9 min read

EV Industry²: 🦾Tesla makes Bots (AI Day) – 🔋- sitrep – Chipageddon is near again 💥

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Tesla AI Day 2021

I'm not going to lie - I didn't understand everything they talked about in the Tesla AI Day presentations. Here's the Livestream:

The main purpose of the event was to recruit the best AI talent to Tesla. Musk said:

There’s a tremendous amount of work to make it work and that’s why we need talented people to join and solve the problem. [...] We basically want to encourage anyone who is interested in solving real-world AI problems at either the hardware or the software level to join Tesla, or consider joining Tesla.

I'm very sure they achieved some of that with the event. At the very least they made enough headlines to increase awareness.

The company did however gave us some updates too:

The D1 Chip and Dojo

(here's a timestamp at 1:45:50 for Dojo presentation)

The Tesla supercomputer called Dojo will run on the in-house designed and built computer chip D1. The Dojo is the neural network training computer that processes the camera imaging data in cars about 4 times faster than other computing systems.

The name, dojo, fits well: a room or hall in which judo and other martial arts are practiced. Risking oversimplification, this is the room where the Full Self Driving and other Tesla AI applications train.

Morpheus in Dojo

Senior director of Autopilot hardware, Ganesh Venkataramanan, explained while unveiling the chip that Tesla wants to own as much of its tech stack as possible to avoid any bottlenecks. Keeping it in-house gives the possibility to increase bandwidth and decrease latencies compared to other chips in the market.

Training Tile
Training Tile 2

This is what the Training Tile looks like, integrating multiple chips to get a computing power of 9 petaflops per tile (a lot) and 36 terabytes per second of bandwidth (a lot). The training tiles are the ones that together compose the Dojo supercomputer.

Musk also said the Dojo won't be limited to Tesla:

This is not intended to be just limited to Tesla cars. Those of you who’ve seen the full self-driving beta can appreciate the rate at which the Tesla neural net is learning to drive. And this is a particular application of AI, but I think there are more applications down the road that will make sense.

The Dojo is expected to be operational next year.

The Autopilot


Tesla's head of AI, Andrej Karpathy kicked off the presentations with a full scope on how the team has progressed the Autopilot and computer vision architecture over time. Definitely worth a listen (timestamp at 48:24).

Tesla Bot

(here's a timestamp for the presentation, including a weird dancing human in a bot costume, 2:05:07)

Now, this was something new, unexpected, and something to grab the headlines most. Tesla is building an actual humanoid robot.

"We have almost all the pieces needed for humanoid robots since we already make robots with wheels," he claimed.

Vision - autopilot cameras. Internal organs and brain - FSD computer and neural networks. The prototype (will) be ready in 2022.

Musk said:

For this robot, we’re trying to be as literal as possible: It can do boring, dangerous, repetitive jobs that people don’t want to do. You know, once you have it do that, maybe it can do other things too. I mean, maybe it could be your buddy, too. I’m sure people will think of some very creative uses. [...] We’re setting it at a mechanical level, a physical level, that you can run away from it. And, most likely, overpower it.

Now Musk has been very clear that he fears the AI future of mankind and we should be careful. So why do this? "If we don’t, someone else would, so I guess we should probably make it. And make it safe," Musk said.

That sounds like the words from every villain in the movies before they try to rule the world...

Tesla isn't the first

Other carmakers want to build robots too.

There's Honda's ASIMO robot that should be ready by 2030, Toyota's humanoid robot, GM/NASA's Robonaut, and Hyundai Boston Dynamics (yes, Hyundai owns 80% of it). The latter has those agile parkouring robots you've probably seen before. Here's a fun one from this Tuesday:

🌎 Companies & Global

  • Volkswagen pulled its cheapest version of the ID.3 Pure because of the global chip shortage. (link). We'll be seeing more of this it seems, like Toyota slashing worldwide vehicle production by 40% in September because of the global microchip shortage, building 540k vehicles instead of 900k. (link) Thanks, Andre, for the tip.
  • Latvia, the country I live about 500 meters away from, introduces a subsidy of €4,500 ($5.3k) for new EVs and €2,250 for used EV or PHEV. You'll get an extra €1,000 for scrapping an old car. Final approved version is to come in October. (link)

Mini-interview: I asked a friend of the EV Universe in Latvia, Kārlis, about his take on the subsidy. Kārlis runs the  uzladets.lv site, making EV content and selling chargers.

"Overall it's a good subsidy, but there are some issues that worry me," he said:

  1. The subsidy is only for private persons, not companies. So far only about 1/3 of new car registrations are from the private sector and I presume only about 15% of previous new EV buyers would qualify for several reasons.
  2. I doubt that we can have 3333 registrations in the two-year timeframe from only private owners.
  3. They have been announced too early. This puts a hold even on those sales that are for businesses because they want a grant as well. J: I can agree with that, the same thing happened in Estonia and virtually stopped all EV sales for 6 months.
  4. The dealers need to come up with €1,000 extra benefit, which will ultimately just drive up the car price. J: If they leave that one in, it's just plain stupid.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

  • Greenpeace report says Germany should ban the sales of new fossil cars by 2025 to reach 2030 climate targets (pdf in Ger).
  • Bloomberg says the gas car sales have already peaked (link).
  • BOTS, Inc allows you to buy a used Tesla with Dogecoin and other cryptos. (link)

🚗 Models

  • One of the first Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition owners in the US shows off (photos):
Mustang Mach-e
  • A production-spec 2023 Cadillac Lyriq overview from Electrek. The $60k Lyriq will have a 100 kWh Ultium battery (the first EV on the platform) with over 300mi of range. (link) I especially love that the car has a 19.2kW onboard charger, which makes home charging faster if you've got the necessary power.
Cadillac Lyriq
Image: Electrek
  • CEO Tim Kuniskis says Dodge's V8-powered Charger and Challenger won't go away when the performance EV arrives in 2024 (link).
  • Genesis revealed its electric GV60 crossover. Genesis is Hyundai Motor Group's luxury brand and the GV60 will run on the same E-GMP platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 (link):
  • The Indian carmaker Tata Motors unveiled its second EV called the Tata Tigor EV on Wednesday. Tata Motors claims the first of the two, Nexon EV has a nearly 70% share in the Indian EV market. (reveal video)
Tigor EV
  • Hyundai delays the launch of Ioniq 6 for a redesign and longer mileage (link). Production is to start in May or June 2022. Can't wait to see this one. If it looks anything like the Prophecy concept, it'll be badass:
Hyundai Prophecy
  • Nio ET7 completed its winter test in New Zealand. It'll be launched in early 2022, starting at ~$69k and the top model should reach a 1,000km (620mi) range by the NEDC cycle.

🔋 Battery, Mining and ♻ Recycling

  • Zambian Hakainde Hichilema won the presidential election last week, with plans to jump-start the economy by ramping up the mining of cobalt and copper for the EV batteries (link).
  • Valmet Automotive is partnering with Fortum to recycle non-conforming battery materials  battery plants from Valmet Automotive’s battery plants in Salo and Uusikaupunki. (link) Connection: Valmet's manufacturing plant in Uusikaupunki is also where the Lightyear One will be made.
  • In the first half of 2021, over 105 GWh of xEV batteries on passenger cars were deployed globally, marking a 163% increase from a year ago. The top 10 battery makers stood as following (link):
  1. CATL - 28.4 GWh (up 295%) with 27.0% share
  2. LG Energy Solutions - 27.9 GWh (up 170%) with 26.5% share
  3. Panasonic - 17.1 GWh (up 69%) with 16.3% share
  4. BYD - 7.1 GWh (up 261%) with 6.7% share
  5. Samsung SDI - 5.8 GWh (up 109%) with 5.6% share
  6. SK Innovation - 5.1 GWh (up 160%) with 4.9% share
  7. CALB - 3.1 GWh (up 316%) with 3.0% share
  8. Envision AESC - 2.0 GWh (up 14%) with 1.9% share
  9. Guoxuan - 1.8 GWh (up 266%) with 1.7% share
  10. PEVE - 1.2 GWh (up 40%) with 1.2% share other - 5.6 GWh (up 225%) with 5.3% share

🔋 Manufacturing

  • Rivian might be getting a $440M tax incentive with its $5B Texas facility (link).
  • The first VW ID.4 electric SUV pre-production units have rolled off the assembly line at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory. Full assembly begins next year. (link)

    This means they soon don't need to ship the ID.4s from Germany anymore.

⚡ Charging

Image: EVgo
  • EVgo is trying out time-of-day-based pricing in California, with early-bird (12 am-8 am), on-peak (4 pm-9 pm), and off-peak (the rest) rates. They also made up a reward system so users can collect loyalty points (link).
  • Tesla looks to be preparing for a big Supercharger Network expansion due to the network opening for other EVs (link).
  • Germany has now opened the first funding round of the charging infrastructure incentive that sees a total of €500M in funds for 50k charging points, at least 20k of which must be fast-charging points. (link in GER).
  • Ample, the battery-swapping company, raised a Series C funding round of $160M led by Moore Strategic Ventures (link).

⚡ The rumors and spies

The headlights look Taycan-like. Will the "future-oriented" concept study from Porche be an electric Boxter? (link)

A Ford Mach-E used as a mule for future Ford/Lincoln EVs via InsideEVs (link):

Mach-E body

Meme time

A while I go I found out that the Tesla head of AI, Andrej Karpathy, has been a major Rubik's Cubes buff. He has a 36k-subscriber Youtube channel of solving Rubik's Cubes from 13 years ago and his retro website badmephisto.com still gets around 85k visits per month. Now it looks like he's tackling one of the world's most innovative problems.

You can ☕ buy me a coffee to add zap to my writing to keep me going. ⚡

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