th century what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. True or not, it gets to the core of how tech changes. </p>
tesla  car  climatechange  climatecrisis 
9 days ago by charlesarthur
Tesla batteries are keeping Zimbabwe’s economy running • Bloomberg
Antony Sguazzin:
<p>Amid power outages of as long as 18 hours a day, Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile-phone operator, is turning to the Palo Alto, California-based automaker and storable-energy company for batteries that can keep its base stations running. The southern African country faces chronic shortages of physical cash, so almost all transactions are done digitally, and many via mobile phones.

“Telecommunications have become the lifeblood of the economy,” said Norman Moyo, the chief executive officer of Distributed Power Africa, which installs the batteries for Econet. “If the telecom network is down in Zimbabwe, you can’t do any transactions.”

The installation of 520 Powerwall batteries, with two going into each base station, is the largest telecommunications project in which Tesla has participated to date, Moyo said. With Econet having about 1,300 base stations in the country and two other mobile-phone companies operating there, Distributed Power intends to install more batteries and could eventually roll the project out to other power-starved countries in Africa, such as Zambia, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo, he said.</p>

Solar panels power the base stations; excess energy charges the battery, which takes over when it's dark or overcast. Diesel is too expensive (and runs out).
tesla  solar  mobile  Zimbabwe 
17 days ago by charlesarthur
Can you channel Kerouac in an electric car? • Financial Times
Henry Mance:
<p>We hire a Tesla Model 3 on a peer-to-peer car hiring website. On pick-up, the car immediately suggests that we install a 25-minute software update. What is this — the car of the future, or a four-wheeled version of Adobe Acrobat? Even the glovebox is operated from the touchscreen.

The Model 3 is the most basic Tesla, though prices start at the far-from-basic $40,000. The long-range version can travel up to 310 miles, but charging it fully shortens the battery life.

My dashboard says we have charge for 244 miles. I pick up Jason the photographer, Yui and the kids nearby, and somehow we are down to 238. This still should be OK, I think. Reno — via picturesque Nevada City — is about 230 miles away. If things get tight, we can recharge at Truckee, 30 miles nearer.

You know you have left Silicon Valley when the billboards stop advertising enterprise software and start advertising religion. I suppose they are both forms of saving things in the cloud. “Jesus said ALL THINGS are possible to those that believe,” reads one billboard. A nearby shop sells 35 flavours of wild-game jerky.

Our first stop is the California State Fair in Sacramento. The attractions include dogs “long jumping” into a huge tank of water. “You’re going to see some crazy dogs jumping,” says an announcer. “There is a technique to this,” he adds, unconvincingly. Is this the real America? The first dog throws itself 13ft 6in into the water. It’s some way short of the world record — 35ft 3in, set by an Ohio whippet named Slingshot.

We wander through a barn where farmers are blow-drying their cows. The bins are covered in plastic American flags. The kids win a soft toy by throwing ping-pong balls into floating cups. A stall is offering test drives of Ram pick-up trucks. The trucks are nearly two metres tall — the gas-guzzling antithesis of an electric car. Do I need a car like this if I live in San Francisco, I ask an attendant. “It parallel-parks itself,” he points out, hopefully.</p>

Just lovely.
tesla  car 
5 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Electric cars grab almost half of sales in oil-producing Norway • Reuters
<p>Almost half of new cars sold in Norway in the first six months of 2019 were powered by fully electric engines, up from just over a quarter in the same period last year, ensuring the Nordic nation retains its top global ranking in electric vehicle sales.

Tesla’s Model 3 was Norway’s top-selling vehicle, the Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) said when announcing the latest sales data on Monday.

In total, 48.4% of all new cars sold from January to June were electric, surpassing the 31.2% seen for the full year 2018, and making oil-producing Norway the global leader in per-capita electric car sales by a wide margin.</p>
tesla  electric 
11 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Why Tesla's dashboard touch screens suck • Fast Company
John Pavlus:
<p> Raluca Budiu, Nielsen Norman Group’s director of research, doesn’t think that touch screens in cars are a priori awful. Buried in <a href="">her lengthy, technical article</a> are a few compliments for Tesla: The huge screen makes it easy to see multiple information sources at once; it’s really good at pointing out charging stations on a map; and “the autopilot and self-navigation systems acknowledge the possibility of failure.” (Damn, that’s faint praise.) “Many of these features should make driving a safer and more comfortable activity,” she writes.

But that’s the key word: should. In reality, she argues, small but fundamental design flaws can make car touch screens overly fussy to use in cars. And when you’re traveling at 60 mph, that fussiness has a higher cost—particularly in a Tesla, which puts so much dashboard functionality in its touch screens that The Verge called the Model S a “tablet on wheels.” As Budiu puts it: “In a car, time spent with the UI is time spent ignoring the road.”

The Tesla Model S’s entire center console—the space between the two front seats that’s traditionally studded with physical knobs, buttons, and dials—is one enormous 17-inch touch screen. It looks eye-poppingly futuristic, and goes a long way toward making owners feel like they’re driving a “magical space car,” not just an automobile. But like any “pictures under glass” UI technology, Tesla’s controls require you to look directly at them in order to operate them.</p>

I <a href="">made the same point back in January 2015</a>, about Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: if you have to look at the screen, you're not looking at the road. And without haptic feedback (which you get from a physical knob), you're forced to look away.

I guess Tesla's solution would be for everyone to be on Autopilot. But that brings other perils..
tesla  dashboard  ui  driving  ux 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Elon Musk: Tesla needs to cut costs or it will run out of money in 10 months • BGR
Yoni Heisler:
<p>When the company last month released its earnings report for the March quarter, it posted a quarterly loss of $702m. That said, it’s worth noting that production, deliveries, and demand for Tesla vehicles have all grown at an impressive clip over the past many months. As an illustrative example, Tesla during Q1 of 2019 manufactured 77,100 vehicles, a figure which well more than double the amount it manufactured during the same quarter in 2018.

Nonetheless, Tesla continues to burn through money at an alarming rate. So much so, in fact, that Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently sent an email (<a href="">obtained via Electrek</a>) wherein the Tesla CEO explained that the company — which has approximately $2.2bn in cash on hand — may not have enough cash to last beyond a period of 10 months.

“This is a lot of money,” Musk said, “but actually only gives us about 10 months at the Q1 burn rate to achieve breakeven!”

Consequently, Musk explained that the company will be taking a much closer look at employee expenses as it pertains to “parts, salary, travel expenses, and rent.”</p>

Seems like it loses money on every car it sells, so upping the production volume doesn't seem like the solution. (Yes yes overheads etc.) Tesla just doesn't seem like a company modelled around profit. Demand outstrips supply, but it can't find a way to satisfy that and also hold onto cash.
tesla  bankruptcy 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
The thing about owning a Tesla no one talks about: nightmarish repair delays • SF Gate
Mike Moffitt:
<p>Neither vehicle was moving very fast, but the Tesla sustained front fender and suspension damage and wasn't drivable. So the Burlingame resident had it towed a few days later to Chilton Auto Body in San Carlos, the nearest Tesla-approved body shop and the preferred shop of his insurer, Allstate.

Nearly six months later, he says his Model S still hasn't been repaired.

"When my car got in an accident, it was somewhere in the thirties to be worked on and the last time I had a conversation with someone there a few weeks ago, there was well over 130 Teslas there to get fixed," Hedges said.
"Now I think if you're number 130 [in line to get fixed], it's going to be well over a year to get your car back."

We reached out to Chilton Auto Body over the phone and by email to confirm that scores of damaged Teslas were queued up at the shop and to learn out why the wait was so long. A Chilton representative said no one there was available to talk about the issue, referring SFGATE  to a manager who would not be back in the office until mid-May. There was no response to the email.

According to Hedges, Chilton has only two certified Tesla auto body technicians, and only one of of them has the credentials to repair suspensions.</p>

That's sure to be the downside of a car that doesn't have a standard outlet system of dealers.
Tesla  repair 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
The crowdsourced social media swarm betting Tesla will crash and burn • Los Angeles Times
Russ Mitchell:
<p>Machine Planet [their Twitter handle] belongs to a large and growing network of Tesla skeptics who connect on Twitter through $TslaQ — Tesla’s stock symbol, followed by Q, a stock exchange notation for a company in bankruptcy. Which Tesla, to be clear, is not. What Tesla is, relatively speaking, is heavily shorted: About 32.7 million of its shares, or 27.7% of those available for trade, have been borrowed by short sellers and then sold. They must be paid back at some point — at a lower price, the shorts hope.

Pronounced Tesla-Q, the channel has emerged as a crowd-sourced stock research platform. Contributors divide up research duties according to personal interest and ability, with no one in charge.

Some use commercial databases to track Tesla-loaded ships from San Francisco to Europe and China. Some are experts at automotive leasing or convertible bonds. Some repost customer complaints about Tesla quality and service. One contributor, whose Twitter handle is TeslaCharts, assembles collected data to offer graphical representations of Tesla’s own reports and $TslaQ’s findings.

And some do reconnaissance, posting photos and videos of Tesla storage lots, distribution centers, even the company’s Fremont assembly plant as seen from above.

A major aim is to change the mind of Tesla stock bulls and the media. The research helps individual short sellers decide when to move in and out of the stock. But it’s clear from the posts that $TslaQ can be just as vitriolic as Tesla fans are adoring.</p>
tesla  short  stock 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Fiat Chrysler pools fleet with Tesla to avoid EU emissions fines • Financial Times
Patrick McGee and Peter Campbell:
<p>Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has agreed to pay Tesla hundreds of millions of euros so the electric carmaker’s vehicles are counted in its fleet in order to avoid large fines for breaking tough new EU emissions rules.

The move will allow FCA to offset CO2 emissions from its cars against Tesla’s, lowering its average figure to a permissible level. From next year, the EU’s target for average CO2 emissions from cars is 95g per kilometre.

In 2018, average emissions were 120.5g per kilometre, according to data supplier Jato Dynamics. FCA averaged 123g last year, according to UBS, which said the carmaker had the “highest risk of not meeting the target”.

Analysts at Jefferies forecast FCA could face fines in excess of €2bn in 2021 when the new targets become law. A study by PA Consulting last year said FCA was likely to exceed the target by 6.7g of CO2 per kilometre — the biggest gap among the 13 carmakers it profiled. </p>

Tesla getting more money must be a good thing; its very existence is pushing other vehicle makers towards electric. But this is a scuzzy way to do it.
fiat  tesla  electric  climatechange 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Oi, Elon: you Musk sort out your Autopilot! Tesla loyalists tell of code crashes, near-misses • The Register
Thomas Claburn:
<p>The car biz has plenty of ardent fans who love the idea of beta testing buggy code at high speeds and reflexively characterize critics as trolls or short sellers of Tesla stock. There are of course people who highlight Autopilot problems with an eye toward investment, as can be seen from this tweet.

But there are also customers who worry the technology isn't ready and isn't safe, without an ulterior motive.

Effusive reviews of the latest Autopilot update can be found, as can less positive ones, such as a detailed critique posted to the Tesla Motors Club forum earlier this month that notes Navigate on Autopilot "tries to kill you any time a lane ends."

Twitter user @trumpery45, posting under the name Justin, gathered a collection of replies to the Tesla's leader's request for fix suggestions in his Twitter feed. The Register asked Justin whether we could attribute his observations to a full name but he expressed reticence, citing the potential for harassment by Tesla fanatics.</p>

I wonder if the Tesla fanatics (there's a ton of them on Twitter) actually own Tesla cars and use Autopilot, because you'd think their numbers would be getting thinned out. The tweets that follow in the story show there's a significant problem.
tesla  autopilot  software 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Elon Musk steps down as Tesla’s chairman in settlement with S.E.C. over go-private tweet • The New York Times
Matthew Goldstein:
<p>The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the deal two days after it sued Mr. Musk in federal court for misleading investors over his post on Twitter last month that he had “funding secured” for a buyout of the electric-car company at $420 a share.

The deal with the SEC will allow him to remain as chief executive, something he could have jeopardized if he had gone to battle with the agency.

It is not clear why Mr. Musk changed his mind so quickly.

People familiar with the situation, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said lawyers for Mr. Musk and the company moved to reopen the talks with the SEC on Friday. During that time, one of Tesla’s lawyers became instrumental in securing a deal with the SEC, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The whipsaw events of the past few days followed a series of self-inflicted wounds by Mr. Musk.</p>

Basically, someone managed to calm Musk down for long enough to tell him that he was going to lose everything if he couldn't make a concession.

Wonder if they've managed to wrestle his Twitter account away from him.
musk  tesla  sec  twitter 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
At Snapchat, insiders question the leadership of Evan Spiegel • Wired
Katia Moskvitch:
<p> Some insiders describe the atmosphere at Snap as toxic and cut-throat. It’s like “swimming in a shark tank”, says one person familiar with the company’s corporate culture. Overworked staff are being told to do jobs that they’re not skilled for, and then fired left, right and centre because they’re “incompetent”, even though in reality they lack training and are constantly stressed about whether this day could be their last.

For all its scale and notoriety, Snap is still a company that revolves around chief executive and co-founder, 28-year-old Stanford dropout Evan Spiegel, and his system of grace and favours. Are you one of the in-crowd who are invited to Spiegel’s parties? Insiders claim only a few will qualify. They say it’s an incredibly selective environment, which teaches staff to get close to their young boss and earn his appreciation. A spokesperson disputes this, saying that every employee is invited to all the major company parties.

Insiders talk of people who tried to caution Spiegel about the failed app redesign, warning it was unlikely to be popular with consumers. But still, it got rolled out. Of course, sometimes Spiegel’s intuition was right – like the idea for Snapchat’s famous vanishing messages. Lots of people cautioned him against it, but it worked. Maybe it’s this experience that has made Spiegel tend towards an instinctive mistrust of advice, whether good or bad.

The rot seems to go deep. Over the past few months, Snap has been plagued by a long list of executive defections. In January, vice president of product Tom Conrad cleaned up his desk. The company’s chief of engineering, Stuart Bowers, left in May to join Tesla. Chief financial officer Drew Vollero bolted the same month and was replaced by former Amazon executive Tim Stone. Chief strategy officer Imran Khan is the latest to go, announcing he will soon leave after three years at the company. Similar claims about Snap’s corporate culture have also been published by The Information and Bloomberg. </p>

It's even got a name: "founder's syndrome". A bit like music's "Lead Singer's Disease". (Lead as in dogs, not the metal.)
Snap  tesla 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla Solar Roof tiles: where are they? • CNBC
Kate Brigham and Lora Kolodny put a note in their diaries back in October 2016 - "check in two years" - and it's come due:
<p>As of May, only 12 Tesla tiled roofs were connected to the grid, all in Northern California, <a href="">according to Reuters</a>. Tesla declined to give an updated figure, but Musk later clarified that his "several hundred homes" comment refers to roofs that are scheduled for installation or are partially installed.

Tesla has been accepting $1,000 deposits for the roof tiles since May 2017. But at that point, the company wasn't even close to mass producing them.

It established a factory in Buffalo, New York to make the tiles, but it's not running at full capacity yet. At the company's most recent annual shareholder meeting, Musk blamed ongoing delays on a need for more testing.

"There's only so much accelerated life testing that you do on a roof. So before we can deploy it to a large number of houses we need to make sure that it's that all elements of the roof are going to last for at least three decades," Musk said at the shareholder meeting last June…

…One of the customers with the tiles already installed is San Jose resident and Tesla Model 3 owner Tri Huynh. He preordered them as soon as possible, and the roof was installed earlier this year.

"I was actually extremely surprised I got the call, just because you never know what this stuff, right. I thought there'd be extreme delays, I just didn't know how long it was going to take," said Huynh. While traditional solar panels can be installed in a day, it took a team of 10 to 15 workers two weeks to install this roof… Tesla's customers are paying a premium for the tile's sleek look. Huynh's roof cost him about $100,000, though he did need to replace his roof anyway.

"I don't think this will ever pay for itself honestly," he said.</p>
tesla  solar  roof  tiles 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla touchscreens to offer minimalist 'fade mode' • Engadget
Nick Summers:
<p>Screens can be distracting and, therefore, dangerous if you're driving an expensive car down the freeway. If you own a Tesla, though, fear not: the company is adding a software feature that will make its giant touchscreens less intrusive. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, replying to a tweet by EV owner Andrew Gold, confirmed that a "fade mode" will soon be added that hides all but "essential info." It sounds like a neat option, and heck -- if the display isn't working so hard, maybe it will save some battery life too?

Fade Mode will form part of version 9, a highly anticipated firmware update for Tesla's electric fleet. The update will change the UI in the Model S and crossover Model X to be closer to the Model 3. It should also include some "significant advancements in autonomy," Musk hinted on a conference call in August. The company's autopilot software could be patched with a long-anticipated "on-ramp to off-ramp solution" that will move into faster lanes on the freeway, identify your exit, move into the correct lane for the exit and then hand back control at a suitable time.</p>

Can't think that having a stonking big tablet just by the steering wheel is anything but a massive distraction. Physical controls on the dashboard might be old-fashioned but they have terrific affordance: you know what the controls can do just by feeling them, in general.
tesla  software  controls 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla, software and disruption • Benedict Evans
Evans considers what parts of Tesla's IP might give it disruptive power: batteries, motors, software, "experience", or autonomous driving:
<p>Tesla’s first bet is that it will solve the vision-only problem before the [rivals'] other sensors get small and cheap, and that it will solve all the rest of the [self-driving] autonomy problems by then as well. This is strongly counter-consensus. It hopes to do it the harder way before anyone else does it the easier way. That is, it’s entirely possible that [Google's] Waymo, or someone else, gets autonomy to work in 202x with a $1000 or $2000 LIDAR and vision sensor suite and Tesla still doesn’t have it working with vision alone. 

The second bet is that Tesla will be able to get autonomy working with enough of a lead to benefit from a strong winner takes all effect - ‘more cars means more data means better autonomy means more cars’. After all, even if Tesla did get the vision-only approach working, it doesn’t necessarily follow that no-one else would. Hence, the bet is that autonomous capability will not be a commodity. 

This takes us back to the data. Tesla clearly has an asset in the data it can collect from the 200k+ Autopilot 2 cars it’s already sold. On the other hand, Waymo’s cars have driven 8m miles, doubling in the last year or so. Tesla’s have driven more (without LIDAR, but set that aside), but how much do you need? 

This is really a question about all machine learning projects: at what point are there diminishing returns as you add more data, and how many people can get that amount of data? It does seem as though there should be a ceiling for autonomy - if a car can drive in Naples for a year without ever getting confused, how much more is there to improve? At some point you’re effectively finished. So, how many cars do you need before your autonomy is as good as the best on the market? How many companies might be able to reach that? Is this 100 or a thousand cars driving for a year, or 1 million cars? And meanwhile, machine learning itself is changing quickly - one cannot rule out the possibility that the amount of data you need might shrink dramatically. 

So: it’s possible that Tesla gets SLAM working with vision, and gets the rest of autonomy working as well, and its data and its fleet makes it hard for anyone else to catch up for years. But it’s also possible that Waymo gets this working and decides to sell it to everyone.</p>

This article is quite hard to extract from, but that's pretty much the nut. Evans says he started out writing it as a comparison of Tesla and Netflix, but Tesla is too particular in so many ways.
disruption  tesla  innovation 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
24% of Tesla Model 3 orders have been canceled, analyst says • CNN
Jordan Valinsky:
<p>Cancellations for Model 3 orders have picked up in recent weeks. Refunds now outpace deposits for Tesla's new mass-market electric car, according to Needham & Co. analyst Rajvindra Gill. Tesla disputes that.

In an analyst note delivered to clients Thursday, Gill cited extended wait times for the car, the expiration of a $7,500 tax credit, and the fact that Tesla has not yet made the $35,000 base model of the car available for purchase yet.

About one in every four Model 3 orders is canceled, Gill said, double the rate from a year ago. Customers have to put down a refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve a Model 3, then pay another $2,500 to choose their specific version. They pay the rest when the car is delivered.

The wait time for a Model 3 is about 4 months to a year, and base model customers could wait until 2020, Gill said.

A Tesla spokesperson denied that Model 3 cancellations exceed new orders. The spokesperson also said the wait times that Gill cites are outdated. Tesla's website currently lists wait times from 1 month to 9 months.</p>

There are signs of stress at Tesla, and none of them being leavened.
july 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla lawsuit highlights risks of inside threat • CNBC
Kate Fazzini:
<p>The incidents described in CEO Elon Musk's email to employees and the <a href="">company's lawsuit against the former employee</a> are jarring because they show how much access insiders have to critical systems of these vehicles, and how difficult it might be to determine whether they are altering code on machines that test the cars.

Cybersecurity professionals have demonstrated how to hack into the infotainment systems of several vehicle brands over the years. These demonstrations have shown that, while it's fairly easy to break into the computer systems that control dashboard computers, getting deeper into the systems that actually run a vehicle – and control its steering, acceleration and braking -- is much harder. It is often difficult to get to these computers physically, and they typically aren't connected to the internet or remotely available, making it necessary for an attacker to have physical access to the device.

It's even less likely outside attackers could get access to computers used in vehicle testing.

But insiders have far greater access. Employees may not only have physical access to the critical systems that run manufacturing or program car components, but they may know important information that allows them to write code that can cause meaningful damage to the vehicle.</p>
tesla  software  selfdrivingcar 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla updates Autopilot to force users to keep their hands on the wheel • BGR
Chris Mills:
<p>Tesla is pushing a new update to its Autopilot cruise control system that “nags” drivers every 15 to 20 seconds if their hands are off the wheel, according to Tesla owners. The update also adds some performance improvements and bug fixes to the Autopilot system, but the addition of frequent nags is the big that’s already causing Tesla owners to complain.

Under the old system, drivers would still get an Autopilot “nag,” but the reminders were much less frequent. Drivers would be prompted to hold the steering wheel after five minutes if driving on a slow road, or after one to three minutes when going faster than 45mph.

Those “nags” kept Autopilot as a hands-free system in effect, just a more attentive one. More than anything, the nags served as a check that the drivers were paying attention, but it didn’t force drivers to have their hands constantly on the wheel. Under the new update, drivers will get a nag after just 15 seconds (the precise nag interval is reported as being anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds), which in practice means people will just keep their hands on the steering wheel. The steering system also appears to have got an update, so there’s a small amount of “play” in the wheel which drivers can wiggle to prove that they’re there, without overriding the Autopilot system and turning it off.

Users are already complaining about the nags…</p>

Of course they are. But as Musk pointed out in reply to some of the complaints, if people get too complacent, then safety suffers. And Tesla needs to focus on safety after some high-profile crashes.
tesla  autopilot 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
NTSB: Autopilot steered Tesla car toward traffic barrier before deadly crash • Ars Technica
Timothy Lee:
<p>The <a href="">preliminary report</a> confirms that Autopilot was engaged ahead of the crash, and it appears to confirm that a navigation mistake by Autopilot contributed to Huang's death.

Huang's Model X was driving south on US highway 101 just ahead of a point where a left-hand exit split off from the main road. Logs recovered by the NTSB show that eight seconds before the crash, the vehicle was following behind another car, traveling at 65mph.

Then, seven seconds before the crash, "the Tesla began a left steering movement while following a lead vehicle." That "left steering movement" carried the vehicle into the "gore area"—a triangular area of paved road that separated the highway's main travel lanes from the diverging exit lane.

At four seconds before the crash, the Tesla vehicle was no longer following the car ahead of it. The car's cruise control was set to 75mph, so it began to accelerate, reaching a speed of 70.8mph just before the crash. There was "no precrash braking or evasive steering movement detected," the NTSB says.

Huang's hands were detected on the steering wheel for 34 seconds out of the final minute of his trip. His hands were not detected on the steering wheel for the final six seconds prior to the crash.</p>

As had been suggested: it diverted into the white lines of the gore. Now the question is whether this was caused by a Tesla software update, since the car had been along the same stretch of road a number of times. I suspect Tesla won't like the answer. Software updates that kill: now a feature in cars.
tesla  crash  software 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Software is eating the world, Tesla edition • Marginal REVOLUTION
Alex Tabarrok:
<p>Last week Consumer Reports refused to recommend Tesla’s Model 3 because it discovered lengthy braking distances. This week Consumer Reports changed their review to recommend after Tesla improved braking distance by nearly 20 feet with an over the air software update!

…The larger economic issue is that every durable good is becoming a service. When you buy a car, a refrigerator, a house you will be buying a stream of future services, updates, corrections, improvements. That is going to change the industrial organization of firms and potentially increase monopoly power for two reasons. First, reputation will increase in importance as consumers will want to buy from firms they perceive as being well-backed and long-lasting and second durable goods will be rented more than bought which makes it easier for durable goods producers not to compete with themselves thus solving <a href="">Coase’s durable good monopoly problem</a>.</p>

Coase's durable monopoly problem (in case you don't have a JSTOR login) is <a href="">explained on Wikipedia</a>: essentially, it's that in a market where you can't resell a particular product, a monopoly provider will have to go for the lowest, rather than highest, possible price.

Tabarrok is saying that over-the-air updates make items more desirable over time, which keeps pricing higher. Makes sense. There's also some fun discussion in the comments about how Tesla improved its braking distance so much and so quickly.
tesla  software  technology  economics 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla says its factory is safer—but it left injuries off the books • MIT Technology Review
Will Evans and Alyssa Jeong Perry:
<p>Under fire for mounting injuries, Tesla recently <a href="">touted a sharp drop</a> in its injury rate for 2017, which it says came down to meet the auto industry average of about 6.2 injuries per 100 workers.

But things are not always as they seem at Tesla. An <a href="">investigation</a> by <a href="">Reveal</a> from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that Tesla has failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company’s injury numbers look better than they actually are.

Last April, Tarik Logan suffered debilitating headaches from the fumes of a toxic glue he had to use at the plant. He texted his mom: “I’m n hella pain foreal something ain’t right.”

The searing pain became so unbearable he couldn’t work, and it plagued him for weeks.

But Logan’s inhalation injury, as it was diagnosed, never made it onto the official injury logs that state and federal law requires companies to keep. Neither did reports from other factory workers of sprains, strains and repetitive stress injuries from piecing together Tesla’s sleek cars.

Instead, company officials labeled the injuries personal medical issues or minor incidents requiring only first aid, according to internal company records obtained by Reveal.

Undercounting injuries is one symptom of a more fundamental problem at Tesla: The company has put its manufacturing of electric cars above safety concerns, according to five former members of its environment, health and safety team who left the company last year. That, they said, has put workers unnecessarily in harm’s way.</p>

Tesla isn't quite getting things right, it seems. Also: that auto industry average seems very high.
tesla  factory  safety 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
Elon Musk says Autopilot will never be perfect but can ‘reduce accidents by a factor of 10’ • BGR
Yoni Heisler:
<p>Earlier [on Sunday], CBS This Morning aired a new clip from its sit-down interview with Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The clip below centers on Tesla’s Autopilot feature, a topic that has been in the news quite a bit over the past few weeks following a tragic crash that saw a Model X in Autopilot mode careen into a highway divider before the vehicle’s battery pack burst into flames.

In the wake of the accident, Tesla said that the car’s Autopilot system warned the driver to place his hands on the wheel in the seconds leading up to the crash, warnings that Tesla claims were not heeded.

“The crash happened on a clear day with several hundred feet of visibility ahead,” Tesla said earlier this week, “which means that the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, despite the car providing multiple warnings to do so.”

As part of the interview, CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King went on a drive with Musk in a Model 3 where the two talked briefly about all things Autopilot. When asked about the benefits of Autopilot if the feature requires users to keep their hands on the wheel, Musk responded: "Oh, it’s because the probability of an accident with autopilot is just less."</p>

Musk is pushing this hard, but I think that this case is not going to break in Tesla's favour in the way that <a href="">its response to the NY Times car critic did in 2013</a>.
musk  autopilot  tesla 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla issues strongest statement yet blaming driver for deadly crash •
Dan Noyes on the latest regarding Walter Huang, who died when his Tesla, on Autopilot, drove into a crash barrier:
<p>Tesla sent [ABC News] a statement Tuesday night that reads in part, "Autopilot requires the driver to be alert and have hands on the wheel... the crash happened on a clear day with several hundred feet of visibility ahead, which means that the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road."

"We know that he's not the type who would not have his hands on the steering wheel, he's always been (a) really careful driver," said [Walter Huang's brother] Will.

The family's lawyer believes Tesla is blaming Huang to distract from the family's concern about the car's Autopilot.

"Its sensors misread the painted lane lines on the road and its braking system failed to detect a stationary object ahead," said lawyer Mike Fong.

You can already see the arguments forming for the lawsuit.</p>

If Huang had driven down the road before in the same car in the same way, Tesla will have records. If this happened after a software update, it's Tesla's fault: Huang would have had a reasonable expectation that the car would (as previously) avoid the obstacle. (Recall the <a href="">videos of how this could happen from a few days ago</a>.)
tesla  autopilot  death 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla drivers show possible Autopilot limit after Model X accident • Business Insider
Mark Matousek:
<p>On Friday, Tesla revealed that the Model X driver who died in an accident in California had activated Autopilot before the crash. While Tesla said the driver received multiple warnings to put his hands on the wheel before the accident, two YouTube videos from other Tesla drivers shed light on what may have caused the Model X to drive into a highway barrier.

One video <a href="">shows a Model S driving through the same segment of the highway</a> where the crash occurred with Autopilot activated. As the road approaches the barrier, a new lane marking indicates that drivers need to veer right if they want to stay on the road.

But the new lane marking is more faded than the prior left-hand lane marker, which becomes the right-hand lane marker for a ramp that allows drivers to exit to a new road. In the video, the Model S, which has Autopilot engaged, does not recognize the new lane marker and continues to use the old lane marker, which would lead it into the barrier… While the software's automatic-steering feature can keep a vehicle in its lane on the highway, it does so by reading the lane markings. If a lane marking has faded, it's more difficult for the vehicle to recognize it, and if the faded lane marking is close to one that is more prominent, the vehicle may assume the more prominent marking is the one to follow.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>


There's something both chilling and heartening about the way that people are prepared to share their re-enactment of these incidents to show us what went wrong.
tesla  autopilot 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
"Tesla is on the verge of bankruptcy" - Vilas Capital • Seeking Alpha
Vilas Capital staff:
<p>I think Tesla is going to crash in the next 3-6 months, partially due to their incompetence in making and delivering the Model 3, partially due to falling demand for the Model S and X, partially due to the extreme valuation, partially due to their horrendous finances that will imminently require a huge capital raise, partially due to a likely downgrade of their credit rating by Moody's from B- to CCC (default likely) which should scare their parts suppliers into requiring cash on delivery (a death knell), partially due to the market's recent falling appetite for risk, and partially due to our suspicions of fraudulent accounting activities, evidenced by 85 SEC letters/investigations and two top finance people leaving in the last month. We are doubtful that they can raise a meaningful sum in the face of these material issues. If the fall happened quickly, it could add substantially to the Fund ( 30 to 50%), in part due to our purchase of put options. Tesla, without any doubt, is on the verge of bankruptcy.

As a reality check, Tesla is worth twice as much as Ford yet Ford made 6 million cars last year at a $7.6 billion profit while Tesla made 100,000 cars at a $2bn loss. Further, Ford has $12bn in cash held for "a rainy day" while Tesla will likely run out of money in the next 3 months. I have never seen anything so absurd in my career.</p>

A few caveats here: Vilas Capital's biggest holding is shorted Tesla stock (it's betting in a big way its value will plummet), so this is an entirely self-interested opinion on their part. On the other hand, Tesla has missed its production targets for the Model 3, and it isn't clear how it's going to ramp up to meet them. Watch this space.
Tesla  finance 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
An update on last week’s accident •Tesla
The Tesla Team:
<p>In the moments before the collision, which occurred at 9:27 a.m. on Friday, March 23rd, Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum. The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.

The reason this crash was so severe is because the crash attenuator, a highway safety barrier which is designed to reduce the impact into a concrete lane divider, had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced. We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash.

Over a year ago, our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the US government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40%. Internal data confirms that recent updates to Autopilot have improved system reliability.

In the US, there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles from all manufacturers. For Tesla, there is one fatality, including known pedestrian fatalities, every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware. If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident.</p>

This isn't much comfort if you *are* involved in a fatal accident. Given how few Teslas there are (comparatively), they have had now had two fatal crashes with Autopilot. That doesn't sound like a good statistic.

I bet that the driver's thoughts were "oh, I'm sure the Autopilot has seen that it's headed for the crash barrier and will avoid it." Because what Tesla's blogpost doesn't say is how often those warning sounds typically go off during the course of journeys. Only happened once? Bad judgement by the driver. Happens a lot? Tesla's fault.
Tesla  autopilot  fatality  death 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
The random walk of cars and their collision probabilities with planets • ArXiv
Hanno Rein, Daniel Tamayo, and David Vokrouhlicky:
<p>On February 6th, 2018 SpaceX launched a Tesla Roadster on a Mars crossing orbit. We perform N-body simulations to determine the fate of the object over the next several million years, under the relevant perturbations acting on the orbit. The orbital evolution is initially dominated by close encounters with the Earth. The first close encounter with the Earth will occur in 2091. The repeated encounters lead to a random walk that eventually causes close encounters with other terrestrial planets and the Sun.

Long-term integrations become highly sensitive to the initial conditions after several such close encounters. By running a large ensemble of simulations with slightly perturbed initial conditions, we estimate the probability of a collision with Earth and Venus over the next one million years to be 6% and 2.5%, respectively. We estimate the dynamical lifetime of the Tesla to be a few tens of millions of years.</p>

Well, you did ask.
Tesla  space 
february 2018 by charlesarthur
Where is Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster with Starman? • Where Is Roadster
Ben Pearson (who isn't anything to do with Tesla), using data from Nasa's JPL Horizons:
<p>where is this vehicle? The current location is 2,295,742 miles (3,694,640 km, 0.025 AU) from Earth, moving away from Earth at a speed of 6,732 miles/hour (10,835 km/hour, 3.01 km/s).

The car is 137,198,709 miles (220,799,988 km, 1.476 AU) from Mars, moving toward the planet at a speed of 42,967 miles/hour (69,149 km/hour, 19.21 km/s).</p>

All those numbers are out of date now. Visit again regularly! And note from his graphic that it looks like its closest approach to Mars will be October 2020. Not quite close enough to, er, park though.
roadster  mars  space  tesla 
february 2018 by charlesarthur
Tesla truck will need energy of 4,000 homes to recharge, says study • FT
Peter Campbell and Nathalie Thomas:
<p>One of Europe’s leading energy consultancies has estimated that Tesla’s electric haulage truck will require the same energy as up to 4,000 homes to recharge, calculations that raise questions over the project’s viability. 

The US electric carmaker unveiled a battery-powered truck earlier this month, promising haulage drivers they could add 400 miles of charge in as little as 30 minutes using a new “megacharger” to be made by the company. 

John Feddersen, chief executive of Aurora Energy Research, a consultancy set up in 2013 by a group of Oxford university professors, said the power required for the megacharger to fill a battery in that amount of time would be 1,600 kilowatts.

That is the equivalent of providing power for 3,000-4,000 “average” houses, he told a London conference last week, and is 10 times as powerful as Tesla’s current network of “superchargers” for its electric cars. 

Tesla declined to comment on the calculations.</p>

Either a super-slow recharge, or you'll have to deliver stuff to power stations a lot.
electricity  recharge  tesla 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
SolarCity: Tesla's solar boondoggle •
Travis Hoium:
<p>Tesla's $2.6bn acquisition of SolarCity was supposed to create a vertically integrated clean energy company. But since the buyout Tesla has been shutting down SolarCity's operations around the country. This month, Tesla will lay off about 200 workers in a Roseville, California operations center that was once a hub for SolarCity. This is on top of thousands of layoffs over the past year. 

Elon Musk has argued that the best solar strategy is to sell solar in stores, getting EV buyers to pick up a solar system along the way. But Tesla has barely rolled out solar sales in-store across the country and it's not clear the new retail strategy will result in anywhere near the sales SolarCity made on its own. 

The main thing SolarCity had going for it was a massive sales and installation organization. A vast majority of employees worked in these roles and they're the ones responsible for growing the company into a nationwide organization. 

If Tesla's vision was to move solar sales from the SolarCity sales staff to its own stores then why buy SolarCity at all? And if you're selling solar systems in a store, why buy a company with thousands of its own installers? Why not use a contracted installer like Home Depot or Lowe's does to install the kitchen counters they sell in-store? </p>

Solar isn't a self-fit. It's too complex. In a way, it's the modern form of the alumin(i)um sidings business captured in the film Tin Men. Except it really does help.
solarcity  tesla 
october 2017 by charlesarthur
Tesla extended the range of some Florida vehicles for drivers to escape Hurricane Irma - The Verge
Andrew Liptak:
<p>As Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, Tesla issued an over-the-air update to drivers in the state that unlocks the full battery capacity of its 60 and 70 kilowatt-hour Model S and X vehicles. The update provides those trying to escape the path of the storm with an additional 30 to 40 miles above the typical range of the vehicle, according to Electrek.

Tesla’s 60 and 60D vehicles offer a range of just above 200 miles on a charge. Faced with an order to leave, one Tesla owner contacted the company, saying that they needed an additional 30 miles of range to get out of the mandatory evacuation zone they were in. In response, the company issued an update to other drivers in the state, providing them with the full 75 kWh capacity of their vehicles through September 16th. One driver posted a screenshot of his app, which showed off the new extended range. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed that the company’s 70kWh vehicles also received the update.</p>

So what's to stop someone trying to figure out what the software update does, and applying that to their battery firmware? (Maybe it's signed with a Tesla cryptographic key?) This seems really strange - that the only difference is a few lines of code, and that the low-end car is intentionally hobbled not through physics but software. And what Tesla can give, it can take away. That's scary too.
tesla  software  upgrade 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Model S 60D upgraded for free to 75? • Tesla Motors Club
<p>Currently posted on Reddit. Owner speculates Tesla may have upgraded it for them to get out of hurricane impacted area.

<a href="">Did Tesla just upgrade my 60D due to the hurricane? • r/teslamotors</a></p>

Indeed, Tesla confirmed to one of the forum posters that it had upgraded for free to give the 60D greater range - and that the upgrade will be "removed" on September 16. This raises lots of questions: if that capability exists in the 60D, and just awaits software, what's to stop someone hacking the car themselves? Who owns the car? Who owns the software? Who owns the access to the software upgrade? Tesla may think it has dealt with this in its contract of sale/lease, but a court might find differently.

And if it can apply to Tesla, it can apply to other makers. IBM used to pull the same trick with its mainframes: upgrading was just a simple tweak, for which it charged huge amounts.
tesla  upgrade  software 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
It looks like the state of California is bailing out Tesla • Business Insider
Wolf Richter:
<p>The California state Assembly passed a $3bn subsidy program for electric vehicles, dwarfing the existing program. The bill is now in the state Senate. If passed, it will head to Governor Jerry Brown, who has not yet indicated if he’d sign what is ostensibly an effort to put EV sales into high gear, but below the surface appears to be a Tesla bailout.

Tesla will soon hit the limit of the federal tax rebates, which are good for the first 200,000 EVs sold in the US per manufacturer beginning in December 2009 (IRS explanation). In the second quarter after the manufacturer hits the limit, the subsidy gets cut in half, from $7,500 to $3,750; two quarters later, it gets cut to $1,875. Two quarters later, it goes to zero.

Given Tesla’s ambitious US sales forecast for its Model 3, it will hit the 200,000 vehicle limit in 2018, after which the phase-out begins. A year later, the subsidies are gone. Losing a $7,500 subsidy on a $35,000 car is a huge deal. No other EV manufacturer is anywhere near their 200,000 limit. Their customers are going to benefit from the subsidy; Tesla buyers won’t.

This could crush Tesla sales.</p>

You can argue it both ways - it's a bailout, but it's also making California's air less polluted by proxy. So taxpayers are paying, in a roundabout way, for cleaner air. If they buy an electric car, they get a refund - and more - on that taxation. Subsidies are odd things.
california  tesla  electric 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
Tesla's autopilot software head quits in less than six months • Reuters
Subbrat Patnaik:
<p>Tesla Inc said the head of its autopilot software, Chris Lattner, left the company in less than six months since joining the electric carmaker.

"Chris just wasn't the right fit for Tesla, and we've decided to make a change," a Tesla spokeswoman told Reuters in an email on Tuesday.

"Turns out that Tesla isn't a good fit for me after all," Lattner, who worked at Apple Inc (AAPL.O) for more than a decade before joining Tesla in January, tweeted. "I'm interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!"

Tesla said it hired Andrej Karpathy as director of artificial intelligence and Tesla Vision team, the spokeswoman said.

Karpathy, who most recently worked as a research scientist at OpenAI, will directly report to Chief Executive Elon Musk.</p>

Lattner led the creation of the Swift computer language at Apple. (Afterwards he tweeted: "Yes, I do have seven years' experience of Swift.") He did feel like an odd choice to lead its autonomous driving unit. And so it proved.
tesla  lattner 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
Tesla Autopilot Review: Bikers will die • Medium
Heather Knight is a Stanford postdoc in robotics, which she will be teaching from autumn at Oregon State University:
<p>C [USER-SET TARGET VELOCITY] — dangerous: autopilot seeks to achieve the cruise-control set speed as long as there is not an obstacle. this works fine on the a consistent street like a highway, but we discovered the hard way when we exited the highway onto a country road, switched autopilot on, and it tried to go from 30 to 65mph at maximum acceleration. expert users would be familiar with this, but we think tesla can do better.

A+ [SITUATION AWARENESS DISPLAY] — this display helps the human drivers have a mental model of what the car sees. I’d estimate that Autopilot classified ~30% of other cars, and 1% of bicyclists. Not being able to classify objects doesn’t mean the tesla doesn’t see that something is there, but given the lives at stake, we recommend that people NEVER USE TESLA AUTOPILOT AROUND BICYCLISTS!

C [GIANT TOUCHSCREEN] — hire UX designers, tesla!! yes, it’s a big screen. now make it intuitive to find things… it took us 5 screens to turn off the car. From a usability perspective this is a system for experts not novices.</p>

She and her fellow tester also managed to lock themselves out of the car when they stepped outside to take a photo. They'd have been stuffed if they hadn't had a phone, and service, and a friend back at base who had used the car the day before and so could unlock it remotely.

Also, the thing about cyclists. Though you'd be unlikely to engage the autopilot in a space where there are lots of (comparatively slow-moving) cyclists, would you?
tesla  cyclists 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Tesla starts taking orders for premium solar roofs • Reuters
Nichola Groom:
<p>To get in line for a solar roof, homeowners must put down a $1,000 deposit via Tesla's website. There, they can also calculate the estimated upfront cost of a solar roof.

A 1700-square-foot roof in Southern California, with half the roof covered in "active" solar tiles, would cost about $34,300 after a federal tax credit, according to the calculator. Tesla estimates such a roof could generate $76,700 of electricity over 30 years.

The company said its solar roofs would cost between 10 and 15 percent less than an ordinary new roof plus traditional solar panels.

But Jim Petersen, chief executive of PetersenDean Inc, which installs about 30,000 new roofs plus solar a year, estimated that a 1700-square-foot roof with new solar panels, including the tax credit, would cost about $22,000, well below the Tesla website's estimate. Costs vary depending on roof type.</p>

I love the idea but the practice is crazy: roof tile microinverters will fail well before those 30 years.
Tesla  solar 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
The customer is always wrong: Tesla lets out self-driving car data – when it suits • The Guardian
Sam Thielman:
<p>Tesla regularly communicates detailed information about crashes involving its cars with the media whenever a driver points a finger at its automation software following an accident.

“Autopilot has been shown to save lives and reduce accident rates, and we believe it is important that the public have a factual understanding of our technology,” said a company spokesperson in an email.

The Guardian could not find a single case in which Tesla had sought the permission of a customer who had been involved in an accident before sharing detailed information from the customer’s car with the press when its self-driving software was called into question. Tesla declined to provide any such examples and disputed the description of its automation software, called Autopilot, as “self-driving”.

Data that shows up in the press often comes from the onboard computers of the cars themselves and can tell the public – and law enforcement officials – whether a customer’s hands were on the wheel, when a door was opened, which of its self-driving processes were active at the moment and whether or not they had malfunctioned.

In only one case – the May death of Canton, Ohio, Tesla driver Joshua Brown – has the company publicly admitted that its software made a mistake. In that case, the Autopilot software did not “see” the white side of a tractor-trailer as it moved in front of the car against the white sky. The driver was reportedly watching one of the Harry Potter movies at that moment and did not see the vehicle, either.

Tesla takes issue with the characterization of Autopilot’s performance in the crash as a failure and told the Guardian that it only distributes detailed information from the site of auto accidents to the press when it believes someone quoted in the media is being unfair.</p>

..unfair to Tesla, that is. This is a terrifically clever piece of journalism: it's not based on an event, or an announcement. It's based on observation which reveals something deeper about how we're being manipulated by these companies.
tesla  data  privacy  selfdrivingcar 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
Tesla completes Hawaii storage project that sells solar at night • Bloomberg
Mark Chediak:
<p>Tesla Inc. has completed a solar project in Hawaii that incorporates batteries to sell power in the evening, part of a push by the electric car maker to provide more green power to the grid.

The Kapaia installation includes a 13-megawatt solar system and 52 megawatt-hours of batteries that can store energy during the day and dispatch it after the sun goes down, the Palo Alto, California-based company said Wednesday. Tesla has a 20-year contract with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative on the island of Kauai to deliver electricity at 13.9 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s lower than the utility’s cost for power from diesel plants of 15.48 cents, and about half the 27.68 cents that consumers paid in December for electricity in the state.</p>

On a 20-year contract, Tesla is going to be making some good money towards the end. Yet everyone will benefit from it.
tesla  solar  hawaii 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Watch Tesla Autopilot 2.0 drive like a drunk old man • Jalopnik
Ryan Felton:
<p>The video from Tesla owner “Scott S.” shows his Model S driving with Autosteer and Traffic-aware cruise control (TACC) engaged while driving. It doesn’t go well. At times, the car veers toward curbs and merges across the double yellow line. Scott wrote in the comment section that he has driven that particular road at least 30 times, making the Autopilot failure seem even more strange.

A commenter hypothesized that the Model S sensors hadn’t been calibrated properly, but Scott replied that it’s likely not the hardware, rather a software issue “because I have two AP2.0 Teslas.”

The slow rollout of Autopilot 2.0 included a caveat from Tesla founder Elon Musk to exercise some caution when driving on the road. Musk also said some HW2 cars may require being serviced.</p>

Watching this, one's thought tends to be: it looks like a big hassle. What's so great about letting the car drive if you have to be constantly alert to the possibility that it's going to veer off and you'll have to wrestle with the steering wheel? And given how often updates in software involve bugs, who'd want to rush into installing x.0 of any self-driving software?
tesla  autopilot 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Note to Tesla owners: Don’t forget your car keys • Recode
Johana Bhuiyan:
<p>Ryan Negri, an angel investor and Tesla owner based in Las Vegas, decided to go for a drive through Red Rock Canyon yesterday to take “some photos of the freshly-fallen snow,” according to a photo caption he posted on Instagram. He unlocked and also started his car using his phone — a handy, somewhat delightful and futuristic-seeming feature — and left the key behind.

As Negri discovered after getting out of the car, it turns out there is no cell reception in a canyon in the middle of the desert — and that the Tesla needs a network connection to use the smartphone-unlocking feature.</p>

tesla  unlock  networks 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Damn, Apple is losing a lot of people • Gizmodo
Christina Warren:
<p>Here is a list of some of the high level employees who have left Apple since January 2016 and where they have gone, if that information is available:</p>

It's a long list (24 names), from multiple departments - though five are PR or media (is that a crucial department?). Notable that many in that list are going to Tesla. Either Tesla is the attractive place, or it's good at the PR job of announcing recruitment wins.
tesla  apple  recruitment 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Longtime Apple programmer and Swift creator leaves Apple for Tesla • Ars Technica
Andrew Cunningham:
<p>Ted Kremenek, another longtime Apple developer who has been with the company since 2007, will be taking over Lattner's duties as Swift project lead.

[Chris] Lattner has worked at Apple since 2005, and he's been involved in a lot of major tools and software initiatives over the years. His extensive resume lists many versions of Xcode going back to at least version 3.1, LLVM and the Clang frontend, OpenCL, LLDB, and Swift. He also did some work on macOS, helped tune software performance for the Apple A6 used in the iPhone 5, and helped with the transition to 64-bit ARM CPUs that began with the iPhone 5S. His resume shows a willingness to create, adopt, and evangelize new software and programming languages, which will no doubt be a component of his work at Tesla.</p>

11 years is a fair length of time. But equally, Lattner was clearly important at Apple, which couldn't find a way to keep him. You can see that becoming the person in charge of self-driving software at Tesla would be attractive. And clearly, Apple doesn't have the same means of attracting him.
apple  lattner  tesla 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Hackers hijack Tesla Model S from afar, while the cars are moving • The Register
Darren Pauli:
<p>Chinese hackers have attacked Tesla electric cars from afar, using exploits that can activate brakes, unlock doors, and fold mirrors from up to 20 kilometres (12 miles) away while the cars are in motion.

Keen Security Lab senior researchers Sen Nie, Ling Liu, and Wen Lu, along with director Samuel Lv, demonstrated the hacks against a Tesla Model S P85 and 75D and say their efforts will work on multiple Tesla models.

The Shanghai, China-based hacking firm has withheld details of the world-first zero day attacks and privately disclosed the flaws to Tesla.

The firm worked on the attack for several months, eventually gaining access to the motor that moves the driver's seat, turning on indicators, opening the car’s sunroof and activating window wipers.

Keen Security Lab’s attacks also appear to compromise the touch screen that controls many of a Tesla's functions.</p>
tesla  hacking 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Tesla said autopilot crash would be 'material' contradicting CEO Musk • Fortune
Stephen Gandel:
<p>The fatal accident, the first known case related to the autopilot feature, occurred 11 days before Musk and Tesla sold $2bn shares in an offering on May 18. Yet the company made no mention of the crash in its offering documents. The news of the accident didn’t come out until last week, when it was reported by federal highway authorities — six weeks after the offering.

Musk told Fortune via email that the deadly crash wasn’t “material” information that Tesla investors needed to know. After the article appeared on Tuesday, Musk called the article “BS” in a <a href="">tweet</a> and said that the fact that Tesla’s shares rose on Friday following the accident’s disclosure showed that the accident wasn’t material.

But back in early May, Tesla said exactly the opposite of what its founder is saying now in an SEC filing. The company warned investors that a fatal crash related to its autopilot feature, even a single incident, would be a material event to “our brand, business, prospects, and operating results.” The disclosure said that the company may face product liability claims due to “failures of new technologies that we are pioneering, including autopilot in our vehicles,” adding that “product liability claims could harm our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.”</p>
tesla  autopilot 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
Tesla’s dubious claims about autopilot’s safety record • Technology Review
Tom Simonite:
<p>Tesla and Musk’s message is clear: the data proves Autopilot is much safer than human drivers. But experts say those comparisons are worthless, because the company is comparing apples and oranges.

“It has no meaning,” says Alain Kornhauser, a Princeton professor and director of the university’s transportation program, of Tesla’s comparison of U.S.-wide statistics with data collected from its own cars. Autopilot is designed to be used only for highway driving, and may well make that safer, but standard traffic safety statistics include a much broader range of driving conditions, he says.

Tesla’s comparisons are also undermined by the fact that its expensive, relatively large vehicles are much safer in a crash than most vehicles on the road, says Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina. He describes comparisons of the rate of accidents by Autopilot with population-wide statistics as “ludicrous on their face.” Tesla did not respond to a request asking it to explain why Musk and the company compare figures from very different kinds of driving.</p>

As Ben Thompson also pointed out in his Stratechery newsletter, the fact that Tesla opened its blogpost about this death <em>significantly caused by its technology</em> with statistics, rather than an expression of empathy for the dead person and those affected, is an indictment of its tone-deafness.
selfdrivingcar  tesla  society 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
Tesla and the glass cockpit problem • ROUGH TYPE
Nick Carr:
<p>When news spread last week about the fatal crash of a computer-driven Tesla, I thought of a conversation I had a couple of years ago with a top computer scientist at Google. We were talking about some recent airliner crashes caused by “automation complacency” — the tendency for even very skilled pilots to tune out from their work after turning on autopilot systems — and the Google scientist noted that the problem of automation complacency is even more acute for drivers than for pilots. If you’re flying a plane and something unexpected happens, you usually have several seconds or even minutes to respond before the situation becomes dire. If you’re driving a car, you may have only a second or a fraction of a second to take action before you collide with another car, or a bridge abutment, or a tree. There are far more obstacles on the ground than in the sky.

With the Tesla accident, the evidence suggests that the crash happened before the driver even realized that he was about to hit a truck. He seemed to be suffering from automation complacency up to the very moment of impact. He trusted the machine, and the machine failed him. Such complacency is a well-documented problem in human-factors research, and it’s what led Google to change the course of its self-driving car program a couple of years ago, shifting to a perhaps quixotic goal of total automation without any human involvement.</p>

Carr is author of The Glass Cage, which notes how reliance on automation for systems which may pitch you back into control carries big risks.
tesla  autopilot 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
A tragic loss • Tesla Motors
<p>We learned yesterday evening that NHTSA is opening a preliminary evaluation into the performance of Autopilot during a recent fatal crash that occurred in a Model S. This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated. Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles. Worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles. It is important to emphasize that the NHTSA action is simply a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations.

Following our standard practice, Tesla informed NHTSA about the incident immediately after it occurred. What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S. Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents.</p>

But it didn't. The autopilot was in effect an accessory to the death. This was inevitable, eventually; what happens now?
tesla  autopilot  failure  death 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
The Tesla-SolarCity vision collision • Bloomberg Gadfly
Liam Denning:
<p>Musk says that, once acquired, SolarCity can leverage Tesla's sales channels to substantially cut stubborn selling costs. He is "highly confident" meaningful benefits would show up within two quarters of the deal closing, a remarkably fast timetable. He also said new panel technology from Silevo, which SolarCity acquired in 2014, would have a big impact.

Here's the thing: 'Vision' is part and parcel of building a new company in a very new industry and persuading investors to fund it. Breakthroughs don't happen without it, and Tesla can lay claim to have made significant breakthroughs.

But the lesson of SolarCity is that vision is only as good as the faith it attracts. And faith in SolarCity's vision -- which has always benefited partly from its association with Musk -- has dwindled sharply. In selling itself to Tesla, SolarCity would become part of a vision that still has a strong following, but isn't helped by the lack of clarity displayed Wednesday morning.

The flip-side? Selling out at this low price would confirm SolarCity has lost faith in itself. What's worse is that, judging by investors' reaction to the news, bringing SolarCity in-house won't just dilute Tesla's earnings, but also risks diluting its vital resource: belief in Musk.</p>
tesla  solarcity 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Quality woes a challenge for Tesla’s high-volume car » WSJ
Mike Ramsey:
<p>Anne Carter had her Tesla Motors Inc. Model X sport-utility vehicle for a few days before the $138,000 electric vehicle suffered a mechanical malfunction.

On a recent morning, the car’s falcon-wing doors wouldn’t open as she prepared to drive her children’s carpool to school. “It’s a bummer; you spent all this money…and the doors won’t open,” she said in an interview while waiting for the Model X to be picked up for repairs. She expected some issues, but feels embarrassed that friends might think: “Look at the Carters—they spent all this money and the doors don’t work.”

During a very critical time for the pioneering electric-car maker, its well-to-do customers are confronting not only problems with the Model X’s rear doors but other issues, including a seat latch the company has recalled.</p>

Making cars seems to be really pretty difficult.
tesla  quality 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
Who’s responsible when a driverless car crashes? Tesla’s got an idea » WSJ
Mike Ramsey:
The Palo Alto, Calif., electric-car maker soon will begin activating semiautonomous features, including the capability to pass other cars without driver intervention, in its Model S sedans. A driver can trigger the passing function by hitting the turn signal, according to people familiar with the technology. That action not only tells the car it can pass, but also means the driver has given thought to whether the maneuver is safe.

While it might seem a minor detail, having drivers activate the turn signal could help auto makers like Tesla avoid a regulatory pile up.
tesla  selfdrivingcar 
may 2015 by charlesarthur
Tesla: It’s a battery! » MarketWatch
Claudia Assis:
At the event [on 30 April], Tesla “will explain the advantages of our solutions and why past battery options weren't compelling (OK Elon said “sucked”),” Tesla’s IR manager Jeff Evanson wrote in an email to analysts and investors early Wednesday. “Sorry, no motorcycle…but that was a creative guess.”

Shares of Tesla rose nearly 5%. A close around those levels would be Tesla’s highest in two weeks. Tesla shares have gained 9% in the past three months, but lost 1.4% in the last 12 months. That compares with gains of 2% for the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.27%  in the past 12 months.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said Tesla was working on a battery for homes and business back in February, when the company announced fourth-quarter results. Last month, Musk tweeted about a new “major product line” to be unveiled on April 30, saying only it was not a car.

Regular readers have <a href="">known this since 3 April</a>.
tesla  battery 
april 2015 by charlesarthur
Elon Musk had a deal to sell Tesla to Google in 2013 » Bloomberg Business
Ashlee Vance, with an extract from a forthcoming book:
“The word of mouth on the [Model S] car sucked,” Musk says. By Valentine’s Day 2013, Tesla was heading toward a death spiral of missed sales targets and falling shares. The company’s executives had also hidden the severity of the problem from the intensely demanding Musk. When he found out, he pulled staff from every department — engineering, design, finance, HR — into a meeting and ordered them to call people who’d reserved Teslas and close those sales. “If we don’t deliver these cars, we are f---ed,” Musk told the employees, according to a person at the meeting. “So I don’t care what job you were doing. Your new job is delivering cars.”
Musk fired senior executives, promoted hungry junior employees, and assigned former Daimler executive Jerome Guillen to fix Tesla’s repair service and get its glitchy cars back on the road. He also proposed what eventually became his public guarantee of the resale price of the Model S: Unsatisfied buyers would get their money back from Musk personally if they couldn’t sell their car at a price comparable to that of another luxury model.

When in charge at Microsoft, Bill Gates used to insist that executives bring him at least one piece of bad news along with any good news. This is what happens when they don't. Good on Musk getting the turnaround to happen through such a resourceful approach, though. Ah, but what might have been for Google.
tesla  google 
april 2015 by charlesarthur

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