One of the subtler but I think most noteworthy announcements from this week’s Tesla conference call concerned the ongoing development of Tesla’s Autopilot/”Full Self-Driving”* firmware suite. Before we get into that, though, let’s go back a bit to include some historical context.
Previously, two years ago, Tesla “labelers” were labeling pictures taken by Tesla vehicle cameras in order to train the vehicles to respond to different things (animals, street oddities, other cars, etc.) in certain ways. Well, they were training the Autopilot/Full Self Driving firmware, and then Tesla would occasionally implement over-the-air firmware updates for consumer vehicles (like you get with a smartphone or computer). At some point, seemingly around the middle of 2019, the Tesla Autopilot team determined that this approach was seeing diminishing returns and couldn’t get Tesla to truly self-driving vehicle capability. That is when Tesla made a big shift and spent months doing a ground-up rewrite of the Autopilot code.
(*Side note: Autopilot is the broader term covering all of the passive and active driver-assist features in a Tesla. “Full Self Driving” is a specific suite of features that consumers have to pay $10,000 more for — or $6,000 more for when I bought my Model 3. Also, when being implemented in the car by the driver, with all of these extra features, you say you are “turning on Autopilot.” Many Tesla owners — like me — have had “Navigate on Autopilot” for highways available in our cars for a long time, and a few thousand owners now have a beta version of the most advanced features that basically provides the same Navigate on Autopilot functions for use on city streets, including making turns and passing other cars as needed.)
The big shift was to start labeling videos across time — “4D” labeling as Elon has called it. So, for example, as I understand it, when a car is driving by a fire hydrant, a Tesla labeler would label that so that other Teslas could identify fire hydrants as they drive by them in the future. That is a simple example, but something more obscure may be a plastic bag blowing in front of the car. Ideally, if this is done well, any time a plastic bag blows in front of a Tesla, the car should identify it as such and not brake to avoid hitting it.
The news from the Q1 conference call this week is that Autopilot/FSD labelers are increasingly working … on Autopilot. As in, they are increasingly just checking the auto labeling that the neural nets are doing, rather than doing the labeling themselves. They train the system to label 8 video feeds and then check the auto labeling. And the system seems to be getting better and better at it.
To be honest, some years ago, I would say that many people thought Tesla was doing what it is starting to do now. I know several years ago, when I learned about Tesla using neural nets and having the ability (in theory) to use “shadow Autopilot” to collect an enormous amount of data from most of the Tesla vehicles on the roads, I thought Tesla was already doing this. Many others did too, based on comments I saw on forums and in comments back then. Apparently, though, our expectations for what was happening were some years ahead of reality. Nonetheless, it’s big news that Tesla is sliding into this method more and more now, and this increasingly means that AI will improve Autopilot and hopefully help get the firmware to the 99.999999% safety level Elon is aiming for.
When I got to converse with Elon about the Tesla Autopilot team a bit last year (see: “Tesla Autopilot Innovation Comes From Team Of ~300 Jedi Engineers — Interview With Elon Musk“), he noted that there were “just under 200 [engineers] on the software side and a little over 100 on the chip design side,” but that there were several hundred more people dedicated to labeling.
“We also have over 500 highly skilled labelers,” Elon said. “This is a hard job that really does require skill and training, especially with 4D (3D plus time series) labeling.” But that was just at that moment. The plan was to grow that team, double it.
“We are expanding to 1000 highly skilled labelers. Emphasis on highly skilled. Like I said, this sounds easy, but is actually hard and requires talent.“
This is practically the only time I’ve seen or heard him talk about the labelers and quantify them, so it was one of the most interesting pieces of new information about Tesla or autonomous driving development for me last year. I’m curious now how the evolving system of labeling is affecting that team. Is the team going to shrink again due to AI taking on more and more of the work? Or does Tesla still need so many labelers even as the AI does more work?
Tesla Transitions To LFP Battery Cells For Megapack Installations
Multiple news sources are reporting that Tesla has begun using lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells in its Megapack grid-scale storage systems. LFP has some advantage and disadvantages when compared to the traditional nickel cobalt aluminum (NCA) or nickel, manganese, cobalt (NMC) batteries typically used to power electric cars. The advantages include not using nickel or cobalt, both of which are going up in price as the demand for electric cars accelerates. In addition, mining cobalt has significant environmental and humanitarian issues. Leaving those elements out helps lower the cost of manufacturing battery cells.
The downside is that LFP batteries are less energy dense than traditional battery cells, which is why they are a perfect fit for the entry level Tesla Model 3 Standard Range + in China but not for the mighty Model S P100D with Plaid+ Mode. The change in battery chemistry was alluded to by Elon Musk in the most recent conference call with investors. “However, stationary storage, the energy density is not as important because it’s just staying on the ground, and so I think the vast majority of stationary storage will be iron-based lithium-ion cells with an iron phosphate cathode, technically. But the phosphate part is unnecessary. It’s really just the iron or nickel.”
Teslarati is referencing a research note [pay wall] by Canaccord Genuity analyst Jed Dorsheimer that says, “Tesla announced that Megapack will be using LFP cathode batteries, similar to the entry-level Made-in-China Model 3/Ys. This is significant, as Tesla ramps up their grid-scale energy storage product without drawing further on an already supply-constrained nickel-based battery production capacity used in 2170s.”
Each Megapack has a maximum energy capacity of 3 MWh, making it one of the largest energy storage systems on the market. With its shipping container size enclosure, it can be installed quickly and scaled easily to meet the needs of individual customers. Tesla says the Megapack requires 40% less space and 10× fewer parts than storage battery systems available today from its competitors.
During that earnings call, Musk responded to a question from New Street Research analyst Pierre Ferragu about Tesla’s expectations for its energy business. “We’re aiming for comparable margins in storage as in vehicle. But it is important to bear in mind that vehicle is more mature than the storage. So, we already are at margins with the Powerwall. But some additional work is needed for the Megapack to achieve good margins. We have a clear runway for improving the cost per the megawatt-hour of the Megapack.”
LFP battery cells also require less complex cooling strategies than NCA and NMC batteries, lowering costs even more. As Teslarati’s Simon Alvarez notes, “A more affordable Megapack is a formidable product, as it would make it far more reasonable than less sustainable alternatives. It could effectively accelerate the inevitable obsolescence of dirty peaker plants.” That, of course, is the raison d’être for battery storage — to eliminate climate-killing emissions from coal- and gas-fired generating plants.
Lower battery storage prices will only move the renewable energy revolution forward faster, something that will be essential if we wish to keep the Earth suitable for human habitation. Free market types are always screaming about letting the market decide. Here’s a caveat for those people who are opponents of renewable energy: Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it!
EV-Only Lease Firm WeVee Scaling Up Operations In The UK
The UK plugin electric vehicle market share, at 13.25% in April 2021, was quite impressive again despite significant cuts in government incentives. Vehicles that qualify for the incentives have now also been restricted to vehicles that cost less than £35,000. There are, however, quite a number of other benefits still available for people and businesses looking to get into the age of electric mobility. These include a benefit in kind tax (BIK) and a Salary Sacrifice scheme.
Under the BIK, if one uses a company car privately, including for commuting, one has to pay tax on the value of the company car, which depends on how much it would cost to buy the car and the type of fuel it uses. The value of the car is reduced if one has the car on a part-time basis, pays something towards its cost, or it has low CO2 emissions. For EVs, this tax is actually 1% until April 2022 and then it’s increased to only 2%. Under the salary sacrifice scheme, an employee can pay for an electric car each month using their gross salary, before tax and other contributions are deducted.
In the UK, just like probably everywhere else, traditional automobile dealerships are still keen to push sales of ICE vehicles over EVs, so a lot of them don’t go out of their way to sell the benefits of EVs to prospective customers despite all the progress made over the last 10 years with regards to the number of EV models available on the market. The Nissan Leaf, alongside a few other models, was pretty much all that was available back then. Now in 2021 there are well over 70 models available and it is difficult to browse every EV available on the multiple OEM platforms and associated dealerships.
WeVee, a next-generation leasing broker focusing only on electric cars, wants to improve the customer experience for EV shoppers by proving a platform where one can see every electric car available in the UK in one place. This will allow consumers to make an informed decision backed by support from EV experts at the EV-only focused firm. WeVee says it wants its customers to get the perfect EV lease deal with the best prices, helping communities speed up the switch to zero-emission cars.
90% of new UK cars are financed, and WeVee is going to focus on 3 leasing verticals, Personal, BIK, and Salary Sacrifice leasing options to tailor the best value proposition to individuals and businesses looking to go EV. Business leases will be its anchor segment and WeVee will ride on the strong partnerships across the industry as a competitive advantage. WeVee has already helped over 800 people switch to electric and is now scaling up its platform and business to help more families and businesses make the switch.
All images courtesy of WeVee
Subtracting Monomials and Polynomials
Monomials and binomials are algebraic expressions with one and two terms. Monomials are polynomials with a single term, whereas binomials have two terms joined by an addition or subtraction operation. Monomials and binomials consist of variables, their exponents, coefficients, or constants. A coefficient is a number that appears on the left side of a variable and is connected through multiplication to the variable; for example, in the monomial 7x, “seven” is a coefficient. A constant is a number without an attached variable; for example, in the binomial x + 3, “three” is a constant.
Subtracting Two Monomials
To subtract two monomials, ensure that both the monomials are like or same– which means both the monomials should have the same exponents and variables. For example, 4x^3 and -9x^3 are monomials with like terms since they both have a similar variable and exponent, i.e., x^3. Whereas monomials 5x^2 and -2x are not like terms as their exponents are different, and 8x^2 and -9y^2 are also not like terms because their variables are different. Since only like terms can be subtracted, it is important to carefully compare the monomials for subtracting. Once the variables and exponents are the same, simply subtract the coefficients.
Subtracting One Monomial and One Binomial
To perform the subtraction of monomial and binomial, rearranging these polynomials is important. By rearranging the terms, we can recognize and place the like terms together for subtraction. For example, if we have to subtract the monomial 4x^2 from the binomial 7x^2 + 2x, the terms we will initially write will be 7x^2 + 2x – 4x^2. Here, 7x^2 and -4x^2 are like terms, so we have to write 7x^2 and -4x^2 next to each other to form the expression 7x^2 – 4x^2 + 2x. The next step is to perform the subtraction on the coefficients of the like terms which means subtract 7x^2 – 4x^2 to get 3x^2. Now write the resulting terms together and the solution to the example is 3x^2 + 2x.
Subtracting Two Binomials
Subtracting binomials also requires rearranging like terms and representing binomials in standard form along with applying distributive property to change subtraction to addition. The process of subtracting binomials includes the following steps:
- The first step includes using the distributive property to change subtraction to addition when there are parentheses included. For example, in binomial subtraction, 5x^2 – 5 – (4x^2 – 3), distribute the minus sign before the parentheses to both terms inside it– so, the expression becomes 5x^2 – 5 – 4x^2 +3.
- Rearrange the terms, so that like terms are grouped next to each other– so the above expression becomes 5x^2 – 4x^2 – 5 +3.
- Now solve all like terms by adding or subtracting their coefficients as shown in the problem. To calculate 5x^2 – 4x^2 – 5 +3, solve like terms 5x^2 – 4x^2 to get x^2 and – 5 +3 to get – 2. The final solution of 5x^2 – 5 – (4x^2 – 3) = x^2 – 2.
Learning the concept of polynomials subtraction is essential for studying algebra. Cuemath offers multiple learning resources for kids to understand the concept of monomials and polynomials subtraction with ease. The worksheets and games enable students to understand this concept quickly. To find some interactive resources based on monomials and binomials, visit www.cuemath.com.
Biden-Harris Admin Approves 1st Major Offshore Wind Project in U.S. Waters
WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo today announced approval of the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind project — the first large-scale, offshore wind project in the United States. The Secretaries were joined in the announcement by labor leaders who have been working to ensure that the project is built and maintained by union labor.
The 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind energy project will contribute to the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of generating 30 gigawatts of energy from offshore wind by 2030. The project will be located approximately 12 nautical miles offshore Martha’s Vineyard and 12 nautical miles offshore Nantucket in the northern portion of Vineyard Wind’s lease area. It will create 3,600 jobs and provide enough power for 400,000 homes and businesses.
“A clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States. The approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the Administration’s goals to create good-paying union jobs while combatting climate change and powering our nation,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “Today is one of many actions we are determined to take to open the doors of economic opportunity to more Americans.”
“Today’s offshore wind project announcement demonstrates that we can fight the climate crisis, while creating high-paying jobs and strengthening our competitiveness at home and abroad,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This project is an example of the investments we need to achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious climate goals, and I’m proud to be part of the team leading the charge on offshore wind.”
In its first four months, the Biden-Harris administration has catalyzed the offshore wind industry by announcing the first ever national offshore wind energy mandate, creating a roadmap for the future of this innovative industry. Achieving the 30 gigawatt goal is anticipated to result in the creation of tens of thousands of living wage, family-supporting union jobs while positioning America to lead a clean energy revolution and tackle the climate crisis. Building the offshore wind supply chain can feed steel mills in West Virginia, support ship building in Texas, and wind turbine manufacturing in both inland areas and on the coasts.
Today’s Record of Decision (ROD) grants Vineyard Wind final federal approval to install 84 or fewer turbines off Massachusetts as part of an 800-megawatt offshore wind energy facility. The project is expected to create 3,600 area jobs and will power up to 400,000 homes. Turbines will be installed in an east-west orientation, and all the turbines will have a minimum spacing of 1 nautical mile between them in the north-south and east-west directions, consistent with the U.S. Coast Guard recommendations in the Final Massachusetts and Rhode Island Port Access Route Study.
The ROD adopts mitigation measures to help avoid, minimize, reduce, or eliminate adverse environmental effects that could result from the construction and operation of the proposed project. These mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements were developed through input, consultation, and coordination with stakeholders, Tribes, and federal and state agencies. For more information, please see appendix A of the ROD.
“This project represents the power of a government-wide approach to offshore wind permitting, taking stakeholder ideas and concerns into consideration every step of the way,” said Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton. “We will continue to advance new projects that will incorporate lessons learned from analyzing this project to ensure an efficient and predictable process for industry and stakeholders.”
The ROD is jointly signed by and addresses permitting decisions by BOEM, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Marine Fisheries Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Prior to construction, Vineyard Wind must submit a facility design report and a fabrication and installation report. These engineering and technical reports provide specific details for how the facility will be fabricated and installed in accordance with the approved Construction and Operations Plan.
In addition to today’s announcement, since January 20, the Department has initiated the environmental review of two other offshore wind projects, and pursued additional leasing opportunities in the New York Bight.
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