Tesla and other EVs have already saved 120k lives says study

By Jorge Aguirre
According to a study from Nature Communications, Teslas alone have saved over 20,000 lives
According to a study from Nature Communications, Teslas alone have saved over 20,000 lives

People are at risk from food and water shortages, flooding, high heat, an increase in disease, and economic loss due to climate change. Conflict and human migration are potential outcomes. Climate change has been named the biggest threat to world health in the 21st century, and it’s clear that taking prompt action to lessen its effects is of the utmost importance.

Amongst the many actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint and amount of harmful emissions that can be directly tied to us, purchasing an electric vehicle is one that could surely have a long-lasting effect. Studies have found that the more drivers transition their gas cars to electric ones, the better for ozone levels and the decrease of particulate matter or “haze”. When EV adoption is coupled with switching our power generation to renewable energies, the positive impacts are even greater.

Back in 2011 the Tesla Roadster - the first serially produced lithium-ion battery vehicle - served as the face of the new EV Revolution and hinted at the possibility of fast, seductive, and opulent electric vehicles in the future. Worldwide sales of electric vehicles are now in the millions of units since its introduction, with Tesla accounting for almost 2 million of those sales.

But a high EV adoption rate not only means good news for the planet we currently live in. It also dramatically increases the survival chances of our children and grandchildren, the generations to come. According to a study published just last year in Nature Communications, "adding 4,434 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 - equivalent to the lifetime emissions of 3.5 ordinary Americans - could cause one extra death globally in expectation during 2020-2100."

This is where electric vehicles can play their part. Let's look at Tesla's most recent impact report as an illustration. The average combustion vehicle emits 450 g CO2e every mile, or 68 metric tons over the course of a lifespan of 150,000 miles (241,401 km), according to that report. In contrast, the Model 3 emits 180 g CO2e/mile when charged through the American power grid, which is equivalent to 27 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the course of a lifetime.

We save around 40 metric tons of carbon over the course of a lifetime for every person who abandons their gas car for an electric vehicle. Tesla sales alone have saved our planet from around 80 million metric tons of carbon, assuming that most people would have gone with a gas car in an alternative universe where the electric revolution never happened.

According to the above-mentioned study, since every 4,000 metric tons of carbon emissions are predicted to result in an additional death, around 20,000 lives have been saved as a result. If we take into account the 10 million electric cars sold by other manufacturers, the number of lives saved increases to a staggering 120,000. Human lives are not the only direct beneficiaries of a higher EV adoption rate, however. Another study published by Northwestern university found that if EVs replaced 25% of combustion-engine cars currently on the road, the United States would save approximately $17 billion annually by avoiding damages from climate change and air pollution. In more aggressive scenarios -- replacing 75% of cars with EVs and increasing renewable energy generation -- savings could reach as much as $70 billion annually.

Many EV detractors mention that the electricity used to charge EVs still comes from fossil fuels, and therefore it balances out tail-pipe emissions savings. But this is not an accurate picture. Some electric charging stations even use renewable energy to charge EVs nowadays. However, EVs still result in fewer emissions overall even when their charging is coal powered. For example, electric vehicle use has resulted in a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in nations that rely heavily on coal, like China.

And sure, if done carelessly, EV battery manufacture might be dangerous to the environment. Nearly all EV emissions are ‘well-to-wheel emissions’ created during the battery production process. Because EVs are still a relatively new technology, the energy sources used to make batteries do not conform to industry standards, which increases the carbon footprint. But things are starting to change in this regard.

Compared to two years ago, the carbon footprint of modern EV batteries is two to three times smaller, and it is getting cleaner all the time. EV automakers are establishing standards for the suppliers of their batteries. For instance, they mandate that vendors exclusively produce using renewable energy sources like solar and wind. These sources can supply the substantial energy required to make EV batteries without producing damaging pollutants. Tesla, for example, intends to produce its batteries with only renewable energy.

Taking all these factors into consideration, we can only hope the EV Revolution is here to stay. We no longer have the luxury of being shy when it comes to reducing emissions and pollutants that are clearly accelerating climate change, and even though sometimes it can be easy to feel like there is not much we can do as individuals to prevent this, driving electric, while pushing for broader adoption of renewable power sources (including inside our own homes) is definitely a start.

Tesla Vehicles Spotted With LiDAR: What Do They Use It For?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently hit the news for purchasing approximately $2M in LiDAR sensors from Luminar, one of Tesla’s long-term suppliers. You’ve probably seen photos of Tesla’s Semi and various Tesla models, including the Model 3 and Model Y sporting LIDAR equipment on the roof. These cars drive around with manufacturer plates scanning streets and highways.

However, many people confuse Tesla’s purpose in purchasing LiDAR equipment with using it for FSD versus testing. So, let’s look at what LiDAR is, and why Tesla uses it on its Fleet Validation Vehicles.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detecting and Ranging – essentially using lasers to measure distances. A laser pulse is sent out, and the time it takes to return is measured – providing extremely accurate distance measurements.

Some companies working on self-driving vehicles, including Waymo and BYD, use LiDAR as part of their self-driving suites, but Tesla is one of the few stand-outs that does not. Even Rimac’s “Verne” Robotaxi – which uses self-driving technology from Mobileye, also uses LiDAR.

While LiDAR can produce extremely accurate and high-quality 3D environments, it comes with its downsides as well. Not only is LiDAR costly and requires large gear strapped to a vehicle, but it also can not be used in bad weather and can have interference issues if there are other strong light sources present.

Why Does Tesla Use LiDAR?

A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
Not a Tesla App

At Autonomy Day in 2019, Elon Musk mentioned that LiDAR isn’t the solution for self-driving cars – it's just a crutch. Thus, Tesla hasn’t used LiDAR for any production self-driving software.

Instead, Tesla uses it exactly how it's described – they use it to gather ground-truth data. This data is then used to feed Tesla’s Full Self Driving system – which helps validate its vision-only system's accuracy. LiDAR provides very accurate measurements to help ensure that FSD’s perception of space is accurate – and is only used by Tesla to ensure that its AI technology which is the brains of FSD is capable of accurately interpreting depth from just visual data.

Tesla’s vision-only system has been seen to be extremely accurate, with Vision-only Autopark being able to park in even narrower and tighter spaces faster than the previous version that relied on ultrasonic sensors.

We’ll likely continue to see Tesla purchase LiDAR systems, as well as use them for validation well into the future.

Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi Event in August Delayed, According to Bloomberg

By Karan Singh
Sugar Design

In a report from Bloomberg, it is claimed that Tesla will be delaying its much-anticipated 8/8 Robotaxi event by two months to October 2024.

While sources other than Bloomberg haven't confirmed this report, Bloomberg has a positive track record of reporting on financial decisions. We’ll be sure to update the article if there is confirmation on X from Elon Musk or another Tesla senior official.

Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly 8.5% over the day, ending back-to-back gains over the last two weeks. It closed yesterday at $ 241 after hitting a peak of $270 earlier in the day before the news broke.

Why the Delay?

The delay – of approximately two months – has been communicated internally, but not publicly announced just yet. Bloomberg goes on to mention that the design team was told to rework certain elements of the Cybercab, necessitating the delay.

If Bloomberg’s report is correct, it sounds like Tesla’s unveil event will be largely focused on showing off the vehicle, instead of demoing how it will work. Of course, it could still be both, but given past events, Tesla has always shown off the vehicle years before it hits production.

Rimac recently showed off their version of robotaxi vehicle named Verne, and surprisingly, it could almost pass for Tesla’s own robotaxi. A lot of design cues in Rimac’s version are elements we have already seen or expect to see in Tesla’s autonomous taxi.

A recent Tesla patent revealed that Tesla is incorporating a sanitation system into their robotaxi that will be responsible for analyzing and cleaning the vehicle’s interior, although the delay itself is likely tied more to a physical feature rather than software.

Another element we know almost nothing about is how Tesla plans to charge these robotic taxis. Will they rely on the existing charge port and adapt a solution like the robotic charging arm (video below) we saw almost eight years ago, or will wireless charging or a dock finally become realized?

While the delay for Tesla’s event appears to be related to the vehicle’s design itself and not further development of FSD, Tesla is wasting no time in getting FSD working for the upcoming vehicle. Model 3 vehicles have already been spotted with camera locations that resemble a robotaxi.

Is the Delay Accurate?

We expect that this delay might actually be true – Elon Musk usually takes to X within hours of such news breaking if it's false to refute it and hasn’t done so yet.

Tesla has delayed several of their events in the past, and a delay of a couple of months seems plausible. We should hear from Musk himself soon on whether this report is accurate.

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