Tesla for Kids

Tesla is most commonly known for its novel innovations in automobile technology, research into battery technology, and even the company’s dedication to open source knowledge. Now, the company is shifting gears to create a product for all the tiny Elon Musk fans out there.

Tesla, in collaboration with Radio Flyer, has recently produced line of electric vehicles for kids.

True to Tesla vehicles, the kid car is essentially a scale model of Tesla’s popular electric sedan.

Uphill Battle for Electric Cars

With plunging oil prices, it is proving to be more difficult than ever to entice buyers into purchasing an electric vehicle. While the low oil prices may be good for consumers’ gas tanks, the transportation sector continues to account for 27 percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The question then arises of how electric car manufacturers can steer folks back toward electric vehicles and away from gas-guzzling cars?

(MORE: Read Interface: PV, EV, and Your Home)

Impact of falling oil prices

“It definitely makes the transition to sustainable energy more difficult,” said Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, at a business conference in Hong Kong about the impact of the free-falling oil prices.

Tesla rose to prominence in 2003 when oil prices soared, making electric vehicles all the more tempting. With oil prices continually on the decline, it’s now up to companies like Tesla to compel buyers and stress the importance of transitioning toward cleaner vehicles.

New features for electric cars

For companies like Tesla, that means developing things like autonomous cars with “summon” features – allowing the user to call their car just like a pet. Even aesthetic aspects have become more important, with Tesla focusing on futuristic designs.

“What we’re aspiring to do is to make the cars so compelling that even with lower gas prices, it’s still the car you want to buy,” Musk said.

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Nikola Tesla

Tesla was known for discovering amazing things and then forgetting to write them down.
Image: The Oatmeal

Nikola Tesla is one of the most recognizable scientists in history; unfortunately the majority of his life was dominated by poverty, isolation, and intense emotional relationships with pigeons. Even with all of this, Telsa’s story is both inspiring, and often times even funny. Here are a few things you may not have known about Tesla.

He once made $2/day digging ditches
After graduating from university, Tesla had big dreams of revolutionizing discovery and development in electricity. He began that journey by working at Edison’s electric company in Paris, but traveled to the United States in hopes of working directly with Edison. Of course, upon seeing his potential, Edison offered him a job. However, Edison never paid Tesla the promised amount of $50,000 for the design of an improved direct current generator. With this, Tesla left Edison’s lab and dug ditches to make ends meet until he found enough backers to start his own lab.

Telsa paid an overdue bill with a “death beam”
Most people know that Tesla had quite the eccentric personality, but his later years in life really demonstrated this. Tesla picked pigeons over people and jumped from one hotel to another living a life of isolation. In an attempt to pay his overdue bill at the Governor Clinton hotel, he offered the establishment a wooden case containing a “death beam.” Tesla stated that it held a potentially war-ending weapon, but that the hotel must never open it. They listened… for a while. Once Tesla died the hotel opened the box to unveil nothing but old electrical components.

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Tesla Reveals Battery to Power Homes

Elon Musk has just announced the new Tesla Energy division, which aims to move the energy grid away from dependency on fossil fuels and toward renewables.

The new line features a suite of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries—similar to the batteries used in the Tesla vehicles—for homes, businesses, and utilities. The company states that the battery can store renewable energy at a residential level for load shifting, backup power, and self-consumption of solar power generation.

During his announcement, Musk stated that this move could help change the “entire energy infrastructure of the world.”

The batteries have the ability to charge during non-peak energy usage hours and provide the home with energy during peak usage hours. The batteries are available at 10kWh or 7kWh, with a selling price of $3,500 and $3,000 respectively.

To put this into perspective, an energy comparison firm estimates that 1kWh can produce enough power for a full washing machine cycle.

Tesla hopes that this new line of batteries gets us closer to zero emission power generation and fosters a clean energy ecosystem.

Sparking the Driverless Car Era

We’ve been hearing about the new generation of vehicles for some time now. The self-driving, autonomous, electric car seemed to be so distant that it transformed into a pipe dream—until now. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced this past week that Tesla’s self-driving cars will hit highways this summer.

On Thursday March 18, Musk arranged a press conference to talk about Tesla’s automobile software update that will eliminate range anxiety—or the fear that your electric car will run out of power before being able to recharge on long trips.

But that wasn’t the highlight of the press conference. Musk casually announced that beginning around June, all Tesla models well get an update that allows them to drive in “Autopilot” mode.

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Self-Driving Cars by next Year?

With new technology and scientific breakthroughs in the automobile industry, everyone is waiting for the first car that will be able to run autonomously. Now, it may be closer than we expected.

Tesla Motors’ CEO and chief product architect, Elon Musk, made a prediction in September of 2013 stating that Tesla automobiles would operate autonomously for “90 percent of miles driven within three years.” Musk has now revised his statement and has proponents of autopilot capable cars hopeful for the future.

This from IEEE Spectrum:

One year later, he’s revised his estimate a bit, now saying that “a Tesla car next year will probably be 90 percent capable of autopilot. Like, so 90 percent of your miles can be on auto. For sure highway travel.” Although he didn’t go into any detail (besides some suggestion of an obligatory sensor fusion approach), Musk seems confident that this is something that Tesla will make happen, not just sometime soon, but actually next year.

Read the full article here.

While there is still much ambiguity on what Musk’s statement actually entails, we will be waiting to see what technology Tesla puts forward within the next year.

Want to find out more about the future of the automobile? Take a look at what our scientist are researching via our Digital Library.

Nikola Tesla

Tesla was known for discovering amazing things and then forgetting to write them down.

You know his name, but how much do you really know about Nikola Tesla? The writers over at The Oatmeal want you to be aware of all of Tesla’s glory, and put together quite the comic to demonstrate it.

This from The Oatmeal:

Over one hundred years ago, a Serbian-American inventor by the name of Nikola Tesla started fixing things that weren’t broken… Tesla’s contributions were not incremental; they were revolutionary.

Learn more about this underdog and his inventions and contributions to science, which included: alternating current, hydroelectricity, cryogenic engineering, the remote control, neon lighting, and wireless communication just to name a few.

Check out the comic here.

Although The Oatmeal paints Thomas Edison – Tesla’s competitor and often times rival – as “a non-geek who operated in geek space,” we at ECS are still proud to have had him as a member of the Society.

If you’re looking for more humorous renditions of Tesla’s storied past, check out this Drunk History rendition via Funny or Die.

Patents, Open Source and Open Access

TeslaOn June 12, Tesla announced that it would no longer initiate patent lawsuits against anyone using their technology in good faith. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, wrote this about the removal of patents from a wall in their Palo Alto lobby, “they have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.”

Musk went on to state,

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform. Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

Bravo to Tesla! ECS shares similar values and launched author choice open access earlier this year. Some of our reasons for committing to open access closely parallel Mr. Musk’s remarks: the need to accelerate research, technology and innovation. A recent evaluation suggested that close to 65% of ECS technical content involves the sustainability of our planet. By opening access to the latest findings, ECS believes we can better support innovative research, reach new audiences, and enable faster scientific breakthroughs.

For more than 110 years the ECS mission has been to disseminate scientific information to the widest possible audience. Our vision for the future remains true to this goal, and expands upon it by creating uninhibited availability of ECS content through open access – an initiative that democratizes the science and hopefully, accelerates scientific progress.

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