04 settembre 2017

Elon Musk News - Issue 99

Elon Musk News - Issue 99
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Note From The Curator
The top three stories in this issue of Elon Musk News are:
  1. Tesla/SpaceX Hyperloop pod sets record 220 mph in test run, 300 mph soon
  2. SpaceX in final preparation for Falcon 9's first mission with X-37B
  3. Tesla drops the price of its higher-end vehicles thanks to improved 100 kWh pack production
This week two stories of high mileage Model S's have surfaced. One of them achieved 300,000 miles (482,803 KM), and other achieved 248,548 miles (400,000 KM). Unsurprisingly, both are used as Taxis. The excellent condition and low cost of maintenance of both vehicles demonstrates just how well Teslas are able to rack up the miles. You can find both of those stories, and many more, below!

Thanks so much for being part of this community, and enjoy issue 99!

Featured Quote
"Putting together SpaceX rocket landing blooper reel. We messed up a lot before it finally worked, but there's some epic explosion footage …"
— Elon Musk

From @elonmusk
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SpaceX has conducted a Static Fire test on a Falcon 9 rocket Thursday, a key milestone ahead of the rocket's first launch of a U.S. Air Force X-37B spaceplane for the OTV-5 mission. The secret military spacecraft is set to launch from Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A on the morning of September 7 in what is likely to be – though not yet confirmed – the final mission off Pad-A prior to the resumption of flight operations at neighboring SLC-40.

The latest launch campaign from SpaceX follows hot on the heels of the successful lofting of the Formosat-5 satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Formosat-5 was the twelfth launch of the year for SpaceX and the Falcon 9 and came less than a fortnight after the rocket's previous launch from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
After being tracked from Florida to Texas, a local observer near SpaceX's McGregor, TX facilities spotted Falcon Heavy's second side booster vertical on one of the area's static fire test stands. A photo clearly shows the core's distinctive nose cone, which takes the place of the interstage and improves the aerodynamic profile of the side boosters. The booster now on the stand in Texas is believed to be Core 1025, previously flown during the CRS-9 mission.

The other side booster, Core 1023, previously launched the Thaicom-8 geostationary communications satellite in 2016 and has since been refurbished, modified, and conducted two full duration static fires at the same facilities as 1025. The center core of Falcon Heavy was manufactured as a new vehicle in SpaceX's Hawthorne, CA factory due to wide-ranging differences between its structure and the average Falcon 9 first stage. Several other big tasks lie ahead of SpaceX in order to prepare for the inaugural launch, mainly involving the reactivation of the launch pad LC-40 and subsequent modifications to LC-39A.
Satellite operator and manufacturer SES has decided to juggle launches between SpaceX and Arianespace, a French launch provider. Made for a number of reasons related to the economics of satellite operation and launch date uncertainty, SES has chosen to have SpaceX launch the heavier SES-12 satellite in Q1 of 2018, and Arianespace will now launch SES-14 "early Q1" of 2018.

SES has experienced difficulties with some of its operational satellites that have led to decreased revenue, and the goal with the launch swap is to guarantee that SES will have an operational, revenue-generating satellite in place a few weeks sooner than they might have had if relying on SpaceX's uncertain launch date. SES-12, the satellite SpaceX is now contracted to launch, weighs about 1000 kg more than SES-14 and will be pushing the limits of Falcon 9 recovery at ~5300 kg.
Tesla says that the price change is a way to reflect improvements in cost efficiency for the 100 kWh battery pack that is powering Tesla's top-of-the-line vehicles. Here's how the change is affecting the pricing of Model S and Model X:
  • Model S 100D: $97,500 -> $94,000
  • Model S P100D: $140,000 -> $135,000
  • Model X 100D: $99,500 -> $96,000
  • Model X P100D: $145,000 -> $140,000
There's no one taking full advantage of Tesla's unlimited mileage warranty and relatively free Supercharger network like Tesloop, a transport company offering rides exclusively in Tesla vehicles in California. One of their vehicles, a Model S, reached 300,000 miles Tuesday. Haydn Sonnad, Tesloop founder, commented:

"Over the last two years, we have seen that that electric, supercharged vehicles can be deployed at utilization levels unheard of with gas vehicles. And while saving over $60,000 on fuel and maintenance is a substantial economic win, we feel the bigger win is that this car is ready for another 900,000 miles over the next 6 years under its current warranty. A gas car with 300k miles would be near the end of its useful lifespan. This means that the economics for mobility services on electric is more attractive than non-electric vehicles by a multiple, and when combined with autonomous driving features, the economic advantage in cost per mile will create unprecedented disruption in the overall automotive industry."
Tesla aims to deliver more Model S and Model X vehicles than the 47,000 they delivered during the first half. Now with just a month left in the third quarter, Tesla is offering showroom discounts and lowering interest rates to boost sales before the end of the quarter. Tesla offering discounts to boost sales has been a controversial subject in the past. Tesla made a policy out of always offering the same prices everywhere aside from the difference through exchange rates and import duties.

Tesla employees have since been more careful about how they presented discounts to customers, but there have still been some unusual discounts from time to time. This week, several owners reported receiving an email offering a '$30,000' showroom discount on P100D vehicles. The discounts are generally to help the company get rid of some inventory that can be delivered more quickly than custom ordered vehicles.
Tesla has changed or bundled a bunch of features on Model S and Model X to better differentiate its flagship luxury vehicles with its new mass-market car, the Model 3. One of those features is 'Smart Air Suspension', which Tesla made standard on the vehicles.

Now Elon Musk confirmed that the feature is coming to Model 3 with dual motor all-wheel-drive next year. After Tesla starts production of the standard Model 3 battery pack later this year, the next big feature to be introduced is the Model 3 with dual motor all-wheel-drive, which is expected in "Spring 2018" as per Tesla's own production plans. With this new powertrain configuration, a "performance version" of Model 3 with Ludicrous mode is also expected to follow.
The popular aftermarket purchase of a dash cam could soon be a thing of the past for Tesla owners. Musk took to twitter to address a comment by a follower that calls out Tesla for not leveraging one of the many onboard cameras as a dash cam. Musk replied to the feature request saying "Feature coming soon"
Completing the Trans-Canada Highway and linking the US and Mexico to Central America appear to be new Supercharger routes for Tesla. Tesla had yet to venture into the less populated areas of Canada, like northern Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. If Tesla adds Supercharger stations to those regions on the Trans-Canada Highway, they would link most of the country together. Only a few more stations in The Maritimes and the country would be covered coast-to-coast. And by completing the Supercharger network in Mexico, a Tesla owner could technically drive from almost anywhere in the populated Canada and US, all the way down to Central America – for free if they are on the free Supercharging program.
There's another episode in the long saga of Tesla's max power limitations on its Ludicrous performance cars and it finally looks like it might be the last as Tesla has now unleashed the full power without restriction. Tesla President of Sales and Services Jon McNeill says:

"I'd like to provide a quick update on this topic. Some of you with a P90D and Ludicrous acceleration mentioned that you did not want to use Launch Mode to simultaneously activate maximum battery performance. We've listened and are happy to tell you that for those that wish to do so, you can again enable maximum battery performance independently from Launch Mode, ensuring that you have maximum flexibility in how you use your car." The fix is in the latest 2017.32 software update, which Tesla started to push to its fleet last week. Most cars should have it by the end of this week.
The Enhanced Autopilot on the new generation of hardware remains focused on highway driving with a goal to reach autonomous on and off-ramp driving on highways. It's not quite there yet even with the latest updates, but some owners are reporting significant improvements of auto lane changes on Autopilot 2.0, which is an important feature to master in order to achieve that goal.

While Tesla recently reiterated its goal to do a fully self-driving drive across the country before the end of the year using its Autopilot technology, the actual software available to customers today seems to have fallen behind the schedule that Musk made public. With this said, there's always the hope that Tesla's use of deep learning neural nets and its computer vision system in a growing fleet could eventually result in a breakthrough moment that accelerates the pace of progress of their new system. After all, Tesla has really only opened the floodgates of Autopilot data gathering on the new vehicles about 3 months ago.
Tesla has added a new 'Passive Entry' function in its latest over-the-air software update that's aimed at providing an additional layer of vehicle theft prevention. The new feature, first released in v8.1 2017.28.4 (cf44833) to select Model S owners across North America and Europe, and on a larger scale through v8.1 (2017.32.6 ca28227), guards against thieves that use electronic signal repeaters to gain unauthorized entry into a Model S.

The update follows reports that technology savvy thieves in the Netherlands and Sweden have been able to exploit Tesla's keyless-entry system by fooling a Model S to think that an owner's key is present and activate its auto-presenting door handles. Tesla's newest Passive Entry mode for Model S will essentially disable the vehicle's auto-presenting door handles unless a key fob is present and the driver physically depresses the key fob's top button through a double-click action to unlock and extend the door handles.
Tesla Energy
Tesla is starting production of the cells for its solar roof tiles at its factory in Buffalo, New York. The company has already begun installing its solar roofs, which look like regular roofs but are made of glass tiles. But until now, it has been making them on a small scale near its vehicle factory in Fremont, California. Tesla's CTO, JB Straubel, says the company now has several hundred workers and machinery installed in its 1.2 million-square-foot factory in Buffalo.

"By the end of this year we will have the ramp-up of solar roof modules started in a substantial way," Straubel told The Associated Press Thursday. "This is an interim milestone that we're pretty proud of." Straubel says Tesla eventually hopes to reach 2 gigawatts of cell production annually at the Buffalo plant. That's higher than its initial target of 1 gigawatt by 2019. Straubel said Tesla has been working on making the factory more efficient.
A new patent explains in more detail a method that the company invented to connect the roof solar tiles. The patent was granted to Tesla Tuesday after SolarCity filed for it on May 24, 2016, before Tesla acquired the company. Basically, the system binds the cells in a "cascade" formation with a conductive adhesive that is activated by heat. The bonding system both enables to physically link the solar tiles together and conductivity between them.

Tesla believes this system is good for durability, which will be needed based on the "infinity warranty" that they are offering, and for the installation process, which represents a significant part of the cost of solar and roofing in general. Earlier this month, Tesla disclosed that they started solar roof installations at home of CEO Elon Musk and other employees. There is still no word on when regular customer installations will start.
Elon Musk announced that a "Tesla/SpaceX Hyperloop pusher pod" has bolted down SpaceX's Hyperloop test track at 355 km/h (220 mph), shattering the previously held Hyperloop pod top speed record of 202 mph set over the weekend. Musk said in an Instagram post that the Tesla pod could soon reach a top speed of 500 km/h — or half the speed of sound — after "a few tweaks."

As described by Musk, the pusher pod is almost like a tug boat. "We took the SpaceX/Tesla Hyperloop pusher pod for a spin by itself a few days ago to see what it could do when not pushing student pods," wrote Musk on Instagram. It's "kind of like racing with a tugboat." Tesla has held two Hyperloop competitions this year with the recent winner, WARR Hyperloop, reaching a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph).
Zach says: Incredibly, the top speed achieved by team WARR last weekend was surpassed by the Tesla/SpaceX Hyperloop pod. See above article.

"That was an amazing job," Musk shouted over the cheers that erupted from the bleachers, packed with other students who didn't get a chance to race, but still proudly exhibited their pod designs. "Two hundred miles an hour for a student-built pod is incredible."

That 20-second run clinched the top prize for WARR, beating out Paradigm Hyperloop's 63 miles-per-hour, and Swissloop's 25 miles-per-hour, also impressive achievements from teams who built a novel form of transport from scratch. True to form, Musk immediately asked for more. "I think it's only going to go up from there with each successive competition," he said, setting a goal of 370 miles-per-hour. He upped the ante in a later tweet.
The Boring Company
As reported last week, Elon Musk's Boring Company received a green light from the city of Hawthorne to build a 2-mile long tunnel. Now Musk teases Tesla's all-electric Model S in the tunnel – giving us a glimpse of what his vision of a network of tunnels alleviating traffic in cities could look like.

The Boring Company will use Tesla's technology for its transportation system in the tunnel – a sort of electric skate platform to transport cars autonomously in the tunnel. Brett Horton, Senior Director of Facilities and Construction for both SpaceX and Boring Company, described the electric sled as "a Tesla Model S drivetrain, but with a platform instead of a cabin on top." So if a Model S sits on top of it, you end up with a Model S drivetrain powering a Model S. Those electric sleds could be traveling at up to 200 mph (324 km/h), according to Musk.
Neuralink has raised the $26.96 million of a technically still-open funding round that could grow to $100 million, according to a new SEC filing. However, Musk himself tweets that Neuralink is no longer raising cash. The filing lists that 12 total investors have back Neuralink, including six un-accredited investors.
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