Tesla pushes Sentry Mode, Dog Mode updates to its EVs

Tesla pushes Sentry Mode, Dog Mode updates to its EVs


Tesla

Less than a month after Elon Musk said Sentry Mode for Teslas would be “coming soon” the update has started to roll out, along with a couple of other tweaks. In a blog post detailing Sentry Mode, Tesla explained it uses the car’s external cameras to watch for potential threats. If it’s in standby, the cameras are watching, ready to go into an “Alert” state if someone does something like leaning against the car that pops up a message on its touchscreen saying that the cameras are recording.

If someone breaks a window or something then it goes directly into Alert, which activates the alarm, plays music at loud volume and turns up the brightness on the interior screen. It also sends an alert to the owner via their Tesla app and if they’ve plugged in a formatted USB drive prior to enabling Sentry Mode, then it will save a recording of everything starting ten minutes before the Alert was triggered. You’ll have to turn on Sentry Mode each time you want to use it — with its recordings that’s probably for the best — by going into the Safety & Security menu.

Sentry Mode
Sentry Mode continuously monitors your car’s surroundings while it’s locked and parked. When a potential threat is detected, the cameras on your car will begin recording, and the alarm system will activate. You will receive an alert from your Tesla app notifying you that an incident has occurred.

To enable Sentry Mode, go to Controls > Safety & Security > Sentry Mode. You must re-enable this feature with every use.

Sentry Mode is designed to add another layer of protection to your car, but it will not prevent against all possible threats.

For pet owners, there’s now Dog Mode, for times when you have to leave a four-legged friend in the car alone (providing that is allowed by local laws). Not only does it keep the cabin at a comfortable temperature (just tap the fan icon while parked and set the climate to “Dog”), it also displays that temperature on the car’s internal screen, hopefully preventing any well-meaning Good Samaritans from breaking your windows unnecessarily. If the car’s battery drops below 20 percent while in Dog Mode then it will send a notification to your phone.

Finally, the Dashcam recording feature that arrived last fall is also getting an upgrade that allows it to record feeds from the side cameras in addition to the narrow one mounted up front. It could take a little while for the upgrades to arrive, as Musk said they will go out slowly to watch for any issues and then ramp up in distribution next week. For Sentry Mode and the dashcam, the features are coming to “U.S. Model 3 vehicles, followed by Model S and Model X vehicles that were built after August 2017” since those have the required AutoPilot 2+ hardware installed.

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Elon Musk shares footage of SpaceX’s latest Mars rocket test

Elon Musk shares footage of SpaceX’s latest Mars rocket test


Elon Musk (Twitter)

Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to celebrate the first-test fire of the SpaceX Raptor flight engine, which will be used on its next-gen rocket. The company’s head honcho shared footage of the thunderous, two-second test conducted at its McGregor, Texas facility, the site where the Raptor was first put through its paces back in September, 2016. SpaceX followed up with an Instagram post confirming that the Raptor performed the “highest thrust ever” from a SpaceX engine, despite operating at 60 percent power.

The methane fuel-powered Raptor marks a technological shift away from the LOX/kerosene mix used in SpaceX’s current Merlin engines. This latest test was conducted with warm propellant, with Musk tweeting that he expects a 10 to 20 percent increase in performance when switching to deep cryogenic temperatures.

Musk said that the test engine hit 172 metric tons of force with a chamber pressure of 257 bars: the power levels needed for use in the Super Heavy rocket booster on the Starship (formerly known as the BFR). In the past, Musk has said that as many as 31 Raptor engines could be attached to the Starship, which is designed to be used for trips to Mars as early as 2022.

Though the SpaceX chief has admitted to being “optimistic” about his ambitions, his company recently underwent a seismic change to ensure it can meet its targets. Just last month, SpaceX said it was letting around 10 percent of its 6,000-plus employees go in order to become a leaner enterprise.

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Elon Musk: Model 3 price now starts at $35k — after incentives

Elon Musk: Model 3 price now starts at $35k — after incentives


Roberto Baldwin / Engadget

If you visit Model 3’s “Design Your Car” page, you’ll notice that it looks a bit more affordable than before. Tesla has lowered its price across versions by $1,100, so you can now get the mid-range battery option for $42,900 before incentives. Meanwhile, the car’s long-range version now costs $49,900, while the performance option will set you back $60,900 before savings. Elon Musk said that means Model 3 now has a starting price of $35,000, though that’s after you apply tax credits and fuel savings — you’ll have to wait a bit more for a Tesla car with a $35,000 base price. “We’re doing everything we can to get there,” Musk tweeted. “It’s a super hard grind.”

Tesla

A spokesperson told Electrek that the price decrease was enabled by the cancellation of the “referral program, which cost far more than [the company] realized.” The automaker’s referral scheme allowed Tesla owners to give five friends six months of free Supercharging with the purchase of a new vehicle. Apparently, the free charging and other benefits drove up costs too much, compelling the company to end the program on February 1st.

This the second time Tesla slashed Model 3’s prices after its federal EV tax credit has been cut in half. In January, it took $2,000 off the prices of all its vehicles to offset the new reduced tax incentives.

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Elon Musk teases Tesla ‘sentry mode’ that captures video in 360 degrees

Elon Musk teases Tesla ‘sentry mode’ that captures video in 360 degrees


Tesla

Elon Musk says Tesla is working on a “sentry mode” security feature that could let owners record damage and break-ins. The announcement came in response to a customer’s tweet complaining of a dent to his Model 3 and suggesting a “360 dash cam feature while parked.” To which Musk replied: “Tesla Sentry Mode coming soon for all cars with Enhanced Autopilot.” He later clarified that the update would be available for all EVs with the Autopilot 2.5 Hardware.

Going by the name — a possible nod to the sentry mode on Iron Man‘s Mark 43 armor — it sounds like the feature will either be an always-on dash cam function or will switch on automatically when it senses a blow or break-in to the vehicle. Musk, however, didn’t elaborate on its workings.

Tesla introduced 360-degree surround camera views for cars with Hardware 2.5 as part of its October software update. The feature lets owners capture dash cam recordings from the car’s front-facing camera, which can be saved to a flash drive that plugs into the vehicle’s USB port. Pressing an icon saves a 10 minute clip, while holding it down pauses recording. The update also taps in to all eight cameras on every Model S, X and 3 to create a surround view of nearby cars, along with adding information from the side and rear facing cameras for blindspot monitoring.

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Tesla is laying off 7 percent of its full-time employees

Tesla is laying off 7 percent of its full-time employees


The Washington Post via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that the company is laying off 7 percent of its full-time employees in an effort to cut costs and increase profits. He revealed that while Tesla will run a second consecutive quarterly profit, it will be less than what it earned last quarter. Over the past year or two, Tesla had massively increased its workforce to try to fulfill hundreds of thousands of orders. “We grew by 30 percent last year, which is more than we can support,” he said, adding that the company will only retain the most critical temps and contractors.

“Tesla will need to make these cuts while increasing the Model 3 production rate and making many manufacturing engineering improvements in the coming months,” he said in a public letter to employees. “Higher volume and manufacturing design improvements are crucial for Tesla to achieve the economies of scale required to manufacture the standard range (220 mile), standard interior Model 3 at $35,000 and still be a viable company.”

Musk’s SpaceX also announced recently that it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce in order to fund other projects. After achieving success with both companies, he now seems determined to spend less. Last summer, Tesla announced it would let go up to nine percent of its workforce after Tesla 3 manufacturing started to get on track, following Musk’s self-described “production hell.” At that point, it had 46,000 employees, so further cutbacks seemed inevitable, considering Tesla’s sales are still dwarfed by other manufacturers.

Still, that’s cold comfort to the salaried employees Tesla is letting go. “There are many companies that can offer a better work-life balance, because they are larger and more mature or in industries that are not so voraciously competitive,” said Musk. “Attempting to build affordable clean energy products at scale necessarily requires extreme effort and relentless creativity, but succeeding in our mission is essential to ensure that the future is good, so we must do everything we can to advance the cause.”

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Elon Musk shows off the first SpaceX Starship test vehicle

Elon Musk shows off the first SpaceX Starship test vehicle


SIPA USA/PA Images

SpaceX is done preparing the Starship for its very first test flight ever, and Elon Musk has shared an actual photo of assembly on Twitter. Formerly known as the “BFR,” the Starship is the private space company’s upcoming super heavy-lift launch vehicle meant for journeys to the moon and Mars and for hour-long trips anywhere on Earth.

As you can see, the actual spacecraft has a lot more texture than the smooth computer render the SpaceX chief teased a few days ago. That’s because this is the suborbital version designed for vertical take-off and landing tests — Musk said the orbital version will be taller and have thicker skins that won’t wrinkle. It’ll likely take some time before we see that bigger, smoother Starship, though. For now, we’ll keep an eye out for the suborbital version’s first test flight, which could take place in as soon as one to two months.

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Tesla will stop selling Model S and X cars with 75kWh batteries

Tesla will stop selling Model S and X cars with 75kWh batteries


AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Tesla isn’t done streamlining its electric car lineup. Elon Musk has announced that his company will stop taking orders for the 75kWh versions of the Model S and Model X after January 13th. He didn’t directly explain the move, but said “yes” when a Twitter user asked if Tesla was moving away from its longstanding use of battery capacity numbers to denote variants.

Musk didn’t say whether or not there would be replacements or price drops to fill in the gap. We’ve asked Tesla for comment.

If the starter Model S and X models disappeared with no rough equivalent in place, that would raise the starter prices by $15,000 or more, to $84,750 (from $66,750) and $87,950 (from $72,950) respectively. That could rule them out for some buyers — you’d have to buy a Model 3 if you wanted a Tesla EV under $80,000. That would simplify production, though, and might spur Model 3 sales as Tesla gradually shifts its focus toward new buyers.

However, Musk’s reply suggests it might be more a matter of rethinking trim levels than dropping them entirely. As with the Model 3, you might buy a car more based on how you intend to drive (Long Range or Performance, for example) than picking a battery capacity. It’s potentially easier to understand for newcomers to EVs, and might convince some buyers to spring for a more expensive package.

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Elon Musk teases final look of SpaceX’s Starship test vehicle

Elon Musk teases final look of SpaceX’s Starship test vehicle


SpaceX

It’s no secret that SpaceX has been constructing its Starship test vehicle — it’s easy for curious onlookers to snap photos. But what will it look like when it’s finished? You don’t have to wonder. Elon Musk has posted concept artwork showing what the completed vehicle will look like. It’s surprisingly pretty for a prototype, if borrowing more than a few cues from 1950s sci-fi with its gleaming stainless steel body.

The test mule will be 30 feet across like the completed Starship, but it’ll be shorter and will unsurprisingly go without windows. It’s intended to fly suborbital ‘Grasshopper‘ flights and prove that the basic formula is sound before moving on to orbital missions in 2020.

You might not have to wait long to see how well the concept lines up with reality. SpaceX currently expects to fly the test craft sometime in March or April, or about half a year earlier than first thought. While you’ll still have to be patient before you have a glimpse at the finished Starship, this is a good a sign as any that SpaceX’s plans are solidifying.

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Elon Musk asks judge to toss ‘pedo guy’ defamation lawsuit

Elon Musk asks judge to toss ‘pedo guy’ defamation lawsuit


Robyn Beck/Pool via Bloomberg

Elon Musk is hoping to end the US lawsuit over his “pedo guy” statements against British cave diver Vernon Unsworth before it gets started. His attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that his insults weren’t serious and thus were protected free speech in the US. This was just a “schoolyard spat,” Musk’s attorneys said. They contended that Twitter was a place where you could “expect to read opinions, not facts,” and thus that no one could realistically assume Musk was telling the truth.

Unsworth’s attorney rejected the claims in a statement to The Guardian. The argument would “effectively doom all lawsuits” over defamation, and that Musk’s dismissal points were “novel but inaccurate.”

It’s not clear how the judge will respond to the dismissal request, although it might not work in Musk’s favor. While he did apologize for his initial “pedo guy” remark in July, he undercut that in August when he told BuzzFeed News reporter that Unsworth was a “child rapist.” For that matter, Musk ran into trouble with the SEC precisely because he used Twitter to make a serious claim about taking Tesla private. Don’t be surprised if the case moves forward to its initial hearing on April 1st.

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Tesla’s Supercharger network will cover all of Europe in 2019

Tesla’s Supercharger network will cover all of Europe in 2019


Tesla

Elon Musk has revealed on Twitter that Tesla is planning a Supercharger expansion that will cover “100 percent of Europe” next year. “From Ireland to Kiev (Ukraine), from Norway to Turkey,” he added, in response to a tweet that some parts of Ireland are badly in need of Superchargers. The automaker started preparing the Model 3 for European markets back in November, displaying it in showrooms in various countries across the continent. That time, the company also said that the vehicle’s European version will come equipped with Combined Charging System (CCS) fast charging-compatible ports. In addition, Tesla said it will upgrade its existing Superchargers in the continent with CCS plugs before Model 3 arrives.

If the company plans to retrofit existing Superchargers with CCS plugs, then the new installations might already come with them from the get-go. Since CCS technology is commonly used for EVs in Europe, people wondered whether Tesla intends to open up its network to other companies’ vehicles. Tesla’s head of global charging infrastructure, Drew Bennett, said the company has been talking to other automakers, but there are no concrete plans just yet.

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SpaceX’s Starship test vehicle could fly by April

SpaceX’s Starship test vehicle could fly by April

SpaceX might begin Starship test flights sooner than you think. Elon Musk now expects to conduct a technical presentation for Starship soon after its test vehicle flies, “hopefully” in March or April — in other words, he wants a test flight before April is over. It wouldn’t be a spectacle on the order of the concept image you see above, of course. Instead, it would be much like SpaceX’s short-distance, suborbital Grasshopper test program from the Falcon 9’s early days.

Musk noted that vehicle would be just as wide as the final Starship at 30 feet across, but it wouldn’t be full height.

This isn’t set in stone by any means. However, it suggests that SpaceX is optimistic about its ability to complete the vehicle quickly. Musk and COO Gwynne Shotwell had previously pegged the first short-hop flights for late 2019. That target might be achievable — people near SpaceX’s planned Texas launch site have seen parts coming in. If there’s a larger question, it’s whether or not the test program will move briskly after the first test flight. SpaceX has talked about putting Starship in orbit by 2020, but a lot has to go well for that to happen.

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Elon Musk’s LA tunnel turns Teslas into a ‘rail-guided train’

Elon Musk’s LA tunnel turns Teslas into a ‘rail-guided train’


The Boring Company / Elon Musk

The Boring Company is starting its launch event for the test tunnel it successfully built in LA running from SpaceX property to “O’Leary Station,” and Elon Musk has already shared a few details. In tweets he showed off a sedan settled onto wheel gear that carries the car between elevators at each end of the tunnel, where it then simply drives right back onto the road.

According to Musk his contraption is capable of safe travel at over 150 MPH that makes it feel like “teleporting” within the city. It also can carry more than just Teslas, of course, and Musk said it applies to any “autonomous, electric car” that you might have. The live stream is about to start on the company’s website, we’ll update this post with any other details we learn in a few minutes.

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After Math: Where are the adults

After Math: Where are the adults


CBS

It’s been quite the week of tantrums by the man-babies who run some of the largest companies in the tech industry. While Elon Musk cried and stamped his feet through what should have been a softball 60 Minutes interview, Twitter head Jack Dorsey spent much of his week encouraging everybody to visit sunny, genocidal Myanmar. And let’s not even get started on what have become Mark Zuckerberg’s weekly Facebook fiascos. Still, it’s nice to see that at least some online institutions still have grownups behind the wheel.

Congress Social Media

10,000-plus dead, 700,000-plus fled: We’ll likely never know the full extent of the devastation wrought by the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, which has been raging since August, 2017, but damned if that’s going to stop Twitter CEO and Silicon Valley caricature Jack Dorsey from spending 12 silent days there before promoting the military junta-led Asian nation as a tourist destination.

Mountain View

1,600 affordable units: It’s nigh on impossible to find an affordable home in Mountain View due to both the exorbitant salaries commanded by techies and the city’s refusal to build high-density infill housing. This, unfortunately, means it’s up to tech companies themselves to jumpstart a solution. That’s why it’s so heartening to learn that Google plans to make 20 percent of the 8,000 residential units it wants to build as part of its proposed Mountain View expansion, affordable to folks making $44,000 a year.

musk

$167 million: While he was’t sobbing about how mean the SEC is to him, Tesla CEO Elon Musk mustered his legal team to sue ex-employee Martin Tripp for nine figures. At least he didn’t call Tripp a pedo as well.

asdf

$67 million: For a hundred million less than what Tesla is suing for, the FCC announced this week that it will provide additional funding to support rural broadband providers, which in turn bring the internet to 100,000 additional American homes every year.

Senate Defense

15 Senate Democrats: That’s who is pushing for the adoption of the Data Care Act, which would mandate websites protect personal user data much in the same way that your doctor and lawyer already have to do. There’s no guarantee that this bill will ever make it out of committee (given that the Senate is still saddled with a GOP majority) but if the DCA doesn’t work out, we may still see a GDPR-style bill early next year.

YT

58 million videos: YouTube is once again stepping up its enforcement efforts. The company announced this week that it had removed nearly 60 million videos, 1.7 million channels, and 224 million comments from its service for violating the Terms of Service.

FB

6.8 million users impacted: So, for most of September, if you uploaded a photo to Facebook but thought better of it and cancelled the upload, FB would still keep a copy of that photo — and then make it available to more than 1,500 3rd party apps.

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Tesla’s utility-sized Megapack battery may debut in California

Tesla’s utility-sized Megapack battery may debut in California


Kyle Grillot / Reuters

Tesla chief Elon Musk once dropped a hint about a “large product on the stationary storage side” in an interview, and some clues found online showed that the company is calling that product the “Megapack.” Now, Electrek has obtained a copy of Tesla’s proposal for PG&E’s Moss Landing energy storage site, which gives us a more concrete idea of what the Megapack actually is. Based on the documents, Tesla plans to use its new power storage product for large-scale projects instead of the Powerpack. And it makes sense, because each Megapack battery system will apparently measure 23’5″ x 5’3″ and will have a capacity of around 2,673 kWh.

That’s much, much bigger than the Powerpack, which has a length and width measuring 51.5″ x 32.4″ and has an energy capacity of 210 kWh. The illustrations in the documents show that Tesla plans to install two container-sized Megapack units back-to-back. It also plans to deploy 449 Megapacks with a total capacity of 1,200 MWh at the PG&E site in California.

Tesla

The energy company apparently wants to switch the site on by 2020, so Tesla might start installing units soon.

Image: Electrek

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Elon Musk says the SEC can’t stop him from tweeting what he wants

Elon Musk says the SEC can’t stop him from tweeting what he wants


CBS

Elon Musk says nobody censors his Twitter in the wake of his settlement with the SEC. As part of that deal over the securities fraud charge for his tweets about taking Tesla private, the entrepreneur agreed to step down as chairman and establish “additional controls and procedures” for his communications. “The only tweets that would have to be say reviewed would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in the stock,” he clarified in a wide-ranging interview with 60 Minutes.

When prodded further by host Lesley Stahl, he said: “Yeah, I mean otherwise it’s, “Hello, First Amendment.” Like Freedom of Speech is fundamental.” Musk also continued his tirade against the SEC, which he previously dubbed the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission” on Twitter, this time adding: “I want to be clear. I do not respect the SEC. I do not respect them.”

Musk declared that he’s only abiding by the SEC because he “respects the justice system.” He also said that he handpicked Robyn Denholm as Tesla’s new board chair, and that aside from not wanting to be chairman again, he would prefer “to have no titles at all.”

His latest interview follows appearances on Kara Swisher’s Recode Decode podcast and Axios on HBO. The 60 Minutes interview was filmed at Tesla’s auto plant in Fremont, California, and also saw Musk tackle that infamous pot smoking incident: “I do not smoke pot, as anyone who watched that podcast could tell, I have no idea how to smoke pot. Or anything. I don’t know to smoke anything, honestly.”

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