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German team wins Hyperloop race (again)

TUM Hyperloop team
The TUM Hyperloop team shows off its pod racer. (TUM via Facebook)

The name may have changed, but the result is the same: For the fourth time in a row, a German team registered the top speed in SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Hyperloop pod race for college-level engineers.

The TUM Hyperloop team from the Technical University of Munich — formerly known as WARR Hyperloop — sent its sleek pod racer through a specially built, mile-long test track next to SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., at a top speed of 288 mph (463 kilometers per hour).

There was some drama at the end of the run, when the pod experienced what Teslarati photographer Tom Cross called a “rapid unplanned disassembly” — but the judges nevertheless gave the nod to the German team.

As WARR Hyperloop, the same team had the top speed during the three previous runnings of the Hyperloop competition.

Today’s runners-up were Swissloop (160 mph) and EPFLoop (148 mph) from Switzerland, plus Delft Hyperloop from the Netherlands. The University of Washington had a team in the competition but didn’t make it to the Final Four.

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Neuralink takes the wraps off brain probe

Neuralink connection
An illustration shows how electrodes could be implanted in a patient’s brain, with wires running under the scalp to a device surgically implanted behind the ear. (Neuralink Illustration)

Two years after word emerged that tech billionaire Elon Musk was backing a company called Neuralink, the secretive brain-link venture opened up about its progress, including tests of a robotic “sewing machine” that has wired up rat brains with threadlike sensors.

During tonight’s presentation at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Musk and other company executives said they’d seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration to start wiring up human test subjects as early as next year. And they’re looking for help.

“The main reason for doing this presentation is recruiting,” said Musk, who has reportedly invested more than $100 million in Neuralink and serves as its CEO. The company currently has about 100 employees.

Neuralink aims to develop a brain interface capable of recording deep-brain electrical activity, with the objective of understanding and treating brain disorders as well as preserving and enhancing the human brain.

Musk, who’s the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla as well as the founder of a tunneling venture called the Boring Company, doesn’t think small. Neuralink is no exception.

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SpaceX gets set for 60-satellite Starlink launch

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket sits on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, in preparation for the launch of 60 Starlink broadband data satellites. (SpaceX Photo)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the launch of 60 Starlink satellites is aimed at spreading “fundamental goodness” in the form of high-speed internet access for the billions of people who currently don’t have it.

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SpaceX will stuff 60 Starlink satellites in one rocket

Sixty Starlink satellites are shown inside a Falcon rocket’s nose cone. (Elon Musk via Twitter)

We now know how many of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband data satellites, developed in Redmond, Wash., can be crammed into the nose cone of a Falcon rocket.

The answer to the ultimate question is 60.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk showed how five dozen satellites fit, just barely, inside a Falcon fairing today in a tweet.

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Tesla gets a boost after $2.7 billion offering

Elon Musk and Model Y
Tesla CEO Elon Musk checks out the Model Y during its unveiling in March. (Tesla via YouTube)

Tesla has increased the size of its stock and bond offering to $2.7 billion, and CEO Elon Musk has raised the amount of stock he’d be buying, sparking an additional rise in the controversial electric-car company’s share price.

The company’s revised plan calls for offering almost $850 million in stock and up to $1.84 billion in convertible notes, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tesla said Musk plans to buy $25 million worth of Tesla shares, which is more than twice what he committed to in previous filings.

Tesla shares closed at $255.03 at the end of the trading day on May 3, representing a 4.5 percent rise for the day. That figure is still well below the 52-week high of $387.46, however.

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Elon Musk shows off Starship on moon and Mars

Starship on moon
An artist’s rendering shows SpaceX’s Starship on the moon. (Elon Musk via Twitter)

New renderings of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket, shared by CEO Elon Musk on Twitter early today, show the shiny spaceship sitting on bare ground on the moon and Mars.

The artwork is similar to less shiny renderings that came out a couple of years ago when Musk laid out the architecture for the Starship launch system (which was then known as the BFR) at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia.

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Elon Musk resolves tiff with SEC over Tesla tweets

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk talks about the Model 3 during its unveiling in 2016. (Credit: Tesla)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to keep his Twitter habit in check — and feels comfortable enough with the arrangement to refer to it in a teasing tweet.

The April 26 settlement was a serious matter: Musk could have faced sanctions for contempt of court if he failed to patch up the rift with the SEC over whether he was following the terms of an earlier settlement.

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Elon Musk unveils Tesla’s Robotaxi concept

Robotaxi front seat
Tesla shows off a configuration for a Robotaxi front seat without a steering wheel. (Tesla via YouTube)

Tesla’s billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, laid out a vision for a huge fleet of self-driving electric vehicles that owners could share with friends or other riders, with Tesla getting a cut of the proceeds.

The Robotaxi concept relies on the ability to make Tesla cars fully autonomous, to the point that the steering wheels can be removed.

“By the middle of next year, we’ll have over a million Tesla cars on the road with full self-driving hardware, feature complete, at a reliability level that we would consider that no one needs to pay attention,” Musk told investors at Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

Musk acknowledged that the timetable could be in flux, due to regulatory concerns as well as his tendency to get overly optimistic about timetables.

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Elon Musk calls Jeff Bezos a satellite copycat

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos
The rivalry between SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has surfaced on Twitter. Again. (Musk Photo: TED via YouTube; Bezos Photo: GeekWire / Kevin Lisota)

The fur is flying in the broadband internet satellite race.

It all started when we found out that Amazon was planning its own 3,236-satellite constellation to provide global internet access. The campaign, known as Project Kuiper, is likely to compete with SpaceX’s long-running Starlink project to put thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit and do pretty much the same thing. SpaceX’s operation in Redmond, Wash., was set up in 2015 to lead the Starlink development effort.

The fact that Amazon recruited engineers who worked on Starlink in Redmond but were reportedly thrown off the project last year by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk added insult to injury.

On April 9, Musk weighed in on Project Kuiper with a catty remark on Twitter.

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Tesla’s Elon Musk unveils Model Y crossover SUV

Elon Musk and Model Y
Tesla CEO Elon Musk checks out the newly unveiled Model Y. (Tesla via YouTube)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk finished spelling out an all-electric acronym by lifting the veil on the Model Y, a crossover SUV that’s due to hit the market in the fall of 2020.

“We are bringing ‘sexy’ back, quite literally,” he told hundreds of Tesla fans who gathered for the Hollywood-style unveiling at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, Calif.

Musk didn’t quite literally lift a veil to reveal the new model. Instead, he built up the suspense by giving an “extended history lesson” about Tesla’s decade-long history of vehicle production, starting with the Tesla Roadster and moving on to the Model S, Model X, Model 3, the Semi truck and the remade Roadster.

Along the way, Musk explained the ins and outs of his naming convention, including the fact that he couldn’t use the name “Model E” because Ford had it trademarked.

“Ford killed SEX,” Musk joked.

As he described the vehicles, each model was driven into the spotlight. Finally it was the Model Y’s turn. Cheers and whoops went up from the crowd as a shiny blue car pulled into its place alongside the Model S, 3, X. Y completed the acronym.

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