Google, SpaceX, a Billion Dollars and EVs



Photo: Google/Raoul Ranoa/LATimesgraphics

Space X

Space X

SpaceX confirmed Tuesday that it had secured a billion dollar investment from Google and Fidelity Bank.Β The statement offered no details on plans for the funds, but Elon Musk has said he wants to build a network of satellites to deliver high speed internetΒ to the 60% of the globe currently without. So, what does that have to do with EVs? Quite a lot possibly. Many auto manufacturers have been racing to deploy their version of autonomous driving. By all merits, a non auto manufacturer in Google has been leading the way. Various companies have their own version of how autonomous driving will work.

Recently, Nissan Motor’s Carlos Ghosn gave specific examples on how Nissan plans to implement their autonomous plan as reported here on InsideEVs. Nissan, like others, plan on giving the driver the option to regain control at any time.

Google, on the other hand, has been very forth right in describing an experience without a steering wheel, gas or brake pedals, or a driver of any kind. Such an experience will rely heavily on Google Maps and the Internet.

Investing a billion dollars into a program to revolutionize the way we access the Internet does not take too much stretch of the imagination of what Google and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk also may be planning to do with that Internet model beyond fast global access.

SpaceX looks to make its second attempt at landing the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket upon an autonomous vessel on February 9th. Reuse of a first stage rocket is revolutionary in itself and would Β save millions per launch thus improving the economics of launching the satellites needed for the satellite intense endeavor.

No specifics have been detailed, but Google/SpaceX very well may be on their way toward changing not only global internet access, but our driving experience as we know it, and it looks to be electric!

Category: GeneralTesla

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38 responses to "Google, SpaceX, a Billion Dollars and EVs"
  1. Driverguy01 says:

    So Tesla and Space-X will probably provide me internet access in the future and autonomous cars… what else? They are going to rule the world in a bigger way than i can think of or imagine…

    1. Just_Chris says:

      Internet (so that’ll include phone, shopping and entertainment)
      Branded clothing
      Banking (if you include paypal)

      All that’s missing is food, water and a voting card with the “correct” boxes ticked and the boys in silicon Valley can supply me with everything I need.

      Why is it I feel that the death of big oil is on the horizon and big electron are on the way to shaft me for every penny?

      Still maybe if they come in we’ll leave the poor folk of the middle east alone.

      1. James says:

        Perhaps you could put that conspiracy-theorist inside you to rest, and enjoy safer, clean driving and just relaxxxxxx….

        The auto industry as we know it isn’t going to collapse overnight and start following Tesla and Google like zombies, now – are they? Of course, they’re not!

      2. Mikael says:

        Don’t forget a place to live… the Mars colony πŸ˜‰

    2. Robert says:

      I think Elon Musk sits in his office stroking a large white pussy cat and is normally only seen from the neck down…
      His autonomous cars will become killers by collecting people on Elon’s list and gassing them to death once locked inside.
      The story about his network of satellites is just that. A story.
      In reality they are state of the art laser weapons platforms. Pretty soon he will address the entire world and demand a huuuge amount of money from the world’s governments and the only man to thwart his evil plans will be Bond, James Bond…
      All the clues are there. Brilliant. Rich. A visionary. A white cat.
      Mark my words, his evil plan will all become clear soon…

  2. Priusmaniac says:

    That is a bit scary actually because it looms the potential for Google AI with global internet access with autonomous movement for Google car and Boston dynamics based terminators. We could be rushing into a well intended nightmare scenario.

    1. Ontario Leaf says:

      Any technology can always be used for nefarious purposes. It’s our humanity that has to catch up.

      1. TomArt says:


    2. Anon says:

      A sky full of satellites (SkyNet), Google / DARPA Robots, and a sentient AI based on Elon’s engrams imprinted onto a neural network…

      Ironic Apocalypse! πŸ˜‰

      1. Jouni Valkonen says:

        Skynet would be fantastic name for the satellite internet. Pehaps it would help people to take more seriously the possible hazards that may come with advanced AI. It does not just work that way that we can unplug our super AI and then claim that we are safe.

  3. scott franco says:

    I see the InsideElon webpage is going well….

    Sorry, just had too.

    1. M Hovis says:

      man crush

      1. James says:

        Are your ridiculous comments the reason the website seems like today?

        Were people this paranoid about Henry Ford when he was revolutionizing the horseless carriage and making it accessible to everybody?

        1. Anon says:

          Oh, I thought it was more like, “InsideVolt/”. πŸ˜‰

  4. EV says:

    my solar panels, my tesla, my internet, all by elon!

    watt a future!

    1. Anon says:

      Don’t forget, Next Day Global Rocket Cargo Delivery Service…

    2. Jouni Valkonen says:

      Good thing that Elon sold his PayPal. Our banking sector works so brilliantly, therefore there is no need for any revolutionary or disruputive thinking on banking and financing sector!

      1. TomArt says:


  5. ffbj says:

    Don’t forget Panasonic which won the Zayed future energy prize in the large corporation category.

  6. MDEV says:

    Tesla plans to deploy 700 small satellites for internet and I guess navigation, the total satelliites around the world 1200-1300 in total uptodate. How BMW and other automakers will compete with this for autonomous driving.

  7. IDK says:

    And..Elon was in Seattle last week (Friday I believe) getting ready to setup a new Satellite / office for SpaceX. Maybe trying to poach some talent? πŸ™‚

    1. James says:

      “Satellite/office for Space-X”

      …I see what you did there! πŸ™‚

  8. MikeM says:

    A swarm of low earth orbiting (LEO) satellites for 2015+ era internet access?
    This is seriously scary stuff. The economics of such schemes are murderous even at last century dial-up speeds.

    Previous attempts at building LEO satellite networks even for simple low cost, low data rate, telephony have resulted in bankruptcies. This when backed by seasoned satellite builders. e.g. Iridium (Lockheed), Globalstar (Space Systems Loral), Orbcomm (Orbital Sciences). There may be others.
    All tend to be victims of irrational exuberance on the part of marginally tech-literate entrepreneurs and CEOs who seem to get infatuated with the idea and drastically misunderstand the system complexity, ongoing cost, and usability/affordability to the target user demographic.

    Now here, we are speaking not of telephony (a few kbits/sec.) but internet access (hundreds of kbits/sec. to Mbits/sec. for usability in today’s real world).
    Sadly, there is an unavoidable collision between the pure physics of radio propagation and the simple economics of providing enough signal strength and bandwidth to enough subscribers for an adequate internet experience at a manageable cost to the user while paying the system operator’s investment cost, satellite replenishment cost and ongoing bills.

    Someone is thinking, at this point: “Hey! Wait a minute. There already are working Satcomm internet services!”. Indeed. They are all in fixed Geosynchronous (geostationary, GEO) orbits, not free floating LEOs. Furthermore, although handling the physics better (long design life, high RF power, big tightly focussed multi-beam antennas in the sky, high gain fixed pointing antennas on the ground – satellite TV style) they too suffer from economic issues, have tricky latency problems due to the large time delay, and generally only find acceptance among rural, desert, and formerly dial-up constrained users. Check out Wild Blue, Thuraya (deep pocket high speed users in that case) for examples. There are a few others you’ve probably heard of.

    I really, really want Elon Musk to be a success (I’m banking on a Model 3 sometime this decade). But this looks like a desperately serious loser to me.

    High altitude balloon/drone relays? Much more likely to succeed!

    Somebody talk to the man! He can’t be a genius at everything. I don’t want him to stumble on this one.

    1. James says:

      You must not be a DirecTV customer.

    2. M Hovis says:

      Not just Elon, but SpaceX AND Google.
      A Falcon 9 launch is stated to cost $56 million which is lower than industry costs. According to SpaceX COO Shotwell, a reusable Falcon 9 could cost between $5-$7 million. All of a sudden economies change.

    3. Jouni Valkonen says:

      You forgot that SpaceX has already succeeded with their Falcon 9 first stage reusability. this cuts the satellite launch costs from 60 million dollars to roughly six million dollars. If we consider all other cost savings that SpaceX has up to date delivered, then we are discussing 40 fold cost savings in rocket launch business due to SpaceX. This revolutionizes the economics of space launches and we can have far larger volumes and therefore redundancy in satellite launches, because we do not need to care about the weight of satellites anymore and can have lots of back-up satellites.

      Also if we consider the technological advancements in solar panel and communnications technology, then we easily discuss 1000 fold improvement in economics of SkyNet – just in ten years.

    4. TomArt says:

      Also bear in mind that a competing private group, including the charismatic leader of Virgin, are also pursuing the very same thing. Supposedly they already have secured the bandwidth from the FCC.

  9. Scott Franco says:

    Electric solar powered rockets. Its the only thing left that E-Lon Musk has left to do.

    1. LuStuccc says:

      He said many times that ironically, its the only transport that can’t be electric. Spaceships must react.
      He also said in a cameo from Iron Man 2 that he has plans for electric jets.

      1. Steven says:

        He also had a walk on, non-speaking role in “Transcendence”.

        Near the beginning, in the audience of a lecture hall. Blink and you miss him.

      2. Priusmaniac says:

        Can’t be electric, not really since an MHD is electric and reacts by pushing the ions in its surrounding. The atmosphere is full of molecules that can be ionized and there are still a lot remaining in space even if it is reduced the further you go away from Earth or the Sun. That is why satellites lose altitude all the time especially in LEO. But MHD is yet another technology leap that’s for sure.
        It also depend on what is involved. Space access or making a rocket, it is not the same. But even rockets can be non chemical like nuclear or with an arc jet. The fuel required is less and less significant when the ejection speed increase. If you find a very dense electric storage and achieve extreme ejection speeds you could end up having an electric rocket that store GWh of energy and eject no more than a few kilograms. That would in essence be an electric rocket. It would still eject mass for reaction but it would mainly be a giant electric machine.

  10. Alonso Perez says:

    I don’t think this has anything to do with autonomous driving. Musk here is aligned with the auto industry. He has clearly said, many times, he wants auto pilot, in a manner akin to aircraft, not self-driving cars people merely ride in as an appliance.

    Remember that Musk likes cars, likes to drive. One of his first purchases when he made money was a McLaren F1. His position on the subject is identical to Ghosn’s and other auto CEO’s. Google wants to do something entirely different.

    The sky net system is something else, and much simpler. The point of Space X is to colonize Mars. This will take money. It is the biggest real estate play since Columbus discovered the Americas, but it will take a lot of money, even for hyper efficient Space X.

    The problem is that Space X will make cheap launches possible, very soon. To make money on them you need a lot of missions. You need a huge launch manifest, and nobody is providing it. Clients buy one or two launches. Nasa buys perhaps 10 or 12 at a time. Even the Pentagon buys blocks of around 30, over several years.

    But Space X will need hundreds, if not thousands, of launches to build the kind of coin needed for Mars Colonial Transporters, methane engines, super heavy launchers, and all the rest of it. So since nobody has that kind of manifest, Musk has to do it himself. It is far easier for him to get investors to pay for ubiquitous internet than for loonie-sounding Martian adventures.

    In Tesla terms, the master plan is the following:

    1. Build cheap reusable launch capacity.
    2. Use cheap launch to build huge internet cloud above the clouds.
    3. Use profit from internet business to pay for Mars colonization program.

    1. Ash09 says:

      Well, there’s always asteroid mining. Once businesses figure out how to make money from obtaining the materials these things hold, you bet space travel will be as cheap and mundane as flying in an airplane is today.

      On the other hand, about that future space colony war with Earth…

    2. M Hovis says:

      I don’t disagree with any of that Alonso. We didn’t report Tesla/Google, but SpaceX/Google. For now, this benefits Google’s endeavors and provides cash for SpaceX as you stated. But it does so in a very big way.

      We report everything EV here, from trim changes to new auto colors. IMO, the impact this has on Google’s EV is very noteworthy.

      I wouldn’t bet against any of Musk’s endeavors that deal with his primary mission, but much more than that, I wouldn’t bet against Google. I think they are serious about their autonomous automotive project, and we are glad to see it is electric.

      1. TomArt says:

        Agreed with both of you. Very interesting points.

  11. Robert says:

    Elon still has, after delivering and refining the Model 3, his Next Gen Roadster, Pickup Truck, and Electric Aircraft to deliver, I suppose all within the next 10- 15 years!

    The key to all those projects, are – lower cost cells, higher energy / higher power cells, and higher cycle life cells! (And, of course, Batteries made with said cells!)

    Elon expects to deal first with costs, via the Giga-Factory, but after that primary orders of cell improvements are needed next, particularly for things like an EV F-150 Beater, and for Electric Aircraft!

    Just as they looked at 4 State Finalists for the GF, they might be escalating the internet coverage, for wider auto applications, in more Countries.

  12. Mikael says:

    I wonder what the internet access in the Teslas are costing the company.

    At $20 a month a million cars produced would cost almost $5 billion during a 20 year lifetime. Not to mention roaming costs when you’re driving in another country.

    With a few million cars on the road there is a lot of money to be saved or gained by Tesla having their own internet connection.

    I would love it if it were rich Model S/X/3 customers that payed for a thirld world high speed internet. πŸ™‚

    1. TomArt says:

      I don’t know exactly how it works, but I was under the impression that, like GM’s On-Star system, you have to pay for the connectivity as a subscription service.

      It would be awesome for the end-user if the internet/cell/whatever connectivity Tesla vehicles have were part of the initial cost with no subscription fees for the life of the vehicle.