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A Tesla in Every Garage? Not So Fast

Elon Musk’s sunny vision of the electric-car future sells well to the tech elite, but it won’t captivate the masses

15 min read
A Tesla in Every Garage? Not So Fast
Photo-illustration: Lincoln Agnew

Last summer, as I drove around the San Francisco Peninsula, I caught glimpses of a sea change in American automobile culture. Plug-in electric vehicles and charging stations seemed to be everywhere. Near the entrance to Stanford University, I witnessed a three-car fender bender involving only electric cars. And perhaps most remarkable: the prevalence of the Tesla Motors Model S, a luxury electric sedan that’s become the new status symbol among the tech-savvy. With more than 90,000 built to date, the Model S is now a common sight on Bay Area highways and byways.

The Model S and Tesla’s newer Model X sport-utility vehicle are unquestionably engineering marvels. And in the vision of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, they are nothing less than agents of change. Rivaling the best-performing internal-combustion automobiles, these green supercars are designed to reconcile comfort, power, and convenience with environmental sustainability, an ethos encapsulated in the current marketing slogan for the Model S: “Zero Emissions. Zero Compromises.”

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Rory Cooper’s Wheelchair Tech Makes the World More Accessible

He has introduced customized controls and builds wheelchairs for rough terrain

6 min read
portrait of a man in a navy blue polo with greenery in the background
Abigail Albright

For more than 25 years, Rory Cooper has been developing technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Cooper began his work after a spinal cord injury in 1980 left him paralyzed from the waist down. First he modified the back brace he was required to wear. He then turned to building a better wheelchair and came up with an electric-powered version that helped its user stand up. He eventually discovered biomedical engineering and was inspired to focus his career on developing assistive technology. His inventions have helped countless wheelchair users get around with more ease and comfort.

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Intel’s Take on the Next Wave of Moore’s Law

Ann B. Kelleher explains what's new 75 years after the transistor's invention

4 min read
image of a black and gold computer chip against a black background

Intel's Ponte Vecchio processor

Intel

The next wave of Moore’s Law will rely on a developing concept called system technology co-optimization, Ann B. Kelleher, general manager of technology development at Intel told IEEE Spectrum in an interview ahead of her plenary talk at the 2022 IEEE Electron Device Meeting.

“Moore’s Law is about increasing the integration of functions,” says Kelleher. “As we look forward into the next 10 to 20 years, there’s a pipeline full of innovation” that will continue the cadence of improved products every two years. That path includes the usual continued improvements in semiconductor processes and design, but system technology co-optimization (STCO) will make the biggest difference.

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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.

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