Posts tagged with "Elon Musk":

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Elon Musk hates traffic, plans to dig tunnel under Los Angeles

Elon Musk announced today via Twitter that he is making plans to build at least one tunnel under Los Angeles as part of the Tesla and Space X CEO’s efforts to overcome automobile traffic in that city. A few weeks ago, the technology magnate issued a series of tweets expressing displeasure with what must have been a particularly bad patch of gridlock, saying, “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” Early this morning, Musk followed up with an update, saying, again via Twitter, “Exciting progress on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so.” Responding to a follower who asked exactly where would Musk’s new tunnel be, Musk said, “Starting across from my desk at SpaceX. Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway, which is 5 mins from LAX.” It is unclear if or how these tunnels will be approved for construction, whether Musk has begun the environmental review process for the tunnels, or if the tunnels will be built using solely private investment or whether the local, state or federal governments will help out. Musk has cozied up to President Trump in recent weeks, attending a technology summit at Trump Tower earlier this month and another meeting on manufacturing just after the president was inaugurated, so it’s possible he could have access to some portion of the president’s purported $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Details for that plan is still forthcoming, but early reports indicate it will rely heavily on Public Private Partnerships and will aim to boost highway, bridge, and tunnel infrastructure—not to mention detention centers, and prisons—at the expense of more publicly-oriented and environmentally-friendly infrastructure like rapid-transit. It is also unclear if Musk has considered taking L.A.’s existing rapid transit system when traveling to the airport. There’s a stop on the system’s Green Line at the corner of the block where Space X’s headquarters sits. Additionally, with the Crenshaw / LAX Transit project due to be completed in 2019, getting to the airport should be quick, easy, and only cost $1.75 each way from there. “Traffic,” after all, isn’t something that merely happens in isolation; it’s a phenomenon that happens as a result of individuals using private vehicle transport to get around.
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BIG releases more information on ultra-fast Hyperloop One

After teasing audiences with a 170-second-long video last month, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled further information on its collaboration with Elon Musk's Hyperloop One, a super high-speed transit network in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With expected travel times of just 12 minutes between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the route would slash current car journey times of two hours between the cities. It's a tantalizing prospect and BIG has been working on the project since May of this year. The firm has developed concepts for autonomous point-to-point travel including Hyperloop One's transport portals and pods while also working on a feasibility study financed by the Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA). The plan so far involves a pods—capable of carrying humans and freight—traveling in excess of 680 miles per hour through pressurized tubes that would stretch between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These pods will carry six people and would be part of a zero-emission electric propulsion system. Speed is also a concern relative to passenger circulation outside the pods. "All elements of the travel experience are designed to increase convenience and reduce interruptions," BIG said in a statement. "The main objective of the design is to eliminate waiting from the passenger experience." BIG's designs for the portals build on a study that looked at inter-city transport network integration with existing infrastructure and population density in the two cities. As a result, the firm's proposal involves easily identifiable departure gates that passengers can swiftly access. While pods may be small in size, BIG explained that their frequency rate of arrival and departure would cater to high demand. Pods would also be able to operate autonomously away from the pressurized tubes, meaning they could travel on regular roads. "Together with BIG, we have worked on a seamless experience that starts the moment you think about being somewhere—not going somewhere,” said Josh Giegel, president of engineering of Hyperloop One, in a press release. “We don’t sell cars, boats, trains, or planes. We sell time.” Bjarke Ingels, founding partner of BIG, added: “With Hyperloop One we have given form to a mobility ecosystem of pods and portals, where the waiting hall has vanished along with waiting itself. Hyperloop One combines collective commuting with individual freedom at near supersonic speed," he said. "We are heading for a future where our mental map of the city is completely reconfigured, as our habitual understanding of distance and proximity—time and space—is warped by this virgin form of travel.”
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Elon Musk unveils new Solar Roof, Tesla Powerwall 2, and Powerpack 2

On October 28, surrounded by houses topped with solar roofs designed by SolarCity and Tesla, Elon Musk discussed Tesla’s latest products: a Solar Roof, the Powerwall 2, and Powerpack 2. “The goal is to have solar roofs that look better than normal roofs, last longer, provide better insulation, and actually have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus electricity. So why would you buy anything else?” he said at a press event. The solar roofs are comprised of glass tiles with photovoltaic cells underneath; the tiles are hydrographic printed to resemble four classic roofing materials: French slate, Tuscan, Smooth, and Textured. Each is printed differently so that each tile is a “special snowflake” Musk quipped. Musk also explained the improvements that the new Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 have over their predecessors. The Powerwall 2, meant for single-family homes, has double the energy storage of the first home battery Tesla created, with a usable capacity of 13.5 kWh and 90 percent efficiency. It can also be scaled up to combine nine Powerwalls into one storage unit. The Powerpack 2, meant for commercial use, is limitlessly scalable, and Tesla is currently working to supply utility company Southern California Edison with 80 MWh of battery storage—the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world, according to Tesla. During the day, the photovoltaics charge up the batteries, which then dispense energy throughout the building until the next morning. Each Powerwall 2 can provide a two-bedroom home with one day of power, so service wouldn’t lapse even on a (hypothetically) pitch-black day. Musk discussed the world’s current dire 404 parts-per-million C02 levels in Earth's atmosphere as vertically climbing since the 1950s. Now that solar roofs are available at a competitive price point (the cost of Tesla’s solar roofs has not yet been disclosed, but Musk said that it would be less than the cost of a standard roof plus the money saved on energy) in a variety of styles, Musk hopes that the four to five million new roofs installed in the U.S. each year can be solar powered, effectively taking millions of people off of the grid. “The whole purpose of Tesla is to bring about sustainable energy,” Musk said. Combining the solar roof with the storage Powerwall or Powerpack and a solar car means a whole household can have an integrated, off-the-grid system. In short, Musk wants to do for solar roofs what Tesla did for electric cars and turn a niche product into an aspirational mass consumer item. And if these solar panel systems are as affordable, beautiful, and seamless as he says, then the future could be sunny indeed. Watch the full video below:
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Bjarke Ingels Group releases teaser video for Elon Musk's Hyperloop

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has released a teaser video for Hyperloop One—the high-speed transportation system pioneered by Elon Musk, who is seeking to revolutionize modern transit. The plan is to shoot freight and passenger pods through a pressurized tube at speeds of more than 700 miles per hour using a zero-emission electric propulsion system, which, according to Rolling Stone, could result in a travel time of about 30 minutes from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The video reveals the first hyperloop links in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and features Jakob Lange, BIG partner and director of BIG Ideas, the experimental incubator that creates prototypes and products for their portfolio projects. (See our interview with Lange). BIG Ideas is responsible for helping envision the Hyperloop and designing adaptability into its initial pods and pressurized tubes. Hyperloop One announced that Bjarke Ingels Group would join them as an architectural partner in the same week as it passed its first, open-air test of their electric propulsion technology in the Mojave Desert back in May 2016 (that test reached speeds of 116 miles per hour). Engineering firms AECOM and Arup have also been named as partners to realize the advanced technology as infrastructure. The video above reveals planned Hyperloop connections between Abu Dhabi Airport and Dubai Airport, among other locations in the UAE. Hyperloop One’s chief executive Rob Lloyd told The New York Times that he is most proud of the speed at which the technology is being developed, saying that Hyperloop “will do to the physical world what the Internet did to the digital one.” The company recently raised another $50 million needed to complete another prototype, bringing its total funding for research and development to $160 million. The company also named Brent Callinicos as its chief financial advisor to guide its funding needs. Callinicos joins Hyperloop after working as a treasurer at Google, and most recently as Uber’s chief financial officer.
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New teams taking on Elon Musk's Hyperloop high-speed transportation concept

While California's High Speed Rail system broke ground last month in California, Elon Musk's dream of a Hyperloop, a rocket-propelled system that would shuttle passengers (and/or freight) across the state (and perhaps the country) in minutes, not hours, is making surprising progress, with new teams, and visions emerging. According to Gizmag, an LA-based startup called Hyperloop Technologies has raised $8.5 million for the project, with another $80 million in funds projected for later this year. According to Hyperloop Technologies' web site, its investors include Formation 8, Sherpa Ventures, Zhen Capital, and David O. Sacks. Another startup called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has cajoled (via crowdsourcing) people to chip in part-time on engineering and design. The company's CEO told Bloomberg that it hopes to go public later this year. Meanwhile Musk himself has promised to build a test track in Texas for such companies to test out Hyperloop prototypes.
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Buffalo breaks ground on largest solar panel facility in the Western Hemisphere

Manufacturing is returning to Buffalo, New York in a big way. In late September, SolarCity broke ground on a 1.2-million-square-foot solar panel manufacturing plant that will be the biggest facility of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The company, which Elon Musk chairs, is investing $5 billion into the project that will rise on the site of a former Republic Steel factory. When fully operational, the panels produced at the factory are expected to generate one gigawatt of energy, that's roughly enough power to power 145,000 homes. New York State has also put forth significant funds for the project. "Under the deal with SolarCity," explained the Buffalo News, "the state will spend $350 million to build the sprawling factory on South Park Avenue and provide $400 million in funding for equipment, with the state following the economic development model that it used to build up the semiconductor industry in the Albany area. Under that model, the state invests in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that typically are too costly for companies to acquire on their own and then signs agreements with companies, like SolarCity, that want to access it." The facility is expected to open in 2016 and provide 3,000 jobs for the Buffalo region, according to the Cuomo administration.
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A Gravity-Free Leap in Commercial Space Travel

Buckle up: the gap between commercial space travel and the present moment is rapidly narrowing. Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America (designed by Foster + Partners) recently signed an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration granting access to airspace in New Mexico, with designs to turn the ground beneath into a commercial spaceflight center. A major milestone in commercial space travel, the agreement arrives the same week as the unveiling of the Dragon V2, a manned spacecraft designed by SpaceX and Elon Musk. The cutting-edge capsule is a major step in building spacecraft that have the same touch-and-respond sensitivity as a helicopter. The Dragon's development fell beneath a NASA initiative to replace the retired Space Shuttle. Maybe it will be used at the new spaceport, also designed by SpaceX and Elon Musk, in Brownsville, South Texas?
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Is that Musk in the Air? Electric Car, Space Guru Has Plans For Texas

Speaking of rumors, Texas Monthly spread the word that Silicon Valley billionaire visionary Elon Musk may be locating facilities for two of his future-looking companies in the Lone Star State. Musk’s SpaceX has been buying up land in Cameron County in South Texas with the implicit purpose of building a space facility on the site to launch an expedition to Mars. In more terrestrial affairs, the South Africa native is also considering building a battery factory in the state for his electric car company, Tesla Motors.
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UCLA SUPRASTUDIO to Take On Elon Musk's Hyperloop Proposal

“This thing is real,” architect Craig Hodgetts said in an email about the Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s proposal for a high-speed transit system somewhere between a train and a human-scale pneumatique. Hodgetts would know: next year, he’ll direct a studio on the urban implications of the technology for SUPRASTUDIO, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design’s Master of Architecture II program. The partnership between SUPRASTUDIO, part of UCLA’s IDEAS laboratory, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the startup company formed to make Musk’s concept a reality, is part of a strategy to crowd-source much of the research and development behind the Hyperloop. UCLA A.UD_03 For a full year beginning in the summer of 2014, post-professional students admitted to Hodgetts’s studio will research the social and spatial potential of the Hyperloop, in close cooperation with the engineers at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. The physics of the system, Hodgetts said, are relatively straightforward. For him, the more interesting questions have to do with the passenger experience—with normalizing a new type of travel and counteracting the claustrophobic effects of the tightly-configured, windowless cars. Then there is the impact the Hyperloop will have on the cities it connects. In his studio, Hodgetts said, students will “start looking at new urban networks, at different priorities in terms of urban design. These are really exciting ideas from an urban design and architectural point of view.” Hodgetts, who is a principal at Hodgetts + Fung in Culver City, is no stranger to revolutionary ideas about urban transit. In 1969 he and Lester Walker introduced the Landliner, a straddle-bus that promised to turn sprawling metropolitan regions into continuous “Strip Cities.” Then, in 1978, Hodgetts produced drawings for an unmade movie version of the novel Ecotopia in which the primary form of transport was a network of mag-lev trains. (Like Musk’s Hyperloop, Hodgetts’s Ecotopia trains were propelled forward by pulses of solar-generated electricity.) Today, he’s not afraid to express his enthusiasm for the Hyperloop. After describing the basic principles of the system, he said, “I trust [Musk] totally on that, because we have a Tesla and it’s pretty much anything anybody said about it.” Hodgetts sees in the Hyperloop an “absolutely profound level of change.” It may do for transit, he said, what social media has done for communication. “The main thing that’s exciting to me is that one of the things that has made the biggest social changes is the relative lack of any friction whatsoever in social media...To have something in the physical world that leans in that direction is what I think is really profound.”
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Elon Musk's Hyperloop Proposal Pushes California To Look Toward Future of Transportation

When Elon Musk makes plans he makes no little ones. And he feels California shouldn’t either. This is the rationale behind Hyperloop Alpha, a supersonic, solar-powered, air-cushioned transit system (and future “Never Built”?) he views as the bolder alternative to conventional high-speed rail. It’s not a train, exactly. It’s more a hybrid between high-speed rail and the Concord. It’s Mr. Musk’s answer to the ever-delayed and increasingly expensive bullet train being proposed by the California High-Speed Rail Project that was supposed to be “shovel ready” in 2012. Turns out it’s more complicated and expensive to build high-speed rail than anybody in the state ever thought. Could Hyperloop, more bullet and less train, be the answer? If it’s true it could be built for less than one-tenth the cost of the $70 billion high-speed rail system, then perhaps yes. For a mere $20 (He’s really thought this out) you would be able to strap yourself into a thin aluminum tube and get shot (at speeds of up to 750 mph) to San Francisco in about 35 minutes. The design doesn’t feature any windows, so hopefully there will at least be some video monitors or soothing ambient lighting to relax passengers who are essentially locked inside a jet engine hurtling itself through an elevated  steel pipeline. In a conference call following the release of the 57-page PDF outline of the project, Musk said there could be a prototype ready for testing within the next four years. Perhaps it’s time for the California High-Speed Rail Project to hire Mr. Musk and his team of engineers and optimists. At least then California could have some form of 21st-century transit underway before 2020.
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Leading West Coast Architects Celebrate DnA's Relaunch in Santa Monica

On Monday, members of LA’s design and architecture cognoscenti descended on the Tesla store on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to celebrate the official relaunch of KCRW’s DnA (Design and Architecture). The event featured a discussion between DnA host and executive producer Frances Anderton and Elon Musk, the visionary founder-CEO of Tesla and Space X. Those present included Michael Rotondi, Ray Kappe, Thom Mayne, developer Tom Gilmore, and Getty architecture curators Wim de Wit and Christopher Alexander. After ten years as a monthly on-air program, DnA will re-emerge as a more comprehensive weekly podcast and blog. To help curate what’s being billed as “DnA 2.0",  Anderton is enlisting the talents of local design journalists—or “DJs”—that she has hand-picked. “I’m thrilled that we will increase our coverage of, and participation in this creative community and the work that shapes our lives,” said Anderton. In the discussion Ms. Anderton honed in on Mr. Musk’s hands-on approach to design and innovation and how his operations are solidly based in California. “I like to be close enough to be involved,” he said. “With outsourcing, something we at one time considered, you lose the potential for innovation in the process.” Questions from the audience ranged from whether science fiction played a role in his work—“Definitely Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and Heinlein”— to if he could solve LA’s traffic problem. “I’ve got a design for a double-decker freeway worked out,” he said. When a young member of the audience asked about flying cars, he thoughtfully responded that he thought the challenge wasn’t getting the cars to fly but in preventing them from crashing into everything. When asked if he had any advice for architects about getting more visionary buildings erected in Los Angeles, Mr. Musk demurred, saying “I wouldn’t presume to give advice. The problem isn’t the architects. We just need more clients here who want to put up visionary buildings.”