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  • Nevada Construction Project Could Be Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory

    cartechboy (2660665) writes "Earlier in the week we heard that Tesla and Panasonic had reached an agreement to build the gigafactory together, and today that became official. Now it seems that things are farther along than anyone thought. In fact, construction of the plant might already be secretly underway in Nevada. This is of course interesting as Tesla hasn't officially announced where the gigafactory will be built. Something called Project Tiger is currently underway east of Reno, and there's a lot of construction workers, heavy equipment, and a heavily guarded fenced barrier around the site. The volume of dirt being moved is 140,000 cubic yards, which matches the gigafactory dimensions given earlier this year by Tesla. Is it possible that Tesla's actually building the gigafactory before even announcing its location? It seems so, yes."

    66 comments | 10 hours ago

  • SpaceShipTwo Flies Again

    schwit1 writes "The competition heats up: For the first time in six months SpaceShipTwo completed a test flight [Tuesday]." The article linked is from NBC, which also has a deal with Virgin Galactic to televise the first commercial flight. It is thus in their interest to promote the spacecraft and company. The following two sentences from the article however clearly confirm every rumor we have heard about the ship in the past year, that they needed to replace or completely refit the engine and that the resulting thrust might not be enough to get the ship to 100 kilometers or 62 miles: "In January, SpaceShipTwo blasted off for a powered test and sailed through a follow-up glide flight, but then it went into the shop for rocket refitting. It's expected to go through a series of glide flights and powered flights that eventually rise beyond the boundary of outer space (50 miles or 100 kilometers in altitude, depending on who's counting)." Hopefully this test flight indicates that they have installed the new engine and are now beginning flight tests with equipment that will actually get the ship into space.

    22 comments | yesterday

  • UK To Allow Driverless Cars By January

    rtoz sends this news from the BBC: The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads starting in January next year. It also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time. In addition, ministers ordered a review of the UK's road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines. ... The debate now is whether to allow cars, like the prototype unveiled by Google in May, to abandon controls including a steering wheel and pedals and rely on the vehicle's computer. Or whether, instead, to allow the machine to drive, but insist a passenger be ready to wrest back control at a moment's notice.

    185 comments | yesterday

  • Ford, GM Sued Over Vehicles' Ability To Rip CD Music To Hard Drive

    Lucas123 writes: The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies is suing Ford and General Motors for millions of dollars over alleged copyrights infringement violations because their vehicles' CD players can rip music to infotainment center hard drives. The AARC claims in its filing (PDF) that the CD player's ability to copy music violates the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. The Act protects against distributing digital audio recording devices whose primary purpose is to rip copyrighted material. For example, Ford's owner's manual explains, "Your mobile media navigation system has a Jukebox which allows you to save desired tracks or CDs to the hard drive for later access. The hard drive can store up to 10GB (164 hours; approximately 2,472 tracks) of music." The AARC wants $2,500 for each digital audio recording device installed in a vehicle, the amount it says should have been paid in royalties.

    302 comments | 2 days ago

  • University of Michigan Solar Car Wins Fifth Straight National Title

    An anonymous reader writes For the fifth consecutive year, the solar car team from the University of Michigan has won the American Solar Car Challenge. The event is an eight-day, 1,700-mile race with a total of 23 participating teams. The Umich victory comes in spite of a 20-30 minute delay when they had problems with the motor at the very beginning of the race. "They made the time up when team strategists decided to push the car to the speed limit while the sun was shining bright, rather than hold back to conserve energy." Footage of the race and daily updates on the car's performance are available from the team's website, as are the specs of the car itself. Notably, the current iteration of the car weighs only 320 pounds, a full 200 pounds lighter than the previous version.

    25 comments | 2 days ago

  • Tesla and Panasonic Have Reached an Agreement On the Gigafactory

    cartechboy writes: Tesla's been pretty quiet regarding its upcoming gigafactory lately, but that's about to change. It seems the Silicon Valley startup has reached an agreement with Panasonic in regards to the gigafactory, and Panasonic's going to end up having skin in the game. While the electronics giant was originally skeptical of Tesla's battery factory, it now isn't just on board, it's actually going to participate in the construction of this new facility. It's reported that Panasonic will invest 20 billion to 30 billion yen (194 million to $291 million at current exchange rates), and supply fabrication machinery necessary for cell production. That means Pansonic could end up footing the bill for $1 billion of the total $5 billion anticipated investment required for the gigafactory to get off the ground. If things continue to move forward, the Gigafactory should be online by the end of 2017.

    93 comments | 2 days ago

  • World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Goes Into Production In China

    stephendavion (2872091) writes "Chinese aircraft manufacturer China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) has started trial production of its TA600 amphibious aircraft, claimed to be the world's largest of its kind. With an expected maiden flight late next year, the Chinese plane would replace Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft as the largest of its kind globally." Take a look at a side profile illustration of the CA-600, on this Korean language page. The TA600 has a huge maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons, but looks a bit puny compared to Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules.

    85 comments | 3 days ago

  • Long-range Electric Car World Speed Record Broken By Australian Students

    New submitter is_this_gdog writes: The Sunswift solar car team from UNSW Australia has broken an international world speed record for the fastest long-range electric vehicle, averaging a speed of 107km/h (66mph) over 500km (310miles) from a single charge with their car, eVe. Solar panels were not used for this record (with solar, the car has a range of over 500 miles), the challenge was endurance speed with battery only. There are faster electric cars, and one or two with longer range if you go slow enough — Sunswift eVe is the first to officially do 500kms at highway speeds (pending official FIA approval). Pictures of the car are available here.

    120 comments | about a week ago

  • How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

    schwit1 writes: On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth's atmosphere. These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. "If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA. Fortunately, the blast site of the CMEs was not directed at Earth. Had this event occurred a week earlier when the point of eruption was Earth-facing, a potentially disastrous outcome would have unfolded.

    "Analysts believe that a direct hit could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn't even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps. ... According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion, or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair." Steve Tracton put it this way in his frightening overview of the risks of a severe solar storm: "The consequences could be devastating for commerce, transportation, agriculture and food stocks, fuel and water supplies, human health and medical facilities, national security, and daily life in general."

    212 comments | about a week ago

  • Will Your Next Car Be Covered In Morphing Dimples?

    cartechboy writes Golfing and cars, not much in common there. But that's about to change thanks to a new technology from a research lab at MIT called Smorphs. The idea is simple: put a set of dynamic dimples on the exterior of a car to improve its surface aerodynamics and make it slipperier, and therefore faster. Pedro Reis is the mechanical engineering and research spearheading this project. A while ago Mythbusters proved the validity of the dimpled car form in a much more low-tech way. The concept uses a hollow core surrounded by a thick, deformable layer, and a smoother outer skin. When vacuum is applied, the outer layers suck in to form the dimples. The technology is only in its very earliest stages, but we could see this applied to future vehicles in an effort to make them faster and more fuel efficient.

    138 comments | about a week ago

  • Lawrence Krauss: Congress Is Trying To Defund Scientists At Energy Department

    Lasrick writes Physicist Lawrence Krauss blasts Congress for their passage of the 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill that cut funding for renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and energy efficiency, and even worse, had amendments that targeted scientists at the Department of Energy: He writes that this action from the US Congress is worse even than the Australian government's move to cancel their carbon tax, because the action of Congress is far more insidious: "Each (amendment) would, in its own way, specifically prohibit scientists at the Energy Department from doing precisely what Congress should mandate them to do—namely perform the best possible scientific research to illuminate, for policymakers, the likelihood and possible consequences of climate change." Although the bill isn't likely to become law, Krauss is fed up with Congress burying its head in the sand: The fact that those amendments "...could pass a house of Congress, should concern everyone interested in the appropriate support of scientific research as a basis for sound public policy."

    296 comments | about a week ago

  • New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

    An anonymous reader writes If you're tired of yelling at the kids without the help of technology, Toyota has a van for you. From the article: "The latest version of the company's Sienna minivan has a feature called 'Driver Easy Speak.' It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent's voice through speakers in the back seats. Toyota says it added Easy Speak 'so parents don't have to shout to passengers in the back.' But chances are many parents will yell into the microphone anyway. And the feature only works one way, so the kids can't talk back. At least not with amplified voices. The feature is an option on the 2015 Sienna, which is being refreshed with a totally new interior. It also has an optional 'pull-down conversation mirror' that lets drivers check on kids without turning around."

    205 comments | about two weeks ago

  • California In the Running For Tesla Gigafactory

    An anonymous reader writes Thanks to some clean-energy tax incentives approved late this spring, California appears to be in the running again for Tesla's "Gigafactory". From the article: "The decision should have been made by now, and ground broken, according to the company's timeline, but is on hold, allowing California, which was not in the race initially — CEO Elon Musk has called California an improbable choice, citing regulations — to throw its hat in the ring. 'In terms of viability, California has progressed. Now it's a four-plus-one race,' said Simon Sproule, Tesla's vice president of global communication and marketing, referring to the four named finalists — Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada — for the prize. That's heartening. Having the Gigafactory would be a vindication of Gov. Jerry Brown's drive to make California the home of advanced manufacturing, of which Tesla's battery technology is a prime example. With its technology, 'Tesla may be in position to disrupt industries well beyond the realm of traditional auto manufacturing. It's not just cars,' a Morgan Stanley analyst told Quartz, an online business publication last year.

    172 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

    An anonymous reader writes A political battle has broken out on Wikipedia over an entry relating to the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, with the Russian government reportedly removing sections which accuse it of providing 'terrorists' with missiles that were used to down the civilian airliner. A Twitter bot which monitors edits made to the online encyclopedia from Russian government IP addresses spotted that changes are being made to a page relating to the crash. All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) changed a Russian language version of a page listing civil aviation accidents to say that "The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers." That edit replaced text – written just an hour earlier – which said MH17 had been shot down "by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation."

    667 comments | about two weeks ago

  • "Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

    An anonymous reader writes One of the developers behind special effects used in the film Avatar has inked a deal with airline check-in kiosk manufacturer BCS to implement avatars for personalized and interactive customer service. Dr Mark Sagar's Limbic IO is applying 'neurobehavioral animation' combining biologically based models of faces and neural systems to create live, naturally intelligent, and expressive interactive systems. "One of the comments levelled at self-service check in is that it has lost the human touch that people had when checking in at a traditional manned counter," Patrick Teo, BCS CEO says. "Travelling can be stressful and our aim is to make the interaction between human (passenger) and computer (check-in) as natural and helpful as possible."

    102 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

    An anonymous reader writes "Toyota is on track to launch the first consumer fuel-cell car in Japan next year, and the country's Prime Minister says the government wants to assist the new alternative to gas-driven vehicles. Shinzo Abe announced that Japan will offer subsidies of almost $20,000 for fuel cell cars, which will decrease the Toyota model's cost by about 28%. He said, "This is the car of a new era because it doesn't emit any carbon dioxide and it's environmentally friendly. The government needs to support this. Honda is also planning to release a fuel-cell car next year, but experts expect widespread adoption to take decades, since hydrogen fuel station infrastructure is still in its infancy."

    156 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Tesla Model S Hacking Prize Claimed

    savuporo sends word that a $10,000 bounty placed on hacking a Tesla Model S has been claimed by a team from Zhejiang University in China. The bounty itself was not issued by Tesla, but by Qihoo 360, a Chinese security company. "[The researchers] were able to gain remote control of the car's door locks, headlights, wipers, sunroof, and horn, Qihoo 360 said on its social networking Sina Weibo account. The security firm declined to reveal details at this point about how the hack was accomplished, although one report indicated that the hackers cracked the six-digit code for the Model S's mobile app.

    59 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Chicago Red Light Cameras Issue Thousands of Bogus Tickets

    mpicpp points out a report in the Chicago Tribune saying that thousands of the city's drivers have been wrongfully ticketed for red light violations because of "faulty equipment, human tinkering, or both." The Tribune's investigation uncovered the bogus tickets by analyzing the data from over 4 million tickets issued in the past seven years. Cameras that for years generated just a few tickets daily suddenly caught dozens of drivers a day. One camera near the United Center rocketed from generating one ticket per day to 56 per day for a two-week period last summer before mysteriously dropping back to normal. Tickets for so-called rolling right turns on red shot up during some of the most dramatic spikes, suggesting an unannounced change in enforcement. One North Side camera generated only a dozen tickets for rolling rights out of 100 total tickets in the entire second half of 2011. Then, over a 12-day spike, it spewed 563 tickets — 560 of them for rolling rights. Many of the spikes were marked by periods immediately before or after when no tickets were issued — downtimes suggesting human intervention that should have been documented. City officials said they cannot explain the absence of such records.

    229 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet

    An anonymous reader writes The investigation of a Malaysian passenger jet shot down over Ukrainian rebel held territory is heating up. U.S. and U.K. news organizations are studiously trying to spread the blame, Russian ITAR, which, just earlier today was celebrating the downing of a large aircraft by rebel missiles in Torez (Google cache) is reporting that the rebels do not have access to the missiles needed for such attacks. The rebel commander who earlier today reported the downing of the aircraft has also issued a correction to earlier reports that they had captured BUK air defense systems with Russian sources now stating that the rebels do not posses such air defenses. The Ukrainian president has been attempting to frame the incident as a "terrorist attack". President Obama made contact with Vladimir Putin and has been instead treating it as an accident, calling it a "terrible tragedy" and saying that the priority is investigating whether U.S. citizens were involved. With control of the black box and its own internet propaganda army Russia may be in a good position to win the propaganda war.

    503 comments | about two weeks ago

  • FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

    gurps_npc (621217) writes As per the Guardian, The FBI is concerned about dirverless cars. It discussed issues such as letting criminals shoot while the car drives (silly in my opinion, apparently they haven't heard of "partners" or considered requiring such cars have a police controlled "slow down" command), the use of such vehicles as guided bullets (safeties again should stop this), and loading it with explosives and using it as a guided missile. This last concern is the only one that I considered a real issue, but even that is not significantly more dangerous than loading up a regular van full of explosives with a timer, then setting the timer to explode before you leave the vehicle next to a school, etc.

    435 comments | about two weeks ago

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