TECH WEEKLY

February 21, 2019

Tesla forced to pause Berlin Gigafactory over cutting down the forest



A German court this week ordered Tesla to stop clearing forest land near the capital Berlin to build its first European car and battery factory, a victory for local environmental activists.

Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, announced the plans for the 300-hectare site in November last year, and Tesla says on its website it aims to begin production in 2021. The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Tesla will invest up to €4 billion ($4.3 billion) into the Gigafactory.

The BBC reports Tesla had not yet been granted permission to build the factory, but had been given permission to make site preparations at its own risk.

Tesla has bought almost 300 hectares for its German factory, which it hopes to open in 2021. Eventually it wants the factory to produce as many as 500,000 cars annually, and employ 12,000 people.


Source: Bloomberg



SpaceX and Space Adventures partner to launch private citizens into orbit

SpaceX and space tourism agency Space Adventures are partnering on a mission to send four private citizens into orbit on a pioneer excursion, the companies said this week.

The announcement comes after SpaceX sent their Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station for the first time in March 2019, and then successfully tested a simulated rocket failure on Jan. 19, proving its preparedness to send people into orbit with Space Adventures.

“This historic mission will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it, and we are pleased to work with the  Space Adventures’ team on the mission,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

According to a Space Adventures promotional video on YouTube, the free-flyer mission would last up to five days after launching between late 2021 and mid-2022 from Cape Canaveral. The passengers would undergo a training period of a few weeks in the United States, the company said.

Source: The Verge


 

A glimpse to the future – Jaguar Land Rover unveils an autonomous electric shuttle concept



Jaguar Land Rover is the most recent automaker to unveil an electric and “autonomy prepared” shuttle pod designed for shared use in city settings. Project Vector is only an idea, however the UK carmaker said it hopes to have a model of the car on the highway for testing by 2021.

At just four meters long, Project Vector is a compact vehicle that is ideal for overcrowded urban roads. At this point, not much information has been shared by the company. JLR has not yet released any information on the powertrain or battery capacity either.

Self-driving shuttles are becoming a somewhat common sight, with companies like Optimus Ride, Navya, and May Mobility operating small fleets in fixed routes in cities around the world. But it’s also the kind of business that can be extremely difficult to get right. Drive.ai nearly went out of business before it was bought by Apple. And Navya, a major autonomous shuttle manufacturer based in France, recently announced that it would be pivoting away from the shuttle business in favor of licensing its software to third-party clients.

Source: Tech Crunch