April has been a bad month for self driving cars, as both a driver and pedestrian have died from accidents. Leo says that California is giving Google a permit for a self driving car called WayMo, which will have no safety driver. The irony isn't lost on Leo, and while he believes that self driving cars are better than human control, they're never going to be 100%. There's more testing that needs to be done and they should have a safety driver until the bugs are ironed out.
The driver of the Tesla Model X that crashed on March 23rd did have the autopilot mode engaged. This comes after Uber's deadly crash with a pedestrian, where it has been determined that the self-driving car had not been operating safely. Tesla responded that the driver should have put his hands on the wheel to intervene. Strange curves and barriers can cause problems for the autopilot mode. It's important that any safety driver stay alert when the car is in self-driving mode.
Leo says that the Space X Falcon Heavy rocket launch, with two boosters automatically landing afterwards, was a triumph of engineering (even though one crashed in the ocean). The fun part was using Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster as ballast with a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit, playing Bowie's Space Oddity on the stereo. What a great test, and the PR stunt of the century for Tesla, with hundreds of thousands watching the live stream of StarMan orbiting the earth before heading off to Mars.
Tesla founder Elon Musk has announced a new Roadster and an electric semi truck. Elon made a lot of money in his youth by creating an e-payment system that eventually merged with Paypal. He then used that money to fund a couple of other ventures, including SpaceX, with plans for colonizing Mars in the next ten years or even sooner. The other company he founded was Tesla which started with the Model S electric car. He then added other models like the Model X and more recently the Model 3.
Wally recently bought a Tesla Model X. It's a great car, but he can't get AM radio. Leo says that electric motors in the car generate too much interference, according to Tesla. But Leo doesn't buy that since the Model S has an AM radio. It also has streaming radio through the car's LTE connection and he can listen to TWiT's live stream before the radio station even gets it. It's on TuneIn. He could also connect his iPhone via Bluetooth and stream iHeartRadio.
On Friday, Tesla launched its more affordable $35,000 car, the Model 3. The thing that's been keeping these cars so expensive is because of the batteries it requires. Teslas have a long range of 200+ miles, which means it needs bigger batteries. Tesla has put batteries in the chassis for this, which is a good place to put them because it gives the car more stability and keeps it out of the way. The price of these batteries has been dropping considerably, though.
Sandra hears that the lithium ion batteries in Tesla cars aren't recyclable and that Tesla simply dumps them in the ocean. Leo says that isn't accurate. They are recycling, but they can be difficult to recycle because if they're exposed to the air, the inside of the batteries can catch on fire. They are recyclable and it takes about a decade or two before they will be replaced. By then, the recycling technology will have improved as well.
An interesting fact emerged from the US Highway Safety Investigation of the Tesla on Autopilot that killed its driver. While it didn't save the driver in this case, the data from all Teslas with autopilot show that it does save lives. The driver of the vehicle in question wasn't paying attention, and as a result, was the victim of his own negligence.
Bob would love to be able to listen to iHeartRadio in his Tesla. Leo says that the browser in the Tesla is pretty simple and not very good. There are plenty of hacks out there for it, so maybe there is one. The workaround is to connect to his mobile device and listen via Bluetooth.
A Tesla Model S crashed into a truck at highway speeds, killing the driver, all while on autopilot. Tesla is the first car company to put true autonomy into its cars. Many cars today have some autonomous features, such as blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, lane control, and more. Teslas take it a step further, and can actually change lanes automatically and follow a route. Autopilot is disabled unless you opt-in for it, and Tesla says it's still in a public beta.