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Fresh Images: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Looks Like It's Ready To Go

Fresh Images: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Looks Like It’s Ready To Go

It’s (almost) the final countdown

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s after-hours hobby when he isn’t busy making electric cars, just puts its new Falcon Heavy rocket on the launchpad, marking the occasion with a series of images and videos on social media. SpaceX hopes to the light the candle some time later this month.

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Tesla Working on New AI Chip that Elon Musk Says Will Be the Best in the World

Tesla Working on New AI Chip that Elon Musk Says Will Be the Best in the World

It’s not the first time that Musk has been bullish about his company’s pursuits

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is so bullish about the prospect of Tesla using custom hardware for artificial intelligence that he doubled down on his position at a recent company party for industry and academic researchers. Speaking to a crowd of smart industry heads, Musk even predicted that the specialized AI hardware the company is developing under the stewardship of Jim Keller will be the “best in the world.”

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Refer your Homies to Tesla, and You Might Get to Drive Godot, Elon Musk's Prized Tunnel Digger

Refer your Homies to Tesla, and You Might Get to Drive Godot, Elon Musk’s Prized Tunnel Digger

This is one of those “amazing adventures” that you might not want to miss, but I hope you’ve got friends with deep pockets.

If you’ve been paying attention for the last few years, you know Elon Musk has a funny way of driving sales, generating money, and enticing customers. When it comes to money, the man might as well have a key to Fort Knox, and with Tesla’s referral program, he’s coming up with ways that really make you want to push your friends to jump on the EV bandwagon. As reported by Teslarati, Tesla’s newest incentive, which is currently called “Secret Level Two,” allows members of the referral program to give five more of your friends unlimited supercharging and $1,000 off of a new Model X or Model S. But, that’s not all, if all five of those people take delivery, you’ll get the chance to drive Godot and will get unlimited bragging rights to remind all of your friends that you got to take part in digging holes under cities like Los Angeles – where Musk just recently received official approval to start his mass transit tunnel.

So, get enough people to spend some $80,000 on a Tesla, and you could take place in a piece of history should Musk’s tunneling system really work out. Who knows, maybe he’ll even be nice enough to let you engrave your initials inside one of the tunnels or sign your name on Godot somewhere for the world to see. Right now, however, Godot is at rest, hibernating some 15 feet below the surface of Tesla’s parking lot in Hawthorne, California – the site of Musk’s test hole and what undoubtedly led to him getting the interest of some city officials in making his transit system a reality. Musk has even been quoted by other publications as saying “I’ve been down there on the machine and it’s mind-blowing.” Hard to believe for a machine that quite literally craws through the earth like a big earth worm, but how often do you get to take part in digging a tunnel with a beast of a machine like Godot? Check out the “Secret Level 2” alerts below and learn a little more about The Boring Company.

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If Your Tesla Model S or Model X was Built Before 10-2016 It May Need Upgrades for Level 5 Autonomy

If Your Tesla Model S or Model X was Built Before 10-2016 It May Need Upgrades for Level 5 Autonomy

Does it mean Elon is breaking his promise or that he’s smart enough to have a backup plan?

Tesla has been in the news a lot lately with the official delivery of the first Model 3s and its recent call to discuss the second quarter of 2017. We’ve learned a lot over the past couple of weeks, including the price of the Model 3, some specifications, battery size, and we even learned that it will lend its platform to the upcoming Model Y. However, word was that any Tesla vehicle built after October of 2016 would include hardware version 2.0 (dubbed internally as HW 2.0) and would be capable of Level 5 autonomy – think “look mom no hands” – via a simple over-the-air update once the software was compiled and ready to be put into service. That’s all cool and the gang, right? Well, maybe not as the kick off of Model 3 production also led to the introduction of HW 2.5, if reports from Electrek are to be believed. Word has it that this new computer features an extra GPU (graphics processor unit) for more computing power and has cut down on the number of wires found in HW 2.0.

No, the HW 2.0 hardware makes use of a single GPU and is fairly basic for a technology tasked with such a groundbreaking mission. Source say that Autopilot 2.5 uses a secondary node to increase the number of computations possible per minute which should come pretty close to what Nvidia – the maker of Tesla’s AutoPilot hardware – expects Level 5 autonomy to take. Of course, we didn’t even know what was going on with the HW 2.0 until one brave owner decided to tear his Model S’ computer a part to take a look for himself. And, as you would expect, Tesla is staying rather mum on the subject, simply saying that it’s not a major upgrade and should really be considered “HW 2.1.” Will the old 2.0 system really be enough for Level 5 autonomy, and what happens if it won’t be? Keep reading to find out.

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The Tesla Model 3 Is Designed For Fully Autonomous Operation, So Where Are The Robo Chauffeurs?

The Tesla Model 3 Is Designed For Fully Autonomous Operation, So Where Are The Robo Chauffeurs?

We’re still years away from going totally driverless

Tesla is finally rolling out the Model 3, kicking off production with a “handover” party wherein company CEO and star boy extraordinaire Elon Musk gave us the skinny on the new sedan’s specs. In addition to learning about important numbers like range per charge and 0-to-60 mph times (310 miles and 5.1 seconds respectively for the top-trim Long Range model), Musk let slip this little nugget regarding Tesla’s self-driving aspirations: “Every Tesla being produced right now – the Model 3, the Model S, the Model X – has all the hardware necessary for full autonomy.” That means visual cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and a whole lot of computing power as well. However, the Model 3 still requires a human pilot in the driver’s seat, so what gives?

The answer can be found buried deep in the Model 3 press release, following a $3,000 price tag for the Full Self-Driving Capability package: “This feature is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary by jurisdiction.” Read on for a translation of what that really means, and a prediction of when your car will ferry you around sans inputs.

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The Boring Company is Already Working On Passenger Shuttles

The Boring Company is Already Working On Passenger Shuttles

Are you ready to travel underground at high speed?

At this point, we all know that Elon Musk is going to take over the world, right? Okay, maybe not really, but he is all about new, innovative ideas. His latest idea involves tunneling his way through the world to create a fast way for people to get from point A to point B. So far, we’ve covered The Boring Company from Musk’s initial plan to tunnel all the way up to the new staging area for his new tunnel digger that was showed off just a few weeks ago. Initially, the idea was to fill these tunnels with sleds that would propel cars at high speeds. Well, it looks like he’s been busy coming up with other ways to use the tunnel, as The Boring Company has finally released a set of images that depict a passenger transport car.

The pictures went up on the company’s website without any additional information about the pods, but as you can see, they are pretty basic. They’ll likely ride atop the same sleds that cars will, and will likely have room for 10 to 12 people to ride at a time. Ideally, these passenger transport cars, or pods, will live mostly below ground where they zoom from one point to another, but they will occasionally come above ground for loading and unloading at designated stops. Like the car sleds, they should be able to travel safely at speeds of up to 125 mph, and according to Musk, will be able to travel from LAX to Westwood in no more than six minutes.

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Elon Musk's Tunnel System Slowly Comes to Life

Elon Musk’s Tunnel System Slowly Comes to Life

And everyone thought he was just kidding!

Back when Elon Musk started posting on social media about digging his own tunnels, everyone thought he was just ranting about traffic and joking around. Then, not that long afterward, he began digging a tunnel in SpaceX’s parking lot, and we saw an image of his first boring machine – now called Godot – shortly after delivery. Things have been rather quiet since someone over at SpaceX posted that early image of Godot a couple of weeks ago, but Elon has taken it upon himself to show us just how serious he really is.

What was once considered to be a company of just “a few engineers and interns” has apparently grown substantially in a short period. Unless, of course, Musk has been working those poor people 24/7. See in just a couple short weeks, The Boring Company hasn’t only put together the staging area for the first tunnel but has also put Godot into position and has begun putting it to use. Musk even posted a picture of their pet Slug (Gary) and said a race is about to be underway. So what’s next? Well, the first full-length tunnel will run from LAX to Santa Monica, Westwood, and Sherman Oaks, with plans to eventually cover all of Los Angeles in the future. Curious to know what it will look like cruising through one of these tunnels? Keep reading to see a video of an electric sled – what will transport cars through the tunnels, being put to the test.

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Would You Let Elon Musk Connect Your Brain to a Computer?

Would You Let Elon Musk Connect Your Brain to a Computer?

The ambitious wonderboy is at it again

Elon Musk isn’t a bad guy. He can be arrogant at times (can’t we all?) but he’s made huge strides in battery technology, autonomous driving technology, and even getting big hunks of metal (that may eventually carry us to Mars) into space. You would think that a man like Musk, who’s splitting his time between companies like SpaceX and Tesla, would have a full plate, but apparently, his plate isn’t full enough as he has announced a new venture that seeks to interface our brains with computers. The company, which is in the very early stages of creation is called “Neuralink” and looks to implant tiny electrodes in our brains to allow us to connect directly to computers.

The crazy thing is that the whole thing has been pretty well thought out, and has been a concept routinely explored in science fiction as well. If this new company is successful, it would be able to make a direct cortical interface between man and computer, ultimately allowing our thoughts and maybe even memories to be downloaded to a computer, or allow us to control a computer without using anything but our minds. Eventually, the technology could even be used to increase cognitive capabilities that allow us to increase our intelligence and memory. It’s like adding RAM to a computer, really. It might sound a little outlandish but, believe it or not, it’s actually a feasible idea. After all, the human brain is considered to be the most advanced computer in existence thus far, right?

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Tesla Gets Shut Out In Missouri; Autopilot Features Now Back Live

Tesla Gets Shut Out In Missouri; Autopilot Features Now Back Live

Even in a relatively dry news day, Tesla still finds a way to be relevant

Tesla’s issues with a number of U.S. states regarding the sales of its vehicles are well-documented. It’s had problems in New Jersey and Arizona in the past and it’s got a pending case in Utah that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. Now the California-based electric car maker can add Missouri among its headaches after getting shut out on a license renewal for selling new vehicles in the state.

Tesla’s woes in Missouri stems from a lawsuit filed by the Missouri Auto Dealers Association back in 2015 against the state’s revenue department. The suit alleged that the Tesla’s unique direct-to-consumer sales model violated state laws. Cole County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Green then ruled in MADA’s favor back in August 2016, calling for the Missouri Department of Revenue to not renew its motor vehicle dealer license since the company itself is the owner of the models it sells and not a franchisee.

According to Electrek, Tesla is planning to appeal the decision but after getting denied a motion to stay or temporarily halt the ruling in the course of the appeals process, the company is now being forced to shut sales operations of its stores in Kansas City and Universal City.

The decision is understandably frustrating for Tesla as it now faces the unenviable task of closing sales operations while the Court of Appeals decides on the issue. In the meantime though, it appears that the automaker has its hands tied on the matter and, as such, will be forced to make some very difficult decision regarding its employees in the state.

In more positive news, Tesla’s new Autopilot hardware system is about go live on a handful of Tesla models as the automaker has begun enabling some of the self-driving features that were disabled back in October. The installation of new equipment – cameras, sensors, and radar – that support fully autonomous driving was touted as one of the significant reasons behind the decision to shut down these features temporarily. But now that the first 1,000 Tesla models have been installed with the new hardware, the automaker has begun enabling features like Traffic Aware Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, and Autosteer on these models.

The decision to start enabling these features is part of a long-arching plan by Tesla to slowly bring back the old features that were used in the previous-generation Autopilot system. “These features operate on a new hardware and software platform,” the company said in a statement. “Their rollout will be measured and cautious until we have generated confidence across several hundred million miles of real-world usage. Enhanced Autopilot will become better over time as this experience is gained and corner cases are addressed.”

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Tesla Software 8.1 Coming In A Few Weeks Will Unlock Enhanced Autopilot

Tesla Software 8.1 Coming In A Few Weeks Will Unlock Enhanced Autopilot

Monthly updates to follow, so says Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has finally pinned down a date for the arrival of the 8.1 version of the automaker’s “Enhanced Autopilot” software suite, replying to a tweet from a new Tesla Model S owner and saying the new software will go live in “about three weeks” and that its features will be rolled out “incrementally in monthly releases.”

Musk’s response is not as specific as we’d like it to be, but it does fit into the company’s previous statement that the autonomous functions to the new system would only be enabled as soon as the new Autopilot hardware has been validated and calibrated through real-world driving by owners of the Model S and Model X. The automaker’s “Tesla Vision” system is expected to enhance the car’s autonomous driving features and leading to it being capable of Level 5 full autonomous driving by 2018.

To get there, Tesla, according to Musk, will be making monthly updates to the system to add new features into the mix and restore old features like lane keep assist, self-parking, active cruise control, and self-parking. All these features were disabled when Tesla introduced Autopilot 2.0 last month, saying that it was done to “further calibrate the system.”

Now that these features are expected to return in the coming weeks, the clock now starts for Tesla to see through its goal of taking Autopilot 2.0 to levels that its predecessor couldn’t attain. The electric carmaker has never been the type to shy away from setting lofty goals for itself and it did so during Autopilot 2.0’s “surprise” announcement last October when it laid out a timetable to get Tesla models built in 2016 to advance to level 3 autonomy in the coming months, before moving on to level 4 autonomy and then to level 5 autonomy in two years’ time.

That said, these updates are still “subject to regulatory approval” so that’s another angle that owners of the Tesla Model S and Model X should pay attention to once the first wave of Autopilot 2.0’s software updates goes live.

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Tesla Announces New Autopilot System With Full Self-Driving Capabilities

Tesla Announces New Autopilot System With Full Self-Driving Capabilities

It was worth the wait, right?

After more than a week of frenzied speculation, Tesla’s “unannounced” product launch finally took place, and lo and behold, the electric car maker pulled the curtains to reveal the launch of its new Autopilot 2.0 hardware suite. In other words, it was what a lot of people, including some here at TopSpeed, had anticipated – albeit with the added caveat that nobody expected Tesla to jump straight into level 5 autonomy when the hardware is fully operational by 2018.

That’s really the big news here. Level 5 autonomy means that Tesla’s future lineup of vehicles, including the Model 3, will be able to drive by themselves without any sort of physical driving aid from the drivers. Long night at the office and you just want to sleep on the way home? Cars with level 5 autonomy can do help you there. Want to catch up on Mr. Robot on your streaming devices? Go right ahead. Your Teslas will get you where you need to go without you even having to glance up to look at the road.

All of those things are what Tesla’s promising with Level 5 autonomy and while it’s going to take some time to get the hardware fully equipped to perform those functions, the important thing is that the foundation (Autopilot 2.0) is on its way. Tesla’s Model S and Model X units will receive the hardware moving forward and once the Model 3 is released, it too will be equipped with the same equipment. It’s worth noting too, based on previous reports, that Tesla has already made plans to fit the new equipment into Model S and Model X units that were in production before today’s announcements. Those models already had the mounting hardware and wiring to accommodate the equipment when it becomes ready and available.

So where does this leave is in the short term? Well, Tesla says that tech still isn’t ready to maximize its full potential. That will happen by 2018. In the meantime, the company will continue to “further calibrate the system,” which essentially disables certain features already attributed to the current Autopilot system already on the road. This is an important piece of information that Tesla owners should heed because abilities like automatic emergency braking, collision warning, lane holding, and active cruise control will be disabled until Tesla brings them back up live through over-the-air-updates.

Slowly, but surely, these OTA updates will allow the Autopilot 2.0 system in Tesla models built in 2016 to advance to level 3 autonomy in the coming months, before moving on to level 4 autonomy and then to level 5 autonomy in two years’ time.

Not too bad for an “unannounced” product launch, but we have to admit, we’re a little salty that we didn’t at least get more information about the Model 3.

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Tesla's Big Announcement "Needs Refinement;" Delayed by Two Days

Tesla’s Big Announcement "Needs Refinement;" Delayed by Two Days

That’s two more sleepless nights for those dying to see what Tesla’s cooking up

The speculation surrounding Tesla’s “unexpected” product launch will have to wait a few more days because according to CEO Elon Musk himself, the “product” still needs “a few more days of refinement.” So the launch has now been moved to Wednesday, October 19, 2016, giving us two more days to wait with baited breath on what Tesla has up its sleeves.

The delay is obviously a bummer because a lot of people have circled today in their calendars as a big day for Tesla. The electric car maker might possibly be disappointed too that it couldn’t live up to its earlier promise. But considering how significant this product launch is shaping up to be, waiting for Tesla another two days to iron out whatever kinks this product has should be worth the wait.

Here’s the thing though. The speculation surrounding what Tesla plans to launch may have been made clearer by Musk including the word “refinement” in his tweet earlier today. Refining something in two days is difficult if we’re talking about something big on the physical and tangible side. It’s unlikely that these refinements are for an actual car, so that potentially rules out the possibility of seeing the production version of the Model 3 or the early iteration of the Model Y.

On the other hand, refining something of a smaller physical scale like the hardware for the new Autopilot 2.0 system now makes more sense because it’s easier to handle and work on compared to making sweeping changes on an actual car.

So does this mean that Tesla’s big reveal for Wednesday is now the Autopilot 2.0? We’re not going to get any confirmation until the actual launch, but from the way it looks, the next-generation version of Autopilot may now have the inside track.

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Jobs In Technology Are So Competitive, One Company Is Offering A Tesla Model 3 To Recruits

Jobs In Technology Are So Competitive, One Company Is Offering A Tesla Model 3 To Recruits

Never mind the delivery date…

If you’re gonna make it in the tech world, then you’ve gotta surround yourself with the best people possible. But the tech elites out there don’t come cheap, and finding the right incentives to draw them in can be a challenge. One company in Seattle has the right idea – offering to park one of the most in-demand automobiles in the country right in their driveway. Of course, I’m talking about the Tesla Model 3.

That’s the strategy taken by Axon, a division of Taser, which develops, manufactures, and distributes products like electrical weapons and body-worn cameras for law enforcement.

According to a report from the Seattle Times, Axon is offering to purchase the $35,000 all-electric sedan for candidates in select positions, such as web developers and engineers. After working for 90 days at Axon, new hires can sign up for the car waiting list. Existing employees can also secure a spot on the waiting list by referring three employees for select roles.

Tesla revealed the Model 3 sedan on March 31, 2016, amid a flurry of interest. A week after unveiling the Model 3, Tesla accumulated well over 300,000 pre-orders. Deliveries are expected to commence towards the end of next year.

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Elon Musk Announces "Unexpected" Tesla Product Unveiling On October 17

Elon Musk Announces "Unexpected" Tesla Product Unveiling On October 17

The tweet didn’t dive into details so, naturally, everybody’s on edge on what the product launch could be

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has never been the predictable type and so, true to form, Musk took to Twitter to announce an “unexpected” product launch event one week from today, on October 17, 2016. The tweet didn’t include much in the way of information about the launch, but he did also announce a Tesla/Solar City event on October 28.

Naturally, the product launch on the 17th has everyone speculating on what Musk and Tesla have scheduled to go down on that date. So far, the company hasn’t added details past Musk’s tweet, leading to speculation on a number of possible scenarios, including the launch of a new Autopilot 2.0 hardware, another software update to the existing Autopilot system, or new details and information surrounding the Tesla Model 3. There’s also the possibility the launch is tied into a product that Tesla has kept close to its vest in the past few months.

Whatever the case may be, Musk’s tweet calling the launch “unexpected” has perked up the ears of everybody in the business and there’s sure to be more bouts of speculation on what Tesla is planning as the days count down to next Monday.

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Three Brothers From Austria are Doing EV's the Right Way and Tesla Should be Worried

Three Brothers From Austria are Doing EV’s the Right Way and Tesla Should be Worried

It’s even garnered the attention of big boys like BMW and McLaren

Time and time again entrepreneurs and small startups have been the driving force between some of the world’s best and biggest companies. Want proof? Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google, and even Amazon all started with a small crew working from some garage. In fact, Amazon got started by negotiating and signing its first contracts at a Barnes & Noble. Now another small startup is unfolding in Austria, and it has the solution to building battery packs that not even your boy Elon Musk over at Tesla has been able to come up with.

The company’s name is Kreisel Electric GmbH, it’s ran by three brothers, and is headquartered in a three-bay garage in the small Austrian town. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the company recently got a lot of publicity for the electric conversion it did to the new Porsche Panamera that was able to outshine Tesla’s Model S in some regards. But, that’s not the only thing that’s drawing the company attention. It has a unique and patented process of building lithium-ion battery packs that gives them an edge. By using laser-welding and thermal cooling, the lithium-ion cells are completely preserved throughout the production process.

Because of this, the battery packs that the company makes can push a car farther and faster than anything any automaker, including Tesla, has made to date. So far, the company has been supplying battery packs and electric drivetrains to manufacturers, designs lithium-battery production lines for OE manufacturers, and is creating prototypes for “top-tier carmakers.” While we don’t know much about who Kreisel is selling to, Automotive News reports that the company is fielding as many as 20 inquiries about its products per day, with automakers like BMW, McLaren, and Volkswagen expressing interest as well.

Just recently, Kreisel announced its first major order from VDL, a Netherland-based company that wants as many as 2,000 electric powertrains and battery packs for its fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters. When asked by Automotive News why VDL chose to go with Kreisel, Erik Henneken – VDL’s Business Manager – said, “We have chosen Kreisel because they have developed a very nice battery with some patented characteristics better than Tesla. Kreisel is dynamic startup yet very professional in what they do. They grow rapidly but remain in control.”

The guys over at Kreisel obviously seem to have a pretty good handle on what they are doing and expect to sell as many as 50 million battery cells or more in the next year alone. It just broke ground on a 68,000 square-foot battery factory that will have a capacity of 800 megawatt-hours per year. That factory will be built using money earned from sales, not investments from outside sources.

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Tesla Charging more for Autopilot Feature

Tesla Charging more for Autopilot Feature

It’s not as bad as it sounds, but the timing is a little questionable

You have to give Tesla some credit. In the face of all the scrutiny surrounding its Autopilot feature, the EV car manufacturer still understands that it’s in the business game and that game is all about making money. So while the company’s announcement of a new 100 kWh battery pack for the Model S and Model X P100D variants understandably grabbed the headlines, Tesla managed to also increase the price of the Autopilot feature from right under our noses.

Whereas the price for the Autopilot system amounted to $2,500 before or $3,000 to be enabled after delivery of the car, Tesla has increased the number to $3,000 and $3,500, respectively. Apparently, the price increase isn’t because of the new sensors that Tesla is reportedly adding for the second-gen version of the system. According to Electrek, a Tesla spokesperson referred to the price increase as nothing more than a “better reflection” of the system’s actual value.

Whether that is the case or not, the timing of the increase is curious given the rash of negative publicity that has been attributed to the Autopilot system. One would think that Tesla would try to keep a low profile on the feature until it sorts out the quirks, thus having a better justification for a price increase. But the company opted to do it now. Similar features aren’t exactly popping up everywhere these days so while the field is still relatively barren compared to what it’s going to be in a few years, a $500 increase isn’t that big of a deal for customers who have spent or are willing to spend north of $60,000 on either a Model S or a Model X.

Skeptics can criticize all they want; at the end of the day, Tesla is still in the money-making business and this 20-percent increase in the price of the Autopilot feature should be a good source of extra revenues for Elon Musk and company. Now about making the system safer for its drivers...

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