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Tesla Model S/X Plaid red brake calipers now absent from online configurator

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Tesla’s flagship vehicles, the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV, already feature a rather understated design. This is especially true with the Model S and Model X’s top-tier variants. Over the years, the Model S and Model X Performance are almost unrecognizable compared to their non-performance siblings, save for some subtle details like a red line under their rear Dual Motor badge, special wheels, and some red brake calipers. 

A recent update to Tesla’s official website suggests that with the release of the Model S Plaid, even the red brake calipers that have so far become a trademark of the company’s top-tier vehicles are being phased out. This update was noticed by members of the electric vehicle community recently, several of whom noticed that the hero images of the Model S and Model X webpages no longer feature their usual red brake calipers. 

A comparison of the current hero image on Tesla’s Model S page (left), and its previous iteration featuring red brake calipers (right). (Credit: Tesla)

The update seems to be intentional on Tesla’s part, considering that the images of the Model S and Model X Plaid in their respective order pages have now been changed to feature black brake calipers. Interestingly enough, the webpages for the Model 3 Performance and Model Y Performance still feature red brake calipers as part of their design. 

Tesla’s small design update for the Model S Plaid and Model X Plaid have received polarizing comments from the electric vehicle community. Some EV community members have noted that the black brake calipers make the top-tier vehicles even more of a sleeper, while others have noted that the cars now look even plainer and more understated than before. Other high-performance EVs like the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, after all, feature distinct brake calipers that help make the vehicle stand out. 

A comparison of the current hero image on Tesla’s Model X page (left), and its previous iteration featuring red brake calipers (right). (Credit: Tesla)

Of course, one could argue that the performance of the Model S Plaid would likely be enough to make the vehicle stand out from its peers in the high-performance sedan market. There are very few cars in production out there, after all, that can accomplish some of the feats that the Model S Plaid would be capable of doing. These include a 0-60 mph time of 1.99 seconds and a trap speed of 155 mph on the quarter-mile, which makes the four-door family sedan faster than some of the world’s most powerful supercars. 

Tesla is set to hold a delivery event for the Model S Plaid later this week, on July 10, at the Fremont Factory. 

Don’t hesitate to contact us for news tips. Just send a message to [email protected] to give us a heads up.

Tesla Model S/X Plaid red brake calipers now absent from online configurator

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-s-model-x-brake-calipers-update/

Automotive

Chinese startup Pony.ai plans to launch a driverless robotaxi service in California in 2022

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Pony.ai, the robotaxi startup that operates in China and the United States, has started testing driverless vehicles on public roads in California ahead of plans to launch a commercial service there in 2022.

The company said the driverless vehicle testing, which means the autonomous vehicles operate without human safety drivers behind the wheel, is happening daily on public roads in Fremont and Milpitas, California. Pony.ai is also testing its driverless vehicles in Guangzhou, China.

Pony.ai said it also plans to resume a rideshare service to the public in Irvine this summer using AVs with a human safety driver. Its goal is to roll out the fully driverless service to the public in 2022.

“Going completely driverless is key to achieving full autonomy and an indispensable catalyst to realizing our ambitious vision,” said James Peng, CEO and co-founder of Pony.ai.

Pony.ai still has some regulatory hurdles to clear before it can operate commercially. Autonomous vehicle companies that want to charge the public for driverless rides need both the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Public Utilities Commission to issue deployment permits. In early June, Cruise became the first company to receive a driverless autonomous service permit from the California PUC that allows it to test transporting passengers. The final step with the DMV, which only Nuro has achieved, is a deployment permit.

Pony’s driverless testing milestone in California comes a month after the state issued the company a permit to test a fleet of six driverless vehicles in a geographic area that spans about 39 square miles. While dozens of companies — 55 in all — have active permits to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver, it is less common to receive permission for driverless vehicles. Pony was the eighth company to be issued a driverless testing permit in the state, a list that includes Chinese companies AutoX, Baidu and WeRide as well as U.S. businesses Cruise, Nuro, Waymo and Zoox. Only Nuro has been granted a so-called deployment permit, which allows it to operate commercially.

Pony.ai, which was founded in 2016 by former Baidu developers Peng and Lou Tiancheng, has been allowed to test autonomous vehicles with safety drivers since 2017.  The driverless permit issued in May by the California DMV expanded upon Pony’s existing activity in the state.

Pony has tested ridesharing in Fremont and Irvine, California. In 2019, a fleet of electric, autonomous Hyundai Kona crossovers equipped with a self-driving system from Pony.ai and Via’s ride-hailing platform began shuttling customers on public roads. The robotaxi service, called BotRide, wasn’t a driverless service, as there was a human safety driver behind the wheel at all times. The BotRide pilot concluded in January 2020.

The company then started operating a public robotaxi service called PonyPilot in the Irvine area. Pony shifted that robotaxi service from shuttling people to packages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pony.ai also partnered with e-commerce platform Yamibuy to provide autonomous last-mile delivery service to customers in Irvine. The delivery service was launched to provide additional capacity to address the surge of online orders triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pony.ai said at the time.

As the pandemic eases and California returns to normal operations, Pony is preparing to launch a commercial robotaxi service. It has already amassed a number of partners and more than $1 billion in funding, including $400 million from Toyota, to help it achieve that goal. Last November, the company said its valuation had reached $5.3 billion following a fresh injection of $267 million in funding. Pony has several partnerships or collaborations with automakers and suppliers, including Bosch, Hyundai and Toyota.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/15/chinese-startup-pony-ai-plans-to-launch-a-driverless-robotaxi-service-in-california-in-2022/

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Founders Ben Schippers and Evette Ellis are riding the EV sales wave

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EV sales are driving demand for services and startups that fulfill the new needs of drivers, charging station operators and others. Evette Ellis and Ben Schippers took to the main stage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 to share how their companies capitalize off the new opportunities presented by the electric transportation revolution.

Ellis is the co-founder and chief workforce officer of ChargerHelp, an on-demand EV charging station repair company. She spoke about how the company approaches hiring and training, why it engages with workforce development centers, and how training in cohorts makes economic sense. Farther down, we’ll hear from Schippers, the founder of TezLab.

Why the company works with workforce development centers

Workforce development is a government-run and -funded system to connect job seekers with employers, training and career development. There are thousands of job centers across the country, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor, that serve millions of Americans. Evette described why she and co-founder Kameale Terry wanted to engage with workforce development from the beginning.

Image Credits: ChargerHelp

We really, really wanted to pioneer this idea that you can work with a workforce development center, who our federal government pays lots of money to train and do all the things that you need to get a great talent source, to create that pipeline, to use those pipelines for industries outside of construction or entry-level medical, but also for tech. Tech is the biggest industry in our country and it’s really running the show right now. We wanted to make sure that underrepresented communities didn’t get left out of this shift that is clearly happening. (Timestamp: 13:54)

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/15/founders-ben-schippers-and-evette-ellis-are-riding-the-ev-sales-wave/

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Autonomous delivery startup Nuro moves into logistics with FedEx

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Nuro, the autonomous delivery startup founded in 2016 by former Google engineers Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, is expanding into parcel logistics through a partnership with FedEx.

The multi-year, multi-phased strategic partnership announced Tuesday aims to test and ultimately deploy Nuro’s second-generation R2 autonomous delivery vehicle within FedEx operations. Unlike others in the autonomous vehicle industry, Nuro has always focused its efforts on designing a low-speed electric self-driving vehicle that transports packages, not people. But those “packages” have been more centered on the delivery of groceries, food and even medical supplies. Nuro has partnered with CVS, Dominoes and Krogers, for instance.

The deal with FedEx marks its first foray into parcels logistics. The pilot program has already started in Houston. This multi-year commitment will allow Nuro to bring its technology to more people in new ways, and eventually reach large-scale deployment, according to Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships.

FedEx has been working on internally on its own autonomous vehicle technology, notably a sidewalk delivery bot. The SameDay Bot, which was named Roxo, was developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp. and its founder Dean Kamen who invented the Segway and iBot wheelchair. FedEx first unveiled its SameDay Bot in February 2019. The FedEx bot is equipped with sensing technology such as LiDAR and multiple cameras, which when combined with machine learning algorithms should allow the device to detect and avoid obstacles and plot a safe path, all while following the rules of the road (or sidewalk).

The company said at the time it planned to work with AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to figure out how autonomous robots might fit into its delivery business. The idea was for FedEx to provide a way for retailers to accept orders from nearby customers and deliver them by bot directly to customers’ homes or businesses the same day. The company has tested the bots in Memphis, Tennessee as well as Plano and Frisco, Texas and Manchester, New Hampshire, according to a spokesperson.

The partnership with Nuro moves away from the sidewalk and onto the road. Nuro’s R2 is bigger and designed to operate on public roads, allowing it to travel farther distances and carry heavier loads.

FedEx said it has made a long-term commitment to use Nuro’s autonomous bots for last-mile delivery at large scale.

“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, vice president, advanced technology and innovation, FedEx Corporation.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/15/autonomous-delivery-startup-nuro-moves-into-logistics-with-fedex/

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Automotive

Jeep Wrangler, Gladiator Getting Optional Gorilla Glass Windshield

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UPDATE: Jeep responded to our question about this rumor by saying it “can’t discuss speculation around future product and/or accessories.”

Some trims of the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator will soon be available with an optional Gorilla Glass windshield, according to Mopar Insiders. Motor1.com is reaching out to Jeep to confirm the information.

The new windshield option has an inner ply of Gorilla Glass, and the outer sections are 52 percent thicker than the standard piece. This allegedly results in a window that’s three times more resistant to chips and cracks.

Both models have a windshield design with an upright angle that doesn’t deflect rocks very well. This is an especially big issue for models like these that many owners take off-road.

According to Mopar Insiders, the Gorilla Glass windshield will be just a $95 option. Given the affordable price, it’s hard to imagine someone skipping this upgrade. Jeep allegedly expects 80 percent of customers to pick the stronger glass.

You won’t be able to get the Gorilla Glass windshield on lower grades of the models. For the Wrangler, it will be available on the Willys, Sahara, Rubicon 392, Sahara 4xe, and Rubicon 4xe. On the Gladiator, buyers will have the choice of this upgrade on the Willys, Overland, Rubicon, and Mojave.

Jeep is hardly alone in using Gorilla Glass for automotive applications. Ford worked with Corning, the material’s maker, to create a hybrid version for the GT supercar’s engine cover. It was 30 percent lighter and 25 percent to 50 percent thinner than using conventional glass while having equal or greater strength.

In 2019, Hyperformance introduced a Gorilla Glass windshield for the F-150. It had a cost of $899.95 and came with a two-year warranty.

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Source: https://www.motor1.com/news/514149/jeep-wrangler-gladiator-gorilla-glass/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=RSS-category-technology

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