In an interesting step for anyone who follows electric car technology, the automaker Tesla has released a trove of information about its first-generation Roadster car into the public domain. The documents involved include service manuals, circuit diagrams, and technical details, and Elon Musk himself
Tweeted posted on X that “All design & engineering of the original @Tesla Roadster is now fully open source.”
We like the idea and there’s plenty of interesting stuff there, but we can’t find an open-source licence anywhere and we have to take issue with his “Whatever we have, you now have” comment. What we have is useful maintenance information and presents a valuable window into 2010’s cutting edge of electric vehicles, but if it’s everything they have then something must have gone very wrong in the Tesla archives. It’s possible someone might take a Lotus Elise and produce something close to a Roadster replica with this info, but it’s by no means enough to make a car from. Instead we’re guessing it may be a prelude to reducing support for what is a low-production car from over a decade ago.
When it comes to electric vehicle manufacturers open-sourcing their older models we already have a model in the form of Renault’s open-source version of their Twizy runabout. This is a far more credible set of information that can be used to make a fully open-source version of the car, rather than a set of workshop manuals.
Tesla Roadster, cytech, CC BY 2.0.
A piece of manufacturing news from Tesla Motors caught our eye, that Elon Musk’s car company plans to die-cast major underbody structures — in effect the chassis — for its cars. All the ingredients beloved of the popular tech press are there, a crazy new manufacturing technology coupled with the Musk pixie dust. It’s undeniably a very cool process involving a set of huge presses and advanced 3D-printing for the sand components of the mould, but is it really the breakthrough it’s depicted as? Or has the California company simply scored another PR hit?
We produced an overview of die casting earlier in the year, and the custom sand moulding in the Tesla process sounds to us a sort of half-way house between traditional die casting and more conventional foundry moulding. I don’t doubt that the resulting large parts will be strong enough for the job as the Tesla engineers and metallurgists will have done their work to a high standard, but I’m curious as to how this process will give them the edge over a more traditional car manufacturer building a monocoque from pressed steel. The Reuters article gushes about a faster development time which is no doubt true, but since the days of Henry Ford the automakers have continuously perfected the process of making mass-market cars as cheaply as possible. Will these cast assemblies be able to compete with pressed steel when applied to much lower-margin small cars? I have my doubts.
Aside from the excessive road noise of the Tesla we had a ride in over the summer, if I had a wish list for their engineers it would include giving their cars some longevity.
Header: Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0.
At the risk of stating the obvious, even when you’ve got unlimited resources and access to the best engineering minds, self-driving cars are hard. Building a multi-ton guided missile that can handle the chaotic environment of rush-hour traffic without killing someone is a challenge, to say the least. So if you’re looking to get into the autonomous car game, perhaps it’s best to start small.
If [Austin Blake]’s fun-sized Tesla go-kart looks familiar, it’s probably because we covered the Teskart back when he whipped up this little demon of an EV from a Radio Flyer toy. Adding self-driving to the kart is a natural next step, so [Austin] set off on a journey into machine learning to make it happen. Having settled on behavioral cloning, which trains a model to replicate a behavior by showing it examples of the behavior, he built a bolt-on frame to hold a steering servo made from an electric wheelchair motor, some drive electronics, and a webcam attached to a laptop. Ten or so human-piloted laps around a walking path at a park resulted in a 48,000-image training set, along with the steering wheel angle at each point.
The first go-around wasn’t so great, with the Teskart seemingly bent on going off the track. [Austin] retooled by adding two more webcams, to get a little parallax data and hopefully improve the training data. After a bug fix, the improved model really seemed to do the trick, with the Teskart pretty much keeping in its lane around the track, no matter how fast [Austin] pushed it. Check out the video below to see the Teskart in action.
It’s important to note that this isn’t even close to “Full Self-Driving.” The only thing being controlled is the steering angle; [Austin] is controlling the throttle himself and generally acting as the safety driver should the car veer off course, which it tends to do at one particular junction. But it’s a great first step, and we’re looking forward to further development.
Continue reading “Teaching A Mini-Tesla To Steer Itself”
With newer cars being computers on wheels, some manufacturers are using software to put features behind a paywall or thwarting DIY repairs. Industrious
hackers security researchers have taken it upon themselves to set these features free by hacking a Tesla infotainment system. (via Electrek)
The researchers from TU Berlin found that by using a voltage fault injection attack against the AMD Secure Processor (ASP) at the heart of current Tesla models, they could run arbitrary code on the infotainment system. The hack opens up the double-edged sword of an attacker gaining access to encrypted PII or a shadetree mechanic “extracting a TPM-protected attestation key Tesla uses to authenticate the car. This enables migrating a car’s identity to another car computer without Tesla’s help whatsoever, easing certain repairing efforts.” We can see this being handy for certain other unsanctioned hacks as well.
The attack is purported as being “unpatchable” and giving root access that survives reboots and updates of the system. Since AMD is a vendor to multiple vehicle companies, the question arises as to how widely applicable this hack is to other vehicles suffering from AaaS (Automotive as a Service).
Longing for a modern drivetrain with the simplicity of yesteryear? Read our Minimal Motoring Manifesto.
Last November, Tesla open-sourced parts of its charging infrastructure, not-so-humbly unveiling it as the North American Charging Standard (NACS). It’s finally taking off with a number of manufacturers signing on.
Companies launching “standards” based on their previously proprietary technology in opposition to an established alternative usually leads to standards proliferation. However, with recent announcements from Ford, GM, and Rivian that they would begin supporting NACS in their vehicles, it seems a new dominant standard is supplanting CCS (and the all-but-dead CHAdeMO) in North America.
As Tesla already has the most extensive charging network on the continent and has begun opening it up for other EVs, it makes sense that other marques would want to support NACS, if nothing else to satiate customer demand for a dead-simple charging experience. Dongles are annoying enough for plugging in an external monitor. Having to mess with one while handling high-power electrical connections is less than ideal, to say the least.
If you want to add NACS to your own EV project, the standard is here. We’ve discussed some of the different standards before as well as work toward wirelessly charging EVs (besides the inductive charger on the EV1). It certainly seems like the time to get in on the ground floor of an EV charging empire with an army of Charglas.
As Tom Nardi mentioned in this week’s podcast, the Northeast US is pretty apocalyptically socked in with smoke from wildfires in Canada. It’s what we here in Idaho call “August,” so we have plenty of sympathy for what they’re going through out there. People are turning to technology to ease their breathing burden, with reports that Tesla drivers are activating the “Bioweapon Defense Mode” of their car’s HVAC system. We had no idea this mode existed, honestly, and it sounds pretty cool — the cabin air system apparently shuts off outside air intake and runs the fan at full speed to keep the cabin under positive pressure, forcing particulates — or, you know, anthrax — to stay outside. We understand there’s a HEPA filter in the mix too, which probably does a nice job of cleaning up the air in the cabin. It’s a clever idea, and hats off to Tesla for including this mode, although perhaps the name is a little silly. Here’s hoping it’s not one of those subscription services that can get turned off at a moment’s notice, though.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: June 11, 2023”
More than three years have passed since Tesla announced its Cybertruck, and while not a one has been delivered, the first Tesla truck, Truckla, has kept on truckin’. [Simone Giertz] just posted an update of what Truckla has been up to since it was built.
[Giertz] and friend’s DIT (do-it-together) truck was something of an internet sensation when it was revealed several months before the official Tesla Cybertruck. As with many of our own projects, while it was technically done, it still had some rough edges that kept it from being truly finished, like a lack of proper waterproofing or a tailgate that didn’t fold.
Deciding enough was enough, [Giertz] brought Truckla to [Marcos Ramirez] and [Ross Huber] to fix the waterproofing and broken tailgate while she went to [Viam Labs] to build Chargla, an Open Source charging bot for Truckla. The charging bot uses a linear actuator on a rover platform to dock with the charging port and is guided by a computer vision system. Two Raspberry Pis power handle the processing for the operation. We’re anxious to see what’s next in [Giertz]’s quest of “picking up the broken promises of the car world.”
If you want to see some more EV charger hacks, check out this Arduino-Based charger and the J1772 Hydra.
Continue reading “Truckla Gets An Open Source Charging Buddy”