Watch Toyota’s flying car take its first test flight

June 5, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wanted to ride in a flying car? In just a few years, you might soon be able to! Several companies are working on developing this technology, and Toyota-backed Cartivator recently made progress on this goal by taking its flying car for a tentative test flight. Though the vehicle still needs a lot of work, the Japanese-based startup company is certain the car will be ready to fly in time for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The test flight can be seen in the Associated Press video below. Because the early prototype of the car is little more than structural scaffolding, batteries, and rotors, it doesn’t look like much. However, it is able to get about head height before returning to the ground. Unfortunately, the trial had to be called off after the propellers were damaged several attempts later. CNet reports that Cartivator Resource Management, a small tech company, received nearly $400,000 in investment from Toyota to bring the flying car concept to life. This isn’t the only futuristic technology Toyota is seeking to develop. After ending a partnership with Tesla , the company seeks to become a global leader in electric automobiles. When the Toyota-backed vehicle is completed, it should be able to take off from public roads and travel at speeds up to 100 kmph (62 mph) when flown at approximately 10 meters. At present, the team’s goal is to complete the flying car by the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo so it can light the flame. Related: Uber inks deal to demonstrate on-demand flying taxis at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai The race is on to develop the first functional flying car . Airbus announced plans to test autonomous flying vehicles by the end of 2017 and Uber is collaborating with Singapore’s Ministry of Transport to develop flying taxis as an attempt to ease congestion on urban roads. + Cartivator Via CNet Images via Cartivator

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Watch Toyota’s flying car take its first test flight

Forward Labs’ new solar roof is 33% cheaper than Tesla’s – and it can be installed in half the time

May 26, 2017 by  
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Tesla gets all the attention lately when it comes to solar roofs , but start-up Forward Labs has been hammering away at their own solar roof technology – and not only is it 33% cheaper that Tesla’s offering, but it can be installed in half of the time. Forward Labs’ design blends right in with traditional roofs, and it’s made of monocrystalline solar cells with a higher density that other solar roofing options Whereas Tesla’s solar roof is made from individual shingles, Forward Labs’ standing-seam metal roof is made up of one large, layered piece. It has a tempered glass surface, with an “optimal chromatic cloaking” layer right below. The roof comes in 8 colors right now, but thanks to the chromatic layer, any color is technically possible. Related: Tesla’s groundbreaking solar roof just hit the market Because Forward Labs uses more cost-effective materials, it costs on average 33% less than the Tesla solar roof. According to the CEO, the solar roof will cost $8.50 per square foot, which works out to about $3.25 per watt. Installation can be done in just a few days – about half of the time as other solar roofs. The system is passively cooled via air gaps below the panels, and if a panel breaks, it can be popped out and replaced by a new one. The roof looks identical to other metal roofs, so it could easily pass a Home Owner’s Association’s muster, and each installation can provide decades of solar power. Taylor, Forward Labs CEO, told Green Tech Media that the company is aiming to do the right thing for the right reason. In contrast, he believes that Tesla’s design is the “wrong thing for the right reason.” “It’s wrong to devalue people’s houses with something that doesn’t look good. It’s wrong to put holes in roofs; it’s wrong to go to war with homeowner associations; and it’s wrong to try to ram something down people’s throats that they don’t want,” he said. The company is also working with conventional asphalt shingle companies to recycle removed roofing materials. Forward Labs are currently taking reservations with installation starting next year. + Forward Labs Via Treehugger and Green Tech Media

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Forward Labs’ new solar roof is 33% cheaper than Tesla’s – and it can be installed in half the time

New autopilot software update improves performance and feel of Tesla cars

May 26, 2017 by  
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Tesla may be the most valuable car company in the United States, but they are still raising the bar for autonomous vehicles. The company has been working to improve their software , and their new Autopilot update comes with relaxed speed restrictions that make driving on undivided roads and off highways even better. Tesla recently began pushing a new software update for cars with the second generation Autopilot. The new update allows cars to zoom along up to speeds of 90 miles per hour (mph), but also threw out the old limit of 35 mph for off-highway driving and aligned it with the old speed restrictions on the first generation Autopilot, which is five mph greater than the speed limit detected. If the Model S doesn’t detect a speed limit, the restriction is 45 mph. Related: Did Tesla Autopilot predict an upcoming accident before it actually happened? Vice president of Autopilot software Chris Lattner said on Twitter the performance and feel of the car is much improved. It appears Autosteer now is on par with the feature in the first generation Autopilot, according to Electrek – they said Autopilot 2.0 didn’t show signs of progress as Tesla moved away from using Mobileye technology and started using their own computer vision. Elon Musk said his company saw “a bit of a dip” after they unexpectedly transitioned away from Mobileye. But Electrek said it appears they’ve now largely overcome the issue. Musk said in a conference call, “…we had to basically recreate all the Mobileye functionality in about six months – which we did.” Electrek said Tesla has been better utilizing front-facing cameras on their vehicles. Handling around curves and turns looks better with the new update, as does driving on roads that aren’t divided and have little markings. Whether or not the car detects speed limits could be an issue; Electrek suggested that feature could be improved in future updates. YouTube user Tesla Trip took a spin with the new software and posted a 23 minute video showing the excellent handling on roads with few markings; you can check it out here . Via Electrek ( 1 , 2 ) Images via screenshot

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New autopilot software update improves performance and feel of Tesla cars

Elon Musk reveals boring tunnels are for Hyperloop

May 23, 2017 by  
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Cleantech pioneer Elon Musk wants you to drive a Tesla electric car or truck, power your home with SolarCity solar panels and store renewable electricity with Tesla Powerwall battery packs. Oh yeah, he also wants to zip you from DC to NYC in less than 30 minutes via Hyperloop pods that can reach speeds of more than 600 miles per hour racing through evacuated tubes. Now Musk has revealed that part of the reason he started The Boring Company , besides finding a solution for LA’s “soul-destroying traffic,” is to launch and test Hyperloop by using his new Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to dig underneath the City of Angels . “Fast to dig, low cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes,” the company’s new FAQ page states regarding its specific goals, adding that “the electric skate can transport automobiles, goods, and/or people. And if one adds a vacuum shell, it is now a Hyperloop Pod which can travel at 600+ miles per hour.” Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company video envisions underground LA as a crazy slot car race The FAQ page mentions that The Boring Company aims to fix congestion in major cities by building an underground network of road tunnels “many levels deep” with the ability to keep adding levels. The key to making this work would be “increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more.” Costs would be mitigated by reducing the tunnel diameter, which the site claims can be accomplished by placing vehicles on a “stabilized electric sled.” Speeding up tunneling is another way to reduce costs, with the stated goal for the TBM to defeat the snail in a race. Hyperloop One has already built a full-scale test track at the company’s development site in Nevada. Countries from India to South Korea  to the United Arab Emirates  to Russia  have expressed interest in Hyperloop technology. It is clear that the race to build the first Hyperloop rapid transit system is underway and similar to his other ventures, Musk is eager to take the lead. + The Boring Company + Hyperloop One Via Archinect Images via The Boring Company

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Tesla is taking some major risks by accelerating production of Model 3

May 19, 2017 by  
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Tesla is raring to get its Model 3 sedan on the road, and it looks like the electric-car maker isn’t above taking a few risks to do so. In its self-imposed race to launch the car by September, Tesla is leapfrogging past the testing phrase of its production line and eschewing temporary prototype tools in favor of permanent—and far pricier—equipment, according to Reuters . The move is a high-risk one, industry experts say, because of the higher cost of any tweaks to equipment designed to produce millions of cars. Certainly Tesla isn’t immune to quality issues: The company has fielded complaints of steering-wheel malfunctions , foggy windshields , and improperly latching doors in the past, all of which resulted in expensive recalls. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, said during a call with investors that “advanced analytical techniques,” i.e., computer simulations, would help the company bypass what he dubbed “beta” production testing. Related: Tesla is doubling its Supercharger network by the end of the year to 10,000 chargers But the gambit, if successful, could spell bigger profits. The faster Tesla can drop the Model 3, which has an estimated base price of $35,000, the sooner it can rake in billions it anticipates from customers who have already placed deposits. “It’s an experiment, certainly,” Consumer Reports’ Jake Fisher told Reuters. + Tesla Via Reuters

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Tesla is taking some major risks by accelerating production of Model 3

Solar prices in India dip below coal

May 19, 2017 by  
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Solar power is soaring in India as prices plummet. A recent auction for 500 megawatts (MW) of capacity at Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan saw a record-low tariff of 2.44 rupees per kilowatt-hour (kWh) – that’s around four cents in dollars. Solar tariffs have fallen by more than 25 percent in the past three months. But this isn’t all good news; some experts worry that as tariffs get so low, many solar projects in India could become unviable. The Government of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced the incredibly low tariff in a May 12 press release , describing the moment as history in the making. The figure beats out coal prices: India’s biggest power company NTPC sells electricity from coal-fired plants at 3.20 rupees per kWh. The country is set to become the world’s third biggest solar market this year as capacity hits 8.8 gigawatts, which is a 76 percent increase over the year before. Consulting firm Ernst & Young said the country has the second best market on Earth for renewable energy investments. Related: India doubles down on solar power with huge park capacity increase But Quartz India said they aren’t all celebrating in the solar sector. The industry is seeing cutthroat competition; around 33 groups participated in an April auction for 750 MW of capacity at Bhadla. Such reverse auction processes – where sellers try to underbid each other for the work – lowers tariffs more. One problem with super low tariffs is at a certain point developers won’t make a profit. Quartz India spoke with Reliance Securities senior analyst Rupesh Sankhe who said if a developer hopes for a return on investment of 14 percent, solar tariffs should be between 4.5 and five rupees per kWh. He told Quartz India if the tariff dips below three rupees per kWh, “the return will be zero. No matter what they do, they won’t make profits.” Some companies may not be taking into account risks like grid curtailment, or times when power-generating units aren’t allowed to send electricity to the grid. And as more renewable energy goes on grid, in line with India’s goals, some companies may not end up making the money they expected. Via Quartz India Images via Wikimedia Commons and Ajay Tallam on Flickr

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The three phases of Tesla’s clean energy revolution

May 13, 2017 by  
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A roadmap to convert the world to clean energy by the century’s end, inspired by Tesla’s growth from a niche business to a major renewable market player.

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Tesla’s groundbreaking solar roof just hit the market

May 10, 2017 by  
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Get your credit card ready, because Elon Musk announced that Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles are available to order starting today – and the Tesla Solar Roof order page just went live. The innovative roof tiles look like traditional slate, Tuscan or shingle roofing, but they collect sun to power your home with clean, renewable solar. Musk said that the smooth black and textured version of the tiles will be available for order today, with other styles following next year. Musk made the announcement today, as he so often does, on Twitter ,  stating that installation will start this year in the US. He added that Tuscan and French Slate will be available in 6 months. Orders and installation overseas won’t be available until next year. Tesla solar glass roof orders open this afternoon. I think it will be great. More in about 10 hours … — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 10, 2017 Related: Tesla unveils discreet new rooftop solar panels The Solar Roof can be paired with Tesla’s Powerwall battery to power a home entirely on sustainable energy. According to Musk, each tile is unique and looks like a traditional roof tile from the street. + Tesla Solar Roof Via CNET  

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Tesla’s groundbreaking solar roof just hit the market

Tesla executives start mysterious new recycling company

May 3, 2017 by  
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You’d think with battery production commencing at the new Gigafactory and Tesla being the most valuable car company in America, the company’s executives would have their hands full. But it appears Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer Jeffrey Straubel and head of special products Andrew Stevenson have quietly filed documents for a new company aiming to “unlock the value of your materials.” CB Insights found a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing , with Straubel and Stevenson listed as executives on a new company called Redwood Materials . They already have a $2 million investment from an undisclosed investor. Their office is in Redwood City, California, fairly close to Tesla headquarters in Palo Alto. Related: Tesla just announced plans to build up to five Gigafactories Could Tesla be behind the company? According to its scant website, Redwood Materials offers “advanced technology and process development for materials recycling , remanufacturing, and reuse” – and that’s about all we know. A Tesla spokesperson didn’t answer The Verge’s request for clarification. But the publication said it’s quite possible Tesla isn’t involved with Redwood Materials at all. In the past Straubel has invested in companies that aren’t connected to Tesla, like a 2016 investment in energy storage company Axiom Energy. He’s also mentioned an interest in mineral recycling. Last year he said Tesla would recycle electric vehicle batteries and reuse those materials. In a recent March 2017 keynote address, Stevenson mentioned “re-thinking the materials supply chain ” as an area of innovation for the car company. Battery production requires materials like nickel, manganese, cobalt, graphite, copper, and lithium, and it makes sense Tesla would want to obtain reused materials for their batteries as much as possible as they ramp up production from 80,000 cars in 2016 to one million in 2020. The Redwood Materials website offers no other details, although you can enter an email address for updates. Via CB Insights , The Verge and Electrek Images via cchana on Flickr and Lwp Kommunikáció on Flickr

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Tesla is doubling its Supercharger network by the end of the year to 10,000 chargers

April 24, 2017 by  
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Tesla is nothing if not ambitious. With the Model 3 release mere months away, Tesla is vowing to double its charging network. Right now, there are over 5,000 Superchargers globally, and by the end of the year that number will rise to 10,000 chargers – plenty of juice for the growing Tesla fleet. Tesla has two types of chargers: Superchargers , which can completely charge up a Model S in 75 minutes, and Destination Chargers, which work much like a home charger. Tesla currently has 9,000 Destination Charging stations and 5,000 Superchargers. By 2018, there will be 10,000 Superchargers and 15,000 Destination Charging stations serving over 200,000 Tesla vehicles. California alone will get 1,000 Superchargers. Related: Tesla starts fining Supercharger hogs $0.40/minute In addition to more Supercharging stations, Tesla is expanding existing stations: “Tesla will build larger sites along our busiest travel routes that will accommodate several dozen Teslas Supercharging simultaneously.” You can see all existing stations and planned stations at this link . + Tesla

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