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  1. Tesla and Mobileye autopilots duped by “phantoms” Researchers at RSA Conference 2021 demonstrated how Tesla and Mobileye autopilots can be tricked by “phantom” images. It’s a common movie plot device, the main character thinking they saw someone step onto the road, so they swerve and end up in a ditch. Now imagine it’s real — sort of — and instead of a trick of the light or the mind, that image comes from a cybercriminal projecting, for a split second, something the car autopilot is programmed to respond to. Researchers from Georgia Tech and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev demonstrated that sort of “phantom attack” threat at RSA Conference 2021. The idea of showing dangerous images to AI systems is not new. Techniques usually involve using modified images to force the AI to draw an unexpected conclusion. All machine-learning algorithms have this Achilles heel; knowing which attributes are key to image recognition — that is, knowing a bit about the algorithm — makes it possible to modify images so as to hinder the machine’s decision-making process or even force it to make a mistake. The novelty of the approach demonstrated at RSA Conference 2021 is that the autopilot was shown unmodified images — an attacker need not know how the algorithm works or what attributes it uses. The images were briefly projected onto the road and nearby stationary objects, with the following consequences: In a variation on the theme, the images appeared for a fraction of a second in a commercial on a billboard by the side of the road, with essentially the same outcome: Thus, the authors of the study concluded, cybercriminals can cause havoc from a safe distance, with no danger of leaving evidence at the scene of the crime. All they need to know is how long they have to project the image to fool the AI (self-driving cars have a trigger threshold to reduce their likelihood of producing false positives from, for example, dirt or debris on the camera lens or lidar). Now, a car’s braking distance is measured in dozens of feet, so adding a few feet to allow for better situation assessment wasn’t a big deal for AI developers. Length of time required to show a phantom image to Tesla and Mobileye recognition systems. Source However, the figure of a couple of meters applies to the Mobileye artificial vision system and a speed of 60 km/h (about 37 mph). In that case, response time is about 125 milliseconds. Tesla’s autopilot response threshold, as experimentally determined by the researchers, is almost three times as long, at 400 milliseconds. At the same speed, that would add almost 7 meters (about 22 feet). Either way, it’s still a fraction of a second. Consequently, the researchers believe such an attack could come out of the blue — before you know it, you’re in a ditch and the image-projecting drone is gone. One quirk in the system inspires hope that autopilots will ultimately be able to repel this type of attack: Images projected onto surfaces that are unsuitable for displaying pictures are very different from reality. Perspective distortion, uneven edges, unnatural colors, extreme contrast, and other oddities make phantom images very easy for the human eye to distinguish from real objects. As such, autopilot vulnerability to phantom attacks is a consequence of the perception gap between AI and the human brain. To overcome the gap, the authors of the study propose fitting car autopilot systems with additional checks for consistency in features such as perspective, edge smoothness, color, contrast, and brightness, and ensuring results are consistent before making any decision. Like a human jury, neural networks will deliberate on the parameters that help distinguish real camera or lidar signals from a fleeting phantom. Doing so would, of course, add to systems’ computational load and effectively lead to the parallel operation of several neural networks at once, all necessarily trained (a long and energy-intensive process). And cars, already small clusters of computers on wheels, will have to turn into small clusters of supercomputers on wheels. As AI accelerators become widespread, cars may be able to carry several neural networks, working in parallel and not draining power, on board. But that’s a story for another day. Source: Tesla and Mobileye autopilots duped by “phantoms”
  2. Man Riding in Driverless Tesla Is Arrested in California Param Sharma, 25, was arrested on charges of reckless driving. “I’m about to go in the back seat right now,” he said after being released from jail. A screenshot from KTVU showing a person in the backseat of a Tesla moving with no driver. Credit...KTVU A California man seen traveling in the back seat of a driverless Tesla was arrested in the Bay Area, the authorities said on Tuesday, following a call on social media to report similar behavior to the police. The man, Param Sharma, 25, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and disobeying a peace officer, the California Highway Patrol said in a statement on Tuesday. The Highway Patrol said that police officers responded at about 6:35 p.m. on Monday after 911 dispatchers received calls about a Tesla Model 3 with no one in the driver’s seat traveling east on Interstate 80 across the Bay Bridge. A highway patrol officer at the bridge’s toll plaza spotted the Tesla “with its sole occupant in the back seat,” according to the Highway Patrol. While trying to pull the car over, the officer saw the passenger move into the driver’s seat. The occupant then stopped the Tesla on the shoulder of Interstate 80 and Mr. Sharma was arrested, the police said. Mr. Sharma was booked into Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, and the Tesla was towed from the scene as evidence. Mr. Sharma did not respond to a request for comment on his case on Wednesday. It is illegal in California for an autonomous vehicle to operate without a person behind the wheel, said Officer John Fransen, a spokesman for the highway patrol. “We want people to recognize the fact the driving is an immense responsibility,” he said. “It’s not having distractions. It’s not playing around with the technology.” After his release from jail, Mr. Sharma insisted to the news station KTVU that his use of the car was not dangerous, and said that he would not change his behavior. “I’m about to go in the back seat right now. You feel me? Like, I’m waiting for my car to charge,” Mr. Sharma told the station. A man who appears to be Mr. Sharma on Instagram posted a video of himself sitting in the back seat of a moving Tesla with his foot on the steering wheel. In the video, posted Tuesday, a device is visible showing the headline: “Man seen riding in the back seat of Tesla with no driver.” Mr. Sharma also praised the chief executive of Tesla, Elon Musk, telling KTVU that he “really knows what he’s doing and I think people are just tripping and they’re scared.” Before the arrest, Bay Area residents had also captured video of someone who resembled Mr. Sharma using a driverless car in “the same reckless manner,” the Highway Patrol said. Mr. Sharma had been cited on April 27 for similar behavior by the agency’s Oakland area division. On Saturday, the Highway Patrol posted on social media that it “has been made aware of an incident involving a man riding in the back seat of a Tesla traveling on Bay Area roadways, with no other person being seated in the driver’s seat.” The post featured two photos of the driverless car with a smiling man visible in the back. The Highway Patrol asked people to immediately call 911 if they saw “an unusual incident such as this one.” The department was looking into whether the man in those images was Mr. Sharma, said Officer Fransen. Tesla and Mr. Musk have argued that the company’s Autopilot system makes its cars safer than other vehicles, even as the technology and the ways drivers use it come under greater scrutiny. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. In April, two men were killed north of Houston after a Tesla they were in crashed and caught fire with neither of them behind the wheel, the authorities said. Mark Herman, a constable in Harris County Precinct 4, said last month that physical evidence from the scene and interviews with witnesses led officials to believe “no one was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash.” In April, Consumer Reports said that its engineers had “easily tricked” a Tesla Model Y “so that it could drive on Autopilot, the automaker’s driver assistance feature, without anyone in the driver’s seat.” The publication said that during trips on its half-mile closed test track, the vehicle “steered along painted lane lines, but the system did not send out a warning or indicate in any way that the driver’s seat was empty.” In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it was investigating nearly two dozen crashes involving Teslas that either were, or may have been, using the automatic steering and braking technology. Source: Man Riding in Driverless Tesla Is Arrested in California
  3. Tesla Could Face Class-Action Lawsuit For Drastic Solar Roof Price Increases Image: Tesla Over the past month, multiple outlets have reported that Tesla has been jacking up Solar Roof installation prices after agreeing to contracts with homeowners. Customers informed of the changes are free to decline the new rate, but one Pennsylvania couple has filed a lawsuit against the company for breaching its contract with an eye toward formalizing it as a class action. Philip Dahlin and Mary Arndtsen of New Hope, Pennsylvania agreed to have Tesla install its Solar Roof tiles on their home in September 2020, Insider reported on May 9. Their story follows the same pattern as many others. The price in the contract, signed last fall, was $46,084.80. Then, on March 24, Tesla notified the couple of an upcoming pricing change, citing “adjustments for individual roof complexity,” before revealing the revised price on April 23: $78,352.66. Three days after Dahlin and Arndtsen learned of the $32,000 hike in the price for their roof, Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed the pricing revisions in the company’s first-quarter earnings call amidst a flurry of reports of drastic last-minute adjustments: “We did find that we basically made some significant mistakes in assessing the difficulty of certain roofs, but the complexity of roofs varies dramatically. Some roofs are literally two or three times easier than other roofs. So you just can’t have a one-size-fits-all situation. If a roof has letter protuberances or if the core structure of the roof is rotted out or is not strong enough to hold the solar roof, then the cost can be double, sometimes three times what our initial quotes were.” According to the couple’s suit, there are more than 100 potential class members, covering more than $5 million in contracts Tesla had with homeowners. However, Insider reports that an arbitration clause included in Solar Roof installation contracts may impede the case’s class-action eligibility: A copy of a Tesla Solar Roof contact filed alongside the complaint included an arbitration agreement between the parties. That clause could be a roadblock for the case to gain class-action status, said Gregory Klass, associate dean and professor at Georgetown University Law Center. “Tesla’s arbitration clause almost certainly forestalls this class action under current Supreme Court precedent,” he said on Friday, citing a 2011 case, AT&T v. Concepcion. In the legal complaint, [Dahlin and Arndtsen’s lawyer Peter] Muhic wrote that the arbitration clause would be struck down as invalid under Pennsylvania law, in part because of the way it had been formatted on the page. He wrote that the clause also “does not contain a separate line for each party to indicate assent.” What makes this all very strange is that in October 2019, Tesla introduced its V3 iteration of its Solar Roof tiles that were supposed to drop the price by virtue of being cheaper to produce and faster to install. Early quotes of V3 systems seemed to come in anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands less than what comparable V2-based systems would have cost. Evidently, those quotes were gravely wrong, at least in part because they didn’t account for differing complexities of certain roof designs. Tesla has historically cautioned prospective customers that it may need to raise the agreed-upon installation price after conducting an on-site assessment of a home, though the amount of that adjustment varies. One customer in The Verge’s story who’d already signed a contract for a $69,000 roof budgeted between another $5,000 and $10,000 to cover a potential increase; he was later informed the new price would be $104,000. Tesla’s online configurator recently added a field for “roof complexity” within the last several weeks, allowing customers to perhaps see a more accurate quote depending on whether they have a “simple,” “moderate” or “complex” roof. On April 21, Musk announced on Twitter that Tesla would be including its Powerwall home backup battery with all future Solar Roof installations — perhaps to make the price increases a bit more tenable to some buyers. Powerwall’s price also varies; including installation it typically falls between $9,000 and $15,000. Tesla was issued a summons on May 3 by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. As of Saturday, the company hadn’t yet responded. Source: Tesla Could Face Class-Action Lawsuit For Drastic Solar Roof Price Increases
  4. Tesla privately admits Elon Musk has been exaggerating about ‘full self-driving’ ‘Elon’s tweet does not match engineering reality’ Photo by Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been overstating the capabilities of the company’s advanced driver assist system, the company’s director of Autopilot software told the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The comments came from a memo released by legal transparency group PlainSite, which obtained the documents from a public records request. It was the latest revelation about the widening gap between what Musk says publicly about Autopilot and what Autopilot can actually do. And it coincides with Tesla coming under increased scrutiny after a Tesla vehicle without anyone in the driver’s seat crashed in Texas, killing two men. “Elon’s tweet does not match engineering reality per CJ. Tesla is at Level 2 currently,” the California DMV said in the memo about its March 9th conference call with Tesla representatives, including the director of Autopilot software CJ Moore. Level 2 technology refers to a semi-automated driving system, which requires supervision by a human driver. In an earnings call in January, Musk told investors that he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year.” (It would appear the DMV was referring to these January comments, which Moore misunderstood as a tweet from Musk.) Last October, Tesla introduced a new product called “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) beta to vehicle owners in its Early Access Program. The update enabled drivers to access Autopilot’s partially automated driver assist system on city streets and local roads. The early access program is used as a testing platform to help iron out software bugs. In the DMV memo, Tesla said that as of March 9th there were 824 vehicles in the pilot program, including 753 employees and 71 non-employees. Musk has said the company was handling the software update “very cautiously.” Drivers still are expected to keep their hands on the steering wheel and should be prepared to assume control of their Tesla at any time. But he has also offered lofty predictions about Tesla’s ability to achieve full autonomy that conflict with what his own engineers are saying to regulators. Tesla is unlikely to achieve Level 5 (L5) autonomy, in which its cars can drive themselves anywhere, under any conditions, without any human supervision, by the end of 2021, Tesla representatives told the DMV. The ratio of driver interaction would need to be in the magnitude of 1 or 2 million miles per driver interaction to move into higher levels of automation. Tesla indicated that Elon is extrapolating on the rates of improvement when speaking about L5 capabilities. Tesla couldn’t say if the rate of improvement would make it to L5 by end of calendar year. This isn’t the first time that Tesla’s private communications with the DMV have contradicted Musk’s public declarations about his company’s autonomous capabilities. In March, PlainSite published communications from last December between Tesla’s associate general counsel Eric Williams and California DMV’s chief of the autonomous vehicles branch, Miguel Acosta. In it, Williams notes that “neither Autopilot nor FSD Capability is an autonomous system, and currently no comprising feature, whether singularly or collectively, is autonomous or makes our vehicles autonomous.” In other words, Tesla’s FSD beta is self-driving in name only. (Al Prescott, acting general counsel at Tesla, was also involved in the December meeting with the DMV. Prescott has since left Tesla for LIDAR maker Luminar.) Tesla and Musk have long been criticized for overstating the capabilities of the company’s Autopilot system, which in its most basic form can center a Tesla vehicle in a lane and around curves and adjust the car’s speed based on the vehicle ahead. The use of brand names like Autopilot and FSD has also helped contribute to an environment in which Tesla customers are misled into believing their vehicles can actually drive themselves. There have been a number of fatal crashes involving Tesla vehicles with Autopilot enabled. The latest took place in Spring, Texas, in which two men were killed after their Tesla smashed into a tree. Local law enforcement said there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash, leading to speculation that the men were misusing Autopilot. Later, Tesla claimed that Autopilot was not in use at the time of the crash and someone may have been in the driver’s seat, too. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating the crash, in addition to dozens of other incidents involving Tesla Autopilot. Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment, likely because the company has dissolved its press office and typically doesn’t respond to media requests anymore. Source: Tesla privately admits Elon Musk has been exaggerating about ‘full self-driving’
  5. Tesla Car Hacked Remotely From Drone via Zero-Click Exploit Two researchers have shown how a Tesla — and possibly other cars — can be hacked remotely without any user interaction. They carried out the attack from a drone. This was the result of research conducted last year by Ralf-Philipp Weinmann of Kunnamon and Benedikt Schmotzle of Comsecuris. The analysis was initially carried out for the Pwn2Own 2020 hacking competition — the contest offered a car and other significant prizes for hacking a Tesla — but the findings were later reported to Tesla through its bug bounty program after Pwn2Own organizers decided to temporarily eliminate the automotive category due to the coronavirus pandemic. The attack, dubbed TBONE, involves exploitation of two vulnerabilities affecting ConnMan, an internet connection manager for embedded devices. An attacker can exploit these flaws to take full control of the infotainment system of a Tesla without any user interaction. A hacker who exploits the vulnerabilities can perform any task that a regular user could from the infotainment system. That includes opening doors, changing seat positions, playing music, controlling the air conditioning, and modifying steering and acceleration modes. However, the researchers explained, “This attack does not yield drive control of the car though.” They showed how an attacker could use a drone to launch an attack via Wi-Fi to hack a parked car and open its doors from a distance of up to 100 meters (roughly 300 feet). They claimed the exploit worked against Tesla S, 3, X and Y models. “Adding a privilege escalation exploit such as CVE-2021-3347 to TBONE would allow us to load new Wi-Fi firmware in the Tesla car, turning it into an access point which could be used to exploit other Tesla cars that come into the victim car’s proximity. We did not want to weaponize this exploit into a worm, however,” Weinmann said. Tesla patched the vulnerabilities with an update pushed out in October 2020, and it has reportedly stopped using ConnMan. Intel was also informed since the company was the original developer of ConnMan, but the researchers said the chipmaker believed it was not its responsibility. The researchers learned that the ConnMan component is widely used in the automotive industry, which could mean that similar attacks can be launched against other vehicles as well. Weinmann and Schmotzle turned to Germany’s national CERT for help in informing potentially impacted vendors, but it’s currently unclear if other manufacturers have taken action in response to the researchers’ findings. The researchers described their findings at the CanSecWest conference earlier this year. That presentation also includes a video of them hacking a Tesla using a drone. Over the past years, cybersecurity researchers from several companies have demonstrated that a Tesla can be hacked, in many cases remotely. Source: Tesla Car Hacked Remotely From Drone via Zero-Click Exploit
  6. U.S. safety agency reviewing 23 Tesla crashes, three from recent weeks WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. auto safety agency disclosed on Thursday it has opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles, 23 of which remain active, and at least three of the crashes occurred in recent weeks. FILE PHOTO: The logo of car manufacturer Tesla is seen at a branch office in Bern, Switzerland, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed Thursday that it will send a team to investigate a recent Tesla crash in the Houston area. Four of the 27 NHTSA investigations have been completed and the results published. Earlier this week, NHTSA said it was sending its special crash investigation team to probe two crashes in Michigan, including a crash early Wednesday involving a Tesla suspected of being in Autopilot mode when it struck a parked Michigan State Police patrol car. Tesla did not immediately comment. NHTSA said in July that its “(Special Crash Investigations team) has looked into 19 crashes involving Tesla vehicles where it was believed some form of advanced driver assistance system was engaged at the time of the incident.” Michigan State Police said a parked patrol car was struck by a Tesla apparently in Autopilot mode while investigating a traffic crash near Lansing on Interstate-96. No one was injured and the 22-year-old Tesla driver was issued traffic citations. On Monday, NHTSA said it was sending another team to investigate a “violent” March 11 crash in Detroit in which a Tesla became wedged underneath a tractor-trailer and left a passenger in critical condition. Detroit police said Tuesday they do not believe that Autopilot was in use. The Autopilot feature was operating in at least three Tesla vehicles involved in fatal U.S. crashes since 2016. Tesla advises drivers they must keep their hands on the steering wheel and pay attention while using Autopilot. However, some Tesla drivers say they are able to avoid putting their hands on the wheel for extended periods when using Autopilot. NHTSA’s Special Crash Investigation team typically looks at more than 100 crashes a year with a focus on emerging technologies. Issues in recent years include performance of alternative fueled vehicles, child restraint systems, adaptive controls, safety belts, vehicle-pedestrian interactions, and potential safety defects. Separately, the agency said it had been briefed on Tesla’s “full self-driving” (FSD) software. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk wrote on Twitter last week that the beta FSD software had been expanded to about 2,000 owners while other drivers had access to the program revoked. The agency said it “will monitor the new technology closely and will not hesitate to take action to protect the public against risks to safety.” NHTSA said the system does not make the Tesla “capable of driving itself. The most advanced vehicle technologies available for purchase today provide driver assistance and require a fully attentive human driver at all times performing the driving task and monitoring the surrounding environment.” Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Richard Pullin Source: U.S. safety agency reviewing 23 Tesla crashes, three from recent weeks
  7. Two people killed in fiery Tesla crash with no one driving Authorities said it took four hours to extinguish the fire KPRC2 Houston Authorities in Texas say two people were killed when a Tesla with no one in the driver’s seat crashed into a tree and burst into flames, Houston television station KPRC 2 reported. The cause of the crash, which happened at about 9PM local time in Spring, Texas (near Houston), is under investigation. According to KHOU in Houston, first responders had to use 30,000 gallons of water over four hours to put out the fire, as the Tesla’s battery kept reigniting. Authorities tried to contact Tesla for advice on putting out the fire; it’s not clear whether they received any response. Two men dead after fiery crash in Tesla Model S. “[Investigators] are 100-percent certain that no one was in the driver seat driving that vehicle at the time of impact,” Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said. “They are positive.” #KHOU11 https://t.co/q57qfIXT4f pic.twitter.com/eQMwpSMLt2 — Matt Dougherty (@MattKHOU) April 18, 2021 Preliminary reports suggest the car was traveling at a high rate of speed and failed to make a turn, then drove off the road into a tree. One of the men killed was in the front passenger seat of the car, the other was in the back seat, according to KHOU. Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told KPRC that “no one was driving” the fully-electric 2019 Tesla at the time of the crash. It’s not yet clear whether the car had its Autopilot driver assist system activated. Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment on Sunday. The company dissolved its press office and doesn’t usually respond to media inquiries, however. There have been at least 23 Autopilot related crashes under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but this appears to be the first fatal crash where there was no driver in the driver’s seat. Tesla has previously cautioned its customers that Autopilot is not an autonomous driving system and still requires constant attention to the road while in use. The company’s cars only check that attention with a sensor that measures torque in the steering wheel, though, leaving room for misuse — something the National Transportation Safety Board admonished Tesla for last year. Tesla has previously provided guidance for first responders who encounter fires involving its EV batteries. Reignition of the battery can be a problem, because unlike gas-powered vehicles, even if the fire is extinguished, an EV battery still has stored energy. Tesla’s guidance suggests it’s better to let the fire burn out than continuing to try to put it out. In the past, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has rejected calls from Tesla engineers to add better safety monitoring when a vehicle is in Autopilot, such as eye-tracking cameras or additional sensors on the steering wheel, saying the tech is “ineffective.” He said in 2018 that Tesla would regularly release safety data about its Autopilot feature, but added that “negative” press coverage about it might persuade customers not to use it. “When there is a serious accident it is almost always, in fact maybe always, the case that it is an experienced user, and the issue is more one of complacency,” Musk said on a May 2018 call with investors. “They just get too used to it. That tends to be more of an issue. It’s not a lack of understanding of what Autopilot can do. It’s [drivers] thinking they know more about Autopilot than they do.” Source: Two people killed in fiery Tesla crash with no one driving
  8. Tesla delivered more cars than it made in the first quarter of 2021 Tesla’s production capacity continues to grow Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Tesla delivered nearly 185,000 cars in the first quarter of 2021, more than it produced over the three-month period, according to numbers the company shared on Friday. Tesla has been ramping up production capacity and just nearly missed CEO Elon Musk’s goal of delivering 500,000 cars in 2020. Of the cars Tesla delivered in Q1 2021, nearly 183,000 were Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, more than the 180,000 of those models produced in Q1. On top of the Model 3 and Model Y deliveries, the company also sold an additional 2,020 Model S cars that had been produced in previous quarters. Tesla announced redesigns for the Model S and Model X in January 2021, which added new powertrains, higher range options, and the landscape in-car display from the more popular Model 3. Tesla says the redesigns were “exceptionally well-received” and that it’s in the early stage of ramping up production on both new models. The company didn’t break out specific delivery numbers for cars in China, but Tesla says it continues to be happy with the reception of its newer Model Y in the country. China has been a focus for Tesla since it opened its Gigafactory there in 2019, which the company seems to see as critical for meeting demand for its cars. When Tesla shared its Q4 2020 financial figures, it announced that its factory in Shanghai could allow it to produce as many as 1.05 million cars in a year. Tesla and Musk haven’t yet announced any ambitious delivery goals for 2021, but in comparison to 88,400 cars it delivered in Q1 2020, Tesla seems like it’s starting on the right foot to beat last year’s 500,000-car goal. Source: Tesla delivered more cars than it made in the first quarter of 2021
  9. Elon Musk confirms that you can now use Bitcoin to buy a Tesla Back in February, Tesla announced that it had made a $1.5 Billion investment into Bitcoin and is planning to add Bitcoin as a mode a payment. Now, the company has confirmed that customers can buy Tesla cars using Bitcoin. Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that customers in the US can now book cars using Bitcoin. He further noted that the company plans to expand the ability to buy Tesla using Bitcoin to other countries later this year. Musk also confirmed that Tesla will operate the Bitcoin node directly and will not convert Bitcoin to fiat currency (like USD, EUR, etc). Tesla is using only internal & open source software & operates Bitcoin nodes directly. Bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as Bitcoin, not converted to fiat currency. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2021 Tesla has also published a FAQ page answering some of the basic questions regarding the announcement. The company has clarified that it will only accept Bitcoin and will not deal with other cryptocurrencies. According to the FAQ, once the customer initiates the transaction, a timer will begin, and the customer will have to complete the transaction before the timer ends or the transaction will expire. The timer is added to ensure that Tesla or the customer does not incur a loss due to price fluctuation especially during extreme volatility in the crytocurrency market. Tesla also recommends the customers to send the payment in one transaction to avoid any delays with the order. Immediately after Elon's tweet, Bitcoin saw a spike in the price. Currently, Bitcoin is trading at $57,081, up 3.4% from yesterday's price of $54,350. Bitcoin has seen an increase in popularity recently with companies like Apple working with cryptocurrency companies to add support for cryptocurrency payments. PayPal, on the other hand, acquired Curv to improve its cryptocurrency expertise. However, not everyone is excited about cryptocurrency boom as the Indian government is working on a new bill to penalise traders, miners, and digital asset holders. Source: Elon Musk confirms that you can now use Bitcoin to buy a Tesla
  10. Russian pleads guilty to Tesla hacking and extortion attempt Russian national Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov has pleaded guilty to recruiting a Tesla employee to plant malware designed to steal data within the network of Tesla's Nevada Gigafactory. His end goal was to extort the company using the sensitive information stolen from Tesla's servers as leverage to convince the company to pay a ransom to avoid having the data leaked. To convince the company's employee to act as an insider for his criminal gang, Kriuchkov told him that he would be paid $1,000,000 worth of bitcoins after the malware got deployed on the company's network, according to court documents. Plans foiled after a series of other ransom attacks Kriuchkov also told the Tesla employee that he was earlier involved in other similar "projects" where one of the victim companies paid $4 million after negotiating down from an initial $6 million ransom. Kriuchkov explained that "the 'group' has performed these 'special projects' successfully on multiple occasions, and identified some of the targeted companies," according to the indictment. The Tesla employee was also told that during their "special project" targeting Tesla's network, the criminals would launch a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack to divert attention from the insider's attempt to deploy malware. The employee would have also had to provide info on Tesla's network to help with the malware's development process. However, the 27-year-old defendant's plans were thwarted by the FBI after the Tesla employee revealed Kriuchkov's attempts to recruit him via WhatsApp and in multiple face-to-face meetings where they discussed details of the conspiracy. Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, later confirmed in a Twitter reply that Kriuchkov was indeed trying to recruit a Tesla employee to help with his extortion scheme. Much appreciated. This was a serious attack. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 27, 2020 The defendant was arrested in August 2020 after he received a phone call from an FBI agent and hurried to leave the US to avoid getting caught. He was indicted one month later and was charged with a count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer, facing a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. "The swift response of the company and the FBI prevented a major exfiltration of the victim company's data and stopped the extortion scheme at its inception," Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said. "This case highlights the importance of companies coming forward to law enforcement, and the positive results when they do so." According to the guilty plea, Kriuchkov agreed to a sentence within four to ten months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Source: Russian pleads guilty to Tesla hacking and extortion attempt
  11. Tesla will dramatically expand its Full Self-Driving beta It could be available for more than a handful of EV drivers. Xinhua/Ding Ting via Getty Images Now might be your chance to join Tesla's Full Self-Driving beta. Elon Musk has revealed that Tesla's new 8.2 software is "doubling" the size of the beta test program, and 8.3 will "probably" expand the size of the program by ten times. You'll want to get in touch if you're interested, Musk said. The company chief warned that you still had to "be careful" with these newer betas, but that the code was "getting mature." Tesla first released the Full Self-Driving beta in October of last year, and has been making frequent improvements ever since. It's already capable of making some long journeys without significant intervention. With that said, this isn't a fully autonomous system — you still need your hands on the wheel, and it's mainly meant to reduce the amount of input needed compared to standard Autopilot. The expansion shows that Tesla is growing confident about Full Self-Driving's abilities, and could accelerate its development as testers reveal more real-world bugs. The company certainly has motivation to hurry. Drivers are still waiting on a planned FSD subscription service that was due in early 2021 (we wouldn't count on it at this stage). That offering can't realistically roll out until the feature is considered ready, and more testing could accelerate that launch. If you want the Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta downloaded to your car, let us know. Doubling beta program size now with 8.2 & probably 10X size with 8.3. Still be careful, but it’s getting mature. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2021 Source: Tesla will dramatically expand its Full Self-Driving beta
  12. Tesla buys $1.5B in bitcoin, may accept the cryptocurrency as payment in the future Image Credits: TechCrunch Today in an SEC filing, Tesla disclosed that it has acquired $1.5 billion in bitcoin, the popular cryptocurrency. Moreover, the company noted that it may also accept bitcoin in the future as a form of payment for its cars, though it did allow that there is some regulatory uncertainty around that effort. As the news broke, the price of bitcoin instantly rose by around 7% to more than $40,000 per coin. Tesla had previously telegraphed that it had an interest in the cryptocurrency, however to purchase such a large block of the coin is notable. In its filing, Tesla writes that earlier this year it “updated [its] investment policy to provide [it] with more flexibility to further diversify and maximize returns on [its] cash that is not required to maintain adequate operating liquidity,” adding that it has the option of putting cash into “certain alternative reserve assets” that include “digital assets, gold bullion, gold exchange-traded funds and other assets as specified in the future.” Under that banner, the firm has “invested an aggregate $1.50 billion in bitcoin,” going on to say that the well-known electric car company “may acquire and hold digital assets from time to time or long-term.” That’s enough wiggle room for Tesla to do whatever it wants with its cash and the crypto markets. But the company wasn’t done, completing its news-drop by adding that the company “expect[s] to begin accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for [its] products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis, which [it] may or may not liquidate upon receipt.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made waves in recent days by pumping a silly cryptocurrency joke called Dogecoin; this is something more material. Tesla is selecting bitcoin as the cryptocurrency of its choice, helping to further cement the blockchain as the world’s best known. And that it may accept bitcoin-denominated transactions in the future could help bitcoin retain both value, and exchange volume, though we probably repeat ourselves. It’s worth noting that Musk himself has also personally sent bitcoin prices higher in past using his social presence, including by changing his bio to just the single word, before its price faded back after he removed it earlier this month. The car company then spends three paragraphs saying that its choice is risky. That’s an understatement. Then again, what is Musk if not entertaining? Source: Tesla buys $1.5B in bitcoin, may accept the cryptocurrency as payment in the future
  13. Apple’s car project could put it on a collision course with Tesla Why I don't expect Apple to focus on driverless taxis or delivery services. Enlarge alxpin / Getty Rumors are continuing to trickle in about Apple's long-expected car project. On Wednesday, CNBC reported that Apple is close to finalizing a deal for an Apple Car to be manufactured at Kia's assembly plant in West Point, Georgia, an hour southwest of Atlanta. Apple is a famously secretive company, and I don't have any inside information about Apple's plans. But I'm skeptical that whatever product Apple ultimately unveils will match CNBC's description of it. According to CNBC, the Apple Car, due out in 2024 or 2025, will be "fully autonomous." One source told CNBC that Apple is aiming to make "autonomous, electric vehicles designed to operate without a driver and focused on the last mile." CNBC predicts that the cars could be used for food delivery or in a robotaxi service. If true, that would represent a dramatic departure for Apple. A central feature of Apple's corporate culture is that it sells hardware products directly to users. There are technology companies like IBM and Microsoft that focus on selling to business customers. There are technology companies—from Uber to Google—that focus on building services. But while Apple does run some services and does of course sell products to businesses, neither activity has been Apple's focus. Apple's flagship products—the original Macintosh, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, the Apple Watch, and so forth—have always been designed as consumer-focused hardware products. It's hard to believe that Apple, already taking a risky leap into a new industry, would simultaneously toss aside a core aspect of its business philosophy. Robotaxi and delivery services would be a poor fit Entering either the robotaxi or delivery markets would require Apple to do just that. Apple would either have to launch its own delivery or taxi service, or it would have to sell cars to partners that actually own cars and run services. Neither of these approaches would play to Apple's strengths. If Apple launched its own service, it would have to develop expertise in a wide range of new activities, from cleaning and repairing vehicles to dealing with local government officials. Given Apple's scale, it would be very difficult to expand such a business quickly enough to have a meaningful impact on Apple's bottom line. Selling cars to partners would be an equally big departure. It's true that Apple has made some products, like the Mac Pro, that are primarily purchased by business customers. But these products have always been peripheral to Apple's business, and Apple sells the Mac Pro to individuals as well as corporate customers. By contrast, a delivery vehicle or robotaxi would probably need to be specifically designed for that purpose. Consumers likely wouldn't even have the option to purchase one outright. Apple has long prided itself on controlling the entire user experience. That has enabled Apple to maintain a high level of quality, earn strong customer loyalty, and charge a premium for its products. If Apple started making and selling Apple Cars to partners building taxi or delivery fleets, it would lose control over how the cars are used and would risk being blamed for the bad decisions of its partners. So it seems more likely that Apple will build a conventional car that it sells directly to customers. And if it's partnering with a major automaker like Kia, that suggests that the Apple Car will be a conventional, full-sized vehicle. Apple has a lot to bring to the table here. Apple has deep expertise in battery technology that it could apply to the design of an electric vehicle. Apple could also apply its skills in user interface design to build the car industry's best user experience. Apple could follow in Tesla’s footsteps The big open question is what Apple will do on the self-driving front. While CNBC says the Apple Car will be "fully autonomous," it's hard to believe that Apple is on a path to full autonomy by 2025—if "full autonomy" is even a meaningful concept. In 2019, Apple only logged about 7,500 miles testing its vehicles on California roads. For comparison, Waymo, widely seen as the industry leader, tested its vehicles for more than 6 million miles in California, Arizona, and other states in 2019. And despite those efforts, Waymo's self-driving taxi service is only available in a 50-square-mile corner of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Of course, the Apple Car isn't due out for another three to five years, and Apple might make significant progress during that time. But the company has a lot of catching up to do. Apple's best approach may be to follow in the footsteps of Tesla, which began shipping a home-grown driver assistance system in 2016. Initially, Autopilot's capabilities were fairly limited, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted that the system would improve rapidly. Musk claimed that the hardware was suitable for full autonomy (it wasn't) and that the necessary software for full self-driving would be out in a couple of years (it wasn't). In 2016, Tesla began charging thousands of dollars for a "full self-driving" software package that didn't provide any functionality back then and still doesn't provide the full autonomy Musk promised more than four years ago. Apple obviously shouldn't follow Tesla's lead in making wildly unrealistic promises. But the basic strategy of selling hardware now and releasing software later might serve Apple well. The high cost of lidar in 2016 meant Tesla couldn't afford to include it on every vehicle. The lack of lidar has made it more difficult for Tesla to improve Autopilot. By 2024, the earliest date an Apple Car might come to market, high-performance lidar is likely to be available for under $1,000. That's cheap enough that Apple could make lidar sensors a standard feature. Apple could use these sensors to initially offer a solid driver assistance system, then gradually upgrade the software over time to eventually enable fully driverless operation. Apple's design and battery expertise means the company may not need industry-leading self-driving software in order to ship a compelling product. The strength of Apple's brand and design sense, combined with the inherent performance advantages of electric vehicles, should be enough to attract a lot of early car buyers. Customers may be happy to wait a few more years for more sophisticated self-driving features—especially if Tim Cook can avoid making unrealistic promises when the car is unveiled. Apple’s car project could put it on a collision course with Tesla
  14. Tesla recalls 135,000 vehicles over touchscreen failures Image Credits: Spencer Platt Own a Tesla Model S or Model X? It might have a recall, and it’s serious. Tesla today issued one of its largest recalls to date, covering roughly 135,000 Model S and Model X. The touchscreen is the concern. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the touchscreen in these vehicles can fail when a memory chips runs out of storage capacity, which can cause a host of failures, including affecting turn signals and defrosters, and the rearview camera. This failure can also affect Tesla’s self-driving Autopilot functionality. The NHTSA explained the department’s findings to Tesla in a mid-January letter. According to NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), the affected vehicle’s memory chips are to blame. The 8GB chip eventually wears out, and the only remedy is a replacement, the letter says. According to the WSJ, Tesla disagrees that the issue is a failure, though the automaker is recalling a select amount of vehicles to investigate the issue. “It is economically, if not technologically, infeasible to expect that such components can or should be designed to last the vehicle’s entire useful life,” Tesla said in the letter. The vehicles covered by the recall include Model S sedans built between 2012 and 2018 and Model X vehicles made between 2016 and 2018. The affected vehicles are equipped with NVIDIA Tegra 3 computing platforms and an 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory device. Source: Tesla recalls 135,000 vehicles over touchscreen failures
  15. Tesla's New Cars Can Run The Witcher 3 on Their 10-Teraflop Gaming Rigs Gaming's most extravagant console. Tesla has unveiled refreshed versions of its Model X and Model S cars, revealing that both are equipped with gaming hardware supporting “up to 10 teraflops of processing power”. This theoretically puts a car within the ballpark of a new generation console. The Tesla models, priced in excess of $80,000 and shipping in March, are fitted with hardware to power Tesla Arcade, an in-car gaming system that is already available in current Tesla models. The difference is that previous models are only able to run less demanding games such as Cuphead and Cat Quest, while the promotional materials for the new Tesla models show The Witcher 3 displayed on the 17” central console. This suggests a significant step up for the car’s gaming potential. Specifics on how powerful the car’s gaming rig is isn’t easy to tell, as the quoted "up to 10 teraflops of processing power" can’t be directly translated to the power of a PS5, which is capable of 10.28 teraflops. The accompanying components must also be taken into account, and Tesla has offered no details on the full specs of the hardware. It’s unclear if Nvidia or AMD GPUs are being used, or if it all comes from Tesla’s own system-on-a-chip. And while The Witcher 3 is an impressive game by… err… car standards, it’s very much a last-gen experience now. Theoretically, though, the system in the new Teslas is capable of strong gaming performance. The Witcher 3 on the new Model S's Tesla Arcade. Scant details about the gaming system can be found on both the Model X and Model S pages on the Tesla website, under the Interior Feature Details section. Tesla Arcade will support wireless controllers for gaming from any seat, played through two entertainment displays are located in the center console and between the front seats for rear passengers. Presumably games can’t be played on the main 2200x1300 resolution center screen while driving, for obvious reasons. Want to play The Witcher game on your Tesla? (you can already watch the show on Tesla Netflix theater) — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 22, 2020 Tesla owner Elon Musk previously teased the idea of playing The Witcher 3 in a Tesla on Twitter, with thousands voting in his poll to say they’d like to do such an absurd thing. Just days later, we got this news. While unconfirmed, the use of The Witcher 3 in the official marketing images suggests that Witcher developer CD Projekt is bringing the game to Tesla Arcade. To play games, including The Witcher 3, in your car without spending $80,000+, might we suggest the more reasonably priced Nintendo Switch? It’s even getting a new Red and Blue Mario-themed version, which will go nicely with any car sporting red or blue paintwork. Source: Tesla's New Cars Can Run The Witcher 3 on Their 10-Teraflop Gaming Rigs
  16. Tesla claims a software engineer stole critical automated software from its WARP Drive system Tesla is suing a recently hired software engineer who the company claims has stolen critical automated software from its WARP Drive ERP system. Tesla WARP Drive While most automakers use commonly known enterprise software from third parties like SAP, Tesla instead decided to build its own from scratch. Tesla’s longtime chief information officer Jay Vijayan, who quietly left in January 2016, is credited for leading the development of the system, which Tesla calls “Warp.” Vijayan discussed what pushed them to develop their “Warp” system in-house during an interview with CIO Insight in 2014: Elon’s vision is to build a vertically integrated organization where information flow happens seamlessly across departments and where we have a closed feedback loop to our customers. By doing this, we can provide the best possible product, service, and overall experience to our customers in the fastest way possible, while also operating efficiently as a business to bring this vision to life, we had to have simple and central business operations software that could connect all departments and enable information flow seamlessly across departments. Again, we couldn’t find one software program in the market that satisfied this need. Elon Musk has since pushed his companies to develop even more new enterprise engineering systems to be used across his multiple companies. For example, we previously reported on Tesla and SpaceX sharing some custom software platform developed for materials research. WARP englobes a lot of important backend software that automates many processes for Tesla from purchasing, to manufacturing to inventory. Someone is trying to steal Tesla’s software In a new case filed with the court of the Northern District of California, Tesla claims that a recently hired software engineer, Alex Khatilov, has stolen its WARP Drive software. Tesla writes in the lawsuit: “Tesla hired Defendant as a software automation engineer on December 28, 2020. Within three days, he began stealing thousands of highly confidential software files from Tesla’s secure internal network, transferring them to his personal cloud storage account on Dropbox, to which Tesla has no access or visibility. The files consist of “scripts” of proprietary software code that Tesla has spent years of engineering time to build. These scripts, when executed, automate a broad range of functions throughout Tesla’s business. Only a select few Tesla employees even have access to these files; and as a member of that group, Defendant took advantage of that access to downloaded files unrelated to his job.” The automakers appears to have strong evidence that Khatilov innapropriately downloaded the scripts. Tesla’s infosec team gained access to the engineer’s Dropbox account where they found the files that have no business being there: “Tesla’s information security personnel detected Defendant’s unauthorized download on January 6, 2021 and confronted Defendant that day and interviewed him. During this interview he repeatedly claimed that he had only transferred a couple personal administrative documents. After being prompted, he gave Tesla investigators access to view his Dropbox account, where they discovered Defendant’s claims were outright lies: the Tesla investigators found thousands and thousands of Tesla’s confidential computer scripts in his Dropbox. Defendant then claimed he somehow “forgot” about the thousands of other files he stole (almost certainly another lie). Even worse, it became apparent that Defendant had brazenly attempted to destroy the evidence by hurriedly deleting the Dropbox client and other files during the beginning of the interview when investigators were attempting to remotely access his computer.” Tesla employs a team of Quality Assurance Engineers who help identify business tasks to be automated based on input from Tesla’s business leaders. The engineers write computer scripts in Python (a computer programming language) to automate those tasks, and test the automated processes to ensure they function properly. These scripts are unique to Tesla and run on WARP Drive, the backend software for much of Tesla’s business. Developing this complex system is expensive and time-consuming. Tesla has spent roughly 200 man-years of work to develop the Quality Assurance scripts – the cumulative hours spent by the Quality Assurance Engineering team over the past twelve years. The engineers’ work is also guided by the business leaders in Tesla, who identify what tasks need to be automated – another large and valuable investment of its time. Tesla is looking for damages to be determined at trial and an injunction to block the defendant from sharing any information with other parties. Here’s the full complaint filed with the court: View this document on Scribd It’s not the first time that Tesla is turning to the court from protecting its trade secrets from former employees who allegedly stole important information. Tesla sued employees that they claim stole the Autopilot source code and then went to Xpeng, a Chinese EV automaker. The automaker also sued Zoox and it is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Rivian over similar claims of IP theft. Source: Tesla claims a software engineer stole critical automated software from its WARP Drive system
  17. Tesla asked to recall 158,000 cars over safety concerns All Teslas have built-in screen displays and ones in some models are now failing Tesla has been asked to recall 158,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over an issue with failing touchscreens, which could increase the risk of crashes. The problem involves the memory chips used in the displays of cars made between 2012 and 2018, which wear out, causing the screen to stop working. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent Tesla a formal letter requesting the recall. It has until 27 January to respond. Tesla has implemented some over-the-air updates to mitigate some of the issues - but the NHTSA said they were insufficient to address it concerns. It said the failure of the media-console units (MCU) was "a defect related to motor-vehicle safety" because of a range of safety issues, including: the loss of rear-view camera images and controls for heating, air conditioning and defrosting the potential loss of audible chimes and alerts associated with indicators and the driver-assistance Autopilot feature And it requested "Tesla initiate a recall to notify all owners, purchasers and dealers of the subject vehicles of this safety defect and provide a remedy". Stop working The cars in question - Model S sedans built between 2012 and 2018 as well as Model X SUVs from 2016 to 2018 - are fitted with a Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with an integrated flash memory device. Part of the storage is used every time the vehicle is started. And when capacity is reached, the MCU will fail. All MCUs fitted with this chip will eventually stop working, with most having a lifespan of 10 years. The NHTSA opened an investigation into the vehicles in June, considering information provided by Tesla and consumers. Included in it were complaints Tesla required owners to pay to replace the units once warranties expired. BBC News has asked Tesla for a response. Source: Tesla asked to recall 158,000 cars over safety concerns
  18. Tesla has decided to sell the cheaper Model Y standard range after all Image Credits: Kirsten Korosec Tesla has started taking orders for a cheaper standard-range version of the Model Y in an apparent reversal by CEO Elon Musk who earlier this year seemed to put on hold plans to release the vehicle. Electrek was the first to report that Tesla had updated its website to include the Model Y standard range, which will start at $41,990. That’s nearly $9,000 cheaper than the long-range version that is currently sold by Tesla. The Model Y standard range is a rear-wheel drive while the long-range and even more expensive performance versions comes in all-wheel drive. The cheaper price comes with a lower estimated EPA range of 244 miles compared to the 326 miles in the long-range version. Tesla said nearly two years ago that it planned to begin producing the standard-range version of the Model Y in spring 2021. But in July, Musk tweeted that the variant had been removed from the website because the lower-range “would be unacceptably low (< 250 mile EPA).” No, as range would be unacceptably low (< 250 mile EPA) — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 13, 2020 Tesla is now offering a seven-seat option for the Model Y as well, according to updates on its website. Source: Tesla has decided to sell the cheaper Model Y standard range after all
  19. NHTSA finds no defect in review of 662,000 Tesla vehicles WASHINGTON -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would not grant a petition seeking a formal review of 662,000 Tesla vehicles for claims of unintended acceleration. The U.S. auto safety regulator said its review of the December 2019 petition into 2012-2020 model year Tesla Model S, Model X, Model Y and Model 3 vehicles found the incidents cited "were caused by pedal misapplication. NHTSA found no evidence of fault in the accelerator pedal assemblies, motor control systems, or brake systems that contributed to the cited incidents." The petition cited 232 complaints to NHTSA, including 203 crashes, and the agency opened a formal review into the petition in January 2020. NHTSA added that "there is no evidence of a design factor contributing to increased likelihood of pedal misapplication. The theory provided of a potential electronic cause of SUA (unintended acceleration) in the subject vehicles is based upon inaccurate assumptions about system design and log data." Tesla did not immediately respond to a request to comment. Source: NHTSA finds no defect in review of 662,000 Tesla vehicles
  20. Tesla FSD Beta takes driver from SF to LA with no human intervention CREDIT: WHOLE MARS CATALOG/YOUTUBE A Tesla Model 3 with limited Full Self-Driving beta successfully traveled from San Francisco past the Los Angeles border without requiring any interventions–almost. The trip was not perfect, but the drive itself was impressive as it highlighted the potential of Elon Musk and Tesla’s camera-centric approach to full self-driving. Tesla owner-enthusiast Whole Mars Catalog posted a time-lapse video of an FSD trip in a Model 3 Performance. Over the course of the video, viewers could see how the all-electric sedan transitioned from the FSD beta in inner-city areas to Navigate on Autopilot in freeways. The vehicle’s overall behavior was astonishing, with the Model 3 behaving almost like a human driver for a good part of the trip. The FSD beta drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles was not perfect. As the Tesla owner remarked, FSD still exhibited some strange behavior at the Market Street area when it changed lanes. Ironically, there was also a moment after the vehicle crossed the border into Los Angeles, when the Tesla owner manually avoided some road debris for a second. The Tesla driver had to take control of the vehicle to stop at a couple of Superchargers along the way as well. It has only been a little over two months since Tesla started to rollout its limited Full Self-Driving beta, giving its all-electric vehicles the capability to navigate inner-city streets. Since late October, FSD beta has received a number of updates and notable improvements. From smooth, human-like U-turns and now, a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Tesla’s FSD beta definitely seems to be taking solid steps towards autonomy. That’s an incredible milestone either way, especially considering that Tesla was able to accomplish it using a suite of cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and some real-world driving data. Watch the FSD beta’s trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the video below. Source: Tesla FSD Beta takes driver from SF to LA with no human intervention
  21. Tesla could have a new Model S variant coming soon Tesla isn't actively manufacturing cars at the moment, but that hasn't stopped a new version of the Model S from apparently taking joyrides around Palo Alto. The electric vehicle-centric YouTube channel The Kilowatts posted a video over the weekend showcasing a new and previously unseen Tesla Model S that they saw driving around in the vicinity of Tesla's headquarters. Most of the shots in the video were taken with a dash cam, so the quality can be hit-or-miss, but there are also a couple of clearer phone shots showing off this mysterious Model S variant. The most noticeable change in this unknown vehicle (seen with a manufacturing license plate) would probably be a wider overall body shape than the Model S that's available now. The headlights also look slightly different, as does the rear diffuser that you can see for most of the video. It's not mindblowing or revolutionary, but it's clearly a different-looking car than the current Model S. All that leaves for us is to wonder what, exactly, this is. Tesla has already confirmed a new performance-minded "Plaid" Model S will begin manufacturing and delivery in late 2021, with a starting price of about $140,000. What The Kilowatts saw could very well be a pre-release version of the Plaid model, though the video is quick to point out that Tesla has previously shown the Plaid with a rear spoiler. The new Model S seen in the video does not have a spoiler of any kind. If it isn't Plaid, this could be a refresh of the regular Model S. That may help explain why Tesla's production lines are taking a couple weeks off between the end of 2020 and the start of 2021, which CEO Elon Musk never really gave a reason for. It could be seen as especially odd given Tesla fell just short of shipment expectations for the year. Revamping the lines to produce a new Model S would certainly make sense. Source: Tesla could have a new Model S variant coming soon
  22. Tesla fell just short of delivering 500,000 vehicles in 2020 It got 99.91 percent of the way there Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Tesla fell just shy of hitting CEO Elon Musk’s goal of delivering 500,000 vehicles in 2020, the company announced Saturday, having shipped a record 499,550 throughout the year — or 99.91 percent. Tesla said the final tally could vary by as much as 0.5 percent, though, so it’s possible that it will eclipse the 500,000 mark by the time it reveals the ultimate figures in its full year results, due out at the end of January. Either way, that’s more than double what the next-largest sellers of electric vehicles did in 2020, like China’s BYD or Germany’s Volkswagen. And it’s a remarkable recovery for Tesla considering the impact the coronavirus pandemic had on its operations during the first half of the year. While Tesla said in January 2020 that it expected to “comfortably exceed” Musk’s goal of shipping 500,000 cars worldwide by the end of the year, the company had to close its new factory in China as well as its vehicle plant in Fremont, California for several weeks as the virus spread. So proud of the Tesla team for achieving this major milestone! At the start of Tesla, I thought we had (optimistically) a 10% chance of surviving at all. https://t.co/xCqTL5TGlE — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 2, 2021 Musk maintained that Tesla would still be able to reach his goal, and the company followed suit, especially after it launched the Model Y SUV ahead of schedule in March. Tesla delivered 88,400 vehicles in Q1, and 90,650 vehicles in Q2. In October, Tesla said it delivered 139,300 vehicles during the third quarter, slightly better than the 137,000 Wall Street had expected. It also had its fifth consecutive profitable quarter in Q3. All of this helped send the company’s stock price into the stratosphere, making it the most valuable automaker on the planet. Tesla ostensibly met the 500,000-car goal with another classic end-of-quarter push, one that even saw the company’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen out delivering cars. Musk himself prodded Tesla workers last week to go “all out” to hit the mark. “This is a great milestone to rally the company around achieving,” he wrote. “All the critics who, as recently as two years ago said that we’d never make it, also called our target of half a million in 2020 ‘impossible.’ The heck with them, we are doing it!” Tesla said Saturday that it ultimately produced 179,757 vehicles in the fourth quarter and delivered 180,570, bringing its totals to 509,747 and 499,550 for the year, respectively. The company wound up selling around 130,000 more vehicles than it did in 2019. The self-imposed 500,000-car sales goal is part of Musk’s attempt to drag the auto industry into the clean energy age, though it is more modest a bar than he once set. Musk had once predicted Tesla would deliver 1 million vehicles in 2020. But he later backed away from that number after the company ran into trouble ramping up production of its first mass-market electric car, the Model 3. “So proud of the Tesla team for achieving this major milestone! At the start of Tesla, I thought we had (optimistically) a 10% chance of surviving at all,” Musk tweeted Saturday. “Tesla is responsible for 2/3 of all the personal & professional pain in my life combined. But it was worth it.” Source: Tesla fell just short of delivering 500,000 vehicles in 2020
  23. Elon Musk says Apple refused a meeting to acquire Tesla He considered selling during Model 3 ‘production hell’ in 2017, but Tim Cook wouldn’t talk Photo by Sean O’Kane / The Verge Elon Musk said Tuesday that he wanted to sell Tesla to Apple during the “darkest days” of the Model 3 rollout but that CEO Tim Cook “refused” to take the meeting. Musk dished about the proffer in response to a tweet about how Apple has reportedly reignited its desire to make and sell an electric, autonomous vehicle. He noted that Tesla was worth about one-tenth then what it is now, as the electric vehicle company rounds out a remarkable year where a meteoric stock price run turned it into the most valuable automaker on the planet. Of course, in 2017 Tesla was still hemorrhaging money and had not yet produced an electric vehicle at high volume. Musk has previously said that Tesla was “single-digit weeks” away from collapse in 2017 as he directed all of the company’s resources toward ramping up production of the Model 3 sedan. Tesla ultimately survived, and has since gone on to roll out the Model Y SUV and announce new vehicles like the Cybertruck. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Apple has spent the last half-decade toying with an entry into the worlds of electric and self-driving cars, but up until this week was thought to be focused on developing software and other technologies that could be sold to other companies. But on Monday, Reuters reported that the Silicon Valley giant has retrained its focus on making an electric, autonomous car for general consumers. One of the reasons Apple reportedly changed directions again is that it has made progress on a potential breakthrough with regards to the battery. According to Reuters, Apple has been developing a lithium iron phosphate battery that can be packaged more tightly in the car’s battery pack, cutting down on weight while increasing the potential energy density. Musk pointed out on Twitter on Tuesday that Tesla is already using iron phosphate batteries in some of the cars it’s making in China. “Strange, if true,” he wrote. Tesla and Apple have swapped a lot of talent over the last decade. When rumors of an “Apple car” first emerged in 2015, Musk joked that Apple was a “Tesla graveyard.” “If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding,” he said. Musk said at the time that an electric car was “the next logical thing” for Cook and Apple to work on. “It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches,” Musk said. Elon Musk says Apple refused a meeting to acquire Tesla
  24. Tesla owner in Canada charged with ‘sleeping’ while driving over 90 mph ‘They are not self-driving systems, they still come with the responsibility of driving’ A Tesla Model S owner in Alberta, Canada, was charged with dangerous driving after being pulled over for sleeping while traveling at speeds of 150 km/h (93 mph). The case raises questions about Tesla’s partially automated driving system, Autopilot, and driver complacency. On July 9th, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they received a complaint of reckless driving on Highway 2 near Ponoka in Alberta. The 2019 Tesla Model S “appeared to be self-driving,” police said, “traveling over 140 km/h, with both front seats completely reclined and both occupants appearing to be asleep.” Officers began to pursue the vehicle with their emergency lights flashing, at which point the vehicle “automatically began to accelerate,” eventually reaching a speed of 150 km/h, police said. After pulling over the vehicle, the driver, a 21-year-old male from British Columbia, was charged with speeding and driving while fatigued, resulting in a 24-hour license suspension. Later, the man was also charged with dangerous driving. “Although manufacturers of new vehicles have built in safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of the new safety systems in vehicles, those systems are just that — supplemental safety systems,” Superintendent Gary Graham of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services said in a statement. “They are not self-driving systems, they still come with the responsibility of driving.” A spokesperson for Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. Autopilot is a Level 2 partially autonomous system that combines adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, self-parking, and, most recently, the ability to automatically change lanes. It uses a suite of sensors, including eight cameras, radar, and ultrasonic, to automate some of the driving tasks, but it also requires drivers to stay engaged with the vehicle in order to operate. The automaker’s Autopilot system has been proven by traffic investigators to have contributed to a number of fatal crashes in the past, and the families of deceased drivers have sued Tesla for wrongful death. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has blamed crashes involving Autopilot on driver overconfidence. “When there is a serious accident it is almost always, in fact maybe always, the case that it is an experienced user, and the issue is more one of complacency,” Musk said in 2018. But by marketing its system as “Autopilot,” Tesla has been shown to encourage driver inattention. It’s unclear to what extent the Tesla owner in Canada was misusing Autopilot. Tesla has said the advanced driver assist system will only work when it detects a driver’s hands on the steering wheel. If a driver’s hands aren’t detected, the display behind the wheel will begin to flash, followed by audible warnings, and eventually, Autopilot will disable itself. Since its launch in 2015, Tesla owners have sought out new and creative ways to trick Autopilot. People couldn’t wait to upload videos sitting in the backseat while their cars drove “autonomously” down the highway. Tesla responded by updating its software to require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel — which seemed like a smart fix until one driver figured out all you needed to do to fool the system was wedge an orange against the wheel to simulate the pressure of a human hand. “Autopilot Buddy” was a piece of magnetic plastic that attaches to the steering wheel in order to create the impression that the driver is keeping his or her hands there. Federal regulators issued a cease and desist order to prevent its sale. People love tricking technology, even if it could cost them their lives. Tesla owner in Canada charged with ‘sleeping’ while driving over 90 mph
  25. Tesla’s slow self-driving progress continues with green light warning Tesla is adding Autopilot features much slower than Musk predicted last year. Enlarge / The interior of a Tesla Model X at the Brussels Expo in January 2020. Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images 118 with 67 posters participating, including story author Tesla has released a new version of its Autopilot software that adds the ability to read speed limit signs, improving the accuracy of the speed limits displayed on the dashboard. The new version of the software also recognizes when a stoplight turns green. The car will notify the driver but won't start moving on its own. Tesla first added the ability to spot stoplights and stop signs back in April. The initial version of the stoplight feature would slow down whether a traffic signal was red or green. The driver had to make the car proceed through the intersection if the light was green—otherwise, the car would stop. The first version of Autopilot, which was based on technology from Mobileye, included the ability to recognize speed limit signs. But Tesla split with Mobileye in 2016 and began building more of its Autopilot technology in-house. As a result, prior to the latest software update, newer Tesla vehicles displayed speed limits based on a GPS-based database of roadway speed limits. Full self-driving software is progressing slower than Elon Musk expected In April 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted that Tesla's self-driving software would be "feature complete" by the end of 2019. He predicted that the software would take another six months to become reliable enough that drivers would no longer need to keep their hands on the wheel. By the end of 2020, Musk predicted, the company's self-driving technology would be so good that customers could send their Teslas out to operate as self-driving taxis when they weren't being used, generating extra income in the process. We said at the time that this timeline was unrealistic, and the events of the last year have confirmed that. Tesla's current self-driving software isn't close to being "feature complete;" Teslas don't turn autonomously at intersections, for example. It's not clear that Tesla's software will even reach this milestone by the end of 2020. More importantly, even after the software can handle most situations under human supervision, it's likely to take a lot more than six months to achieve a level of reliability sufficient to dispense with a human safety driver. For comparison, Google's self-driving project, now called Waymo, achieved "feature complete" status in limited geographic areas around 2015. Yet today the company operates fully driverless vehicles only on selected routes. It still makes heavy use of safety drivers for other routes. Tesla is tackling a more difficult technical problem than Waymo. Its self-driving software needs to operate everywhere, not just in geofenced areas. And Tesla is trying to develop self-driving capabilities without lidar sensors, which most companies view as essential to their self-driving stacks. But Elon Musk continues to be optimistic about Tesla's efforts. Earlier this month, Musk tweeted that Tesla was preparing to release a "fundamental architectural rewrite" of the full self-driving software that "will come as a quantum leap" and not an incremental tweak. Musk added that there he was "almost at zero interventions between home and work" with the latest development versions of the software. While he seemed to view that as an impressive accomplishment, it's also an admission of how far Tesla still has to go. A system that regularly requires intervention during a typical commute to work is far from the level required for fully driverless operation. Tesla’s slow self-driving progress continues with green light warning
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