Tesla seems to have taken a significant step towards its long-awaited Robotaxi future with the launch of an autonomous transportation program at its Las Vegas Convention Center Loop (LVCCL) stations.
Ever since the launch of the Autopilot program in 2014, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk has promised a driverless future, in which Tesla vehicles would be able to join a so-called Robotaxi fleet and make money for their owners driving passengers around town.
Although we're still years always from this becoming a reality, we're now getting our first glimpse at the driverless feature in a limited fashion.
Tesla recently released FSD Beta update 10.11.1. The update has reportedly given the manufacturer enough confidence in their self-driving software to remove the safety driver from their Las Vegas Convention Center Loop (LVCCL) vehicles entirely and allow them to travel through the tunnels autonomously.
The Boring Company, another one of Elon Musk’s ventures, was created to construct fast-to-dig, low-cost transportation, utility, and freight tunnels in order to solve traffic and enable rapid point-to-point transportation within cities.
The Boring Company recently shared on their Twitter page: “Wednesday evening The Boring Company activated FSD 10.11.1 for its entire LVCC vehicle fleet and ran several test vehicles without drivers. Many conference attendees enjoyed a flawless journey.”
Tesla's Las Vegas Convention Center Loop
The Las Vegas Convention Center Loop is the Boring Company’s first commercially operational loop service. It’s a three-station transport system with 1.7 miles of tunnels that officially debuted in June of 2021 and utilizes Tesla vehicles to shuttle passengers through the tunnels.
The Tesla vehicles used in the Loop were always able to autonomously drive through the tunnels, but The Boring Company still required safety drivers behind the seat, until now.
This is definitely an exciting new development in the timeline for autonomous driving, and an indication that the confidence of the company in their promised driverless future continues to increase with each new release of their full self-driving beta software.
Tesla’s new partnership with gas and electric company PG&E in California will give Powerwall owners the opportunity to earn money while giving energy back to the grid.
The virtual power plant (VPP) is a connection of distributed energy storage systems that work in tandem to give energy back to the grid to avoid dirty and costly peaker power plants. Essentially, when the grid is being strained, then the VPP can kick in and draw power from Powerwall owners enrolled in the program, and other distributed energy storage system owners, to use clean energy and avoid brownouts across the state.
Here are some of the advantages with this new VPP with PG&E:
Stabilize California’s Grid: The extra capacity your Powerwall provides could help avoid or reduce blackouts in a severe emergency. This way, Powerwall can keep the lights on for both you and your community.
Clean the Grid: Tesla will dispatch your Powerwall when the grid is in critical need of additional power. That is when the least efficient generators would typically come online.
Unite as a Tesla Community: Team up with other Powerwall owners who are accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy and help form the largest distributed battery in the world - potentially over 50,000 Powerwalls. As part of the VPP, your Powerwall will have an outsized positive impact on the grid over traditional demand response programs.
Maintain Your Energy Security: Powerwall will discharge during VPP events but won’t discharge below your Backup Reserve. Adjust your Backup Reserve to control your contribution while maintaining backup energy for outages.
Earn Compensation: Through the ELRP pilot, you will receive $2 for every additional kWh your Powerwall provides during an event. You don’t have to change your energy usage behavior to participate.
In 2021, Tesla piloted a test VPP program in California for Powerwall owners to voluntarily opt-in without compensation. The test VPP program would then pull energy from the Powerwalls when the grids needed it.
“Become a part of the largest distributed battery in the world and help keep California’s energy clean and reliable,” reads a statement from Tesla. “Opt-in to the Tesla Virtual Power Plant (VPP) with PG&E and your Powerwall will be dispatched when the grid needs emergency support. Through the Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP) pilot, you will receive $2 for every additional kWh your Powerwall delivers during an event. Adjust your Backup Reserve to set your contribution, while maintaining backup energy for outages.”
With Tesla and PG&E’s new VPP program owners will receive $2/kWh, which is quite significant. For comparison, where I live in Southern California, Tesla charges $0.58/kWh for supercharging during peak hours.
According to Electrek, “they could earn anywhere from $10 to $60 per event or more for bigger systems.”
Tesla stated that they have roughly 50,000 Powerwalls that may be eligible for this new program.
In an interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that the Cybertruck design has now been finalized. Musk didn’t get into details about the design, but gave a rough timeline for production of the Cybertruck.
With the design now "locked", he estimates production will begin “the middle of next year, roughly 12-months’ish” which would put the first Cybertruck deliveries in the second half of 2023.
Musk did not say when the final design will be revealed, but recent sightings of the alpha builds give us many hints as to what to expect.
When discussing the Cybertruck design Elon said they “got too carried with the…,” before pausing, hinting that they have added a number of new features not included on the original prototype.
While it's not clear what additional features Elon was about to mention, we have an idea of what is to come.
One of the most controversial additions has been the side mirrors, which are required by law, although Musk has said that they will be easily removable by owners.
Another controversial feature of the Cybertruck is the windshield wiper. While we have only seen the large single wiper, Musk did say that the final design would be different than what has been seen on recent builds.
Tesla did patent a laser beam windshield wiper, but we'll likely see something more traditional on the Cybertruck.
Another feature we could see on the final build are doors with no handles. At the Cyber Rodeo, Elon opened the Cybertruck door by pushing a button on the side of the truck. The doors also seemingly open and lock depending on proximity to the vehicle.
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