This week in Musk-land: Tesla pick-up truck, electric jets, the Space Force and more
Elon Musk revealed some juicy details about upcoming vehicles and more in a lengthy podcast interview with Recode. Fortunately for the busier tech enthusiasts, we’ve brought you a brief summary of all the highlights.
“I really wanted something that’s like super futuristic cyberpunk.” It seems Tesla’s next vehicle is going to be a boatload of fun, if not a sensible purchase. “It’s gonna have a lot of titanium.”
Of all the upcoming Tesla products, this is Musk’s favorite, so it’s expected to make a big splash. “It’s gonna be awesome, it’s gonna be amazing. This will be heart-stopping. It stops my heart. It’s like, oh, it’s great.” While he said he can’t reveal the details, he admits that he’s been working through a lot of designs and discussing a lot of ideas internally with the company.
Early Tesla pickup concept unveiled about a year ago
“You know, I actually don’t know if a lot of people will buy this pickup truck or not, but I don’t care. I mean I do care, eventually, you know. Like sure, I care. We wanna get gasoline, diesel pickup trucks off the road.” He says that a few years down the line, Tesla will probably dial down the sci-fi and introduce a more conventional truck.
In a surprise to no one, space-loving Elon Musk strongly supports Donald Trump’s Space Force. When asked why it would be useful, he failed to provide a solid argument about defense, but seemed pretty keen about the technology that would be required. “I think the idea of being out there among the stars and among the planets is very exciting.”
He also points out that people thought the Air Force was pretty silly when it was first introduced because during World War II, aircraft were managed by the Army. “People today may not realize back then it was wildly panned as a ridiculous thing to create the Air Force, but now everyone’s like, ‘Obviously, you should have an Air Force.’ And I think it’s gonna become obvious that we should have a Space Force, too.”
It’s worth noting that SpaceX could have a lot to gain from developing the technologies the Space Force is expected to need, such as the “pretty cool” Mars and moon bases.
Vertical Take Off and Landing Jet Plane
Musk admitted that he will one day try to begin development of an electric aircraft, but that his “head would explode if he tried to do that right now.” The potential capabilities of such an aircraft are impressive though, enabling easier and faster takeoffs and landings. But the main appeal for Musk, as always, is the environmental impact. Traditional aircraft are one of the worst contributors to global warming.
By continuing development of Tesla’s battery technology, Musk is slowly paving the way for electric planes, because the main prohibition right now is the battery density. At current battery density, even the most expensive and fanciest batteries are simply too large and too heavy to be used in a plane. Electric plane engines aren’t too hard to create, however, and it’s definitely something to look forward to in the future.
On the supercar front, Musk claims that the Tesla Roadster will be the fastest car in every possible way, with the “fastest acceleration,” “fastest top speed,” and the “best handling.” He strongly intends to stamp out the gasoline sports car, and hopefully end that “halo effect” that gasoline cars have because of the motor racing industry. “It’s important to show that electric is the best architecture.”
“We successfully launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two. So that’s twice the power, twice the thrust of the next biggest rocket.” Musk is still loving the fact that he launched his Tesla into space, but he’s loving SpaceX’s technological advancements even more.
What Musk and pretty much every other SpaceX employee is most excited about is launching an astronaut to the International Space Station. It’ll be the first time since around 2010 that America sent someone there using their own hardware, and that’s a pretty big deal. What’s even better is that SpaceX will be able to do it cheaper than it’s ever been done before within the next few years.
Musk has been joking about dying on Mars lately, so it’s a pretty hot topic with him. SpaceX is still aiming to be going to Mars in 2024, but Musk isn’t sure if it will be a manned or unmanned mission, or if he’ll even be on it himself.
Despite popular belief, he strongly supports SpaceX rival Blue Origin, which is Jeff Bezos’ attempt at starting his own space agency. To Musk, any research on space is good, but he doesn’t think that ‘BO’ as it’s affectionately called at SpaceX, will find it as easy to get out of orbit as they seem to think. On the topic of NASA, Musk is enthusiastic and is hoping they can get more funding to continue research on Mars.
Musk thinks that in time, humanity will be the pet cats to AI. “In the long term, as AI gets probably much smarter than humans, the relative intelligence ratio is probably similar to that between a person and a cat, maybe bigger. I do think we need to be very careful about the advancement of AI.”
He maintains that the world could be in serious trouble if AI isn’t regulated and says that there needs to be serious government oversight and legislation. Even though that probably won’t happen, he’s still pretty optimistic about the future and humanity’s ability to cope.