Tesla Semi Event attendees meet a Frito Lay wrapped Semi. Image Courtesy Teslavangelist.

Elon Musk’s Vision for the Semi: Highlights from Tesla Semi Event

Elon Musk talks at Tesla Semi Event. Image Courtesy Teslavangelist.
Elon Musk talks at Tesla Semi Event. Image Courtesy Teslavangelist.

On December 1, Tesla held an event in Sparks, near Gigafactory Nevada. The event was attended by Semi customers (industry professionals) and Tesla shareholders by invite only.  Attendees were treated to a tour of the Semi production line and could speak with engineers who built the Semi.  They were invited to walk into the cabin of a Semi and meet Elon Musk onstage.  Elon handed over keys personally to Ramon Laguarta, CEO of Pepsi and Steven Williams, CEO PepsiCo Foods, and the crowd went wild! In this article, I’ll highlight Elon’s vision for the Semi, share some exclusive photos of the event with you, and answer,

  • What will a Semi cost?
  • How far will the Semi go and how much can it carry?
  • Where do you charge it and how long does it take?
Tesla Semi Event: People tour production line and speak to engineers. Image Courtesy Arash Malek.
Tesla Semi Event: People tour production line and speak to engineers. Image Courtesy Arash Malek.

Elon Musk’s Vision for the Tesla Semi

Elon explained that although combination trucks account for only 1% of US vehicles sold, they account for 20% of US vehicle emissions, and an astonishing 36% of US vehicle particulate emissions. This is because these trucks are huge vehicles, which are being driven all the time,

“People might wonder, Why build a semi-truck? Because if you look at the actual unit volume, it’s small compared to passenger vehicles, so for passenger vehicles, it’s on the order of almost 100,000,000 that are sold every year. whereas for semi trucks, it’s four or 500,000 (globally).

In the USA there are probably like 15 million passenger vehicles and a couple 100,000 semi trucks, so it seems like a small percentage, but, it’s actually 20% of US vehicle emissions because you’ve got a huge vehicle and it’s being driven all the time.

So when you factor in the number of hours driven, and the weight that is carried, it’s actually, although it’s only 1% of vehicle production, it’s 20% of vehicle emissions. and it’s over 1/3 of all particulate emissions. From a sort of health standpoint, particularly in cities, this is a huge impact, like, it’s gigantic. So, that’s why we’re doing it!  

In addition to climate change, and global warming matters it’s also quiet and it’s going to improve the quality of your air and it will actually just fundamentally improve the health of people living near freeways which is obviously sort of a big deal. 

We’re aiming to cover all major forms of transport, it’s consistent with the Tesla mission because sometimes we get asked, shouldn’t Tesla just produce fast cars or premium cars or whatever? But what’s our actual mission? The actual mission is to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. That’s why we’re making this wide range of cars that don’t really make sense from a brand standpoint I guess, traditionally. But they make total sense when you consider what’s the mission of the company. 

The mission of the company is to accelerate sustainable energy. So it’s super consistent with that goal and really a crucial piece of the puzzle, and that’s why we’re doing it.”

Elon continued, “It looks sick, I mean you want to drive that, I mean that thing looks like it came from the future. I mean it drives like a, it’s like driving a Tesla, literally! And it’s fun, it looks awesome, and you know there’s actually a big shortage of drivers, and so if you are a truck driver and you want the most badass rig on the road, this is it! It’s a beast!” 

Flashback to December 14, 2017. Elon Musk steps out of Semi after driving it onstage. Image Courtesy Tesla, Inc.
Flashback to December 14, 2017. Elon Musk steps out of Semi after driving it onstage. Image Courtesy Tesla, Inc.

What will a Semi cost?

In 2017, Tesla offered the Semi (with a 500-mile range) for $180,000 and currently, Tesla offers a link to get updates on the Semi and does not take new reservations at this time. The cost, when the Semi becomes widely available, should be expected to be higher than the price offered in 2017. What do you think it will cost? 

How far will the Semi go and how much can it carry?

In a test run video, the Tesla Semi was shown carrying 82,000 pounds and driving up an incline while passing a struggling traditional diesel semi. According to Tesla, the Class 8 Semi’s range per charge is between 300 and 500 miles when fully loaded at 82,000 lbs.  Federal limits are 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, and battery-electric trucks are granted an extra ton through the Consolidated Appropriations Act (2019) by the Federal Highway Administration.  Tesla built the Semi in an aerodynamic bullet shape in order to decrease the drag coefficient. The {\displaystyle c_{\mathrm {d} }} is .36 which is about half of a conventional diesel truck. The Semi’s energy consumption is stunning at less than 2 kWh/mile.  

Semi is built like a bullet, not a barn wall—optimized for efficiency. Image Courtesy Tesla, Inc.
Semi is built like a bullet, not a barn wall—optimized for efficiency. Image Courtesy Tesla, Inc.

Where do you charge it and how long does it take?

The Semi will charge at 1 Megawatt chargers (V4), supported by Megapacks in some cases, (V3 chargers, for Tesla’s other vehicles are ~324 kW).  Dan Priestley, Lead Semi Engineer, explained these V4 chargers will be coming to Tesla Superchargers next year.  Cybertrucks will also be capable of charging at V4s. Charging time will be fast due to Tesla’s new V4 charging cable, created exclusively for Semi and Cybertruck. 

Tesla’s new V4 Charging cable. Courtesy Tesla, Inc.
Tesla’s new V4 Charging cable. Courtesy Tesla, Inc.

My take is V4 megachargers may be installed next year at Superchargers that are already located where diesel trucks fill up. Tesla has already built Superchargers at Buc-ee’s in over 26 stores in 7 states.  I also estimate that charging will take around the same time it takes for a driver to take a break, eat, use the restroom, etc. (around 30 minutes). 

Tesla Semi Test Run graphic, Courtesy Tesla, Inc. see Tesla Semi Delivery Event
Tesla Semi Test Run graphic, Courtesy Tesla, Inc. see Tesla Semi Delivery Event

Looking at the above graphic, notice how regenerative braking is almost able to nullify the presence of hills.  The efficiency of the entire 500-mile run is almost the same as the efficiency over the flat part of the journey.  

Regen braking will add to safety and eliminate crashes like the one that happened in the 2019 Lakewood semi truck crash near Denver and led to the horrifying death of 4 people (and 10 injuries).  If you are not familiar, here’s the link to a video of a man who was near the runaway diesel semi when it happened. 

Dan Priestley explained, “So any highway grade you come across, you can tackle at speed, there’s no compromise, and the other beauty is you’ve got all this power coming up but you also have it going down and what that means, is, you’ve got regenerative braking so, rather than using a jig brake or an engine brake like a diesel truck does, you don’t have to worry about hitting your shifts. If you miss a gear, you’re onto your brakes and a potential runaway situation. You don’t have to worry about any of that. There’s no shifting, no nothing, and so the regen recaptures all that energy as you’re going down these grades, but on top of it, it’s also a safer system for not just the driver, but also everybody on the road because there’s no gear to miss.” 

Another safety asset exclusive to the Semi are a collection of three cameras on each rear view mirror. See a closeup photo by Brandonee916 of this below taken at the event.

Close up of a Tesla Semi rear view mirror. Three cameras mounted in various positions. Image Courtesy Brandonee916.
Close up of a Tesla Semi rear view mirror. Three cameras mounted in various positions. Image Courtesy Brandonee916.

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk stated,  “The mission of the company is to accelerate sustainable energy. So it’s (the Semi) super consistent with that goal and really a crucial piece of the puzzle, and that’s why we’re doing it.”

Building a Semi is crucial because although combination trucks account for only 1% of US vehicles sold, they account for 20% of US vehicle emissions, and an astonishing 36% of US vehicle particulate emissions. 

  • The cost for the Semi in 2017 was $180,000 for the 500-mile range version. Tesla has not posted the cost for future orders and is not taking reservations on the website at this time for this high-demand tractor.
  • Semi will travel from 300 to 500 miles on a full charge and be capable of carrying the maximum load allowed by law, which is 82,000 pounds.  Tesla built the Semi in an aerodynamic bullet shape in order to significantly decrease the drag coefficient. The Semi’s energy consumption is stunning at less than 2 kWh/mile.  
  • Tesla Semi will charge at 1 Megawatt chargers (V4) which will come to Superchargers next year.  My take is they will be built at locations like Buc-ee’s where trucks fill for diesel. In addition, the battery regains energy on declines through regenerative braking, and, in the words of Dan Priestley, “There’s no shifting, no nothing, and so the regen recaptures all that energy as you’re going down these grades.”

Watch Official video from Tesla here Tesla Semi Delivery Event

Like official Tesla Events?  Join me for these…

Elon Musk Speaks at AI Day 2022, Optimus Wears Giga Texas “Don’t Mess With Tesla” Belt Buckle: This event revealed a functioning humanoid robot, and features some awesome pictures. 

5 Takeaways from Tesla’s 2022 Shareholder Meeting: Step into Tesla’s Cyber Roundup event at Giga Texas!  It was held in August, 2022 and features exclusive pictures.  I was able to attend the event and report on it firsthand!

Cyber Rodeo Anthology Part #1: Casting and Seats [multi-part series] Join me at the Cyber Rodeo event. Take a tour of Giga Texas with me in this 3 Part series!  I attended this event in April 2022 in order to write this series for you.  Cyber Rodeo Anthology Part #2: Battery Assembly and Structural Pack [multi-part series] and Cyber Rodeo Anthology Part #3: Body and Paint [multi-part series]

Guests at Tesla Semi Event were treated to a S 3 X Y vehicle lineup! Image Courtesy Teslavangelist.
Guests at Tesla Semi Event were treated to a S 3 X Y vehicle lineup! Image Courtesy Teslavangelist.

Gail Alfar, author. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – December 4, 2022. All Rights Reserved. My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization. Thank you to Drive Tesla Canada for their reporting on V3 Supercharging and to Arash Malek for his insight on the Tesla Semi Delivery Event, you can view his video here.

Come along for 3.45 minutes to the Tesla Semi Event. Video Courtesy of Arash Malek, founder of Scentwedge.

Elon Musk, Boomtown Austin, and Giga Texas Progress

Giga Texas image courtesy Tesla, Inc.

Thanks for coming back to “What’s Up Tesla.” I love experiencing life in Austin because there are so many exciting changes happening here, and the original flavor of the city is also prevalent. For example, I drove around the city in my Tesla using FSD beta software to a restaurant that is still in operation since 1954! El Patio Mexican Food is one of many great places to eat in Austin and if you come here, I recommend it!

This article is about Elon Musk, Boomtown Austin, and Giga Texas. Elon Musk moved to Texas in 2020, and since then there has been fast growth in Austin. The night skyline is impressive, so I wanted to find out details about high-rise construction, as well as population and job market growth. Finally, I wanted to know how many cars are being made at Giga Texas each week, how many people currently work there, and what are Giga Texas’ plans for increasing production?

ELON MUSK

Engineering, design, and production are how Elon Musk spends 80% of his waking hours, and he sleeps about 6 hours a night. 

Elon spends much of his time in Austin at Giga Texas involved directly with his team to accelerate gigafactory progress.

“But I think what a lot of people don’t realize, is what I do 80% of the time in engineering. You know it’s actually quite rare for me to give a talk. My day-to-day work at SpaceX and Tesla is almost entirely engineering and design and also production. Production is key, although I consider that to be part of engineering.” – Elon Musk, Baron Conference ‘22

“Whether it’s Tesla, Neuralink, or SpaceX, these companies were all founded with the ultimate goal of enhancing the future of human life and creating as much practical value for the world as possible—Tesla to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, Neuralink for medical rehabilitation, SpaceX for making interstellar connections possible.” – Elon Musk

While working with his team at Tesla, Elon also plans to launch Starship this year for its first-ever orbital flight.  As Owner/Chief Twit of Twitter, he is orchestrating major changes to protect free speech by creating an all-inclusive platform. His net worth on paper changes daily, but in reality, this is just a number, the contributions Elon Musk is making to humanity will benefit our world forever.  Society has put a $ value on that by investing in Tesla and SpaceX. 

BOOMTOWN AUSTIN PROGRESS

The population and job market of Austin has grown since Elon Musk moved to Austin in 2020.  Other American metro areas have experienced population decline. High-rise construction projects are a visual indicator of Austin’s Boomtown progress.  Increases in job postings and a high GDP (gross domestic product) growth are two others. 

population chart accessed 11/11/2022 on
https://www.macrotrends.net/cities/22926/austin/population

Austin held the title of 2nd fastest growing city in the USA for 2022 by the American Growth Project based on the 2nd highest GDP growth of 4.3% (and other factors).  This was close to the top-ranking San Francisco of 4.8%. 

Job openings Austin Chamber of Commerce accessed 11/4/22 ​​
https://www.austinchamber.com/blog/category/job-postings-report

Every time I drive around downtown Austin at night, the skyline looks magnificent! 

I created this chart of Austin’s skyscrapers and those under construction (greater than 200 meters tall).  There are 6 buildings in Austin over 150 meters tall currently and there are 9 more under construction. I added Giga Texas on its side for fun!  

Giga Texas size, image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
Council on Tall Buildings accessed on 11/10/2022 https://www.skyscrapercenter.com/city/austin

GIGA TEXAS

Gigafactory Texas body welding line. Image Courtesy Tesla, Inc.

From observing Giga Texas flyover videos, it is apparent Giga Texas is running one Model Y general assembly line 6 days a week. This line produces approximately 2000 Model Y per week. That number should grow soon because observations point to the development of two more general assembly lines.  

I spoke with Joe Tegtmeyer about Giga Texas, and he explained that “General assembly #2 and #3 are being built on the Southwest portion of the general assembly structure (from around the main entrance south) and on floors 1 and 2.”  Joe also told me that one of the general assembly lines is for the Cybertruck. 

How many people work at Giga Texas?  I could not find out this information directly, and there are two shifts working 6 days a week. My guess is there are over 9000 people working at Giga Texas. Elon Musk estimates that an astounding 20K people will work at Giga Texas over time!  

“Giga Texas is a $10B+ investment over time, generating at least 20k direct & 100k indirect jobs” – Elon Musk on Twitter

Tesla gives opportunities to Texas military veterans in the Texas Veterans Leadership Program (TLVP)

In the Report on the Transition from Military Service to Employment 2022 from the Texas Workforce Commission, Tesla was thanked for hiring 14 Transitioning Service Members (TSMs). This highlights Tesla’s extraordinary efforts at reaching out to Veterans to offer them exceptional opportunities as they transition from military life into civilian life. Tesla is known for their Veterans Program.

“The presence of TVLP staff on Fort Hood Army installation has been instrumental in showcasing employment opportunities. In March 2022, Tesla hiring managers from across the country spoke with 93 TSMs and military spouses. As a result, Tesla hired 14 TSMs.”

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk calls Texas home and spends time directly with his teams in Austin at Giga Texas to accelerate Model Y production and build Cybertruck production. Although his net worth is massive, this is not important as it is just a number on paper, what matters is how Elon is contributing to making life better for humanity.

Boomtown Austin is an accurate term to describe the rapid changes I see living in Austin. Alongside the rapid changes, local traditions are thriving, and one example is El Patio Mexican restaurant, in business since 1954.

  • Nine buildings over 200 meters tall are under construction!
  • The population of the Austin metro area has grown to over 2 million
  • There are over 94,000 active job postings
  • Giga Texas is making progress: building two more general assembly lines for the Cybertruck and the Y, and there are two shifts working 12 hours 6 days a week
Downtown Austin courtesy of Christopher Sherman
Downtown Austin courtesy of Christopher Sherman

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Article by Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved. November 12, 2022. Header image of Giga Texas is courtesy of Tesla, Inc. To learn more about Gail Alfar, click here.

UPDATED on January 25, 2023 to include information about Tesla hiring Veterans.

Elon Musk Talks at 29th Annual Baron Investment Conference: Conversation About Tesla

In a rare appearance, Elon Musk talked at the 29th Annual Baron Investment Conference, on November 4, 2022 in NYC.  For this article, I am sharing the parts of his talk that were about Tesla.  Thanks to Ron Baron for this opportunity to hear Elon talk. Highlights,

  • Why he works so many hours
  • Why Tesla patents are free 
  • Why autonomy matters
  • Elon’s First Principles Algorithm, 2 examples
  • Finding out the “Dilbert Ratio” of a company
  • On being all-in with his teams
  • Extreme Engineering Challenge
  • Tesla needs to get into the mining business
  • Investing in TSLA and the value of Autonomy and Optimus
  • Self-Sustaining Tesla Superchargers for the Zombie Apocalypse!

Tesla and SpaceX

“I think what I’m working on has an important effect on the future, in the case of Tesla, I think it’s fair to say that Tesla has significantly accelerated the advent of sustainable energy.  Before Tesla, no one was doing electric cars, and now as a result of Tesla, I think, almost every major car company in the world is building electric cars and I think that’s a pretty big deal.  But there’s still a long way to go to transition the world to a sustainable energy economy and so we still have a lot of work ahead of us at Tesla, but that’s our goal there.”   

“For SpaceX, I think it’s important for the future to be exciting and for humanity‘s existence to be assured of in the long term, I think we must become a multi-planet species and a space-faring civilization.  We’re here like 4 1/2 billion years after earth got started, 13.8 billion years into the age of the universe. It’s only now recently the last 5000 years that we even invented writing.  I would say, date the first civilization by when there was the first writing, which was in ancient Samaria around five or 6000 years ago. So, we’ve basically just been here for a very brief instant.  All of human civilization is a blink of an eye, if there was an eye, on an evolutionary time scale. So, I think its important we take the actions to ensure that the light of consciousness continues because we should really view consciousness as a small candle in a vast darkness that could easily go out.”

Elon Musk explains why Tesla’s Patents are 100% Free

“I think there is a role for patents.  I would say if somebody’s spent a lot of money developing a particular medicine and has to go through expensive stage three medical trials and then they finally get some medicine that is approved but where the drug itself is cheap to manufacture, then I think a patent, in that case, makes sense, otherwise, no one would go to the trouble of doing stage three medical trials.” 

“There are definitely roles for patents. In the case of Tesla, our goal is to advance sustainable energy and we can’t just do it by ourselves, we need the whole industry to go that way, so we gave them our patents for free in order to help them accelerate electric vehicles.”

The Importance of Autonomy

“We’ve not formally announced our next car program, so I can’t talk too much about our vehicle program or programs that have not been announced, but we do expect to make cars that are more affordable than the current Model 3 or Model Y (big applause by the audience here).  I think by far the biggest factor is autonomy, in terms of the value of the car because right now, cars get driven for about 10 or 12 hours a week maybe 1 1/2 hours a day, but there are 168 hours a week and so if they were autonomous the cars could drive for 50 or 60 hours to see a five-fold increase in the utility of the car that could do autonomy.  This is a really gigantic thing.   It would also mean that we wouldn’t need anywhere near as many parking lots and this would also be helpful for the environment because you would need far fewer cars.” 

Elon explains his First Principles Algorithm

Best part is no part! Interior Tesla Model Y credit Tesla.
Best part is no part! Interior Tesla Model Y. Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

“Well, I think the full explanation or at least an accurate explanation would take a long time. because the first approximation of a car is made of 10,000 unique parts and process steps. Tesla is, at this point, probably the best at manufacturing in the auto industry, which I think nobody was expecting.”

“Well, I’ve got this first principles algorithm that I find to be very helpful in the design and manufacturing of anything. People here may find it helpful. The first thing that you should do is make the requirements that you’ve been given less dumb. Whatever constraints and requirements you were given, they were to some degree, dumb, and you want to make them less dumb. If you don’t start with this, then you get the right answer to the wrong question. And the requirements must be given from a person who can explain the requirements, not from a department, because then you don’t know who to talk to. Then step two is to delete the part or delete the process step.  This sounds extremely obvious, and yet, over and over again, we have found that parts are not needed, they were put in there, just in case, or by mistake. Or there was a step that someone thought was needed but was not actually needed. This sounds insanely obvious, but we have deleted so many parts from the car that did nothing.”

Two Examples of First Principles Algorithm

“There are so many examples, one example is there were three fiberglass mats on top of the battery pack. They partially covered the battery pack. I was on the battery pack production line, and the number one thing choking battery pack production was gluing these fiberglass mats on top of the battery pack.  So the reason I repeat this algorithm myself is I try to first do things backwards. First, I try to automate it, then I try to accelerate it, just go faster, then I try to simplify it, and only then did I delete it. Because it turns out that the team at Tesla that does noise and vibration minimization, sort of making the car quiet, thought that the fiberglass mats were there because of the battery safety team for battery fire protection. Then I asked the battery fire prevention team what they were needed for and they said noise and vibration (laughter here)!  So then we had two cars drive, with the microphone in each car and you could not tell the difference. So, we went to all that trouble for a part that should not exist.”

First Principle Algorithm: “So the reason I repeat this algorithm myself is I try to first do things backwards. First, I try to automate it, then I try to accelerate it, just go faster, then I try to simplify it, and only then did I delete it.” – Elon Musk

“Another example: And these were examples of chokepoints in the entire production system, I was running around the production line, just trying to fix the production line, just like a maniac, like a Tasmanian devil, just running around the factory, like a lunatic. The body production line for Model 3 was stuck because we had a laser welding cell to weld a small crossbar beam in the passenger footwell of the front seats. I’m looking at this beam, and I’m like “what the heck does that do?“ because the entire factory is stopped trying to get this laser weld cell to work. And I can’t imagine what this thing could do, and the production team said it was for crash safety. So then I called the crash safety team and I said ‘Is this for crash safety?’ and they said ‘Oh no this didn’t do anything we should delete it!’ It turned out to be totally useless, they forgot to tell the production team!” 

What’s Your Dilbert Ratio!?

“Honestly, a bunch of these things just feel like you’re living in a Dilbert cartoon. I’m like, ‘Oh no what’s that one?’  Like any given company should have a question, ‘What’s your Dilbert ratio?  It’s not zero! Dilbert quotient? Try to keep it low!”

Elon is All-In with his Teams

When Elon Musk was living and working in the Tesla Femont Factory, he gave a tour to Marques Brownlee on August 20, 2018. See https://youtu.be/mr9kK0_7x08

Around the time Elon Musk was living / working in Tesla Femont Factory, he gave a tour to Marques Brownlee on August 20, 2018. See https://youtu.be/mr9kK0_7x08

Ron Baron asked Elon Musk if this was him or somebody else who found these production problems. Elon responded,

“It’s literally me, it’s not someone else who did this, I was living in the factory in Fremont and Nevada for three years straight. It was my primary residence. I’m not kidding, literally. I actually slept on a couch in a tent on the roof at one point. And for a while there I was just sleeping under my desk, which is out in the open in the factory for an important reason. And it was damn uncomfortable on that floor, and when I woke up, I would smell like metal dust.” Ron Baron mentioned that he went to visit and they bought Elon a couch. Elon responded that “I stopped using the couch, which was in a conference room, and I just slept on the floor under my desk so, during shift change, the entire shift could see me, and that’s important because, the team, if they think their leader is sort of off somewhere having a good time, or drinking mai tais on a tropical island, which I could definitely have been doing and I would have much have preferred to do, I’m not actually a masochist, I think! (Elon raises one eyebrow and smiles) But the thing is, since the team could see me sleeping on the floor during shift change, just with nothing, they knew I was there. and that made a huge difference. and they gave it their all!”  (lots of applause)

Ron asked Elon how he retains his best employees, wondering how Elon prevents them from leaving when they don’t really need the money. Elon said,

“Well, we do have that problem a little bit, so as a company has prosperity, and then people become wealthy, then for a lot of people, once they become independently wealthy, they just can’t bring themselves to work, or they just don’t want to work, and that’s totally understandable.  No judgment!   And so you know, I have a lot of friends who are extremely talented, they had some success earlier in life, and they just decided that was enough trauma, a good friend of mine said “Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss.”  So when people say to me, “What can you do to encourage entrepreneurs to start companies?” I say if you need encouragement, don’t start a company!” 

Extreme Engineering Challenge

“Well, my memory for technical matters is very good. But I think what a lot of people don’t realize, is what I do 80% of the time is engineering. You know it’s actually quite rare for me to give a talk. My day-to-day work at SpaceX and Tesla is almost entirely engineering and design and also production. Production is key, although I consider that to be part of engineering. Starship is something special. The holy grail, like the critical thing needed to make life multi-planetary and for humanity to be a spacefaring civilization, is a fully and rapidly reusable rocket!”

On Starship: “It’s a very difficult engineering challenge!  If this was a video game, the setting would be at extreme difficulty. Not impossible, but extreme difficulty!” – Elon Musk

“We’ve gone most of the way there with Falcon 9, you’ve seen the rocket booster come back and land. And we also recover the nosecone or faring. But we do not recover the upper stage. So we’ve gotten to the point where we are about 70 to 80% reusable with the Falcon 9. With Starship, we are going for 100% reusable. iI’s difficult to see how profound a change this will be. A fully rapidly reusable orbital rocket has the potential to drop the cost of access to space by a factor of 1000. (applause)  And I should say also, Starship is a very big rocket. It’s more than twice the thrust of a Saturn 5 and about twice the mass.  The entire ship is designed to land propulsively. So it can land on any solid surface in the solar system. If we can make Starship work, then it enables us to over time, to get anywhere in the solar system!  It’s a very difficult engineering challenge!  If this was a video game, the setting would be at extreme difficulty. Not impossible, but extreme difficulty!”

Tesla Delivery Logistics and Tesla Mining

Tesla vehicles ready for transport at South Lot Tesla Fremont, picture credit Gail Alfar, author, 9/30/22
Tesla vehicles ready for transport at South Lot Tesla Fremont, picture credit Gail Alfar, author, 9/30/22
Model Y await transport at Giga Texas near Austin, credit Joe Tegtmeyer.
Model Y await transport at Giga Texas near Austin, credit Joe Tegtmeyer.

“I believe I’ve said in the past publicly that our aspiration is to reach 40,000 cars a week by the end of the year.  We had a bit of criticism for our Q3 (2022) results because we had a lot of cars in transit and the reason why is we got too big for our cars to be transported in the final few weeks. There just weren’t enough car carriers, and there weren’t enough shifts. But it’s actually good in the long run to smooth out deliveries and actually have cars in transit at the end of the quarter because then you’re not rushing to get everything delivered by the end of the quarter and paying all the expedite fees.” When asked if cars could be autonomously delivered, Elon replied, “We can also, if you’re in the area, we can have the car just drive it to you!”

On Tesla Mining: “But it is looking increasingly like for some of the critical elements of batteries that Tesla will need to get into the mining business: Mining and refining.” – Elon Musk

“The scaling constraints change as time goes by. At the beginning, we were very vertically integrated, because suppliers did not take us seriously. The best suppliers would not talk to us because a car start-up had not been successful in the United States since Chrysler in the 1920s when I believe they started up. So it’s been a century since a car start-up was successful in the U.S., that was not a foreign car company coming in that was already successful in their own market. For an American car start-up, Tesla is the first success in 100 years!  

So, you can imagine, if you are an auto supplier, that does not sound like a smart, financial decision. So we had to build a lot of the stuff ourselves and be vertically integrated to create the car. And then that ended up being an asset. Because now we understood so much about the supply chain and what it took to build a car. So we were able to design an integrated vehicle that actually needed far fewer parts, and cost less and weighs less and has higher performance.  But it is looking increasingly like for some of the critical elements of batteries that Tesla will need to get into the mining business: Mining and refining. We’ve never contemplated investing in Glencore, I’m talking about Tesla doing it ourselves.” (response to Ron’s comment)

Investing in TSLA and the value of Autonomy and Optimus

Tesla Optimus humanoid robot prototype at 5th China Expo.
Tesla Optimus humanoid robot prototype at 5th China Expo. is compact and efficient. More photos here.

“I actually rarely try to convince anyone to invest in Tesla, and many times I’ve said to people, ‘Don’t invest in Tesla,’ and ‘Our stock is too high!’  But then people just ignore me, and keep buying the stock for some reason.”

“I think at a very high level I’d say autonomy is insanely a fundamental breakthrough. And no one is even close to Tesla for solving generalized autonomy or generalized self-driving vehicles. No one’s even close. And with the self-driving, as I talked about earlier, the car becomes roughly 5 times more useful. But it costs the same for both. Now can you imagine what would happen if the company was doing like 25 to 30% gross margins but suddenly that same thing was five times more valuable?  What would that do to the value of Tesla and the value of that car? It boggles the mind, actually. So if you think of net present value and future cash flows, if you actually do the math on that, it’s insane. Then there’s also the Optimist program, which is our humanoid robot. We will leverage our manufacturing expertise and the intelligence we’ve developed for self-driving to have a useful humanoid robot. Now, the economy is fundamentally GDP per capita times capita. If you no longer have a constraint on capita because of the useful humanoid robot, it is not clear that there is any limit to the size of the economy!”

Self-Sustaining Tesla Superchargers for the Zombie Apocalypse!

Finally, in response to a question about if Tesla would use street lamp posts for charging cars, Elon Musk emphasized Tesla’s goal for Supercharging, “I think they are already doing that in London, and the long-term goal for our supercharger stations is that they will have Tesla Solar and Batteries at them so that as many as possible are self-sustaining. That the supercharger stations generate energy during the day, and then also have a localized battery pack so that people can charge at night. The Tesla supercharging stations would continue to function even in a Zombie Apocalypse! You just never know!  That’s coming one day, we know it is, it’s just a matter of time!” 

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk and Ron Baron at the Baron Investment Conference 2022
Elon Musk and Ron Baron at the Baron Investment Conference 2022
  • Elon works so many hours 16-18 hrs/day because the mission of Tesla and SpaceX is so important for humanity.
  • Tesla patents are free for all carmakers in order to accelerate the transition to all-electric.
  • Autonomy is a huge deal: Elon says, “…right now, cars get driven for about 10 or 12 hours a week maybe 1 1/2 hours a day, but there are 168 hours a week and so if they were autonomous the cars could drive for 50 or 60 hours to see a five-fold increase in the utility of the car that could do autonomy.  This is a really gigantic thing.”
  • Elon’s First Principles Algorithm is very helpful in the design and manufacturing of anything.
  • Every company has a “Dilbert Ratio” and it’s not ZERO!
  • Elon is all-in with his teams, especially when there are challenges facing the teams.
  • Extreme Engineering Challenge: Starship is the biggest to date!
  • Tesla needs to get into the mining business, Elon said, “But it is looking increasingly like for some of the critical elements of batteries that Tesla will need to get into the mining business: Mining and refining.”
  • We are going to enter an Age of Abundance! Elon said, “We will leverage our manufacturing expertise and the intelligence we’ve developed for self-driving to have a useful humanoid robot. Now, the economy is fundamentally GDP per capita times capita. If you no longer have a constraint on capita because of the useful humanoid robot, it is not clear that there is any limit to the size of the economy!”
  • Self-Sustaining Tesla Superchargers with solar & batteries will function in the Zombie Apocalypse!

Author’s Note: Elon Musk also spoke about Twitter and X .com, you may listen to the full talk here. I write about Tesla and sustainable energy, so did not include those aspects.

Austin Skyline by Christofer Sherman.

Austin Skyline by Christofer Sherman.

Do you like reading interviews with Elon?

Elon Musk Conversation with Reporters (Only 4 minutes long and packed with information)

Elon Musk Interview with Xenia Wickett in Norway (ONS 2022 Stavanger Conference August 29th) Less than 25 min long! (full interview)

Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This article was created by Gail Alfar with the goal to preserve this interview in text or written form for the purpose of 1. education and 2. preserving the brilliant insight and words of Elon Musk. November 5, 2022.  Here are links to Baron Funds, the sponsor of the interview above, https://www.baronfunds.com/insights/baron-partners-fund%E2%80%99s-investment-tesla-inc-and-how-we-manage-risk

How Far Away are we from Full Autonomy in a Tesla?

Today, over a cup of hot Texas Pecan coffee, I began thinking about how great my Tesla is running on FSD beta, and I was wondering just how far away we all are from a Tesla Robotaxi. 

My Tesla seems almost fully autonomous, so I wanted to find out about other peoples’ experiences.  I did a little searching and came to find out there are many people all over the USA driving in many conditions with zero disengagements when they use FSD beta.  I found out Tesla’s first concern is safety and that no other vehicle companies are doing it like Tesla.  Let’s look further into these details, and come up with a smart estimate of how far away we are from full Tesla autonomy.

Three Tesla drivers (including me) experience near-autonomous driving on busy challenging roads 

On a typical street in the suburbs in front of a typical Austin house, I got ready to do errands I put the Tesla in FSD beta mode –always remember that when you use FSD beta, your eyes must be constantly on the road and your hands on the steering wheel– and sat back and monitored the car’s driving as it began to wind around Austin streets, up and down hills and to a busy intersection where it made a right on red and merged quickly onto the 183.  After a smooth change onto busy Mopac, the car exited onto a two-lane access road and a half mile down it slowed and turned onto a private drive and took us past parked cars, and stopped at the front doors of a medical clinic.  

Several hours later, I was back in the Tesla. Tesla maps have a tab that says “hungry.”  I used this to find a new place to get food and then pressed FSD beta and the car was off. We came to a 4 lane unprotected left turn –kinda an anxiety provoker for me– and the software found a break in the traffic and moved to the middle divider.  After several cars, it made the left turn, moved over 2 more lanes, and then made a quick right.  Taking a street I had never been on before, the car turned into a parking lot and stopped in front of the restaurant. We had a GREAT meal and talked about, you guessed it, Tesla!

People across the country, from California to Texas to New York, are essentially already experiencing supervised and safe autonomy on complex unmarked roads with turns, construction, and more. 

Around the same time, in San Francisco, Omar Qazi of Whole Mars Blog, was testing FSD beta in his Tesla, he explains, “If you went and gave a few Uber rides using FSD Beta, the vast majority of the passengers would not notice that the car is being driven by software. Some people didn’t believe me so I ran an experiment… “ The first passenger had no clue at all that the car was driving itself, and when she found out she laughed with delight and called it cool! 

The second passenger didn’t notice at first but then later noticed the car was stopping when Omar did not have his feet on the brakes, He said, “so this is like a driverless car?” He was clearly delighted and also thought it was awesome.

Meanwhile, in New York state, a similar scenario was playing out.  Corey Aronson wrote, “Just did three Uber rides in a row. All zero takeover. All passengers on all rides had zero clue the car was driving itself. I can’t drive better than FSD Beta anymore, almost ever. Everyone is just on their phone getting driven by the robot.”  Corey told me the most common things people ask first about FSD beta are if it “Works without the yellow road lines?” and “Will it put the blinker on?” Of course, the answer is YES to both!

What more is needed for full Tesla autonomy?

To try to answer this, I listened carefully to what Elon Musk said during the Tesla, Q3 2022 earnings call,

“The safety that we are seeing, when the car is in FSD mode is actually significantly greater than the safety that we are seeing when it is not, which a key threshold for going to wide beta.”  – Elon Musk

Elon Musk explained that in Q4 2022, we should expect Tesla will release FSD beta to every single person that has purchased FSD. 

This means that before we see full autonomy, more people need to use FSD beta, in order to contribute valuable data to Tesla’s AI team.  The more use cases there are, the better! 

Why is Tesla leading in this area and what’s the difference between what Tesla does and what other vehicle companies are doing for autonomy?

Tesla AI team has some of the best artificial intelligence researchers in the world, so the software evolves into sharper accuracy and greater safety over a short time.  Elon Musk spoke about the great interest in Tesla AI at the Q3 2022 earnings call,

 “Our goal with that AI Day was to push recruiting, and we’ve seen a massive influx of world class artificial intelligence engineers and scientists.  It generated a tremendous amount of interest from some of the best AI researchers in the world. 

I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough.  Because I think, finally, it has become clear to the smartest AI technologists in the world, that Tesla is among the very best!” – Elon Musk

No other companies that aim to produce vehicles are like Tesla because they are relying on outdated, overpriced, and unreliable technology like Lidar and radar. 

Elon Musk has stated before that Tesla will offer their autonomous capabilities to others. Thus far, I have not found any other vehicle manufacturer outside of China to be seriously mass-manufacturing electric vehicles.

No other carmaker in the world has scaled the production of EVs like Tesla has. Tesla aims to mass-produce autonomous-capable cars.  Other manufacturers appear to be content with creating cars based on assembly techniques better suited to combustion cars and to employ “driverless systems” that are expensive, limited in speed, limited to where they are used, and cannot be scaled.

CONCLUSION

As shown in this article, Tesla vehicles are already capable of a high degree of autonomy in challenging situations including where there are no lane markings.  If you define autonomy in the high-quality way that Tesla does, Tesla is so far ahead of any other company, and when they offer Robotaxi, it’s going to apply to every situation, and it will not be limited.

It’s hard to say if autonomy will be solved for Tesla in 2023 or beyond, but I do think that the larger the fleet of vehicles are, the closer we are to it.

As a Registered Nurse, I always advocate for maximum safety for humans, and this coincides with Tesla’s mission!

  • Currently, there has to be a driver in the seat supervising because the system still needs to be safer. When the driver detects an unsafe situation, that driver takes over and that data can be sent to Tesla
  • Tesla’s AI Team, the best of its kind in the world, strives to increase safety all the time.  The smartest AI technologists in the world like to work for Tesla!
  • As safety reaches a point where it is above or equal to what the best human driver could do, we will start to see local regulatory agencies open the door to allowing Tesla to test Robotaxis on complex roads.

Austin Skyline by Christofer Sherman.

Want to read more excellent articles? I suggest…

Who Will Benefit Once Tesla Autonomy is Solved? I believe a world where autonomy is the norm is closer than we realize.  This article attempts to answer the question, who will benefit once Tesla autonomy is solved? 

If You Haven’t Used Autopilot Yet, Why Not? (3 Essentials) This article covers 3 areas,

  1. Tesla Autopilot is safer than a human driving
  2. Enabling Autopilot during a drive is easy
  3. You can use Autopilot on your daily drives and disable it anytime during a drive

Images in this article of the Model Y Midnight Cherry Red are Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Article Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – October 29, 2022. All Rights Reserved. “My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making lives better on earth for humans and becoming a space-faring civilization.” – Gail Alfar

Giant fork in the road leads to Tesla’s Optimus AI

Elon Musk installed a giant 30ft fork in the road created by Burning Man artist Hunter Leggitt outside the Autopilot office in Palo Alto, will this be a permanent art installation? Tesla’s Optimus robot is already working at the Fremont factory, and exactly how many robots are in Tesla’s fleet?

This article asks these questions and covers:

  • The giant fork in the road
  • What Optimus can do, jobs, other fun stuff
  • Optimus will be safe

GIANT FORK IN THE ROAD

Fork in the Road at AI Day 2022, credit Chuck Cook

Hunter Leggitt studios created “MetaFork in the Road,” a whimsical 30-foot tall and 4,500 lbs steel installation representing the classic metaphor for a deciding moment in life when a choice between presented options is required. The artwork may be planned for permanent installation at Tesla Bay Area Autopilot / A.I. Division in Palo Alto. You can learn more about the art here.

Elon Musk tweeted,

“I love the inverse poetry of making metaphors literal
There is a giant 30ft (literal) fork in the road outside the Autopilot office in Palo Alto”
Elon Musk

UPDATE: On October 10, Elon Musk tweeted that he commissioned the art piece, “It was built & paid for at my request. Hunter & team did great work.” This article was cited in Teslarati.

You and I are living in an age of transition, at the time of the giant fork in the road.  Most people today did not grow up with smartphones, but now we use smartphones every day. We did not grow up with robotaxis, and in the future, they will be commonplace. The same goes for Optimus, none of us consider daily life normal with the robot yet, but one day we may, if we choose that path.

INTRODUCING, OPTIMUS!

Optimus prototype, Tesla Youtube

What amazed me about AI Day 2022 was that Tesla’s Optimus prototype has a brain and is working in the Fremont factory. It is significant that Optimus was shown doing jobs. This included watering plants, delivering packages, and at a Fremont factory workstation moving parts.

In the live demo at Tesla Palo Alto, Optimus sees the audience and just knows that he is supposed to walk out to the middle of the stage and when he sees a crowd of people he knows that he should wave. When the music was playing, Optimus just knew it was okay to dance.

One day this good-humored Optimus will help us inside our houses cleaning, and in the meantime, priority will go to having the robots work in Tesla’s Fremont factory.  

Elon Musk explained,

“Our goal with Optimus is to have a robot that is maximumly useful as quickly as possible. So there’s a lot of ways to solve the various problems of a humanoid robot.

We want to pick something that’s going to allow us to produce the robot as quickly as possible, to be useful as quickly as possible, we’re trying to follow the goal of fastest path to a useful robot that can be made at volume and we’re going to test the robot internally at Tesla in our factory and just see, like how useful is it?

Because you’re going to close the loop on reality to confirm that the robot is in fact useful.”  – Elon Musk

If Tesla bots are indeed useful in the factory, then will they eventually work in other Tesla factories? Giga Texas, Giga Shanghai, and Giga Berlin could benefit from employing Tesla bots.  Tesla also operates ~13 production facilities around the world including Gigafactory Nevada.

Optimus’ prototype was built in ~ 6 months. The aesthetic design of Optimus that Tesla will mass produce has design undertones from Tesla’s Cybertruck. One of the features I appreciate is that the pieces do not look intimidating, rather they look beautiful and artistic. The robot above that is shown with Elon Musk wears a Giga Texas Tesla belt buckle. This led me to write an article titled “Don’t Mess with Tesla Bot” for Scentwedge creator Arash Malek.

Elon Musk describes a futuristic scenario that includes different types of Optimus,

“I think we want to have really fun versions of Optimus, so that Optimus can both be utilitarian and do tasks but can also be kind of like a friend and a buddy and hang out with you. 

I’m sure people will think of all sorts of creative uses for this robot.  Once you have the core intelligence and actuators figured out, then you can put all sorts of costumes on the robot. 

I mean you can make the robot many different ways and I’m sure people will find many interesting ways.” – Elon Musk

I’m excited to see Tesla develop Optimus to do many roles within the factory. I think Tesla could modify the robot to work in different situations in the factory. For example, the greenskeeper Optimus that goes around and waters the plants should look different from the foundrybot Optimus that works placing ingots into the melting furnace.  

OPTIMUS WILL BE SAFE

Wristband for AI Day, credit Dirty Tesla

A humorous quote was written into the design of the wristband at AI Day, which said,

“IF YOU CAN RUN FASTER THAN 5MPH, YOU’RE FINE.” 

The term owning and Optimus does not sound quite right to Elon Musk, and I agree.  We wouldn’t want a society where Optimus is thought of as our property or slave, that is too reminiscent of the dystopian, science-fiction movies where slaves are oppressed and treated horribly. Rather there should be a concept of kindness towards Optimus because it is not something that humans program, it’s something that will have its own brain, and in a limited way. 

For people who drive their Tesla on Autopilot, you just know that at any moment you can completely take over control of the car. You do this by pressing on the brakes, tugging on the steering wheel or tapping on the stalk in your car. You might not want a robot that just stops functioning only because someone taps on it. Optimus will have a deactivation receiving signal and Tesla is developing this for our safety, in the rare situation that Optimus is found doing something that would be harmful to himself or humans.

There are a few unanswered questions. How many Optimus is already produced and working? Or, how big is the current Optimus fleet? Where and when will manufacturing at scale start?
Elon Musk explained that Optimus could help humans move into an age of abundance.  So although we are facing a crisis of underpopulation, the lucky people that will be alive into the future will be enjoying an incredible life. That means, if you have children, their children, and grandchildren, will be living in an age of abundance.

“The potential really boggles the mind, because you have to say what is an economy? 

An economy is sort of productive entities times their productivity. 

Capita times output, productivity per capita. But the point at which there’s not a limitation on capita, it’s not clear what an economy even means at that point! 

Economy becomes quasi-infinite. So, taken to fruition, in the hopefully benign scenario, this means a future of abundance. 

A future where there is no poverty. Where people, you can have whatever you want in terms of products and services. 

It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it.” - Elon Musk

CONCLUSION

  • Optimus is already working in the Tesla Fremont factory, it is unknown how large the fleet of robots are there, and it is significant that the robot can do jobs such as water plants, deliver packages and function at a workstation
  • Optimus’ prototype design wears a “Don’t Mess with Tesla” belt buckle and has design undertones from Tesla’s Cybertruck
  • All Tesla’s products are built with safety in mind and Optimus is no different! The robot will have many safety measures and one humorous one is that, “If you can run faster than 5 mph, you’re fine!”
  • A giant 30-foot fork in the road stands as a monumental symbol at Autopilot office in Palo Alto and is planned for permanent installation, according to Hunter Leggitt Studio website
Tesla Belt Buckle
DON’T MESS WITH TESLA belt buckle in a field of Texas Bluebonnets by the author.

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Watch the full video of Tesla AI Day 2022

Elon Musk Speaks at AI Day 2022, Optimus Wears Giga Texas “Don’t Mess With Tesla” Belt Buckle The incredible new Tesla Optimus robot (wearing the Giga Texas “Don’t Mess with Tesla” belt buckle!) was unveiled on Tesla AI Day 2022 and it aims to be very affordable, made to a massive scale, and also very useful.

Read Elon Musk’s essay on technology for a better future Elon Musk is optimistic, lives with a sense of urgency, and takes action to make the future good. His essay is an inspiration to all people, and here he talks about exciting uses for the Optimus humanoid robot!

Who will Benefit once Tesla Autonomy is Solved? I believe a world where autonomy is the norm is closer than we realize.  This article attempts to answer the question, who will benefit once Tesla autonomy is solved? 

Credit Hunter Leggitt Studio for the header image of this article of Metafork in the Road.

Gail Alfar, author. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – October 10, 2022 (Article updated on October 27, 2022 to say Metafork is possibly planned as a permanent art installation. It was noted that the MetaFork is not currently on display at Tesla Palo Alto as of 10/27/22). All Rights Reserved. My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization.

Elon Musk Speaks at AI Day 2022, Optimus Wears Giga Texas “Don’t Mess With Tesla” Belt Buckle

Optimus robot wears the Giga Texas “Don’t Mess with Tesla” belt buckle. Photo Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Elon Musk is leading Tesla towards a bright future where the company is just as much an artificial intelligence company as it is a vehicle and energy company. 

Elon spoke Friday evening on September 30 at Tesla AI Day 2022 in Palo Alto, California and he introduced the world to an Optimus robot wearing a Giga Texas “Don’t Mess with Tesla” belt buckle. The belt buckle was first seen at the October 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders in which it was used to announce the moving of the Tesla HQ from California to Austin, Texas.

Elon’s unveiling of the new Optimus is also worth a big celebration, so it is appropriate the robot wears the belt buckle. This article highlights,

  • Optimus is designed to be useful, affordable, and made at scale
  • Optimus has great potential to transform civilization into a future of abundance
  • Tesla is structured so the public can ensure a safe future in regards to Optimus
  • A technical presentation followed by a Q & A reveals more about Optimus

Optimus: Useful, affordable, and made at scale

Elon Musk explains,

“Our goal is to make a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible and we’ve also designed it using the same discipline that we used in designing the car, which is to design it for manufacturing such that it’s possible to make the robot at high volume at low cost, with high reliability.

That’s incredibly important, I mean, you’ve all seen very impressive humanoid robot demonstrations and that’s great but what are they missing?

They’re missing a brain and they don’t have the intelligence to navigate the world by themselves and they’re also very expensive and made in low volume, whereas Optimus is designed to be an extremely capable robot but made in very high volume, probably ultimately millions of units and it is expected to cost much less than a car.

I would say, probably less than $20,000, would be my guess.

The potential for Optimus is appreciated by very few people.” – Elon Musk

Optimus has great potential to transform civilization into a future of abundance

One day our civilization may be one of great abundance, as Elon Musk explains,

“The potential really boggles the mind, because you have to say what is an economy?

An economy is sort of productive entities times their productivity.

Capita times output, productivity per capita. But the point at which there’s not a limitation on capita, it’s not clear what an economy even means at that point!

Economy becomes quasi-infinite. So, taken to fruition, in the hopefully benign scenario, this means a future of abundance.

A future where there is no poverty, where you can have whatever you want in terms of products and services.

It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it.” – Elon Musk

Tesla is structured so the public can ensure a safe future in regards to Optimus

This important issue was emphasized by Elon Musk,

“Obviously, we want to make sure that transformation is a positive one, and safe.

But that’s also why I think Tesla, as an entity doing this, being a single class of stock publicly traded owned by the public is very important and should not be overlooked.

I think this is essential, because then, if the public doesn’t like what Tesla is doing, the public can buy shares in Tesla, and vote differently.

This is a big deal, like, it’s very important that I can’t just do what I want. It’s very important that the corporate entity that makes this happen, is something that the public can properly influence.

So I think the Tesla structure is ideal for that. Like I said, self-driving cars will certainly have a tremendous impact on the world.

I think they will improve the productivity of transport by at least a half order of magnitude, perhaps an order of magnitude, perhaps more.

Optimus has maybe a two order of magnitude potential improvement in economic output. It’s not clear what the limit actually even is. But we need to do this in the right way. We need to do it carefully, and safely and ensure that the outcome is one that is beneficial to civilization and one that humanity wants.

This is extremely important, obviously.” – Elon Musk

Elon Musk also explained to the audience that, 

“At Tesla, we really care about doing the right thing or are inspired to do the right thing, and really not pave the road to hell with good intentions and I think the road to hell is mostly paved with bad intentions, but every now and again, there’s a good intention in there.

We want to do the right thing.” – Elon Musk

Tesla Optimus humanoid robot. Photo Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

A technical presentation followed by a Q & A reveals more about Optimus

You can watch the presentation on Tesla YouTube, and it may be best watched in parts as it is

technical.

Prior to questions and answers from the audience, Elon explained,

“We really wanted to show the depth and breadth of Tesla and artificial intelligence, compute hardware, robotics actuators, and try to really shift the perception of the company away from … you know a lot of people think we’re just a car company, or we make cool cars, or whatever.

Most people have no idea that Tesla is arguably the leader in AI hardware and software and that we are building what is arguably the first, the most radical computer architecture since the Cray-1 supercomputer.

I think if you’re interested in developing some of the most advanced technology in the world that’s going to affect the world in a positive way, Tesla is the place to be.” – Elon Musk

Many interesting points were made during the 40-minute Q & A session, including,

  • There will be endless possibilities for Optimus, many different versions are planned
  • You will be able to have a conversation with Optimus
  • As a safety precaution, Optimus will not have over-the-air updates.  Optimus will have a safety off-switch
  • Optimus should be ready for customers in 3-5 years
  • Tesla may begin a monthly podcast to explain what is going on behind the scenes
Tesla Optimus humanoid robot. Photo Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

CONCLUSION

The incredible new Tesla Optimus robot (wearing the Giga Texas “Don’t Mess with Tesla” belt buckle!) was unveiled on Tesla AI Day 2022 and it aims to be very affordable, made to a massive scale, and also very useful.

It has great potential to transform civilization into a future of abundance.

To ensure this is done right, Elon Musk explained that, “Obviously, we want to make sure that transformation is a positive one, and safe. But that’s also why I think Tesla, as an entity doing this, being a single class of stock publicly traded owned by the public is very important and should not be overlooked. I think this is essential, because then, if the public doesn’t like what Tesla is doing, the public can buy shares in Tesla, and vote differently. This is a big deal, like, it’s very important that I can’t just do what I want. It’s very important that the corporate entity that makes this happen, is something that the public can properly influence. So I think the Tesla structure is ideal for that.”

How do you think an Optimus Robot could make your life more abundant?

Big Sur Drive, California. credit,  Iris Papillon on Unsplash

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like,

Giant fork in the road leads to Tesla’s Optimus AI Tesla’s Optimus robot is already working at the Fremont factory, and exactly how many robots are in Tesla’s fleet? Elon Musk installed a giant 30ft fork in the road created by Burning Man artist Hunter Leggitt outside the Autopilot office in Palo Alto, will this be a permanent art installation?

Read Elon Musk’s essay on technology for a better future Elon Musk is optimistic, lives with a sense of urgency, and takes action to make the future good. His essay is an inspiration to all people, and here he talks about exciting uses for the Optimus humanoid robot!

Who will Benefit once Tesla Autonomy is Solved? I believe a world where autonomy is the norm is closer than we realize.  This article attempts to answer the question, who will benefit once Tesla autonomy is solved? 

Gail Alfar, author. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – October 2, 2022. All Rights Reserved.

My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization.

Elon Musk Conversation with Reporters (Only 4 minutes long and packed with information)

Elon Musk with reporters, Stavenger, Norway. credit video image from TV 2 Norway.

You may notice that it is rare for Elon Musk to talk with reporters.  In a gesture of love for Norway and it’s people, he stopped and had an informal conversation with reporters outside under the beautiful trees on his way into the ONS 2022 Conference (on August 29, in Stavanger). Here is the conversation and major highlights. I also share my informal outlook at the end of the article.

  • Gratitude from Elon Musk to Tesla owners in Norway
  • Why we need to maintain oil and gas production 
  • Is it possible for Norway to produce more wind and hydropower?
  • Norway possibly storing wind power from North Sea in large battery packs 
  • World’s Biggest Challenges: Underpopulation and transition to sustainable energy
  • Underpopulation is at a crisis level

Elon Musk visits Norway to show appreciation for the support of the Norwegian people for electric vehicles

Elon Musk: Hello everyone, I look forward to speaking today.

Reporter: Why did you come to Stavanger?

Elon Musk: Actually I came in appreciation for the support of the Norwegian people for electric vehicles. I wanted to say thank you to the people of Norway for their tremendous support for sustainable transport over the many years. 

Reporter: What’s your message for today?

Elon Musk: Actually I came in appreciation for the support of the Norwegian people for electric vehicles. I think I’m going to maybe answer some questions and provide some ideas for the transition to a sustainable energy world, But, like I said, the reason that I’m here is in appreciation for the support that the people of Norway have provided for electric vehicles, so once again, thank you very much for that! 

Civilization depends on energy and would crumble without it

Reporter: What do you think about the oil and gas now? Should we use it?

Elon Musk: I think, realistically, we do need to use oil and gas in the short term, because otherwise, civilization would crumble. So, in order for civilization to continue to function, we do need oil and gas. And I think actually, especially these days, with the Russia sanctions, we do need to provide oil and gas to keep civilization running. I think any reasonable person would conclude that. While at the same time accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.

Winters in Norway may benefit from stationary battery packs storing wind, hydropower

Reporter: So, Norway should explore more?

Elon Musk: I think some additional exploration is warranted at this time, and also continue to support the transition to electric vehicles.

I was sort of wondering if it’s possible for Norway to produce more perhaps hydropower, and wind power as well? And potentially export that to Southern Europe?

But overall, I’m very glad to be here and I’m looking forward to a lovely day, and I always have a great time here in Norway.

Reporter: Would you consider yourself endorsing oil and gas?

Elon Musk: No, ha ha, I’ve got to focus on sustainable energy, electric vehicles, stationary battery packs, and solar.

But, one of the things I was wondering, is if there might be sort of the North Sea, places where it’s very windy, there might be a potential for a tremendous amount of wind power.  And then, when combined with stationary battery packs, this could be a very strong sustainable energy source in the winter. So, that seems like something that would be worth exploring as well.

Reporter: You were here in 2014, what is the biggest difference now?

Elon Musk: I don’t know, Norway looks great, ha ha! I mean I just got here, so… I don’t know, I love Norway, it’s a great place! 

World’s Biggest Challenges: Underpopulation crisis and transition to sustainable energy

Elon Musk also met with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on the sidelines of the ONS 2022 Conference. credit The Brussels Times

Reporter: What is the biggest challenge for the world right now?

Elon Musk: Definitely, one of the biggest challenges that civilization has ever faced, is the transition to sustainable energy.  And having a sustainable energy economy, so obviously, we’ve got that. But that will take some decades to complete.

And then one of my sort of less obvious things to be concerned about, is the birth rate. You know, I think it’s important that people have enough babies to support civilization. and we don’t sort of dwindle away. Because they say like, civilization may end with a bang or a whimper. and if we don’t have enough kids, then we will die with a whimper in adult diapers. and that will be depressing, and… 

Reporter: So make more babies?

Elon Musk: Yes, make more babies! At least make enough babies to sustain the population. you know, we don’t want the population to drive so low that we just eventually die, you know? haha 

Sorry, I’ve got to go inside guys. 

Reporter: Energy crisis, climate crisis, and also the war crisis?

Elon Musk: And the baby crisis! Let’s not forget the baby crisis. 

Reporter: More babies means more demand for energy.

Elon Musk: Trust me, the baby crisis is a big deal.

Elon then said goodbye to the press and was soon talking to Xenia Wickett inside at the ONS 2022 Conference.  You may enjoy that interview here, on Elon Musk Interview with Xenia Wickett in Norway (ONS 2022 Stavanger Conference August 29th) Less than 25 min long and packed with information (full interview)

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk at ONS 2022 Conference. credit Twitter user @kapsarc

Norway is a leader in the support of EVs. On his way to the ONS 2022 Conference, Elon Musk expressed gratitude for this, saying “I came in appreciation for the support of the Norwegian people for electric vehicles.” Norway has promoted EVs by giving certain benefits at different times to EV owners. (These have included lowering taxes on EVs, some free parking and toll road access for EV owners.) About 75% of NEW cars sold in Norway are electric and most are Teslas. Tesla vehicles are also known to perform well in cold weather.

I agree that keeping civilization running smoothly depends on energy, and today that has to include gas and oil.  Norway currently supplies about 22% of the EU’s natural gas demand using subsea pipelines.  Elon Musk said he does not specifically endorse this, and said more exploration is warranted due to the Russian sanctions.  He did emphasize that he wonders if Norway could produce more hydropower and windpower and export that to Southern Europe. He also said that stationary battery packs could store wind power from the North Sea and that could provide Norway with power in the winter. 

When asked what is the biggest challenge for the world right now, Elon spoke about both the transition to sustainable energy and underpopulation.  He said, “Definitely, one of the biggest challenges that civilization has ever faced, is the transition to sustainable energy.”

For the last 70 years, fertility rates have significantly decreased worldwide, with a total 50% decline, according to numbers from Our World in Data. Elon spoke with conviction about the low birth rate, saying “I think it’s important that people have enough babies to support civilization. and we don’t sort of dwindle away.” He later called it a baby crisis and urged people not to forget that the baby crisis is a big deal.  I agree with Elon Musk and hope to offer my personal encouragement in a future article, written from the viewpoint of a mom with 5 kids.

If this topic interests you, you may also read  Elon Musk: Discussion About Underpopulation.  I think you’ll enjoy it!

Watch the video of Elon Musk talking to reporters here. (credit, Tesla Hype)

Tesla Model 3 | Norway by Minimal Duck.
Boats in the harbor of Stavenger, Norway on the day of ONS 2022 and Elon Musk’s arrival, credit Juliet Dunlop.

Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This article was created by Gail Alfar with the goal to preserve this interview in text or written form for the purpose of 1. education and 2. preserving the brilliant insight and words of Elon Musk. All Rights Reserved. September 11, 2022

Elon Musk Interview with Xenia Wickett in Norway (ONS 2022 Stavanger Conference August 29th) Less than 25 min long and packed with information (full interview)

Arriving to Norway: Elon Musk on way to ONS 2022 Conference. cr. Jarle Aasland / Stavanger Aftenblad

Elon Musk spoke at the ONS 2022 Conference in Norway in a less than 25-minute interview with Xenia Wickett. I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have, its packed with so much important information. Elon got to the main points quickly, making this a fabulous interview.

Main Points in Interview

  • Thoughts About Trust (Twitter)
  • Taking The Set Of Actions That Are Most Likely To Lead To A Better Future
  • 3 Pillars Of A Sustainable Energy Future: Sustainable Energy Generation, Stationary Battery Packs, Electric Vehicles
  • Sustainable Rocket Propellant
  • Looking Years Ahead At The Auto Industry
  • What Are The Limiting Factors Governing The Rate At Which We Can Transition To Sustainable Energy?
  • Update On Master Plan Part 3
  • Is There A Limiting Function To The Transition To Sustainable Energy?
  • China, Gigafactory Expansion, The Fundamental Good Of Tesla
  • Approach To Risk, The Riskiest Thing Is No Action 
  • Ukraine
  • Caution in Developing Artificial Intelligence
  • Two Goals: Starship To Orbit And Self-Driving Cars 
August 29, 2022 Elon Musk speaks at ONS Conference, Stavanger, Norway in an Interview with Xenia Wickett.

Of course, Elon started out warmly thanking the Norwegian people,

“Thank you for inviting me and it’s an incredible honor to be here. I love Norway. And I just want to thank the leaders and the people of Norway for their long-standing support of electric vehicles and sustainable energy. I just want the people of Norway to know, that hey you have really made a difference. So thank you!”

Thoughts About Trust (Twitter)

In response to “what do you think about trust?“ Elon said,

“That’s really quite a philosophical question, and one could wax on at length about that. (laughter asking if talking about Twitter?)  I do think, with respect to information, generally, people want to know that the information they are receiving is accurate, that it is representative of the full picture, and they want to be able to believe what they read and not feel that it’s overly biased or at least understand the nature of the bias.

I think one of the key things to trust is transparency, and for people to really know or understand, if it’s a social media company, what the algorithm is. We should open-source the algorithm so people can know it and critique it, and so it’s not a black box. And then if there are any modifications done by people who are at that social media company, it should be clear and transparent, so it’s not hidden.

I believe in the free flow of ideas, and just generally erring on the side of free speech, within the boundaries of the law. You can’t go beyond that without being arrested I think.”

Set Of Actions That Are Most Likely To Lead To A Better Future

Elon Musk and Prime Minister (Jonas Gahr Støre) have lunch together at ONS. cr. Bjørn Shaogon / VG

“I don’t aim to disrupt for the sake of disrupting. It’s more like, what set of actions are more likely to lead to a better future? In order for humanity to have a compelling future for civilization, we must have a clear path to a sustainable energy future. That’s one of the things that I think everyone would agree with. I am not someone who would tend to demonize oil and gas, to be clear. This is necessary right now or civilization could not function. So I do think at this time, we actually need more oil and gas and not less. But simultaneously, moving as fast as we can to a sustainable energy economy.  I thought the words of the Prime Minister were spot on. I am glad to hear that there is a large effort for ocean wind. That’s a massive untapped potential. I would say go even more than what the Prime Minister said frankly, I mean if you did a 100 x 100 array, of 10 MW systems, you would have 100-gigawatt capability. And then, you do need to combine that with stationary storage battery packs to buffer the energy, because sometimes the wind blows and sometimes it doesn’t blow, or it just blows hard. So you need to buffer it with stationary battery packs. Tesla and other companies are also making that.”

3 Pillars of Sustainable Energy Future: Sustainable Energy Generation, Stationary Battery Packs, Electric Vehicles

“The three pillars of a sustainable energy future are sustainable energy generation, which is hydro, geothermal, wind, and solar.  I’m also pro-nuclear. I think we should really keep going with the nuclear plants. I know it’s an unpopular view in some quarters, and I think if you have a well-designed nuclear power plant, you should not shut it down. Especially right now.

But I try to say what I think is scientifically cogent, even if it is not popular. So the pillars are sustainable energy generation, but then you must also store the energy. The two main sources of sustainable energy, wind and solar, are intermittent, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. So you must buffer the energy in stationary battery packs. And then the third element obviously is electric vehicles. Electric cars, trucks, aircraft, boats. with the ironic exception of rockets.”

Sustainable Rocket Propellant

“We do have a plan for sustainably producing the rocket propellant, which is actually, almost 80% liquid oxygen. So liquid oxygen you can get obviously from the atmosphere. And then we are going with Methane fuel, which is 20% of the propellant, but that you can make also sustainably long term from CO2 and water, H2O which produces CH₄ and O₂ so that’s the sustainable long-term path for rocket propellant generation and that’s how it would have to be done on Mars, for example. 

We do actually have some sustainable power generation for some of our propellant generation already, but it’s a small percentage now but will be a big percentage in the future.”

Car Industry Moving Rapidly Towards Electric

“I think we’ll see tremendous change over the next 5, 10, or 15 years. By 2030, I would say probably about half of all new cars will be electric. By 2035, it might be 80% or something like that. It could be even higher than those numbers, but the car industry is moving rapidly towards electric.

One country after another, and one state after another is making zero-emission mandates. California recently passed, I think, by 2035 all new cars can only be zero emission. So, clearly, the people of the earth, decided this is the way to go.

So we’ll see quite a tremendous change in that regard and if you look at Norway you will see kind of an advanced version of that because Norway has some of the highest, I believe Norway has gone to the majority are electric vehicles of new cars sold, which is great. Again, thank you! So, it’s pretty cool! (applause)”

What Are The Limiting Factors Governing Rate At Which We Can Transition To Sustainable Energy?

“What are the limiting factors governing the rate at which the world can transition to sustainable energy? I think it’s the rate at which one can grow battery production. So then, if you say, what are the constituents in the battery, in lithium-ion batteries? You’ve obviously got lithium, you’ve got the cathode, which is the main cathode materials are going to be metal, and that’s nickel, manganese, and iron. And on the anode side, it’s primarily carbon and graphite. So, in a sense, you’re sequestering a little bit of carbon in the battery, with some silicone added for energy density on the anode side. And then there’s the electrolytes and whatnot.

The main limitations are not that these metals are exceptionally rare, but that there’s a tremendous amount of processing equipment to take the ore and turn it into battery-grade materials. Because the battery grade anode and cathode have to be extremely pure in order for the battery to last for a long time. So, it’s sort of processing of those elements.”

Update on Master Plan Part 3

“I’m sort of writing this master plan part three, which is, what are the steps needed to scale sustainable energy, again, what are the limiting factors? And how can we potentially accelerate these? So hopefully, I’ll finish that in a month or two.”

In response to Xenis’s question, Can you give us a preview, what are the big steps, what are the gating functions? Elon said,

 “Well, the materials that I mentioned are really essential. There’s not a raw material constraint, there’s actually a tremendous amount of Lithium.  Lithium is almost everywhere, it’s one of the most common elements on earth, so is Iron, and so is Carbon. On the Iron you usually combine Phosphorus, so it’s Iron Phosphate (FePO4). So that will probably be the biggest chemistry that’s used.  It’s not so much the raw materials as it is converting the raw materials into the highly purified form used in batteries. There’s a tremendous amount of processing that needs to happen for that at the sort of scale that is currently, you know, comparable to the oil and gas industry. The scale is just tremendous. So this is all happening, it’s happening fast. It’s just a question of what we could do to accelerate that, to go even faster. So this is happening, it’s just a question of when.”

Is There A Limiting Function To The Transition To Sustainable Energy?

Elon explains that he does not see a limiting function to the transition to sustainable energy, he explains it this way,

“I don’t see a limiting function, it’s really just, what actions can we take to have it be faster? And it’s going to be, increasing the rate at which we can convert the ore into battery-grade materials. hat will set the rate at which we can build electric vehicles and stationary battery packs to capture solar and wind.

What I’m saying, is this is an optimistic and positive message. I’m not suggesting at all, complacency. But just saying that things are moving in a good direction, and but obviously if we can make them go even faster that’s better.”

China, Gigafactory Expansion, The Fundamental Good Of Tesla

“Tesla is actually investing in production in China. so we have a large factory in Shanghai that we are continuing to expand outward and invest in the factory. We’re also investing in Europe with our factory just outside of Berlin. and in the US, with our factory just outside of Austin. [note: pictures of Austin factories appear at bottom of this article] We hope to announce a location for another Gigafactory perhaps later this year. So we’re going as fast as we can. 

I’ve always said that the, I would say when you look at Tesla, the fundamental good that Tesla does, I think, sometimes it’s by profit, but rather by how many years will Tesla have accelerated the transition to sustainable energy? This is how I think one should look at it. 

I think we have accelerated it to some degree already. You know, I think if it wasn’t for Tesla, the car industry would have transitioned to EVs much later.

It is an exponential curve, yes. Most people don’t know what an exponential curve means, but it’s a (moves hand in the upward direction). I think things are improving exponentially with respect to sustainable energy. but if we can make it go faster, all the better.

What will actually happen is, the transition from, it’s following an S curve. So you have an exponential increase, then linear, then logarithmic. (points hand into the air) that’s basically how any large industrial transition happens.”

Approach To Risk, The Riskiest Thing Is No Action

“I don’t sort of like, just arbitrarily seek risk. I think some things are risky, but if the stakes are important enough then you take the risk. (applause). The stakes are extremely important. Very fundamental to the future.

I think there are probably a lot of people in this room that do take a lot of risks. I literally just try to use the scientific method, frankly. What is the importance of the outcome? What is one risking, in order to achieve that outcome? Like I said, if the outcome is important enough, even if the probability of success is low, I think, still do it, in my view, some things are very important, and in order to have a good future, if we don’t do them then we are in big trouble, and so how much of a risk really is it? Because if we don’t take those actions we won’t have a good future. I think the riskiest thing would be no action.” 

Ukraine

“We did have some guess that maybe there would be something happening in Ukraine, and so we did pre-position some STARLINK terminals there, just in case. And so that was helpful for the initial part of the invasion. And then we accelerated delivery of a lot of terminals within a few days of the invasion taking place and then the Ukrainian government tells me it’s been very helpful.

I do hope some peace can be achieved in Ukraine and Russia. I do think some thought should be given to, what’s the endgame there. I think the endgame will require some compromise on the part of both parties.”

Caution in Developing Artificial Intelligence

“Tesla‘s goal, from when we started it, has always been to accelerate sustainability, so that is still our primary goal by far. Our secondary goal is to solve at least real-world intelligence as it applies to self-driving cars, and then potentially with humanoid robots, so Tesla is in part an AI company and increasingly an AI company but it’s still primarily a sustainable energy company. I don’t think we need AI to solve sustainability. If that is happening, it might help us accelerate it. 

I think we should also be cautious about AI, and just make sure that as we develop AI, that it does not get out of control, and that AI helps make the future better for humanity. 

I think we should be more worried about AI‘s safety than we currently are. Especially, the future wars are going to be (and we’re seeing a taste of that with Ukraine), very much, drone wars. So if your drones are better than their drones, then you win, basically, it’s what will happen.”

Two Goals: Starship To Orbit And Self-Driving Cars 

In response to the closing question, “what keeps you up at night?” Elon stated,

“I’m fundamentally a technologist, it’s kind of important, or an engineer, so, yes sometimes people call me a businessman, I have to do business, I have to have a group of people because I can’t just do this in a garage by myself.

But, I am fundamentally an engineer or a technologist and so the two technologies I am focused on trying to ideally, get done before the end of the year are getting our Starship to orbit, which I think is important for expanding consciousness beyond Earth and life beyond Earth. And then, having the Tesla cars be able to do self-driving. So have self-driving in wide release at least In the USA, and hopefully, potentially in Europe, depending on regulatory approval.”

CONCLUSION

Some of the main points made by Elon Musk in the Norway interview that really caught my attention:

  • Twitter algorithm should be open-source, and Elon believes in the free flow of ideas and free speech.
  • Elon explains that in order for humanity to have a compelling future for civilization, we must have a clear path to a sustainable energy future. 
  • When asked what are the limiting factors governing the rate at which we can transition to sustainable energy?  Elon explains that Lithium, Iron and Carbon are plentiful.   He says, “The main limitations are not that these metals are exceptionally rare, but that there’s a tremendous amount of processing equipment to take the ore and turn it into battery-grade materials. Because the battery grade anode and cathode have to be extremely pure in order for the battery to last for a long time. So, it’s sort of processing of those elements.”
  • Similarly, Elon was asked again if there is a limiting function to the transition to sustainable energy, and he explains, “I don’t see a limiting function, it’s really just, what actions can we take to have it be faster? And it’s going to be, increasing the rate at which we can convert the ore into battery-grade materials. That will set the rate at which we can build electric vehicles and stationary battery packs to capture solar and wind.”
  • We are moved to action by Elon’s explanation of risk: He says, “Like I said, if the outcome is important enough, even if the probability of success is low, I think, still do it, in my view. some things are very important, and in order to have a good future, if we don’t do them then we are in big trouble, and so how much of a risk really is it? Because if we don’t take those actions we won’t have a good future. I think the riskiest thing would be no action.”
  • If you know Elon, he has warned us all about the dangers of AI many times before. Here is expresses great concern over developing artificial intelligence in the context of war.  He cautions, “I think we should be more worried about AI’s safety than we currently are. Especially, the future wars are going to be (and we’re seeing a taste of that with the Ukraine), very much, drone wars. So if your drones are better than their drones, then you win, basically, it’s what will happen.” 
  • As the world’s Technoking, Elon explains he is most driven to get Starship to orbit this year and have Tesla cars be able to do self-driving.  “But, I am fundamentally an engineer or a technologist and so the two technologies I am focused on trying to ideally, get done before the end of the year are getting our Starship to orbit, which I think is important for expanding consciousness beyond Earth and life beyond Earth. And then, having the Tesla cars be able to do self-driving.”
Tesla Gigafactory near Austin, cathode plant seen in the distance at 12 o’clock. September 3, 2022. cr. Joe Tegtmeyer
Tesla builds massive battery cathode plant next to Gigafactory Texas near Austin, Sept 3 cr. Tegtmeyer

Enjoy this article?
You might also like to read,
Elon Musk: Discussion About Underpopulation
which is a highly acclaimed article
published on July 9, 2022.

Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This article was created by Gail Alfar with the goal to preserve this interview in text or written form for the purpose of 1. education and 2. preserving the brilliant insight and words of Elon Musk. All Rights Reserved. September 4, 2022

Read Elon Musk’s essay on technology for a better future

Elon Musk, Legendary Bomber Jacket, Gigafactory Texas, August 19, 2022. credit: Gail Alfar

It’s mid-August and school is starting up for many and this is a great time to read this inspiring essay by Elon Musk.

I hope you’ll relax with me and have a snack & a cold drink, may I suggest a KIND bar and a Coke Zero? This is what I enjoyed at Giga Texas right before briefly meeting Elon Musk and going on a tour of the gigafactory with brilliant Tesla engineers. I can tell you that after meeting Elon Musk, what he shares on Twitter is essentially the same as he talks about when meeting. He spoke about how important it is to get Starship into orbit and how important solving autonomy is.

I asked Elon if it was okay for me to take his picture, “Aren’t there already enough of me?”, “No, there isn’t one of you like this, alone, with Giga Texas in the background.”

Elon Musk is optimistic, lives with a sense of urgency, and takes action daily to make the future good. Yang Liu gave me permission to re-post this from his substack, Beijing Channel. 请用中文查看整篇文章。点击这里。 Elon Musk recognized Liu’s work in a tweet, “Reasonably accurate translation.”

BELIEVING IN TECHNOLOGY FOR A BETTER FUTURE 相信科技创造美好未来

Thank you for the invitation from China Cyberspace magazine. I am pleased to share with my Chinese friends some of my thoughts on the vision of technology and humanity.

As technology accelerates, it may one day surpass human understanding and control. Some are optimistic and some are pessimistic. But I believe that as long as we are not complacent and always maintain a sense of urgency, the future of humanity will be bright, driven by the power of technology. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy: if humans want to make the future good, they should take action to make it good.

I want to do everything we can to maximize the use of technology to help achieve a better future for humanity. To that end, any area that contributes to a sustainable future is worthy of our investment.

Whether it’s Tesla, Neuralink, or SpaceX, these companies were all founded with the ultimate goal of enhancing the future of human life and creating as much practical value for the world as possible—Tesla to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, Neuralink for medical rehabilitation, SpaceX for making interstellar connections possible.

CLEAN ENERGY: THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABILITY

Tesla Megapack and Solar. credit: Tesla

The starting point for my thinking about clean energy is how to create and store energy sustainably and for the long term, and how to provide a constant source of power for the future of productive life. In my view, the future of sustainable energy involves three components.

The generation of sustainable energy. The sun is like a giant fusion generator, from which mankind currently exploits a tiny amount of energy. In the long run, solar energy will become the main source of energy for human civilization. Of course, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and nuclear power are also useful energy supplements.

The storage of sustainable energy. Given the change of day and night and the change of weather, we need a lot of fixed battery banks to store solar and wind energy, because the sun does not shine all the time, and the wind does not blow all the time, energy needs to be stored in a large number of fixed battery banks.

Electrified transportation. Full electrification of transportation, including cars, planes, and ships. Electric rockets may be more difficult, but we may be able to manufacture the propellant used in rockets from sustainable energy sources. Eventually, the world economy will be run entirely by sustainable energy sources.

The world is on track for a sustainable energy transition, and humanity should continue to accelerate the process. The faster this transition is achieved, the less risk humanity poses to the environment and the more it will gain. When clean energy is available, carbon sequestration and desalination will be cheaper, climate change and water shortages will be solved, and when fossil fuels are out of the picture, the skies will be cleaner, the world will be quieter, the air will be fresher, and the future will be brighter.

Tesla Solar Roof. credit: Tesla

Solar power, battery packs, and electric vehicles paint a rosy picture. Next, we need to focus on the limiting factors. The electrification of cars has become a consensus among nations, but battery support on a terawatt-hour scale is needed to roll out pure electric vehicles around the globe. According to our estimates, the world needs about 300 TWh of battery storage to achieve a transition to sustainable energy. The biggest difficulty in advancing sustainable energy lies in the large-scale production of lithium battery cells. Specifically, from the mining and element refining to battery cells coming off of the production line and finally assembled into battery packs, this is a complex process that is restraining the rapid development of a sustainable energy economy.

As a pioneer and innovator focusing on energy innovation technology, Tesla was founded to solve the problem of energy innovation. On the one hand, we create integrated sustainable energy products from the three segments of energy: production, storage and use; on the other hand, we are committed to redefining battery manufacturing by innovating and developing advanced battery technology to remove restrictions on battery capacity.

I believe that the world will transition to a sustainable future through a combination of solar and wind energy plus battery storage and electric vehicles. I am pleased to see more and more companies joining this field. Chinese companies will be a force to be reckoned with in the cause of energy innovation.

HUMANOID ROBOTS: DOING WHAT HUMANS DO

Tesla humanoid robot prototype, Tesla Bot. credit: Barbara @bmt094

Today’s cars are increasingly like smart, web-connected robots on wheels. In fact, in addition to cars, humanoid robots are also becoming a reality, with Tesla launching a general-purpose humanoid robot (Tesla Bot) in 2021. The Tesla Bot is close to the height and weight of an adult, can carry or pick up heavy objects, walk fast in small steps, and the screen on its face is an interactive interface for communication with people. You may wonder why we designed this robot with legs. Because human society is based on the interaction of a bipedal humanoid with two arms and ten fingers. So if we want a robot to adapt to its environment and be able to do what humans do, it has to be roughly the same size, shape, and capabilities as a human.

Tesla Bots are initially positioned to replace people in repetitive, boring, and dangerous tasks. But the vision is for them to serve millions of households, such as cooking, mowing lawns, and caring for the elderly.

Achieving this goal requires that robots evolve to be smart enough and for us to have the ability to mass produce robots. Our “four-wheeled robots” – cars – have changed the way people travel and even live. One day when we solve the problem of self-driving cars (i.e., real-world artificial intelligence), we will be able to extend artificial intelligence technology to humanoid robots, which will have a much broader application than cars.

We plan to launch the first prototype of a humanoid robot this year and focus on improving the intelligence of that robot and solving the problem of large-scale production. Thereafter, humanoid robots’ usefulness will increase yearly as production scales up and costs fall. In the future, a home robot may be cheaper than a car. Perhaps in less than a decade, people will be able to buy a robot for their parents as a birthday gift.

It is foreseeable that with the power of robots, we will create an era of extreme abundance of goods and services, where everyone can live a life of abundance. Perhaps the only scarcity that will exist in the future is for us to create ourselves as humans.

NEURALINK: EMPOWERING THE DISABLED

Image credit: Neuralink

Some of our Chinese friends may not be as familiar with Neuralink as with electric cars. These companies focus on developing computer-human brain fusion technologies, developing brain chips the size of coins, similar to wearable devices such as smartphones, except that they integrate more deeply with the user’s body—recording and stimulating brain activity through implants in the cerebral cortex.

At this stage, the technology is helping injured people on an individual level. We have received many saddening letters: a 25-year-old young man was in the prime of his life when he had a motorcycle accident that left him unable to eat on his own, which is a great grief for the individual and the family. In light of this, brain-machine interface technology will be focused on curing or alleviating brain injury and other related disorders in the years to come. For example, it could help restore sensory or motor function to limbs of those with spinal injuries and mental system disorders or allow quadriplegics to use their brains to easily operate computers or cell phones.

This technology can also improve a wider range of brain injury problems, whether these disorders are congenital or accidental, or caused by age and external stressors, including severe depression, morbid obesity, sleep problems, and underlying schizophrenia, all of which are expected to be alleviated by human-computer devices.

With the development of brain-machine interface technology, in the long term, this connection is expected to expand the channels of communication between the outside world and the human brain, “accessing” more brain regions and new neural data. This technology could allow humans to effectively integrate with artificial intelligence and ultimately expand new ways for humans to interact with the world, themselves and others. Even if the goal of human-machine integration is difficult to achieve, brain-machine interface technology could be of great value in the field of medical rehabilitation.

SPACE EXPLORATION: THE POSSIBILITY OF CROSS-PLANET HABITATS

SpaceX team, Starship, and booster in Starbase, Texas, Feb 16, 2022. credit Austin Barnard

Finally, my greatest hope is that humans create a self-sustaining city on Mars. Many people ask me why I want to explore outer space and turn humans into multi-planetary creatures. In the vast universe, human civilization is like a faint little candle, like a little shimmering light in the void. When the sun expands one day and the Earth is no longer habitable, we can fly to a new home in a spaceship. If humans can inhabit other planets, it means that they have passed one of the conditions of the great screening of the universe, then we will become interplanetary citizens, and human civilization will be able to continue.

The first step toward interplanetary habitat is to reduce the cost of travel, which is what SpaceX was founded to do – first by building recoverable rockets and then by building reusable mega-ships with ever-increasing carrying capacity. As of earlier this year, SpaceX had successfully reused 79 rockets to deliver cargo to the space station and send ordinary people into space. We have also designed and built the largest launch vehicle in history, the Starship, which can carry 100 passengers and supplies at a time. In the future, we plan to build at least 1,000 Starships to send groups of pioneers to Mars to build a self-sustaining city.

As technology continues to change lives at an accelerating pace and the world evolves, life is more than simply solving one problem after another. We all want to wake up in the morning full of anticipation for the future and rejoice in what is to come. I hope more people will join us in our fight to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. I also welcome more like-minded Chinese partners to join us in exploring clean energy, artificial intelligence, human-machine collaboration, and space exploration to create a future worth waiting for.

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk wrote about the future of humanity in four critical areas

1. Clean Energy. Elon Musk envisions a thriving future that is powered by the sun. “Eventually, the world economy will be run entirely by sustainable energy sources.”

2. Humanoid Robots, “The Tesla Bot is close to the height and weight of an adult, can carry or pick up heavy objects, walk fast in small steps, and the screen on its face is an interactive interface for communication with people.”

3. Neuralink’s great potential to improve physical and mental health and eventually serve millions of households, especially the elderly.

4. Space exploration is the last topic and Elon’s words describing his greatest hope inspire us, “In the future, we plan to build at least 1,000 Starships to send groups of pioneers to Mars to build a self-sustaining city.”

Photo Cyber Rodeo. credit Ross Gerber

Underpopulation is very real, and Elon Musk has ideas on how to tackle this problem, you can read about what he thinks in my article, “Elon Musk: Discussion About Underpopulation,” which is highly acclaimed and noticed by Elon Musk who tweeted in response to it, “Children are essential to the future” on July 11, 2022.

Fun Sidestory: I am humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to get to know some of the Dogecoin community including Gary Lachance. I met Gary in Austin and I was excited to find out there were T-shirts with the Doge drone show from Cyber Rodeo and Texas Rodeo Doge shirts. Later when I was invited to meet Elon Musk at Giga Texas, I asked Gary if he had any extra shirts. Eventually, I met a friend of Gary’s in Austin who passed me a box of shirts and a ceramic tile. Elon received the Rodeo Doge and Drone Doge t-shirts and was appreciative and grateful for them.

Article by Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved. August 21, 2022. Featured banner photo of Elon Musk in the Legendary Bomber Jacket on August 19, 2022, credit: Gail Alfar

Reasons Why Tesla Has the Best Factory Safety in the Industry 

This article will bring you along with me as we look into how Tesla has become a leader in job site safety in manufacturing.  Our focus will be on statements about workplace safety from Elon Musk at the 2022 Shareholder’s meeting and the Tesla 2021 Impact Report.  You’ll look at Tesla’s approach to software as a way to improve safety. Finally, we’ll see how Tesla is making an extraordinary effort to protect over 5000 contractors. 

For fun, I share what it was like walking through Tesla’s employee cafeteria, where Elon says, “Everyone eats same food, uses same restrooms, etc – no executive chef or other ivory tower stuff.” You’ll see 2 rare pictures of the cafeteria area at the end of the article.

“In 2021, our focus remained on protecting people, the planet, our property and products.”

Tesla 2021 Impact Report

Elon Musk Spoke about Factory Safety on August 4th at the 2022 Shareholder’s Meeting

Elon Musk at Shareholder’s Day, credit: Tesla

While sharing a chart titled “Safety Records Continue to Improve,” Elon said,

“We’ve also made a lot of improvement with factory safety, so I believe we now have the best factory safety in the industry.

We are excited to have very good safety, and getting better, and a bunch of this is driven by just encouraging people in the factory to submit ideas for safety improvement.

We have passed our goal of three suggestions per employee this year.  This really is a game changer for improving safety.”

Elon Musk

“Safety Records Continue To Improve” credit: Tesla 2022 Shareholder’s Meeting

Tesla featured employee Sherry Ihrig in the 2021 Impact Report. Sherry made over 1,800 improvement suggestions using the “Take Charge” software.  Her suggestions were to safety, processes, cost-savings, and more since the program’s start in early 2021. Sherry stated,

“The Take Charge program encourages associates to increase their awareness of the work environment. 

When these and other potential safety hazards are noticed and resolved, it allows associates to improve their overall work performance.” 

“Driven by Increasing Employee Engagement” credit: Tesla 2022 Shareholder’s Meeting

Giant Cybernetic Collective Where Everyone is a Worker

I think the most important aspect of humans working alongside big machines is safety.  Software should be designed to improve processes and ensure safety instead of stagnating.  Elon Musk likens his factories to giant cybernetic collectives,

“You can think of the factory as a giant cybernetic collective.

So the factory is just an enormous cybernetic collective of humans and machines and software, and the better that software is, the better that cybernetic collective works.

I don’t think other OEMs think like that, but that’s what it is!”

Elon Musk, 2022 Shareholders Meeting

I think safety processes can improve when all workers operate at the same level.  On June 2, Elon Musk described this in a tweet,

“Everyone eats same food, uses same restrooms, etc – no executive chef or other ivory tower stuff.

There shouldn’t be this workers vs management two-class system. Everyone is a worker.”

Elon Musk

When I visited Gigafactory Texas on August 4th for the Shareholder’s Meeting, all participants got to walk through the employee coffee shop/cafeteria, food truck area, and use the company restrooms and it is true, there are no special areas for any executives, including Elon himself.

Tesla Builds New Software to Improve Safety

In Early 2021, Tesla developed new software to help workers build capacity to ensure safeguards are in place and functioning. 

“In order to build capacity and allow our workers to fail safely, we needed a more dynamic approach to how we collect and manage data that allows us to make decisions that reduce risk.

In response to that need, we developed an internal Environmental, Health Safety & Security [EHS&S] tool named MyEHS to help drive execution and improve outcomes by allowing the intake and visualization of data globally.

We designed and deployed 11 modules in 2021, allowing us to better manage our EHS&S information, identify emerging risks and take action to implement improvements suggested by our employees. 

Foremost in this effort was our improvement suggestion module — Take Charge.

Combined with Action Tracker, this module allows workers to submit improvement suggestions in various categories, including environment, health, safety, security, people and accuracy, while connecting with their supervisors and other work groups to identify and implement solutions to improve the presence of safeguards.” – Tesla 2021 Impact Report, p.48

Tesla Extends Safety Protection to over 5000 Contractors

Solar Roof Install credit: Tesla 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the civilian occupations with the highest rates of fatalities include roofers and construction trade helpers.  Tesla employs solar roof installers and construction workers and contracts with over 5000 contractors.  Tesla is making an extraordinary effort to protect contractors and keep them safe through a new program they developed called ‘Constructing Our Future’ led by 87 Tesla Responsible Persons [TRP] and Contractor Responsible Persons who are all trained in the new process that includes meeting a TRP and EHS&S professional at the location of work to complete a Pre-Work Risk Assessment.

“We are on schedule to release the new and improved supplier and contractor onboarding and management system, Workforce Management, in the second quarter of 2022.

This simple, scalable, centralized system will build on the efficiencies of the interim onboarding process and provide better visibility for managers and engineers to track performance.

We will report our contractor injury rates in the 2022 Impact Report.”

Tesla 2021 Impact Report, p.54

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk called Tesla’s new improvement suggestion module, Take Charge, a “game changer for improving safety.”

One employee said Take Charge “encourages associates to increase their awareness of the work environment.”

When I toured Gigafactory Texas, it was easy to see why Elon Musk referred to it as an “enormous cybernetic collective.”  Within this gigantic space, Elon stated “Everyone eats same food, uses same restrooms, etc – no executive chef or other ivory tower stuff. There shouldn’t be this workers vs management two-class system. Everyone is a worker.”  

Safety is an integral part of this collective because it is based on humans and machines and software all working in symphony, and that includes Tesla’s over 5000 contractors.  In fact, Tesla will include contractor injury rates in the 2022 Impact Report. 

FUN FACT:  

At the Tesla 2022 Shareholder’s Meeting, all participants got to walk through the employee coffee shop/cafeteria area and it is true, there is no executive chef area, not even for Elon Musk.

The cafeteria was stunning with a beautiful clean white design featuring floor-to-ceiling glass on both sides. One side has a view of the City of Austin in the distance and the other side overlooks Model Y production. Also featured near the Coffee Bar were Model Y seats mounted on a structural battery pack, Model Y frame with castings, and a drive train!

Tesla Coffee Bar, credit: the author
Model Y structural frame by Coffee Bar at Tesla Giga Texas Cafeteria by glass overlooking Model Y production. credit: the author.

Article by Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved. August 14, 2022. Featured banner photo, credit: Tesla Media