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♦ Note From The Curator ♦
The top three stories in this issue of Elon Musk News are:
In this issue I've added a new 'Zach says' comment section over a few articles. I did this in order to share a bit of my perspective, as well as to add more depth to the article summary. I would love to hear your thoughts on this here.
Lastly, I launched a series of humorous Tesla themed shirts this week that say 'Haha, gas.' If you're interested you can check them out at the store.
Thanks so much for being part of this newsletter, and have an excellent weekend!
♦ Featured Quote ♦
"Rex Tillerson supports a carbon tax. This is what is really needed to move the needle."
Zach says: I've noticed a large number of people on the Facebook page question Elon's integrity regarding his collaboration with Trump. This concerns me, as I'm extremely confident that Elon is only doing this in order to advance the interests of Tesla & SpaceX, as well as promote a carbon tax. If you only read one article this week, make it this one.
On Tuesday, Elon Musk tweeted in support of Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil and likely Secretary of State under the Trump administration. In a Twitter DM to Gizmodo Musk wrote:
"My tweets speak for themselves. Please read them exactly as they are written. Tillerson obviously did a competent job running Exxon, one of the largest companies in the world. In that role, he was obligated to advance the cause of Exxon and did. In the Sec of State role, he is obligated to advance the cause of the US and I suspect he probably will. Also, he has publicly acknowledged for years that a carbon tax could make sense. There is no better person to push for that to become a reality than Tillerson. This is what matters far more than pipelines or opening oil reserves. The unpriced externality must be priced."
Elon Musk couldn't have looked more stoic Monday as he sat among other chief executives at President Trump's breakfast meeting to discuss manufacturing. Musk sat rather expressionless as Trump praised himself on past environmental awards. "I'm a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment." said Trump.
One topic that seemingly grabs Musk's attention during Monday's meeting, as noted by a series of quick nods, was Trump's discussion around factories. "When somebody wants to put up a factory, it's going to be expedited. And you have to go through the process, but it's going to be expedited" said Trump.
Things are starting to take shape in Elon Musk's vision for a digital brain-computer interface, also referred to as a "neural lace". The concept behind a neural lace is a wireless mesh that can serve as an interface between an ultra-fine computing device implanted into the brain and the brain's biological circuitry. The neural lace would be programmed to regulate chemicals being released by the brain's neurons, thereby artificially enhancing certain human functions, at least in theory.
On Wednesday when Musk tweeted that his project is making "exciting progress," with a view to starting digging in "a month or so." Musk suggested in December that he was going to build a tunnel-boring machine and start digging because "traffic is driving me nuts." When asked Wednesday where this tunnel would be, Musk replied: "Starting across from my desk at SpaceX. Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway, which is 5 mins from LAX."
The landing part of the show will be missing from SpaceX's next launch, scheduled for January 30th. The upcoming mission is tasked with sending a communications satellite, called EchoStar 23, into a super high orbit called geostationary transfer orbit. It's a highly elliptical path that's more than 22,000 miles above the Earth's surface, and getting a satellite to such an altitude requires a lot of speed, which eats up a lot of propellant during launch. On top of that, EchoStar 23 is a pretty heavy satellite, weighing in at more than 12,000 pounds. Heavy satellites need more propellant to get to orbit, so getting such a massive device to such a high altitude is going to use up a lot of the Falcon 9's supplies. That means there won't be a lot of propellant leftover to do a landing.
It's possible that Trump is really only interested in speaking with Elon Musk about the future of electric cars and/or the unique startup-to-success stories of Elon's companies, but it would make just as much sense for him to be interested in a Mars mission to unite the country under his leadership. The work is already being done, so in a way Trump just needs to make a few of his famous "deals" to help things along to be able to plant his name on it.
Engineers behind Tesla's Full Self-Driving Capability prepare to release the first iteration of its autonomous driving feature "definitely" within six months time. In fact, Elon Musk revealed through a tweet that Full Self-Driving features could come as early as three months from now. Musk didn't indicate in specific what portion of Tesla's Full Self-Driving Capability will be made available in three to six months time, but we do know that the software update will activate all eight surround cameras on the vehicle as opposed to only four needed by Enhanced Autopilot.
Elon Musk announced Sunday that the company plans to release major hardware revisions every 12 to 18 months, declaring that anyone who expects major upgrades for older vehicles is "buying the wrong car."
Tesla's strategy bears a striking resemblance to the flagship smartphone market. Take for example Apple: the company releases a new iPhone every year and aims to introduce new features with every iteration. But with these major changes, sometimes older hardware revisions are more advanced than newer models. Software updates that bring new features may be designed with existing cars in mind. But for newer models, the testing process can sometimes take more time as the company ensures all features are running smoothly.
New details of Tesla's mysterious P100D battery pack, which Tesla CTO JB Straubel once described as having notable changes in battery module and pack technology, and a "complete redo on the cooling architecture", have emerged.
Tesla was able to fit more of its cylindrical 18650 lithium-ion battery cells into each of the 16 modules making up the P100D battery pack. There is also an increased battery capacity beyond 100 kWh, and what appears to be a replaceable connector that allows Tesla to retrofit older vehicles with the newer battery pack.
After announcing the project back in September, we have now learned that Tesla and Southern California Edison (SCE) have completed the massive 80 MWh energy storage station using Tesla's new Powerpack 2 at the Mira Loma substation.
There are a few bigger projects in various phases of development, but it looks like this one is the biggest energy storage project in the world using lithium-ion batteries currently in operation. The system will charge using electricity from the grid during off-peak hours, when demand is low, and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliability and lower SCE's dependence on natural gas peaker plants. A company executive recently said that Tesla was in talks for 'a number of new large' utility-scale energy storage projects.
Zach says: This article features an exclusive interview with the BadgerLoop team, as well as behind the scenes photos. Highly recommended if you wish you could be part of this weekend's competition!
Day 1 of SpaceX's long awaited Hyperloop Pod Competition is underway in Hawthorne, California. Approximately thirty teams competing in the SpaceX-sponsored event including the winner from last year's Hyperloop Design Weekend, MIT, will be judged on four categories ranging from safest and most reliable pod to best performing while in flight.
Hyperloop One's top executives are already thinking ahead to a future where lightning-quick travel is as commonplace as automated vehicles, and vice versa. "The idea is you have a transmitter in your car," Nick Earle [SVP of Global Field Operations] said. "As you approach the hyperloop, it would be like a fast pass on the freeway. So you actually get the ability to open the air lock and drive into the tube."
In talking to these companies, Earle says he describes Hyperloop One as the WAN, or wide area network, of transportation that should be able to interface with all the local area networks, or LANs. "We want any autonomous vehicle to go into our system," he said.
Think it's funny that some cars still need gas? Our brand new 'haha, gas' series is made for Tesla fans & owners who support Elon's electric revolution. There are three different versions featuring Tesla's different vehicles - Model S, Model 3, and Model X.