GM Starts Mass Producing Self-Driving Electric Cars; Firefox Gets Multiprocess Update (Finally); Amazon Patents Delivery Drone with Winch

It’s likely that the Tesla Model S can be fully self-driving with software activation, but isn’t yet. Meanwhile, they aren’t asleep at the switch at General Motors. GM has cranked out 130 electric Bolts on a production line. according to engadget.com, the General had already built 50 self-driving Bolt EVs, but this latest batch is fully mass produced, and more advanced than the hand finished models. The future really is coming at warp speed.

Mozilla has finally released Firefox with multiprocess architecture, 8 years after starting the project. Arstechnica.com says, without getting into the weeds, the net is that it’s faster and more stable, and despite multiprocess platforms hogging more memory, they were able to build it so it is quicker and uses less RAM than Google’s Chrome. It’ probably worth giving a spin if you’re not already a Firefox user.

Amazon has patented a couple of interesting things for drones. Geekwire.com reports that one is a winch setup that can lower packages to the ground on a tether. It has a counterbalance to keep the package from swaying wildly on its way to your porch or other delivery spot. Another patent is for folding wings, that fold in half, but then extend themselves for flight. Amazon had previously experimented with dropping packages with a small parachute.

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Tesla Planning Name Change & Wireless Charging; Texting to Get Another Makeover?

Tesla Motors has acquired the tesla.com site from a fan of the scientist that’s owned it since the 90’s. Businessinsider.com says right now, it redirects to teslamotors.com. It looks like Tesla is about to drop motors and just become Tesla…as Apple Computer became Apple years ago. They will fold their Tesla energy brand under this umbrella…the division that makes the Powerwall and Powerpack batteries, as well as the auto operation. The storage division is expected to be a third of their battery factory production by 2020.

Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S is on the way to getting wireless charging. According to mashable.com, a supplier called Plugless is taking $244 deposits on a wireless charger they plan to introduce late this spring. It will cost $2440 if you order now…more later. The wireless rig can run off any 50 amp circuit, and only needs pro installation for outdoors. It will give a Model S 20 miles of range per hour charge. Right now, no system is available for the all wheel drive Model S, the Model X, Roadster, or upcoming Model 3.

Text…the most old-school thing besides voice available on mobile phones…may be getting a makeover. Theverge.com reports that Google has partnered with 19 phone carriers to update SMS and MMS messages. The new moniker? RCS, or Rich Communications Service. It would allow for sending higher quality photos, starting group chats, and video. T-Mobile has already used it for video calling. If it ends up being baked into Android, it would simplify contacting people…in fact, a simple text could seamlessly start a video chat without choosing Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, etc.


No Tesla Model X For You Until Mid-2016

The already delayed Tesla SUV, the Model X, with the gullwing rear doors, will be introduced September 29th, but don’t expect to get your hands on one until the 2nd half of 2016. Bgr.com reports that the middle of next year is when Tesla’s order page indicates newly reserved cars will be shipping. Both engineering challenges and the success of the Model S have contributed to delays for the unique electric SUV. We should know the price next week, though. Elon Musk already revealed the nosebleed price for the signature model. Tesla already has 31,000 preorders banked for the Model X…nearly triple what they had for the Model S back in 2012. This just in, from Businessinsider.com:

BI Tech ‏@SAI
Tesla Model S will have over 600 miles of range in 2 years, by @greencarreports http://read.bi/1QDK1Qx

If you’ve jumped into the virtual reality world with both eyeballs, here’s something that may interest you…CNN has announced that they will partner with Next VR and broadcast the Democratic Debate on October 13th in VR!. According to engadget.com, users of Samsung’s GearVR will be able to immerse themselves in the debate as if they were sitting right in the Las Vegas audience.


When Will That ‘Baby Tesla’ Be Available?

Elon Musk Tweeted yesterday that the Model 3, the smallest Tesla, will go into production in 2017. Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that pre-orders will start next March when the car is unveiled. It’s expected that the Model 3 will sell for around $35,000, nearly half the price of the current top line Model S, and have a 200 mile cruising range. Musk said the 2017 date is because demand for the cars will mean the giant battery producing factory will have to be up and running. It will come in both sedan and crossover suv models.

Intel has rolled out it’s new 6th generation core processor, Skylake. The advanced chip has 2-1/2 times better speed, 3 times the battery life, and 30 times the graphics power of an average 5 year old PC. According to businessinsider.com, it will enable cutting the weight and thickness of a PC in half, and for some laptops to go fanless…great news if you’re looking at a laptop, but a blow to the struggling tablet market. Expect the Skylake chips to start showing up in laptops late this year.


The ‘Small’ Tesla Model 3 May Have Serious Cruising Range

Sometimes you see something you know will be a game changer. While a lot of eyeballs have been on Apple’s WWDC this week, Elon Musk spoke at the Edison Electric Institute get together in New Orleans. According to bgr.com, Musk let it drop that the compact Model 3, which is 20% smaller than the pricey Model S, Will have a driving range of at least 250 miles. If Tesla holds to the $35,000 price point on the smaller car, they won’t be able to build these things fast enough, and other car makers will breathlessly be trying to play catch up. The Model 3 will be rolled out next March, and should be launching in late 2017.

On the subject of the aforementioned Apple, major supplier Foxconn is reportedly in talks to open a factory in India. Reuters says this would allow them to avoid the wage inflation in China, and in addition help them keep Apple business in a market Apple wants to develop. Foxconn is shooting for developing 10-12 facilities in India, between factories and data centers…all by 2020.