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5 Tesla News Stories: From Semi to Smart Summon

While there has not been a lot of major news on the Tesla front lately, there have been plenty of smaller stories for those of us who enjoy following it in the media.  Whether it has to do with police action, vandalism, official investigations, new acquisitions, or Tesla’s partnership with a popular snack company, there is something out there for the Tesla news junkie in us all.

Driverless Tesla Pulled Over By Police

If a driverless car is stopped by police, who gets the ticket?  That is the question that a video posted by DragTimes ultimately brings to the forefront.  According to the poster, a police encounter occurred while two individuals were filming a YouTube segment about Tesla’s Smart Summon feature in an empty parking lot.  The unmanned car rolled through a stop sign, and almost immediately a police vehicle came up behind it.  The police officer is filmed peering in all of the car’s windows before ultimately chatting with the two men at the scene. 

There is almost no question in my mind that the video was staged– the cop did not appear to run the plates before stepping out of his vehicle, and the parking lot is on private property where the officer would not normally have jurisdiction.  But the ‘officer’ in this case did mention that he did not know who would get a ticket in this situation, the car or the owner, and in the age of increasingly autonomous cars, this is a question that will have to be answered sooner rather than later.

Viral Tesla Vandal Turns Herself In

Last week a vandal in Colorado became internet famous after a Tesla Model 3’s Sentry Mode recorded her harshly keying the side of the car.  Video of the unprovoked attack was posted on Facebook where it was then picked up by a local news outlet and then ultimately by Electrek, eventually racking up over a quarter of a million views. 

After police requested the help of the community, hundreds of tips poured in which finally led to the woman turning herself in.  She will be booked on the charge of Criminal Mischief, a class 6 felony in Colorado, and will face up to 1.5 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000 on top of having a felony on her record. 

Battery Capacity Loss Caused By Update Under Investigation

After a software update earlier this year caused some Tesla owners to experience a significant loss of range, one of the owners, David Rasmussen, hit Tesla with a class-action lawsuit.  He believed that the software update was meant to cover up potentially defective batteries that could start a fire, rather than go through the expensive process of a safety recall. 

While the lawsuit is still underway, Rasmussen also took his complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and their Office of Defects Investigation.  The NHTSA will investigate the issue to see if the potential defect warrants a recall investigation. 

Tesla Acquires AI Startup DeepScale

Tesla is not slowing down when it comes to buying out companies with useful tech.  The electric car manufacturer’s latest purchase is that of DeepScale, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Computer Vision startup.  Founded in 2015, the small company develops advanced driver-assistance system technologies for automated vehicles, with a focus on neural networking.  DeepScale’s CEO, Forrest Iandola, joined Tesla as a senior staff machine learning scientist in the wake of the buyout. 

Tesla continues to be under scrutiny for its Autopilot system and its struggles to turn a profit, but stories like this are a good reminder that one of its main focuses is investing in the future. 

Frito Lay Invests in Tesla’s Semi, Solar, and Battery Products

In an effort to reduce emissions and become more eco-friendly, American snack company Frito Lay is taking advantage of a lot of Tesla tech in order to refurbish their Modesto distribution plant.  While Tesla is not the only company to benefit from this operation, they are certainly on the top of the pile.

In addition to providing 15 Tesla Semi units to be deployed at the plant (part of 100 units ordered by Frito Lay as a whole), Tesla is helping the snack giant to set up a large solar power system on site.  Going hand in hand with that system will be a series of industrial-grade battery storage units, also provided by Tesla. 

The project is slated for completion by 2021, with additional plants to follow Modesto’s lead in the near future. 

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