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If there's one thing that Tesla Motors needs to break out into the mainstream, it's a cheaper electric car. Well, according to the Los Angeles Times, this is what we should be expecting to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2015.
The car would be named the Model E, and would be priced at around the $40,000 price range, making it more accessible to more people. We should also expect the dual-motor, all-wheel drive Model X crossover, which should be priced somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000, which should launch sometime in the second half of 2014.
McLaren's Chief Designer, Frank Stephenson, has teased that a new system will be placed in McLaren's new vehicles, which will replace the ageing windshield wipers with some next-gen wipers.
The new wipers use ultrasound to send 30kHz waves across the vehicle's windshield, which would keep it clear from any debris, even those tiny insect remains that build up on your windshield, even after you've used the wipers over and over. The way it works is by creating a force field that stops rain, snow and insects from even touching the windshield itself.
If McLaren can get this technology working as it has said, I'm sure we'll see most other car makers using McLaren's patent and rolling the technology across vehicles all around the world starting ASAP.
If a drone is flying high in the sky above you, they can be hard to spot, but when you do see it, it looks like a drone. This might not be the case in another 5-10 years, with the US Army finding a solution to this: making the drones, look like birds.
Enter Maveric, which features a bird-like profile, with flexible wings. The drone is made from composite metal, and can fly at heights of 25,000 feet, scooting along at 20-65 mph. Derek Lyons, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Prioria Robotics, said: "There was a Special Operations requirement for a plane that had a natural, biological look - it wasn't supposed to look DoD-ish."
Prioria Robotics won a $4.5 million contract from the US Army's Rapid Equipping Force to make 36 of the bird-like drones for an urgent, undisclosed need. Earlier this month, training to use the Maveric began at the Joint Special Operations Task Force, with full-equipped delivery expected this month. One of the major benefits of Maveric is that it weighs just 2.5 pounds, and is capable of being contained in a 6-inch tube.
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.