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♦ Note From The Curator ♦
Here are the top three articles in this issue of Elon Musk News:
VC firm First Round Capital conducted a survey of 700 founders who were asked which tech leader they admire most. 23% voted for Musk, making him more than twice as popular as Bezos in second place. While winning this survey doesn't treat Elon to an awards ceremony or shiny trophy, it does demonstrate that his peers greatly respect the work he is doing.
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♦ Featured Quote ♦
"Automotive franchise laws were put in place decades ago to prevent a manufacturer from unfairly opening stores in direct competition with an existing franchise dealer that had already invested time, money and effort to open and promote their business. That would, of course, be wrong, but Tesla does not have this issue. We have granted no franchises anywhere in the world that will be harmed by us opening stores."
Elon Musk beat out Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs as the most admired tech leader among 700 founders surveyed by VC firm First Round Capital. Twenty-three percent of founders wrote in the SpaceX and Tesla CEO's name when asked whom they admired the most; 10 percent said Bezos, 6 percent said Zuckerberg and only 5 percent of respondents wrote in Jobs.
SpaceX was not kidding around when it said it was shooting to begin launching rockets again in December of this year. In spite of a September launchpad explosion that destroyed a perfectly good Falcon 9 rocket and created indefinite delays for its next few missions, Elon Musk's spaceflight company looks geared to return to flight on December 16.
Over the past few weeks, satellite company Iridium Communications Inc. has been excitedly tweeting that they plan to launch 10 small satellites on the top of a Falcon 9 rocket very soon. On Thursday, Iridium announced that launch would take place on December 16 — assuming the Federal Aviation Administration gives SpaceX the green light. At 3:36 p.m. Eastern, the cluster of small satellites will (hopefully) hitch a ride to orbit, lifting off from Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Thus far, it's been thought that a fueling error was to blame during the launch pad test. SpaceX sources close to the investigation are now saying that a complex chemical interaction between supercooled fuel and carbon composite material attached to the outside of the booster's helium containers created a breach that led to a volatile combustion. The investigation appears to have hinged on determining the exact combination of pressure, temperature, and fill rate.
If this turns out to be true, it will confirm suspicions that an operational error was at play. This would actually turn out to be good news for SpaceX, since it means the Falcon 9 hardware is still safe to use. An operational error simply requires changes in the fueling procedures that are used.
If you take delivery of a Tesla Model S or X today with the automaker's brand-new "self-driving-ready hardware", it actually can't drive itself just yet since Tesla is still working on the software, but it also doesn't even have driver assist features on par with Tesla's first generation of Autopilot.
That's because Tesla is working on the new generation using its own 'Tesla Vision' image processing architecture, the company is rebuilding the features based on the new systems. New owners are quite impatient to try the new promised features of Tesla's 'Enhanced Autopilot' and CEO Elon Musk has now clarified the expected rollout of those features.
While Tesla doesn't expect the full level 5 autonomous driving to be ready until the end of next year, there are still several new features that Tesla can implement and improve on with the new hardware and Tesla Vision. Those features fall under what the company is calling 'Enhanced Autopilot'. Musk confirmed that the first version of it is expected to come with version 8.1 of Tesla's operating system through an over-the-air update in "about three weeks".
A Model S owner put the roof to the test on Tuesday in an unfortunate real world scenario when he crashed into a truck on the Autobahn in Germany. The Model S lodged itself under the truck and despite the severity of the impact, the driver reportedly was able to get himself out of the car and walk to safety – though his injuries were described as "serious," but not critical.
The new glass roof comes after Musk confirmed that Tesla launched a new 'Tesla Glass' technology group within the company to develop more glass products, including for the new solar tiles, but also for automotive applications. The glass is ultraviolet and infrared (for heat) reflective. The new option is $1,500, while the panoramic sunroof option is now $2,000.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk also said that through the design and engineering process of the new roof, Tesla "reinforced the surrounding body structure for improved safety". While the new roof gives a clean look to the exterior of the Model S, it also makes the interior look more spacious.
It's been nearly a half year since Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed during a quarterly earnings call that the next vehicle after the Model 3 will be the company's Model Y compact SUV. One might recall that Tesla previously revealed its plan to broaden consumer reach beyond the premium sedan and SUV segment by producing a compact SUV "; thus, completing its S-E-X-Y line up.
Though the job descriptions are relatively vague and do not necessarily call out a specific model, one commonality between the roles is a reference to "design development of future Tesla vehicles". One can argue that this might be in reference to Model 3, however given the fact that it's been in pencils down mode since June and the company's actively shoring up relationships with suppliers, we can't imagine why Tesla would just now be designing the exterior and interior of the vehicle.
Australian homeowners with solar installations are starting to calculate the return on investment and they expect to be able to pay it back within 6 years. Tesla released the pricing of the Powerwall 2 in Australia and it's just a little more expensive than in the US: $8,000 AUD ($6,000 USD) for the unit, plus installation and supporting hardware starts at $2,150 ($1,600 USD) for a total estimate of $10,150 ($7,600 USD).
Australia has the world's highest per capita penetration of rooftop solar with 15% of households using solar for a total of 1.5 million households across the country. A lot of those homeowners will be looking at the Powerwall 2 in order to get more out of their solar energy and distance themselves from the grid's high electricity rates.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), the counterpart startup to Hyperloop One, which is also building a prototype of Elon Musk's hyperloop system, says it has raised a little over $108 million dollars to build the tech aiming to zip us from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under half an hour.
To be clear, the company has raised a total of $31.8 million in cash from investors and counts the rest — $77 million — from man-hours, services rendered, land rights usage and future in-kind investments. HTT comes out of JumpStartFund, a crowdsourcing platform for early stage tech companies, and was developed as a project running on the work of volunteers who offer their in-kind services for equity in the company.
We talked to architect Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative partner of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) as well as his partner, and head of BIG ideas, Jacob Lange—who developed the ideas for Hyperloop One—to chat about what can be done to better such a score.
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