Is Artificial Intelligence in Electric Cars Dangerous?

Is artificial intelligence in electric cars dangerous?
Is artificial intelligence in electric cars dangerous?

Elon Musk, the main man behind Tesla Motors, recently made an interesting comment: suggesting that all electric vehicles will benefit from the experience of individual vehicles. This would suggest a form of artificial intelligence could be adopted across the electric vehicle market in tandem with the recent introduction of autonomous vehicles. Those who follow the industry will know that last week, Tesla released a new software update for the Tesla Model S. While falling short of full autonomous driving it does offer the opportunity for the vehicle to effectively take control when moving lanes on the highway.

So, is this a form of artificial intelligence? Is it dangerous or is it simply progress?

Can we trust artificial intelligence?

Whether we like it or not, the subject of artificial intelligence will play a larger and larger role in our lives in the future. While perhaps not widely discussed, it is well-known that Google has invested billions of dollars into artificial intelligence in recent years. Indeed, the company is looking towards the introduction of autonomous electric vehicles and many were surprised that Tesla was able to jump the gun. So artificial intelligence is already here and while some have concerns about this “greater form of intelligence” in the future, it is not going away.

Can electric vehicles learn from each other?

Surely, if all vehicles could learn from a single electric vehicle experience, which could be replicated on a regular basis in the future, this must be positive? While the idea of full trust in artificial intelligence controlled vehicles is perhaps a little difficult for many people to contemplate, it is coming our way. The ability for an electric car of the future to “learn” from mistakes or specific situations and pass these on to other vehicles must have more positive than negative implications going forward.

The fact is that the actual structure and the materials used in a modern day electric vehicle have pretty much been pushed to their maximum efficiency and performance. The only major developments in years to come will revolve around the actual power, engines, and the “brain” of electric vehicles. We are likely to see significantly greater investment by electric car companies in varying forms of artificial intelligence and perhaps in 20 or 30 years we will take these for granted.

Are fully autonomous vehicles a step too far at the moment?

We recently covered the issue of autonomous vehicles amid suggestions that some people were concerned about the idea of a vehicle effectively driving itself. The simple fact is there will always be various safety elements incorporated into even the most complicated of autonomous driving systems. We are unlikely to ever be in a situation where the vehicle is in total control of itself without any input from human beings.

In some ways the introduction of artificial intelligence to your electric car driving experience in the future is very exciting; it could open many new avenues and has the potential to reduce the number of car accidents. How long it will take motorists to fully trust the autonomous driving systems of the future remains to be seen.

Power Your EV With a Community Solar Garden

Power Your EV With a Community Solar Garden
Power Your EV With a Community Solar Garden

Of the 117 million households in the United States, GTM research found that less than 16 million are in a position to install solar panels at home. When it comes down to it, solar panels have primarily benefited relatively wealthy homeowners with good credit and a south-facing roof with no shading. As Electric Vehicles become increasingly mainstream, most EV owners have had no practical alternative to plugging into the power grid and ignoring where the energy comes from. Indeed, it can be unpleasant to find out how the sausage gets made.

Major energy sources and percent share of total U.S. electricity generation in 2014:

Coal = 39% Natural gas = 27% Nuclear = 19%

Community Solar Gardens

Luckily, there's a new option that will allow virtually anyone to benefit from clean solar energy. Community Solar Gardens, also known as CSGs or shared solar programs, allow two or more participants known as 'Subscribers' to share the benefits of a single solar installation. Subscribers can be homeowners, renters, condo owners, businesses, schools, and/or government buildings. Subscribers do not usually own the solar panels themselves, but they own the energy produced by their share of the garden for the term of the contract. Though programs vary, the subscribers' share of energy generated is typically subtracted from the energy they consume each month in a process called ‘net metering’ which is common in residential solar.

Although CSGs are currently unavailable for most people, that is changing fast. The market is grew five-fold in 2015 and could represent 32-49% of the US solar market by 2020, according to NREL.

How Can EV Owners Benefit From Community Solar?

The primary purpose of a community solar garden is to offset energy consumption with clean, often less expensive solar energy. In states that have community solar garden programs, the solar energy produced by the CSG will offset the grid energy used to power your home and charge your battery bank regardless of when the energy is used. While you might not directly use the energy produced by your solar panels, the solar energy will flow onto the electric grid and offset your consumption.

Solar Energy Can Shield Customers From Rising Grid Costs

Today, the volatile market price of gas impacts everything from driving trends to overall consumer sentiment. Though less volatile, grid electricity prices can be expected to rise steadily. The cost to maintain the electric grid and deliver electrons will ultimately rise, regardless of what happens with commodity prices. Additionally, as more people invest in distributed energy like solar and energy storage, the cost of maintaining the grid is spread out among fewer people.

Community Solar Gardens can be used as a tool to protect electric car owners from rising grid energy costs. An overlooked benefit of solar energy and electric vehicles is the price stability they provide will have a positive impact on the economy. This is similar to the way large companies buy futures of commodities they depend on so they can better plan for the future. Investors love predictable pricing and accurate forecasting, and so should you.

What Are Other Shared Solar Options To Look Out For?

EV owners could also encourage their companies to provide solar generated electricity at their workplaces. This would be great for drivers who want to directly use the power generated from solar panels because work hours are typically aligned with solar hours. As the cost of solar panels continues to drop, EV owners will want to make sure they are plugged into the grid when the sun is shinning and energy is cheap and clean.

Is the Electric Car Market Now All About Technology?

Is the electric car market now all about technology?
Is the electric car market now all about technology?

There is no doubt that the electric car market is here to stay but who will benefit most from this growing sector? There is some debate as to whether the old automobile companies or the new technology groups will benefit most in the future, creating an interesting topic of discussion. If you take a step back and look at the situation from a distance, it is certainly an intriguing scenario.

Automobile companies

As we have mentioned in the past, many of the automobile companies of years gone by failed to grasp the electric vehicle nettle quickly enough. While we have seen some of the mainstream automobile companies waxing lyrical about electric vehicles, in reality not all of them have delivered. In some ways they are also suffering from the ever improving technology relating to the look, feel and the materials used in creating an automobile today. How can they improve the aerodynamics? Have they now arrived at the most robust and safe materials to use?

This is a very interesting topic of discussion and one which will inevitably polarise different groups who have different opinions. In some ways the automobile giants of years gone by have been too slow off the mark and may well suffer in the short to medium term unless they “up their game”.

Technology companies

We only need to look at the likes of Apple and Google entering the electric car market to highlight the ever growing competition to create a mass-market affordable high spec electric vehicle. These are companies that have held back from any major public announcements regarding electric cars, perhaps waiting until others had put the industry on the map. Like we suggested above, it may well be that the basic construction of a vehicle itself is approaching “perfection” and perhaps there is more scope to improve the technology around the driving experience?

Companies such as Google and Apple have huge financial pockets and if they have decided this is the market for them in the future then it will be a battle with the automobile companies of years gone by.

Is the answer not already staring us in the face?

Tesla is a name which is synonymous with the electric car market; with its chief executive officer Elon Musk literally taking the bull by the horns and dragging the sector forward. There is some speculation that the likes of Apple and Google may be direct competitors for Tesla but in many ways the company has all angles covered. We have seen an array of new and innovative designs from Tesla, we have seen improvements in battery technology and now journey capacity is growing.

Even though many experts have highlighted a potential threat to Tesla’s star rating, the fact is that the company feeds on competition and will respond in the correct manner. The old adage that 'first to market will fail while those following will succeed' could yet turn out to be true but those who write off Elon Musk and his team at Tesla do so at their own risk!

Porsche Mission E set to Challenge Tesla Dominance

Porsche Mission E Concept Car
Porsche Mission E Concept Car

There is a saying in business, "those first to the market are not always the most successful", although it is unlikely that Tesla will fall by the wayside as competitors begins to queue up. The latest serious competitors to Tesla’s high-end electric vehicles is Porsche, in the shape of the Porsche Mission E concept car which was this week unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. So, is this THE main competitor for Tesla and if so how will this impact the sector going forward?

Great signs with Porsche Mission E

It has to be said that the initial feedback on the Porsche Mission E all electric car is amazing; with a journey capacity of 500 km per charge and able to do zero to 100 km/h in just 3.5 seconds. While we have to remember this is only a concept vehicle and unlikely to be the finished model when Porsche finally releases this to the public, it is difficult not to get excited!

It is the 800V all electric powertrain which has caught the attention of experts, as this is double the capacity available today. Indeed this particular powertrain creates 600 hp which again beats the company’s competitors hands down. Even though the recharging technology required for the Porsche Mission E is not yet readily available, it will be able to recharge sufficiently in just 15 minutes to cover a 400 km distance.

Is this the start of something special?

There is no doubt that Porsche has taken its time and worked on some breathtaking technology to ensure that the eventual release of the Porsche Mission E is headline grabbing. The 500 km journey capacity is way beyond Tesla’s current figure of 430 km but again we must remember this is only a concept vehicle at the moment. One thing is certain, the pace at which electric car technology is developing is mind blowing and with journey capacity extending dramatically the next couple of years could be a game changer.

As you might expect, some of the doubters have been speculating as to whether Tesla will be able to survive as an independent company. The fact is, the company is forward thinking, constantly looking to push the envelope and will only respond with more improved technology as competitors emerge. Those who write off Elon Musk certainly do so at their own risk because this is a man who lives for competition and groundbreaking technology.

Competition hotting up

While many people believe that hybrids will be the initial steppingstone from the traditional vehicle market up to an eventual electric vehicle purchase, Porsche and other high-end companies seem to have different ideas. The company is certainly taking the electric vehicle market very seriously indeed because let’s face it, Porsche would not put its name and reputation to a vehicle which was substandard in any way.

At first glance this extended competition in the high-end market for electric vehicles may seem irrelevant to the mass market. However, history tells us that technology which emerges at the top end of the market will eventually filter down to the mass market when cost efficiencies and technology improvements come into play.

Are Self-Driving Electric Cars a Step Too Far?

Are self-driving electric cars a step too far?
Are self-driving electric cars a step too far?

As you might expect, Google has broken the mould with the introduction of its own range of self-driving vehicles which were featured prominently in the news just a few weeks ago. The vehicles in question were said to have come close to a collision, although the fact is that the on-board software ensured this was avoided. However, are self-driving electric cars a step too far?

Is the trust factor there?

While there is no doubt that self-driving ,or “assisted” driving electric cars, will become an integral part of the industry in the future, there are perhaps more pressing concerns at the moment. The electric car industry has developed at lightning fast pace over the last decade and is indeed, in the minds of many experts, on the verge of cracking the mass market. This is likely to occur in the short to medium term and the building of a so-called trust factor will be a vital element of development.

Self-driving technology

For many years now we have seen great advances in areas of robotics and artificial intelligence which can literally take your breath away. There is no doubt whatsoever that self-driving technology is already available, although in many ways it is the need to build up the trust of the public which is the next and final piece of the jigsaw. It is all good and well watching vehicles avoid each other on the television, it is all good and well reading about successful tests, but the proof is most certainly in the pudding and at this moment in time is the consumer really ready?

Hack proof technology

One area of concern over the last few months has been the ability of hackers to gain access to the inner workings of various electric cars such as the Tesla. While the Tesla situation was a premeditated test in order to improve safety going forward, the fact remains that hackers were able to gain access and slow down the vehicle at relatively low speeds. These are the kind of headlines which will put back the self-driving/assisted driving industry, which is perhaps a little unfair when you bear in mind the progress made to date.

Manual control

Despite the fact that the press is focusing upon this new technology and potential flaws in the short to medium term, the fact remains that there will always be some kind of manual override system. Perhaps not enough is being made of this facility, especially when you bear in mind that many vehicles today already have cruise control and self-serving technologies. Perhaps if the general public was to be made aware of the manual override which will be available, as well as the reliability of the underlying technology, this may not be such a tough nut to crack?

Conclusion

There is no doubt that Google has set the cat amongst the pigeons with the launch of its own range of self-driving electric cars. In many ways the recent publicity stunt where two cars avoided a head-on collision backfired somewhat, with the worldwide media highlighting this as a potential problem when in reality the technology worked perfectly. The technology is there, the electric cars are available, and all we need now is the trust factor from the general public. Would you trust a self-driving vehicle? Would you perhaps be more trusting if there was a manual override?