Musk Reads: Tesla Roadster Hover Test Set for Liftoff

Plus, the Model 3’s camera could offer hidden features and Tesla’s solar charger steps into the sun.

A Tesla Roadster hover test is on the way; the Model 3’s camera could offer hidden features; and Tesla’s solar charger steps into the sun. It’s Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #90.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk Quote of the Week

“Tesla Service Centers & Superchargers are being opened as fast as possible across Eastern Europe.”

Tesla

Get ready for a Tesla Roadster hover test. Musk suggested over Twitter last week that the upcoming supercar, which is set to feature an array of cold air thrusters in a “SpaceX” options pack, could demonstrate its flying capabilities at the end of next year. Musk previously dismissed flying cars, as they could “guillotine” pedestrians, but the thrusters are expected to focus on improving performance rather than taking off high into the sky. Read more.

That camera inside the Model 3 could be used to personalize your experience. Patent applications and an interview from Musk show that the currently dormant internal camera, located above the rear view mirror, could one day recognize users and switch their preferences accordingly. Musk stated in April that the camera will also be used in the company’s robo-taxi plans, allowing owners to monitor their car while they send it out to earn money. Read more.

Apple has poached another Tesla executive for its self-driving car project. Steve MacManus, former vice president of engineering at Tesla, will now serve as senior director for the iPhone maker. It’s the third such hire in 12 months, following Doug Field and Michael Schwekutsch, and suggests Apple is getting more serious about its mysterious “Project Titan” autonomous car. Read more.

Tesla Solar

Tesla unveiled a solar-powered supercharger last week, a design that could potentially scale up to offer solar-powered charging at more locations. The Las Vegas charger offers 24 third-generation charging points that can add up to 180 miles to a Model 3 Long Range’s battery in 15 minutes, plus a further 15 lower-powered chargers for longer stays. This is the first all-new third-generation supercharger since the system was unveiled in March. Musk stated in December 2016 that Tesla could roll out solar-powered chargers on a wide scale once the high-powered chargers hit the roads. Read more.

In Other Musk News…

Could Martians control a Tesla with their minds? Following the launch of Neuralink, Musk responded to fan queries about the future potential for the brain-computer linkup. Online linkup is on the cards, as is operations for astronauts. Future inhabitants of a Mars colony may struggle to use the system, however, as their bodies could rapidly change due to radiation and their unique environment. Read more.

The big question facing Neuralink is how long it could last. Experts speaking to Inverse have voiced their concerns about whether an invasive implant could remain in the body for an extended period of time. Read more.

Musk Reads Mailroom

Reader Gordon Peterson writes:

  • “I’m unlikely to be the first to comment that an X with normal doors would be great, to lower the price and give better usability.”

The Model X’s falcon wing doors stunned viewers when Musk unveiled them in 2015. While it makes the car look like a spaceship, in hindsight, they may have been a misstep.

The doors led to the car being delayed for months as engineers worked out the tweaks. Drivers reported mechanical failures, Tesla sued the original manufacturer for low standards, and Musk dismissed the car’s intricate design as a “Faberge egg” that doesn’t scale well for manufacturing.

The Model Y could solve many of the issues associated with the Model X, thanks to its Model 3-like design, but like the Model 3, it also lacks much of the interior space. Perhaps a future update to the Model X will replace the doors with something more long-term.

Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

What’s next for Tesla: Tesla is set to report its second quarter earnings on July 24, with a conference call scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Pacific time.

Photo of the Week

The orange Roadster makes an appearance.

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The Ultra-Fine Print

This has been Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #90, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

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A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.