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Tesla CEO Wants Mostly Self-Driving Cars By Next Year

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors promises the car of the future today. In September, the billionaire promised something new for his electric vehicles: autopilot, mostly. Well, “90 percent of your miles can be on auto.” Left unsaid is how exactly that’s going to happen. The goal of a self-driving Tesla car is not new. Back in September 2013, when Elon Musk first announced his goal of a “90-percent autonomous” car, Popular Science noted that “Musk reserves his public bluster mostly for Tesla, even individually responding to negative reviews of Tesla's cars.” Bluster is great, but alone it can’t…

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The Editor's Letter From The October 2014 Issue Of Popular Science

In the spring of 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition, better known as the Chicago World’s Fair. For a young nation, the event served as a coming out party, proof that American innovation was equal to any. Tesla, Westinghouse, and Edison were there, demonstrating the virtues of electricity. The Ferris wheel made its debut, as did the motorized walkway, the dishwasher, and even Cracker Jacks (for better or worse). Popular Science, which was there, called the exposition “the utmost achievement of the kind the world has beheld. ” Admittedly, that was probably an…

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Autonomous Cars May Change Our Lives In Unexpected Ways

One of the test vehicles for Google's Self-Driving Car project. In the future, we may not be dealing with the hassles and frustrations that come with driving cars everyday. Autonomous automobiles can make our lives better! But are cars that drive by themselves all that it's cracked up to be? The advertising agency Sparks & Honey has compiled a mess of data and research on autonomous cars into a report entitled "Driving Disrupted: Driverless Cars Change Everything." Besides the obvious things such as being safer for travel and freeing up time for other pursuits, there are some surprising…

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Looking Back At The First 40 Years Of The Automobile

Seventy-five years ago, in December 1939, Popular Science looked back on the then-40-year history of the automobile. Today when we think about automotive innovation, we think about technologies like electric power, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and robot chauffeurs that aim to disrupt the way we all drive. But it's easy to forget that just getting everyone driving was a tremendous innovation all on its own. Coming down, their drivers proudly demonstrated that, under the right conditions, brakes could be made to work. By the late 1930s, driving was a normal part of the American life,…

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Why You Shouldn’t Fear the Electric Car

In the quest to get drivers to swap their gas-guzzlers for electric vehicles (EV), the greatest barrier is not the cost. It’s range anxiety: the fear that a battery-powered EV might go kaput mid-trip. Some of that skittishness stems from a lack of clarity into how EVs work. But manufacturers are to blame too. Existing range-estimation systems are, actually, somewhat unreliable, since they depend on limited data sets. To remedy the problem, engineers at North Carolina State University developed an algorithm that’s up to 20 percent more accurate at calculating range. It uses driving habits,…

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2015 Detroit Auto Show: Chevy's Bolt Could Beat Tesla Motors By More Than a Year

In the next few years, we'll answer a lot of questions about the electric vehicle market. Will Tesla’s forthcoming, entry-level Model 3 be a winner? Will oil prices stay down and squelch enthusiasm for electric cars? And, speaking of enthusiasm, does the public truly, legitimately—deep in its heart—actually want EVs? Several car manufacturers are now trying to unload steeply discounted electric cars to an apparently reluctant audience, so this is not a foregone conclusion. Yet automakers know the public can be fickle, with wildly shifting interests and enthusiasms. Oil prices are likely to…

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