http://www.afr.com/business/transport/automobile/how-tesla-uses-spacexs-rocket-scientists-to-beat-its-electric-car-rivals-20170907-gyd7kj
How Tesla uses SpaceX's rocket scientists to beat its electric car rivals
Sep 8 2017  Dana Hull

[image  / Tesla
http://www.afr.com/content/dam/images/g/x/y/0/v/1/image.imgtype.afrArticleInline.620x0.png/1502927146015.jpg
Tesla's Fremont factory. One SpaceX solution saved Tesla about eight hours
of work per car, an eternity on an assembly line aiming to ramp up to
mass-market volumes. 
]

Engineers at Tesla found a quality problem this northern summer with a cast
aluminum car part that was taking hours to diagnose and fix. They were
stumped, so they called in the rocket scientists - literally.

Tesla engineers reached out to their counterparts at Space Exploration
Technologies, who recommended the use of ultrasound sensors to isolate the
problem. The solution saved Tesla about eight hours of work per car, an
eternity on an assembly line aiming to ramp up to mass-market volumes.

Rocket ships and electric cars may seem like very different ends of the
transport spectrum, but for these two manufacturers, there's one key link:
They share a chief executive officer in Elon Musk.

But there are less obvious connections, too. The growing behind-the-scenes
collaboration that occurs within Musk's expanding, post-modern empire has
spanned from finding stronger, lighter and cheaper materials to developing
software to even sharing executives when the need for trusted talent arises.

"In this race to disrupt the world with both electric cars and autonomy as
well as space, you don't really work for Tesla or SpaceX - you just work for
Elon Musk," technology analyst Gene Munster of Loup Ventures said. "You have
the most wicked smart people who can feed off of each other all working for
Elon, and he can call on them to help crack various problems."
'Cross-fertilisation'

Musk - who last year had Tesla acquire SolarCity, where he was chairman of
the board - has said that there is little logic to merging Tesla and SpaceX.
One makes consumer products and the other launches rockets for NASA, the US
military and commercial satellite operators.

But the aluminum casting fix, first disclosed on last month's earnings call,
is one example of how the companies share brain power.

"That's cross-fertilization of knowledge from the rocket and space industry
to auto back and forth, as I think it's really been quite valuable," Musk on
Tesla's recent call.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. "Elon has a lot of irons in the fire, and SpaceX is
his number one baby," said Ben Kallo, an analyst with Robert W. Baird. "But
SpaceX can contribute to what Tesla is doing. There's a lot of crossover,
and it gives Tesla a complete advantage over other automakers." Damian
Dovarganes

Tesla and SpaceX are both trying to do what many think is impossible: Make
money selling electric cars and get people to Mars. Those missions attract
the best and brightest, but with talent at a premium, the two companies
share. Tesla has more than 33,000 employees and SpaceX has roughly 6000 -
giving Musk a vast talent pool to draw from.

​"Given that Tesla and SpaceX are totally non-competitive and have a similar
first principles approach to problem solving, employees at one company are
occasionally able to share ideas that help the other," a Tesla spokesperson
said in an emailed statement. "This hasn't been a major thing, but it's
still always nice to be helpful, especially given the shared respect for
each company's mission."
Talent pool

It's well-known that SpaceX and Tesla share high-level leadership, with
several people - Musk, his brother Kimbal, venture capitalist Steve
Jurvetson and Antonio Gracias of Valor Equity Partners - on the boards of
both companies. Some of the same big-money backers that helped make SpaceX
one of the world's most valuable privately held startups have also invested
in Tesla, including Fidelity - the carmaker's biggest shareholder after
Musk, who owns about 20 per cent.

But the brainpower collaboration also seeps into the ranks. When Tesla
announced the hiring of Chris Lattner from Apple as vice president of its
Autopilot software division in January - a position he left after only six
months - the car maker gave a shout-out to a SpaceX executive who pulled
double duty at both companies during the search.

After Lattner left Tesla this northern summer, the car maker hired Andrej
Karpathy as the new head of its Autopilot program. Karpathy was a research
scientist at OpenAI, another Musk enterprise that advocates for the
responsible development of artificial intelligence.

Materials links

Both cars and rockets need to stay trim and light to get where they're
going, making material science another key area where the companies can
collaborate. And that's not hard to do, with Charles Kuehmann serving as the
vice president of materials engineering for both companies. He joined Musk's
empire from Apple in 2015.

The materials teams at both companies sometimes hold joint meetings - in
person and via conference call - to brainstorm and discuss materials issues,
according to Tesla. SpaceX executives have visited Tesla's auto assembly
plant in Fremont, California, where they can get a hands-on look at higher
volume manufacturing. Both companies are headquartered in the Golden State.

Besides the need for advanced materials, Tesla and SpaceX both manage
galactic amounts of data, from the millions of miles travelled on Autopilot
to the telemetry of rockets. The two companies have co-developed a computer
system that catalogues material specifications and data and feeds it into
analytic tools. The data, information and computers that house the systems
are unique to each company, but the software was developed jointly, Tesla
said.

"As an industrial community - whether it's aerospace or automotive -
everyone is grappling with increasing data management and the search for
stronger, lighter, cheaper materials," Luigi Peluso, an aerospace and
defence consultant at AlixPartners, said in an interview. "People who can
master those skills can play in either domain pretty fluidly."
Other overlaps

Even the company plane is shared. Tesla paid SpaceX roughly $US1.1 million
($1.4 million) for use of the corporate jet in 2016, company filings show.

SpaceX has also indirectly helped Tesla when it bought some of SolarCity's
bonds. The Musk-linked panel installer sold "solar bonds" before the merger
with Tesla, but found few takers outside of Musk, his cousins Lyndon and
Peter Rive and SpaceX.

Other connections between the company are more cultural.

"It's not unusual to see people at Tesla gathered around their computers to
cheer on SpaceX launches, and lots of SpaceX employees drive Teslas," a
spokesperson for the car maker said in an emailed statement.

Future collaborations

For now, the two most watched companies in Musk's empire focus most of their
collaboration on tangibles like software, engineering, materials and
expertise managing a vast network of suppliers.

Longer term, analysts like Morgan Stanley's Adam Jonas can't help but wonder
if a company that ultimately plans to build and launch its own satellites
might have a leg up in the race for driverless cars, which will have to be
connected to a vast wireless network. A colleague of Jonas raised the issue
on a 2016 conference call. It's an edge that other car makers like General
Motors and Toyota won't have.

Musk has so far been mum on how SpaceX could help Tesla's driverless dream,
but that's not stopping analysts from seeing synergies.

"Elon has a lot of irons in the fire, and SpaceX is his number one baby,"
said Ben Kallo, an analyst with Robert W. Baird. "But SpaceX can contribute
to what Tesla is doing. There's a lot of crossover, and it gives Tesla a
complete advantage over other automakers."
[© 2017 Fairfax Media]



https://mybroadband.co.za/news/business/228179-how-spacex-and-tesla-share-their-expertise.html
How SpaceX and Tesla share their expertise
7 September 2017  Rocket ships and electric cars may seem like very
different ends of the .... “Elon has a lot of irons in the fire, and SpaceX
is his number one baby,” said Ben Kallo ...
...
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-07/from-software-to-staffers-tesla-and-spacex-share-more-than-musk
Tesla and SpaceX Share More Than Musk
September 7, 2017  Rocket ships and electric cars may seem like very
different ends of the transportation spectrum, but for these two
manufacturers, there's one key link: They share ...




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