Tesla Semi Truck Revealed

The Tesla semi-truck has been a long-awaited reveal in not only the tech world but in the auto and shipping industry as well, and it is finally here.

With its sleek, almost spaceship-like design, the Tesla semi looked like Musk had just driven it from the future when he pulled it into the hangar where he unveiled it to the public for the first time.

Tesla seme charcoal

In a TED talk, Musk  said that the Tesla Semi’s performance was top-notch, and that it could pull a diesel semi “uphill” in a truck pull. At the official unveiling of the semi-truck, he’s revealed some performance stats to back up his claims.

In the Tesla semi reveal, Musk said the semi (with or without a trailer) will reach 60mph in 5 seconds. Now, fully loaded, at the max gross weight allowed on a U.S. highway (80,000 lbs.), the truck, “[will reach] 60mph in 20 seconds.” The diesel semi didn’t even compare in acceleration.

With the same load, the Tesla semi can 65mph on a 5% grade compared to the 45mph a diesel semi can reach.

The truck has a 500-mile range, “at maximum weight, at highway speed.”

Musk said they designed the truck to be like a bullet. In comparison, typical diesel semi-trucks have a drag coefficient between 0.65 and 0.70 while the Tesla semi has a drag coefficient lower than that of the Bugatti Chiron (0.38), two-million dollar sports car. The drag coefficient of the Tesla semi comes in at 0.36.

Musk guaranteed that every Tesla will have enhanced autopilot as a standard. This includes automatic braking, automatic lane keeping, and forward collision detection.

In an emergency, Musk said, “the truck will stay in lane, and gradually come to a halt, put on the emergencies [lights]. If it doesn’t hear a response from you it will actually call emergency services and get an ambulance.”

According to Musk, a trucker’s worst nightmare, jackknifing, is gone with the Tesla semi-truck. The Tesla’s four independent motors will dynamically adjust to eliminate the possibility of jackknifing.

Tesla places a lot of confidence behind their new creation, so much so that they guarantee 1,000,000 miles without breaking down.

Tesla is accepting orders for the truck, and production is set for 2019.

For more performance stats on the Tesla semi-truck, here is a link for the unveiling.

Musk’s Boring Company to dig tunnel in Maryland

The Boring Company tunneler

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned Elon Musk’s Boring Company and its goals. Well, it seems they’re making progress.

In Oct. of this year, the Boring Company was given permission to begin digging a 10-mile tunnel in Maryland.

While this is a rather typical utility permit granted to businesses who wish to tunnel, it is a grand stepping stone for Musk’s hyperloop dream.

Once the 10-mile tunnel is dug and the hyperloop design completed, the system could transport passengers from Washington to New York in just 29 minutes, according to Musk.

Further use for tunnels the Boring Company wish to dig include creating a system of tunnels and lifts that will ferry cars, in a toll-like system, past high traffic areas and alleviate congestion.

Here is a link to the original announcement in the Baltimore Sun.

Elon Musk thinks some people should not develop AI

Elon Musk has voiced his concerns about the dangers of creating Artificial Intelligence. More than ever, humanity is close to creating true AI, and in the next couple of decades, AI research and development is expected to explode.

Not everyone shares the same concerns as Musk. Some people are taking part in what Musk describes as, “reckless” development of AI.

Musk feels so strongly about the dangers AI development poses that he has insisted on passing protective legislation around the development of AI.

In Oct. of this year, Musk tweeted a link to an article about an “AI God.” In the tweet, Musk said, “On the list of people who should absolutely *not* be allowed to develop digital superintelligence.”

Both Musk’s tweet and the article by John Brandon were referring to Anthony Levandowski, former Google self-driving car engineer, who recently founded a nonprofit religious organization called Way of the Future. The organization’s goal is to create an AI “Godhead” that, “through understanding and worship of the Godhead,” will contribute to the betterment of society.

Here is a link to an article with Musk’s tweet.

When you think about worshiping a machine, the organization sounds a little culty, and culty sounds scary. There could be some grounds behind what Elon Musk is trying to tell us.

Part 2: Elon’s Mission to Mars

In part one of this post, I introduced Elon Musk’s plan to begin colonizing Mars by 2024. In this post, I will be detailing this plan further.

I previously mentioned SpaceX has begun serious development of their new rocket, the BFR. This new rocket will have numerous capabilities beyond that of modern rockets.

BFR v Saturn V

According to Musk, if the BFR is launched into orbit, “[It will] get 150 tons of low-earth orbit and have no fuel to go anywhere else, which is good.” That’s still more than modern rockets get, but if they launch tankers and refill in orbit they can actually fly to the moon and back without refueling, leaving open the possibility of establishing a lunar base. Musk joked on the matter. He said, “It’s 2017. We should have a lunar base by now. What the hell is going on.”

Musk further mentioned that, with this orbital refueling system, they can, “get 150 tons all the way to Mars,” so refueling the BFR in orbit, “is absolutely fundamental,” in reaching Mars. Using refueling tankers with, “high reuse capability,” leaves only the cost of fuel and makes reaching Mars quite much less costly, in terms of fuel and propulsion.

However, there are still plenty of issues in landing and surviving an alien planet like supplies, returning to Earth, and energy production. Local propellant production—creating fuel on the surface of Mars—is essential for a return journey home from Mars.

Mars has a CO2 atmosphere and water-ice, which can be used for fuel production. Solar power can be used to extract CO2 from the atmosphere, and the CO2 can be combined with water to create CH4 and O2, which are used as fuel and oxygen for the rocket.

Mars has lower gravity and an atmosphere that is not nearly as dense as Earth’s, so the astronauts would only need a single-stage ignition for a return journey to Earth. This means that the shuttle itself can be used to bring them home.

SpaceX has worked out their first goals in reaching Mars. In the year 2022, they plan to land at least 2 cargo ships on the surface of Mars. These cargo ships will confirm water resources and identify hazards—along with placing power, mining, and life support infrastructure for future flights.

Then, in the year 2024, they want to fly four ships to Mars. Two of these ships will be crew ships, and the other two will bring more equipment and supplies. The crew will then establish the propellant production plant and build up the base to prepare for expansion.

Mars City

Expansion of the Mars base includes the building of a Mars city (above) and the eventual terraforming of Mars.

Here is a link to SpaceX’s presentation on colonizing Mars.

Part 1: Elon Announces His Mars Mission

In part one of this post, I will introduce the SpaceX’s announcement for their Mars mission. Part two will detail their plan for colonizing Mars.

With many successful rocket launches from SpaceX, Musk has great hopes for the future of the company. The team’s ultimate goal is to colonize Mars and, at some point, begin terraforming the planet for human inhabitants. They want to shape the atmosphere and environment of Mars for human sustainability. Where past conquerors have set their sights on neighboring lands, Musk has shifted his sights to planets.

A key element to SpaceX’s plans for reaching Mars is the development of their new rocket, the BFR (unofficially codenamed the Big Fucking Rocket). The new rocket will be bigger than any other rocket in history and will dwarf the space station.

BFR docking ISS.png

Musk mentioned his team had run into some trouble while brainstorming how they might pay for this massive rocket, but they decided building large stockpiles of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets for future commercial space-runs and diverting their time and resources into constructing the BFR will create a viable production model for the Mars mission.

With the development their new rocket in full swing, Musk and his team are feeling quite confident that they will soon be able to launch missions to our red neighbor. How soon? Musk’s team is planning manned missions to Mars’ surface as early as 2024. NASA’s plans for manned missions to Mars are set for 2030, but with their shuttle program shutdown, it’s likely they will be hitching rides on Musk’s BFR.

spacex-space-suit

Musk outlined his plan for greater space exploration and colonizing Mars in a SpaceX presentation of Sept. 2017. With the BFR capable of carrying far more cargo, crew, and fuel than any other rockets in existence, SpaceX will be able to transport enough supplies to establish a base on Mars, build a fuel production depot, and return to Earth.

SpaceX successfully lands rocket boosters after launch

It seems every time anyone says Elon Musk can’t do something he’s set out to do, he does just that. This time, he’s re-landed multiple rockets after they’ve launched. The normal practice among competitors—including NASA, Virgin Galactic, and the European Space Agency—is to let the rockets sail off into the sunset and to be forgotten and rendered completely unusable.

That hunk of metal they’re sending off to the abyss makes up 75% of the total cost of the rocket. That’s millions of dollars hurtling through the sky. While they were designing the system for bringing the rocket stages safely back to the ground, Musk joked to his team, “There’s a pallet of cash flying through the sky, do you try to catch it?”

Elon’s answer is yes. You do try to catch it. Initially, SpaceX experienced failure in their rockets. With three failed rocket launches, the company was on running on the last of its cash. The fourth launch was a success. “Fate likes us that day,” Elon said. SpaceX has now completed sixteen consecutive rocket landings.

rocket landingWith each new success SpaceX is improving the landing of their rockets. He said the next version will not need legs and will be so precise that, “it will land back on its launch mount.”

That’s a large step from the explosive endings of the first three launches, but every launch since has shown an immense increase in precision.

Here is a link for the one of SpaceX’s latest landings.

In my next post, I will talk about SpaceX’s exciting new plans for the future of space travel, including Mars.

Tesla, Inc.

Tesla car red

The world, particularly the United States, runs mostly on fossil fuels.  Experts on the matter say that we cannot survive on fossil fuels alone. We will need to find renewable forms of energy, green energy.

Power stations, planes, trains, and cars all currently run on fossil fuels and deplete the nonrenewable energy source every day. A large part of this depletion is due to combustible engine cars, so what do we need to do to make our lifestyle sustainable? Musk says cars and other forms of transportation, must become electric for this to happen.

So, how does creating electric cars make us more sustainable than we are now? In his first Ted Talk, The mind behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity …, Musk mentions that if we take natural gas, the most prevalent hydrocarbon fuel source, and we, “burn that in a modern General Electric natural gas turbine, you’ll get about 60 percent efficiency. If you put that same fuel in an internal combustion engine car, you get about 20 percent efficiency.”

So, if we take all the combustible engine vehicles off the road and replace them with electric vehicles, we more than double our energy efficiency.

Tesla was founded in 2003 by Musk to create a fully electric car that could compete with the world’s combustible engine market, which Musk says will be going down in the next few decades, and legislation from modern countries seems to suggest he is right.

Britain recently passed legislation with the goal of banning combustible engine vehicles by 2040, and other countries like France, India, and Norway have all passed similar legislation. With electric cars making up only 3% of the world’s car market, it seems that the United States is set behind the start line for this race, that is, if it weren’t for Elon Musk.

In his Ted Talk, Musk said there are three stages to Tesla’s business model: high-cost, low volume; medium-cost, medium-volume; and low-cost, high-volume. During the time of this statement in 2013, Musk said they were in stage 2.

With Musk founding Tesla in 2003 under the assumption of a changing world car market and legislation for electric cars being passed only in recent years, I would say he is a visionary well beyond his time.

Welcome

Welcome to the Elon Musk blog where I will be discussing new innovations, accomplishments, and visions of the billionaire tech giant. Musk can be described as a pioneer of the future. Through his businesses and start-ups, he has and continues to challenge humanity to push itself far into the future.

In recent years alone, the billionaire has proved that visions once thought too far-fetched are easily within our grasp if we simply pursue them. So sit back, fasten your spacesuits, and enjoy!