[youtube width=”100%” height=”100%” autoplay=”false”]https://youtu.be/3pndnueOCrw[/youtube]
Chris Lattner, in a recent conversation with Macrumors:
This was a very difficult decision, because I care deeply about the technology and people at Apple and because I could see myself staying there for many more years. In the end though, the opportunity to dive into a completely new area and work with the amazing Tesla Autopilot team was irresistible.
Great move. But what about Apple’s EV project? Who knows what’s really going on there.
[youtube width=”100%” height=”100%” autoplay=”false”]https://youtu.be/VZjEvwrDXn0[/youtube]
After getting the approval from their shareholders last week, Tesla completed its acquisition of SolarCity on Monday morning. And to give us an idea on what’s possible in combining forces, they powered the entire island of Ta’u in American Samoa. A remote island with power supply problems that relies on diesel generators for electricity.
The project accomplished 5,328 solar panel installations from SolarCity and 60 Powerpack rechargeable batteries from Tesla. These technologies will supply almost 100 percent of the power needed by the entire island with nearly 600 residents in the area.
To boast, Ta’u island can stay powered for 3 full days without sun, and can recharge back fully with just 7 hours of sunlight exposure.
From start to finish, the Ta’u’s microgrid project was completed within just one year. It was funded by the American Samoa Economic Development authority, the EPA, and the Department of Interior. The project is expected to offset the island’s previous use of 109,500 gallons of diesel per year, plus the expensive shipping costs that comes from high volume quantities of fuel that needs to get there (obviously).
On my previous ‘linked’ article, I stated: “I can smell the huge benefit of this deal for both companies, and more importantly to the world’s “green future”. Hopefully”. And this is exactly one of the pictures portrayed behind those words. Another one is the recent solar roof unveiling, along with the Powerwall 2, all of which fall under the Tesla’s ‘Mission Plan’. Great implementation indeed.
Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity officially closed Monday morning, bringing together Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company with the solar energy company founded by his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive. The deal was approved by Tesla and SolarCity shareholders last week, after first being proposed earlier this year.
I can smell the huge benefit of this deal for both companies, and more importantly to the world’s “green future”. Hopefully.
Back in September, Tesla pushed the v8.0 software update to its fleet of vehicles and it enabled some significant updates to the vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware. A series of new tests show that the pedestrian detection under v8.0 is significantly better and now Tesla even renders humans in front of the car on the instrument cluster.
[youtube width=”100%” height=”100%” autoplay=”false”]https://youtu.be/4E4qbeFb12k[/youtube]
The video above was a work collaboration between KmanAuto and Mike Anthony. This test was their second attempt with the same Model S vehicle equipped with first generation1 Autopilot hardware (but now on v8 firmware). You can watch their previous test conducted last June here. Both tests were nerve-wracking (something I don’t recommend doing of course). But all in all, this recent one was impressive.
Last week, Tesla unveiled two new products: solar roof and Powerwall 2. ElectrekCo’s Fred Lambert had a closer look:
On solar roof:
The company surprised everyone with not only one solar roof, but several new solar roof options, including designs that look like Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile.
Tesla’s description about the solar roof system:
“The solar roof consists of uniquely designed glass tiles that complement the aesthetics of any home, embedded with the highest efficiency photovoltaic cells. It is infinitely customizable for a variety of different home styles, each uniquely engineered so that the photovoltaic cells are invisible. Customers can choose which sections of their roof will contain the hidden solar technology while still having the entire roof look the same. These new roofs will seamlessly and beautifully supply renewable energy to homes, battery storage systems and back into the grid creating savings for owners. When combined with Tesla Powerwall, the solar roof can power an entire home with 100% renewable energy. “
On Powerwall 2:
The Powerwall 2.0 also got a significant update with now twice the energy capacity:14 kWh. It got a little more expensive though at $5,500, but that’s nothing when you consider that the inverter is integrated. That’s right. A 14 kWh battery pack with an integrated inverter for $5,500.
If you’re not familiar on what a Powerwall is, here’s Tesla’s definition:
Powerwall 2 is a battery for homes and small businesses that stores the sun’s energy and delivers clean, reliable electricity when the sun isn’t shining.
The issues and statistics on climate change are terrifying. It’s getting worse faster than our scientists had predicted. Kudos to Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
We are excited to announce that, as of today, all Tesla vehicles produced in our factory – including Model 3 – will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver. Eight surround cameras provide 360 degree visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system. A forward-facing radar with enhanced processing provides additional data about the world on a redundant wavelength, capable of seeing through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.
Later evening after the event, Musk tweeted:
Will post video of a Tesla navigating a complex urban environment shortly. That was what took the extra couple of days.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 20, 2016
Tesla drives itself (no human input at all) thru urban streets to highway to streets, then finds a parking spot https://t.co/V2T7KGMPBo
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 20, 2016
Here’s the video:
[vimeo width=”100%” height=”100%” autoplay=”false”]https://player.vimeo.com/video/188105076[/vimeo]
“Tesla has proven that you can break in to build a car brand from scratch — no one has done that” in the modern era, Daniel Binns, a managing director of Interbrand and an automotive-sector expert, told me. “Only niche brands have been able to do that because it’s a hard industry to break into. No major outside force has been able to do it the way Tesla has. Some others are threatening, such as Google and Apple.”
I recently wrote some ‘unfavorable’ thoughts on Tesla. You can read it here.
Last Friday, I was about to post a linked article about Tesla’s Autopilot version 8.0 best new features, but while reading some related stories on the web, I stumbled upon Jack Stewart’s Wired article.
What caught my attention about Stewart’s piece is my relevant view on Tesla as a company. I don’t own a Tesla by the way, but what interests me about the car company is its Apple-like quality on details and approach. From the hardware and software, elegant design, the user experience, the marketing, and the over the air updates of its software.
Here are some of Jack’s comments that stood out for me:
You may not have bought an iPhone 7 on launch day, but if you’re an Apple user, chances are you upgraded to iOS10 and got a bunch of new features that make your old phone feel newer. The auto industry is slowly moving toward the same model, with Tesla leading the pack. Because Elon Musk’s Model S sedan and Model X SUV are always connected, they can actually get better with age.
Maybe the most remarkable thing about the update is that it simply shows up on the car, like an over-the-air update to your smartphone. No visit to the dealer, no wishing you’d waited to buy your car until the latest version hit the market. This means your car gets better over time, and recalls get way easier.
The ability to remotely improve the software that increasingly governs cars is a tantalizing new revenue stream for automakers, and affords customers the ease of use they’ve come to expect from their smartphones.”
That’s still a few years in the future. But if you’ve got a Tesla in your driveway, the future’s here now. Just give it an hour to install.
Earlier rumours suggest that Tesla was in talk for a possible acquisition, partnership or merger with Apple. During a phone interview with Bloomberg’s Betty Liu last February, Tesla Co-Founder and CEO Elon Musk discussed his meeting with the Tech giant’s acquisition chief but dismissed the rumour and said that a sale is very unlikely.
Whether these rumours are true or not, I think Tesla on its own is doing excellent work. It may be true that the company is struggling with its ambitious production targets for its Model 3 mass market car, my simple and quick assessment on this though is probably because Tesla is confident in foreseeing more customer demands in the future.
Being a new player in the automotive industry, no one expected that Tesla would change the game and by far lead the innovation on creating the car of the future. Even the Germans who are known for their expertise on building cars, overlooked and underestimated the California start-up’s capability. The recent headlines that are popping up on the web like this one and other similar articles prove that the company’s dominance is evident.
And if Apple joins the race,1 Tesla is going to be a tough competition.