Facebook's first test flight for Aquila - the solar-powered plane that beams internet to remote regions -- was a success. Beginning on June 28 in Arizona, it went even better than expected: total flight time was about 288 minutes, much longer than the planned 96 minutes.
The plane -- developed by subsidiary company Ascenta in Bridgwater, Somerset - has the wingspan of a typical airline plane, but weighs less than a car, and consumes just 5,000 watts of energy.
"We're encouraged by this first successful flight, but we have a lot of work ahead of us," says Facebook head of engineering and infrastruture Jay Parikh. "In our next tests, we will fly Aquila faster, higher and longer, eventually taking it above 60,000 feet."
Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the company's master plan in 2006, which was essentially to sell a low volume, expensive car, then a medium volume less expensive car, then a high volume affordable car, with each funding the one after it. 10 years later and with those lofty goals nearly accomplished, the time has come to pull the curtain on master plan part two, a key tenet of which includes your car making you money.
Self-driving safety in Tesla vehicles is largely determined by "fleet learning", the cumulative data derived from its self-driving vehicles and their experiences on the road. Turns out they're willing to pay you for that data: in the future, tapping a button on the Tesla app will add it to the "shared fleet", and you can set it to self-drive and provide data while you're at work or on vacation. The income is no paltry sum, either: Musk says it could potentially exceed the monthly loan or lease cost of the vehicle.
Further on the self-driving front, the vision is that once it's fully approved by regulators, you'll be able to 'summon' your Tesla from nearly anywhere (presumably with the app).
Tesla has found massive success in its Model X 75D electric vehicle, but the $83,000 starting price turns most people away. Well, the company has just unveiled its new Model X 60D, with a starting price of $74,000.
The new Model X 60D has a 60kWh battery that provides an EPA-estimated 200-mile range, which is around 37 miles less than the more expensive model. It has the same performance as the 75D, with a top speed of 130mph and acceleration of 0-60 in 6 seconds.
It looks like Tesla could be pushing out the new Model X 60D with gimped software, introducing the 60D model as a slightly less powerful 75D, all done with software. You can order the new Model X 60D right here, with delivery starting in September.
Tesla Motors and SpaceX boss Elon Musk has teased on Twitter over the weekend that he's working on 'Top Secret Tesla Masterplan, Part 2' which he's hoping "to publish later this week".
What the hell is Tesla's master plan? Well, BGR reports that on August 2, 2006 Musk published the first part of Tesla's Masterplan. The first part of Tesla's Masterplan was titled "The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)" and outlined Musk's vision for electric vehicles, where he detailed the specific steps his company was planning in order to bring an electric car that was affordable, to the masses. If you look at Musk's detailed plan, he has pretty much completed his goals bit by bit:
So, in short, the master plan is:
- Build sports car
- Use that money to build an affordable car
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car
- While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options
- Don't tell anyone.
Back in February, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ruled hoverboards unsafe due to fire safety concerns, with mass recalls expected to follow. That day has now come: the same organization has issued recalls that affect over half a million of the boards/self-balancing scooters, all of which are made in China. Swagway is among the brands included.
"We are urging consumers to act quickly. We've concluded pretty definitively that these are not safe products the way they were designed," said CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye. "This is a huge recall. It's the recall we've all been waiting for to address this product that as soon as it came on the market presented a pretty significant fire hazard, and continues to present a fall hazard."
Intel has just announced it is partnering with BMW and Mobileeye, a machine-vision technology company, on developing autonomous driving technology. The autonomous technology will be detailed to the press on Friday.
Mobileeye is a company that supplies high-end cameras, software and other required components that are required in driver assistance systems, with clients like BMW and Tesla. Mobileeye has also talked about its partnerships with Volkswagen, Nissan and General Motors on developing new mapping technology that's capable of taking in crowd-sourced real-time data from automakers' fleet of vehicles.
Intel has wanted an edge in the autonomous car market, so a deal the magnitude of this with BMW and Mobileeye is a big splash, but we'll only see the fruits of this labor in 2020 or beyond.
Tesla Motors is eyeing off China as its new production hub, with the company signing a non-binding agreement with Jinqiao Group, which is a Chinese government-owned company.
Jinqiao Group will be constructing the production plant for Tesla, where it will be built-in Shanghai. Tesla has reportedly signed a $9 billion on the deal after company CEO Elon Musk teasing six months ago that Tesla would choose China as a production facility site by the middle of 2016.
According to Bloomberg's report, both companies will invest $4.5 billion into the production plant, making it a much larger investment than Walt Disney Co.'s Shanghai-based theme park, which cost them $5.5 billion. How will Tesla benefit with a production plant in China? The electric car maker is paying 25% import tax it pays for each and every electric vehicle is ships to the country.
Uber just continues to expand into new markets, with the company pushing its on-demand delivery service out of beta and into the real-world. UberRush is a new on-demand courier program that is open for any company that wants it, but it's limited to just three cities right now: San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.
With Uber opening up the UberRush API to developers, it's the first step the company has taken towards expanding its courier service. Companies can easily add the UberRush service to their apps, with just a few lines of code. There have been a few companies that have been using UberRush when it was in beta, with Nordstorm and 1800flowers both taking good use of it, but Uber has said that there are more partnerships on the way. These new partnerships include Dryv, a Chicago-based dry cleaning service, and Up Sonder, a company that rents on-demand drones to aerial photographers.
If UberRush is a success in SF, Chicago and NY, we can expect the company to expand the on-demand delivery service into other towns, cities, and countries. I can't wait for that, as it's going to make me lazier than ever... thanks, Uber.
Autonomous cars are really becoming a thing, but they're not mainstream, yet. According to analyst organization IHS Automotive, there will be more driverless cars on the market than they had estimated. IHS Automotive increase its expectation of driverless and self-driving cars across the world, from 11.8 million on its last estimate in January 2014, to a huge 21 million by 2035 - an increase of nearly 100%.
IHS says that because of the increased R&D into autonomous technology, it has doubled its previous estimates, now stating that around 21 million driverless cars will be sold worldwide by 2035. The analyst firm says that the US will lead the world with autonomous car deployment, with thousands of cars on the roads by 2020. IHS expects the number to expand to 4.5 million self-driving cars in the US by 2035.
Most would think Japan would lead with autonomous cars, and don't worry - they're not far behind. IHS expects that Japan will "ramp up industry coordination and investment ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020". China is actually expected to be the volume leader for autonomous technology, with IHS estimating that over 5.7 million cars in China will have some form of autonomous technology built into their cars by 2035.
Back in March, GM added Android Auto to select new vehicle models, and now Hyundai owners are receiving it too, in addition to Apple's CarPlay.
Select 2015, 2016, and 2017 models can benefit from the technology (some version of the Sonata, Santa Fe, Genesis, Elantra GT, and Tucson, with Sonata Hybrid, Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, Veloster, and Azera on the way). It's free of charge and you don't have to go the dealer, either. Visit MyHyundai.com to do it yourself; if you prefer to let someone else handle it, the dealer option will be available for a fee as of June.
Be warned: the download takes as long as 3 hour and 40 minutes.