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Tesla has just added a new upgrade to its flagship electric vehicle, the P85D Model S, if you've got another $10,000 to spend, that is. Tesla has dubbed the upgrade 'Ludicrous Speed Upgrade', improving the 0-60 time by 10%.
The Ludicrous Speed Upgrade to the P85D Model S can run a quarter mile in just 10.9 seconds, with the electric vehicle maker promising that the upgrade can offer a run to 155 miles per hour, 20% faster than the standard P85D. Tesla Motors founder and real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk, has said that the upcoming Model X would have the Ludicrous Speed as an option, but the lighter P85D would be a little faster, still.
The $10,000 upgrade for the P85D requires the upgraded 90kWh battery, which costs $3,000. But Musk has teased that the acceleration with the new Ludicrous Speed Upgrade is "faster than falling" - which is true, as you're receiving a huge 1.1G of force. Insanity.
If you've ever wanted to stay in a unique hotel, we would suggest the Weird Hotel in Japan, where nearly every single person working at the hotel, is a robot. The receptionist when you check-in, the porter that's an automated trolley taking luggage to your room, it is nearly all run by robots.
In order to check-in, you'll need to talk to a female robot, the one that you see above. But, they've also got a dinosaur robot that we have pictured below, a robot that will greet you when you first arrive at the Weird Hotel. The reason for the use of robots throughout the hotel is to save money, but we're wanting to know how the guests will feel about the lack of a human touch.
Japan's Weird Hotel also features facial recognition technology at the doors, so you'll only be allowed into your room, and not someone with your key. You can stay at the Weird Hotel for around $80 for a night, with the hotel opening its robotic doors on July 17.
Tesla has come along way from being an electric vehicle manufacturer, as it is now stepping out into the limelight of battery technology, and so much more. It wasn't too long ago that Tesla unveiled Powerwall, its Internet-connected home battery.
Now we have Tesla Motors' Chief Technology Officer, JB Straubel, taking to the stage of Intersolar's opening ceremony talk about energy density and other benefits of lithium-ion batteries for electronic cars. The Tesla CEO also said that the company is confident in renewable energy to make solar and wind available on-demand after sunset, or when the wind starts to slow down.
Straubel said that battery costs will tumble much quicker than expected, and that demand for energy storage equipment will expand rather quickly, with the same going for solar panels. This one-two punch will create a great path for cheaper electricity, especially when compared to what the world currently pays from fossil fuel-based power plants. Straubel added that "we are within grasping distance of that goal". He added: "I'm quite certain that it will happen in the next 10 years".
It looks like the United States has a dance partner, after Japanese company Suidobashi Heavy Industry accepts a giant robot challenge. Suidobashi founder Kogoro Kurata is more than willing to accept the challenge from a MegaBots challenge issued a few days ago.
However, it's a bit of showmanship by Kurata to mention the use of real weapons: "you know what we really need: melee combat. If we're gonna win this, I want to punch them to scrap and knock them down to do it." We're awaiting an official response from MegaBots.
Details regarding a future match must be ironed out, so it's something far from confirmed. Robotics research in Japan has helped the country in recent years, and has become a well-supported industry by the government. Meanwhile, the United States often attracts some of the best design and software experts in the world.
Toshiba is deploying its "scorpion" robot inside of the TEPCO Fukushima No. 1 plant's second reactor next month. The mission is focused on trying to analyze the pressure vessel's melted-down fuel supply, and a robot is needed because of such high levels of radiation inside the reactor. The Japanese electronics company worked with the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) to design the unique scorpion-inspired robot.
A "snake" robot entered a reactor in April, and couldn't find any debris from melted fuel - the robot stalled and researchers had to go back to the drawing board. The 21-inch Toshiba device will enter a fuel rod passageway, and has a physical design that provides increased dexterity and range of motion. It has the ability to raise its tail in a similar fashion as a scorpion, which has LED lights and an equipped camera.
Researchers will likely have to spent decades trying to safely decommission the No. 1 plant, after it was devastated by a major earthquake and following tsunami in 2011.
Volkswagen officials confirmed an incident at a company production plant in Germany, after a robot grabbed a worker and crushed the 22-year-old. One other contractor was reportedly witness to the incident, with Volkswagen currently conducting an investigation.
Early indications blame human error while they were setting up the robot. The robot being installed is designed to complete assembly tasks and is located in a relatively isolated area of the factory floor. These types of automated robots use sensors that identify human movement, and can be programmed to shut off if a worker gets too close.
These types of accidents do occur, and this certainly isn't the first robot-involved death, but there are concerns related to robots. "It wasn't the first time - but timing is everything," as "people are getting their knickers in a twist about 'the robots taking our jobs,'" said Paul Saffo, a technology futurist, in a statement published by the Financial Times.
Dr. Stuart Armstrong is a member of the Oxford University Future of Humanity Institute, and the Oxford academic believes humans are risking our own survival depending how artificial intelligence (AI) developments occur in the future.
"Humans steer the future not because we're the strongest or the fastest, but because we're the smartest," Dr. Armstrong recently said. "When machines become smarter than humans, we'll be handing them the steering wheel."
Even though the thought that robots are able to coordinate across the world without human oversight may sound irrational, the idea that humans are creating AI in itself would have seemed impossible not too long ago. If done properly, using artificial general intelligence (AGI) could greatly impact our lives for the good - but no one is really sure what will happen beyond that.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded a couple minutes after takeoff over the weekend, possibly due to excessive pressure built up in the second stage's liquid oxygen tank. The incident marked the first time in 19 Falcon 9 launches there was a problem, and SpaceX will continue its work to try to get things sorted out.
"The launch failure by itself is not much of an issue," said Bill Ostrove, analyst at Forecast International Aerospace, in a statement to Forbes. "Most people in the industry understand that launching rockets into space is really difficult and occasional failures are just the price of conducting launches. Overall, SpaceX has a pretty strong record of success (about 95%) with the Falcon 9."
Unfortunately, SpaceX does have a few things it needs to work out - the company has suffered two commercial cargo failures in less than one year, and the most recent launch failure means there will be a delay for an investigation.
Elon Musk gets a lot of attention for his work as CEO of Tesla, but it would seem that SpaceX, his space company, holds true potential for human greatness. The company isn't designed to cater rich tourists into space, and Musk would rather launch satellites and ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.
NASA and other space programs hope to launch future missions to Mars, including a possible manned mission to the Red Planet. It seems that thought isn't necessarily lost on SpaceX, which continues to develop space rockets:
"I know for a fact that the guys within SpaceX already have a design for the engines and the rocket that would get to Mars," said Ashlee Vance, biographer of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, in a statement to National Geographic. "Knowing the caliber of talent there, I trust that that part is feasible if not profitable. The colonizing part? That's still an enormous question."
Researchers have a strong curiosity about the red planet of Mars, and a manned mission one day seems like a possibility. However, the spacesuits used by astronauts aboard the International Space Station would need to be replaced with newer generation spacesuits, and some type of flexible spacesuit would be ideal.
The suits designed for space today must take into consideration an astronaut's ability to complete work in microgravity. The lower half of the suit is extremely stiff and makes moving around more naturally difficult - but increased mobility would be required for future space missions.
Astronauts must be able to twist, bend, and move around easily, especially if they needed to take soil samples or collect items from a foreign planet. A number of different prototype spacesuits are currently in development - and some are being tested - so there is hope that changes will be coming.