Thanks to Google and Tesla, the first driverless cars will be electric

robot car

Electric cars and robotic cars are moving to the market hand-in-hand.

Google’s new experimental fleet of robotic cars are electric. That’s important because as one of the leaders of developing the software and artificial intelligence that will move autonomous cars through the streets, Google is now also helping set the path for the hardware of the future industry, and it’s skewing that path toward electric vehicles.



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Tesla becomes California’s largest automotive employer



In California, Tesla has knocked off Toyota as the biggest auto employer in the state. Tesla employs over 6,000 people to the Japanese company’s 5,300. That lead is only likely to grow, as the EV manufacturer prepares to add another 500 jobs by the end of the year, and as Toyota begins its relocation to its new North American headquarters in Texas. The news comes barely a week after the company announced a $50 million loss during the first quarter of 2014.


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Tesla could have a $35K car that gets 1,000 miles per charge by 2020


Tesla Model S at a charging station.

When Elon Musk was designing the Tesla Model S he wanted an electric motor that had the same horsepower as the most powerful internal combustion engine but with nearly-instantaneous torque. He also wanted it to be the size of a watermelon. Musk was told this couldn’t be done by engine manufacturers. So the Tesla CEO decided to build his own motor. The earlier versions of this had a hand-wound stator which increased winding density to help eliminate resistance and increase peak torque. Later versions of the stators were built by robots.



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Tesla’s plans for world’s largest battery factory will be a game changer


Tesla Motors, the electric car maker, hasn’t just blazed its own trail when it comes to designing and building a hot electric car. It’s also made breakthroughs in many aspects of the automotive business (the sales channel, the servicing, the over-the-air-software updates) and now it’s doing the same thing for the core part of the electric car: the battery.



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Tesla batteries are powering an energy revolution

SolarCity generator

Tesla Motors lithium-ion battery packs aren’t just powering electric luxury sports sedans for wealthy any more. They’ve started appearing in a small number of California homes to store electricity generated by rooftop solar panels, and SolarCity, the Silicon Valley solar installer, will start providing Tesla batteries for businesses that want to cut their utility bills.


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Tesla patents next-gen battery that will last 400 miles

One common problem with electric cars is there is a lack of charging stations to charge the cars on long drives. “After you run out of battery power, a small four-cylinder engine runs a generator to extend the range of the car for another 300 or 400 miles, and you can always just keep putting more gas into it to keep on going,” writes Evan Ackerman.



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Tesla hiring a driverless-vehicle engineer

Tesla could be joining a number of companies who say they will create their own fully autonomous cars.

Tesla is searching for an autonomous driving engineer, someone who will likely bring some of those great hands-free features to its electric carsin the future. They put out a call for applicants on its careers page for an “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Control Engineer,” or ADAS. The applicant will perform a research role, looking at how to add autonomous features and working with the “firmware team” to actually put this research into action.



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Tesla’s Model S factory is run by 160 high-tech robots


The conceptual Hyperloop transit system by Elon Musk imagines shuttling passengers back and forth between Los Angeles and San Francisco in an insanely fast half hour.  It might be the futuristic transport system of the moment. Yet it’s the billionaire’s other ventures, like SpaceX and Tesla Motors, that continue to make real technological strides.



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Travel San Francisco to L.A. in 30 minutes with proposed new transportation system

ET3’s Evacuated Tube Transport

For most Bay Area residents in California, commuting is a way of life.  Many people are used to an hour commute each way without traffic. Some people in the Bay Area even commute to Southern California several times a month, spending several hours each way either in the car or fighting through airports. What if there was an alternative to flights and car rides? If it was up to Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Colorado company ET3, an answer could come sooner than we think.


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Tesla Model S outsells Mercedes, BMW and Audi

Tesla Model S

More people bought a Tesla Model S, the $70,000 (and up) electric car, in the first quarter of 2013 than bought any of the similarly priced gasoline-powered cars from the top three German luxury brands, according to data from LMC Automotive. About 4,750 buyers bought a Model S while just over 3,000 people bought Mercedes’ top-level sedan. (Video)



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