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It looks like The Pentagon wants to have total and utter air superiority (because, you know, the US doesn't already have some of the best military technology known to man) by adding high-powered lasers to its fleet of fighter jets.
The US Air Force has put in a request for information document with the Federal Business Opportunities website, which points to the Department of Defense being interested in getting its hands on weaponry that would be used on next-gen aircraft, years down the road in anti-access and area denial, or A2/AD, environments in order to safeguard particular interests.
The request states: "The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is requesting information describing concepts for airborne laser systems for future air dominance platforms. The emphasis of this effort is to identify potential laser systems that could be integrated into a platform that will provide air dominance in the 2030+ highly contested Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environment."
Tesla Motors' founder and CEO, Elon Musk, believes that his company will be able to produce autonomous, self-driving cars within 3 years. This is not speculation, this is something that he has said is currently in development.
Musk, when talking to the Financial Times, said: "We should be able to do 90 per cent of miles driven within three years. My opinion is it's a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous cars. It's incredibly hard to get the last few per cent." If Tesla Motors can do this, they will beat Volvo and Google to the self-driving car punch, with the Mountain View-based search giant finding it hard to secure a partner for its driverless technology.
Tesla will be offering a vehicle that would allow drivers to flick an "auto-pilot" switch, which would let the car drive itself. I think that this is a great idea, and it would stop a lot of the unnecessary deaths on roads around the world. I'm sure we would see breathalyzers installed, so you could drive to the pub, or to a friends place, enjoy your drinks, and be driven home in complete safety. The taxi industry on the other hand? Well, Johnny Cab's seemed to be popular in Total Recall...
Even with the issues that some of its Model S electric vehicles are going through, Tesla Motors are pushing through with some new ideas. CEO Elon Musk has said that the company is planning to make a pickup truck.
Tesla Motors' pickup truck would be similar to that of Ford's F-Series pickup truck, with the F-150 pickup truck being the best-selling vehicle of any kind in the US, so you can see Tesla's motivation. The news comes from Musk's discussion during Business Insider's IGNITION event in New York yesterday. He talked about the pickup truck in a post-interview Q&A, after he was asked if his company would make a fleet truck for companies like FedEx and UPS.
He replied, saying that Tesla is currently in the planning stages of the truck, not in the commercial stages, because the market opportunity for commercial trucks is smaller. Musk said that the Tesla pickup truck would be designed with the F-150 as inspiration, because it is just so popular.
We reported during the week that a third Model S electric car had burst into flames, with the Tennessee owner only sustaining relatively minor damage to the Model S, but it ended with his car bursting into flames.
Juris Shibayama has posted a blog talking about this experience, where he reported that he drove over a "trailer hitch" and could not avoid it, where it went below his car. He felt a definitive "thud" as the hitch smacked the bottom of his car, where he said it "felt as though it even lifted the car up in the air." After a few in-car warnings that his "car needs service. Car may not restart," he pulled over - all the while he was able to maintain full control of his Model S electric car.
He was not injured in the event, and even said that "Had I not been in a Tesla, that object could have punched through the floor and caused me serious harm. From the time of impact of the object until the time the car caught fire was about five minutes. During this time, the car warned me that it was damaged and instructed me to pull over. I never felt as though I was in any imminent danger. While driving after I hit the object until I pulled over, the car performed perfectly, and it was a totally controlled situation. There was never a point at which I was anywhere even close to any flames."
The best bit? Shibayama says he'd even buy another Model S, where he finished with: "This experience does not in any way make me think that the Tesla Model S is an unsafe car. I would buy another one in a heartbeat." I think I would be the same - the car was not the issue, and as he said, if he weren't in the Model S, it could've been a far worse accident, potentially even fatal.
3D printing is all the rage these days, it seems to be capable of pretty much everything, but what about 3D painting? Yeah, GE is experimenting with the technology that it is calling "cold spray" which is capable of slowly building up layers of metal by spraying metal powder at very high velocities.
The process is used to repair worn metal components, which would add years or even decades to their lifespan. 3D printing has limits of the size of the objects it can create, but 3D painting only has one limitation: the spread of its spray. This means that the technology, or spray, could be used to create or repair very large structures, or cars. The process is being looked at as one possible way to repair parts used in oil and gas drilling, which would be perfect as there's no heat involved.
No heat involved means that the chance of a fire or explosion are reduced much closer to 0%.
Elon Musk publicly called the Tesla Model S "the safest car in America," but those claims may not be as true as everyone originally hoped. The Tennessee Highway Patrol has recently reported that a Tesla Model S was involved in a single vehicle fire yesterday in which the car was damaged after running over a piece of debris in the road.
The Model S hit what is rumored to be a "trailer hitch" that was laying in the road way, which could have damaged the cars lithium battery packs. While unlikely this scenario is not that far fetched as the Model S' battery pack is contained in the floor of the vehicle and is protected from below by a thin armor plate. Earlier this fall, another Model S burst into flames after its battery pack was punctured as well.
Tesla said that it has teams on the way to Tennessee to investigate the fire, and hopes to pinpoint the cause. This marks the third Model S to catch fire this year and as a result of the fires, Tesla's stock is down more than 27-percent from its high earlier this year of $193.37. News of the fire cause the stock to fall by more than 7-percent today alone.
Yesterday I reported that Kia and Hyundai were going to be releasing 2014 model vehicles that run a version of Android as their in-car computer systems, and that Tesla was in talks with Google to do the same. As it turns out, Tesla is working with Google to bring its software to its vehicles, but Tesla wants Chrome instead of Android.
At a recent conference in Germany, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk said that he wants the Model S to be open to 3rd party apps by the end of 2014. Musk went on to say that the Model S will run a version of Google's Chrome OS instead of Android. While it is still unclear as to why the electric car maker chose Chrome over Android, this is almost certainly part of Google's recent push to bring Chrome more into the mainstream spotlight.
Self-driving cars are coming no matter what, but just what can they offer to the world? Well, how does a drop of vehicle-related injuries by 90% sound? Or helping the US economy save $450 billion annually? That should be something that turns heads, yes?
The numbers come from independent research by the Eno Center for Transportation, who also says that 40% of fatal crashes in the US involved either alcohol, drugs, fatigue or distraction. These factors would all but disappear if you took the driver out of the equation, and had a self-driving car at your disposal.
In order to get to those numbers we explained above - 90% reduction in accidents, and saving the US economy nearly half a trillion dollars per year - we need the adoption of self-driving cars to constantly expand. The take up is going to happen, as we have Google, Mercedes, Nissan and Toyota all building their own self-driving vehicles. I for one, cannot wait for our self-driving overlords.
While Microsoft may have the market on Ford vehicles, it appears that both Kia and Hyundai are preparing Android as the in-car system for their 2014 models. At the moment, Kia has a version up and running called UVO 2.0 which features a custom app store. UVO 2.0 is said to be compatible with Android and iOS smartphones for multimedia streaming.
Hyundai is said to be featuring UVO 2.0 in its 2014 models as well. With two major manufacturers adopting the open source Android platform as their in-car computer system, Microsoft should play very close attention to how it proceeds from here, or it may face another debacle like it did with Windows Phone. Tesla is also considering adopting a version of Android for its in-car control system as well, which is not that big of a surprise, given Elon Musk's relationship with Google.
We can all talk about lithium ion-powered cars, thanks to Tesla Motors and other companies, but what about air-powered cars? Well, Indian car maker Tata has constructed a prototype vehicle that is powered by air, the Airpod.
Tata completed testing on two vehicles, both of which are powered by compressed air. The Airpor has a top speed of around 50mph (or 80km/h) and can travel a distance of around 125 miles (or 200km) before it needs to be 'recharged' or re-gassed. For what seems like forever, the idea of an air-powered car has been futile, but it looks like Tata could be ahead of the curve, for now.
The Airpod by Tata has pretty much zero emissions, and costs just a dollar or so per 100 miles to run - which is unbelievably efficient. The Airpod's tank holds around 175 liters of compressed air, that can be refilled at gas stations, or even at home. All you have to do is be at a compatible spot, activate the on-board electric motor and then it will suck in air from the outside.
The best thing about the Airpod is that it would cost under $10,000 to buy, and mixed with the super cheap running costs, this could really change the world. A total of three people can sit in the Airpod, but that might be a bit cramped by the look of things.