The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

2021’s Top Ten Tech Cars: Tesla Model Y

A little smaller than the X, and a lot less pricey

1 min read
Image of the 2021 Tesla Model Y.
Photo: Tesla

To drive any new Tesla is to realize that most of its EV rivals, for all their gains, still have some catching up to do. The Model Y SUV is the latest to raise the bar, including a 525-kilometer (326-mile) range.

Base price:

US $49,990

I tested the Long Range version in and around Brooklyn, driving nearly 4 miles for every kilowatt-hour stored in its 75-kilowatt-hour battery. That's about 30 percent higher energy efficiency than I achieved in the new Ford Mustang Mach-E and nearly two-thirds better than the Audi E-tron Sportback. The EPA estimates that a Model Y needs US $550 a year in electricity to cover 15,000 miles, versus $750 for the Ford's all-wheel-drive version and $850 for the Audi.

It's a delight to drive. The Model Y's frisky handling and instant-on acceleration makes every time you pass and merge a pleasure. That kind of oomph comes from dual electric motors that combine for 286 kilowatts (384 horsepower) and 510 newton meters (376 pound-feet) of torque. The $62,900 Performance edition—with a wicked 456 horses and 497 pound-feet—sacrifices 57 km of range but cuts the 0-to-60-mph time to 3.5 seconds, from 4.8.

A 15-inch center touch screen is the altar of the car's Temple of Tech, and its voice controls are among the most natural in the business. Dial up Tesla's sophisticated semiautonomous features, including Navigate on Autopilot, and its situational awareness includes animations in the driver's display of nearby vehicles, bicycles, even orange cones in a parking lot.

Tesla's other big advantage, in North America anyway, remains its proprietary, continent-wide Supercharger network. The company's V3 Superchargers will replenish up to 254 km (158 miles) of range in 15 minutes, enough time for a bathroom break and a snack.

The Conversation (0)

New Pixel Sensors Bring Their Own Compute

Atomically thin devices that combine sensing and computation also save power

2 min read
close up image of a chip

This optical image shows the 900-pixel 2-D active pixel sensor created by the researchers.

Akhil Dodda, Darsith Jayachandran, and Saptarshi Das

By giving compute powers to atomically thin versions of the CMOS sensors now found in most digital cameras, a prototype sensor array can capture images using thousands to millions of times less power, a new study finds.

CMOS sensors are a kind of active pixel sensor, which combine a light detector with one or more transistors. Although scientists have made steady progress towards more energy-efficient light detectors, the signal conversion and data transmission capabilities of active pixel sensors are currently extremely energy-inefficient, says study co-lead author Akhil Dodda, an electronics engineer who was at Penn State University at University Park in Pennsylvania at the time of the research.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

John Bardeen’s Terrific Transistorized Music Box

This simple gadget showed off the magic of the first transistor

5 min read
 A small electronic gadget encased in clear plastic has a speaker and some buttons.

This music box demonstrated the portability and responsiveness of the point-contact transistor.

The Spurlock Museum/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

On 16 December 1947, after months of work and refinement, the Bell Labs physicists John Bardeen and Walter Brattain completed their critical experiment proving the effectiveness of the point-contact transistor. Six months later, Bell Labs gave a demonstration to officials from the U.S. military, who chose not to classify the technology because of its potentially broad applications. The following week, news of the transistor was released to the press. The New York Herald Tribune predicted that it would cause a revolution in the electronics industry. It did.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Solving Automotive Design Challenges With Simulation

Learn about low-frequency electromagnetic simulations and see a live demonstration of COMSOL Multiphysics software

1 min read

The development of new hybrid and battery electric vehicles introduces numerous design challenges. Many of these challenges are static or low-frequency electromagnetic by nature, as the devices involved in such designs are much smaller than the operating wavelength. Examples include sensors (such as MEMS sensors), transformers, and motors. Many of these challenges include multiple physics. For instance, sensors activated by acoustic energy as well as heat transfer in electric motors and power electronics combine low-frequency electromagnetic simulations with acoustic and heat transfer simulations, respectively.

Multiphysics simulation makes it possible to account for such phenomena in designs and can provide design engineers with the tools needed for developing products more effectively and optimizing device performance.

Keep Reading ↓Show less