Can Tesla Build Cheaper Electric Cars With Advanced (and Cobalt-Free) Batteries?

"One of the main reasons we're not all driving electric vehicles is the price," argues a transportation writer in Forbes — explaining how Tesla hopes to finally change that: The company is placing a huge bet on rechargeable battery technology that doesn't use cobalt. This is one of the main elements making lithium ion batteries so expensive. It's also fraught with political issues, since the mining can be in conflict areas like the Congo, and its production is considered quite polluting of the environment. But cobalt is used because it enables the energy density required in batteries intended to last for hundreds of miles per charge. A couple of months ago, it was revealed that Tesla was working with CATL on lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, and these could be the real gamechanger. LFP batteries don't use cobalt and have a roadmap to push well past the magical $100 per kWh (wholesale) that is considered the threshold for EVs being cheaper than Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles... Tesla has also recently patented technology for cathodes that significantly improves the number of charge cycles... The new Tesla technology, patented by the company's battery team led by Jeff Dahn, can increase charge cycles to nearly 4,000, which would be more like 75 years if charged once a week — hence the talk of million-mile batteries. More recently, the Tesla team headed by Jeff Dahn patented some new technology for lithium metal/anode free batteries, which could drastically improve energy density and thereby considerably reduce costs. These technologies, if they become commercially viable, could revolutionize battery durability and price, and there's another technology called all-polymer batteries on the horizon that is being developed by a former Nissan senior researcher, which he claims could cut 90% off the current price. But these are improvements for the future that may not happen, and cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate batteries are here now. Tesla will be using LFP for the batteries in its Chinese Model 3, after receiving government approval to do so. It is estimated that using LFP batteries will allow a 15-20% reduction in manufacturing cost. Taking calculations regarding how much of a car's cost is batteries into account, this could make EVs a mere 10% more expensive than ICE instead of 30%, which will be easy to regain in cheaper running costs over a year or two of ownership. It will also give EVs an even greater lead over fuel-cell technology, making it even less likely that hydrogen will be the future of electric cars. The time is fast approaching when EVs are not just more ecological and cheaper to run than ICE cars, but cheaper to buy too, and batteries free of cobalt are a key step in that direction. That's why Tesla's shift to LFP is so significant — it could be the final nail in the coffin for fossil fuel vehicles. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-07-13 00:15:01 preview's
Data Scientist Tries AI/Human Collaboration For Audio-Visual Art

"Swirls of color and images blend together as faces, scenery, objects, and architecture transform to music." That's how AI training company Lionbridge is describing Neural Synesthesia. Slashdot reader shirappu explains: Neural Synesthesia is an AI art project that creator Xander Steenbrugge calls a collaboration between man and machine. To create each piece, he feeds a generative network with curated image datasets and combines the ever-transforming results with music that is programmed to control the shifting visuals. Steenbrugge describes how the music controls the visuals in an interview with Lionbridge: I think coding for the first rendered video took over six months because I was doing it in my spare time. The biggest challenge was how to manipulate the generative adversarial network (GAN)'s latent input space using features extracted from the audio track. I wanted to create a satisfying match between visual and auditory perception for viewers. I apply a Fourier Transform to extract time varying frequency components from the audio. I also perform harmonic/percussive decomposition, which basically separates the melody from the rhythmic components of the track. These three signals (instantaneous frequency content, melodic energy, and beats) are then combined to manipulate the GANs latent space, resulting in visuals that are directly controlled by the audio... [Y]ou are not limited by your own imagination. There's an entirely alien system that is also influencing the same space of ideas, often in unexpected and interesting ways. This leads you as a creator into areas you never would have wandered by yourself. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-07-12 21:45:02 preview's
NASA and HeroX are Looking to Light Up the Moon!

With a prize purse of up to $5 million, NASA and HeroX are looking for ideas on how we could provide sustainable power for astronauts exploring the Moon and Mars! The post NASA and HeroX are Looking to Light Up the Moon! appeared first on Universe Today.
2020-07-12 20:15:02 preview's
Cancer Patient Complains: My Facebook Feed Is Full of 'Alternative Care' Ads

The author of an opinion piece in the New York Times describes what happened after sharing their cancer diagnosis on Facebook: Since then, my Facebook feed has featured ads for "alternative cancer care." The ads, which were new to my timeline, promote everything from cumin seeds to colloidal silver as cancer treatments. Some ads promise luxury clinics — or even "nontoxic cancer therapies" on a beach in Mexico. There's a reason I'll never fall for these ads: I'm an advocate against pseudoscience. As a consultant for the watchdog group Bad Science Watch and the founder of the Campaign Against Phony Autism Cures, I've learned to recognize the hallmarks of pseudoscience marketing: unproven and sometimes dangerous treatments, promising simplistic solutions and support. Things like "bleach cures" that promise to treat everything from Covid-19 to autism. When I saw the ads, I knew that Facebook had probably tagged me to receive them. Interestingly, I haven't seen any legitimate cancer care ads in my newsfeed, just pseudoscience. This may be because pseudoscience companies rely on social media in a way that other forms of health care don't. Pseudoscience companies leverage Facebook's social and supportive environment to connect their products with identities and to build communities around their products. They use influencers and patient testimonials. Some companies also recruit members through Facebook "support groups" to sell their products in pyramid schemes... It was only last April that Facebook removed "pseudoscience" as a keyword from its categories for targeted advertising, and only after the tech publication The Markup reported that 78 million users were listed in Facebook's ad portal as having an "interest" in the category... Facebook pledged that it would add a warning label to Covid-19-related ads and would remove pseudoscience ads that were reported by its users. The problem, which even Facebook acknowledged, is that pseudoscience content can run for months before being flagged by readers. Facebook's main ad-screening system is automated. While we wait for its artificial intelligence system to catch up with the discernment abilities of human reviewers, a steady flow of pseudoscience advertising has already slipped through on a platform with billions of users. Could it be that Facebook has gotten too big to adequately regulate its content? The article also suggests one way that individuals can join a movement to pressure Facebook to change: "suspend, delete or even just spend less time on Facebook (and on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook)." "My retreat from Facebook may mean fewer online connections, perhaps at a time when I need them the most. But I'd rather leave than see what another friend with cancer calls the 'slap in the face' ads." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-07-12 18:45:02 preview's
CBS drops first trailer for new animated series, Star Trek: Lower Decks

Alex Kurtzman tapped Rick and Morty head writer Mike McMahan to spearhead to project.
2020-07-12 18:30:02 preview's
WSJ: 'Quit Chrome. Safari and Edge Are Just Better Browsers'

The Wall Street Journal's senior personal tech columnist just published an article urging readers to "quit Chrome. Safari and Edge are just better browsers." It begins with the reporter pretending to break up with Chrome, adding "I'd say I'll remember the good times — your speed, your superb handling of Gmail — but your RAM hoovering, battery draining and privacy disregarding make it easy to not look back. This is the year, people. It's the year I challenge you to pack up your bookmarks and wave bye-bye to Google's browser..." And the article is even accompanied by a video titled "Four ways to stop Chrome from slowing down your computer," where tip #1 is just: Stop using Chrome. Sure, Chrome has far more browser market share [than Firefox, Safari, and Edge]. But all of them have actually gotten quite good over the last number of years. Heck, the new Microsoft Edge browser even uses Chromium, the same underlying technology as Chrome, and the performance is much improved, across Windows PCs, and Macs. Yes, Microsoft's browser is available for Mac, and it's good. In my weeks of testing, Edge used 5% less resources than Chrome on Windows. Safari used up to 10% less in some of my tests on my Mac. That meant up to 2 extra hours of battery life in their respective operating systems. Firefox, unfortunately, took up just as much power as Chrome. Google says it's working on some resource-saving improvements that will come in the next few months. If you can switch to just one of those, go for it, even if just for their better privacy tools. The video opens with cartoon depiction of "Chrome-y," who lives inside your computer and eats your RAM and other resouces. "But don't worry. You can put him on a diet and take back your computer with some of these tips." The other tips including uninstalling extensions, and using Chrome's Task Manager to "spot and kill the RAM gobblers." But throughout the video, "Chrome-y" continues chomping on your RAM... Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-07-12 17:45:02 preview's
Should We Plan For a Future With Fewer Cars?

The New York Times ran a detailed piece (with some neat interactive graphics) arguing "cities need to plan for a future of fewer cars, a future in which owning an automobile, even an electric one, is neither the only way nor the best way to get around town..." It asks us to imagine a world where there's suddenly more room for two-way bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and car-free bus lanes. But also looks at our current conundrum: Automobiles are not just dangerous and bad for the environment; they are also profoundly wasteful of the land around us, taking up way too much physical space to transport too few people... And cars take up space even while they're not in use. They need to be parked, which consumes yet more space on the sides of streets or in garages. Cars take up a lot of space even when they're just looking for parking... New York's drivers are essentially being given enormous tracts of land for their own pleasure and convenience. To add to the overall misery of the situation, though, even the drivers are not especially happy about the whole deal, because despite all the roadway they've been given, they're still stuck in gridlock... "The one thing we know for sure, because we understand geometry, is that if everyone drives, nobody moves," Brent Toderian, the former chief planner for the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, told me. Even if you're a committed daily driver, "it's in your best interest for walking, biking and public transit to be as attractive as possible for everyone else — because that means you're going to be able to drive easier..." Instead of fighting a war on cars, Toderian told me, urbanists should fight a war on car dependency — on cities that leave residents with few choices other than cars. Alleviating car dependency can improve commutes for everyone in a city... At the moment, many of the most intractable challenges faced by America's urban centers stem from the same cause — a lack of accessible physical space. We live in a time of epidemic homelessness. There's a national housing affordability crisis caused by an extreme shortage of places to live. And now there's a contagion that thrives on indoor overcrowding. Given these threats, how can American cities continue to justify wasting such enormous tracts of land on death machines? Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-07-12 16:15:02 preview's
Watch Dogs: Legion hands-on: Play as anyone, care about no one

More games should let you fight and hack as a grandma. But maybe not like this.
2020-07-12 16:00:04 preview's
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla hands-on: An incomplete Witcher-ization

Assassin's Creed veers deeper into RPG-like territory. Is the latest fit for a Viking?
2020-07-12 16:00:04 preview's
Two months after infection, COVID-19 symptoms persist

Almost 90 percent still have at least one symptom long after the virus has gone.
2020-07-12 14:15:02