Aptera to Integrate OpenPilot™ Technology for Its Revolutionary Solar Electric Vehicle
In a significant step forward for the company, Aptera Motors has announced that they will have integration of OpenPilot™, a groundbreaking technology for its upcoming solar electric vehicle. The innovative company, known for its dedication to energy efficiency and sustainability, is gearing up to bring their state-of-the-art vehicle to production. With the introduction of OpenPilot™, Aptera is making significant strides in driver assistance and safety features.
The Aptera solar electric vehicle has already turned heads with its unique, aerodynamic design and impressive 1,000-mile range. As the world's first "never-charge" electric vehicle powered by the sun, it has the potential to transform the automotive industry. Now, with OpenPilot™, the excitement surrounding Aptera's innovations continues to grow.
OpenPilot™ is an open-source autonomous driving software that will be integrated into Aptera's solar electric vehicle. The software offers a suite of advanced safety features, including Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). These features not only make driving safer for the vehicle's occupants but also contribute to a greener, more sustainable driving experience.
The integration of OpenPilot™ will allow Aptera to provide its customers with a cutting-edge driving experience. The technology enables the vehicle to drive itself under certain conditions, giving drivers more freedom and reducing the stress of long trips. Notably, OpenPilot™ is the only consumer system, besides Tesla, capable of stopping for red lights and stop signs, all while consuming just one-tenth of the power. This autonomy, coupled with the vehicle's solar power capabilities, makes Aptera's offering truly unique in the market.
The company's commitment to open-source technology also ensures that their software is continuously updated and improved. By leveraging the power of the open-source community, Aptera can stay at the forefront of technological advancements in the autonomous driving field. This, in turn, guarantees that customers receive the most innovative and reliable driving experience possible.
Another key benefit of OpenPilot™ technology is its ability to enhance energy efficiency. The software's advanced algorithms optimize driving patterns, ensuring that the vehicle consumes as little energy as possible. This not only extends the range of Aptera's solar electric vehicle but also reduces its environmental impact.
To further encourage innovation and collaboration, Aptera Motors has made its Vehicle Control Unit (VCU) code open-source as well. By opening up their technology to the public, the company hopes to inspire other manufacturers to embrace sustainable practices and accelerate the transition to renewable energy in the automotive industry.
Aptera Motors co-founder and CEO Chris Anthony expressed his enthusiasm for the company's progress: "We believe that OpenPilot and our open-source VCU code will help usher in a new era of advanced, sustainable, and efficient transportation. This is an exciting time for Aptera Motors and for the electric vehicle industry as a whole."
The release of OpenPilot™ technology represents a significant milestone for Aptera Motors as they work towards bringing their solar electric vehicle to production. By combining advanced safety features, autonomous driving capabilities, and unparalleled energy efficiency, the company is poised to make a lasting impact on the automotive industry.
As Aptera Motors continues to innovate and push the boundaries of sustainable transportation, the excitement surrounding their solar electric vehicle and OpenPilot™ technology is undeniable. The future of electric vehicles just got brighter, and the world is eagerly anticipating the arrival of Aptera's game-changing vehicle.
The Importance of Aero Efficiency in EVs: Lessons from Revolutionary Vehicle Designs
Sometimes it takes time for people to appreciate truly innovative designs. Just as many of the greatest composers and visual artists of all time were not fully appreciated during their lifetimes, the most aerodynamic vehicles were not always popular with buyers either.
Streamlining was initially employed by Land Speed Record (LSR) racers as a means of reducing air resistance and achieving faster speeds. This approach gained popularity in the early 20th century and culminated in 1899 when the electric-powered ‘La Jamais Contente’ (The Never Satisfied) became the first automobile to break the 100 km/h barrier. As engines became more powerful and cars could more easily achieve highway speeds, the focus of aerodynamic design shifted towards improving fuel efficiency.
Although enhancing a vehicle's aerodynamic efficiency is important for various reasons, the final outcome does not always produce a design that is favored by potential buyers of the vehicle. One really good example of this is with the 1934 Chrysler Airflow, the first American car to be designed aerodynamically in a wind tunnel. This design improved the high speed stability and the efficiency of the vehicle was improved, but it didn't sell very well. Buyers weren’t impressed with the radical shape and looks of the car.
Since then, several cars have focused on aero engineering, and many have failed to succeed. One of them was the General Motors EV1, a lease-only experimental electric vehicle from the 1990s with a remarkable drag coefficient of 0.19, resembling a UFO. The car's entire production run was repurchased and destroyed. The 2013 Volkswagen XL1, a diesel-powered hybrid with carbon-fiber construction and butterfly-wing doors that returned 260 MPG, was produced in a limited run of only 250. Perhaps the Toyota Prius is the most successful example of an aero-first design, as it is highly popular, efficient, and its exterior is also often subject to harsh criticism.
In today’s automotive world, the focus on aerodynamics is evident in nearly every vehicle on the road. From the overall shape of the vehicle to the design of the wheel wells, manufacturers are focused on making their vehicles more efficient to meet ever increasing government standards from around the world. Owners themselves have been doing this for years as well. These owners, called “ecomodders”, have seen really impressive results.
One notable example of an owner modifying their vehicle for maximum efficiency was the ‘EcoCivic’ project by none other than yours truly. My project was based on a 2003 Honda Civic and I was working towards a goal of achieving more than 100 mpg. While falling short of this goal, the project achieved an impressive 83 miles per gallon on the highway, largely due to the modifications made to the car's aerodynamics. While modifying the aerodynamics of the Civic yielded the most significant improvements, it made the car look really weird, and not in a “good weird” way. Nevertheless, the EcoCivic project demonstrated the potential for significant improvements in fuel efficiency through careful modifications to the vehicle's design.
The Importance of Aerodynamic Efficiency with EVs
As electric vehicles (EVs) become more prevalent on our roads, the importance of aerodynamics in their design is increasingly emphasized. Unlike traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, EVs rely solely on electric motors for propulsion and are powered by batteries, which means that any inefficiency in their design can have a significant impact on their range and overall performance.
One of the biggest challenges faced by EV manufacturers is to increase the range of their vehicles while keeping the battery size and weight in check. Aerodynamics plays a crucial role in achieving this goal by reducing the energy required to move the car through the air. A more streamlined vehicle design means less air resistance, which translates to less power needed to maintain speed and less energy wasted as heat. In other words, the more aerodynamic an EV is, the smaller the battery needs to be. A great example of an EV that is horribly efficient would be the GMC Hummer EV. In order to achieve a range similar to competitors, the Hummer EV is fitted with a battery that is twice the size of many other long-range EVs, and as heavy as a smaller car itself weighing in at more than 2,000 lbs!
Moreover, aerodynamic design also affects the efficiency of the EV's regenerative braking system. Regenerative braking, a feature common in many EVs, converts kinetic energy into electrical energy, which can then be stored in the battery for later use. However, the efficiency of this process depends on how much kinetic energy can be recovered during braking, which is influenced by the aerodynamic design of the vehicle. A poorly designed vehicle with high air resistance will experience more friction during braking, resulting in less energy recovered.
Aerodynamic Design Elements in EVs
One key design element in electric vehicles is the flat underbody. This helps to reduce drag by smoothing out the air flow underneath the vehicle, which is especially important at high speeds. Another important feature is smooth wheel covers, which help to reduce turbulence around the wheels and improve overall aerodynamics.
Active grille shutters are also becoming more common in electric vehicles. These shutters can open and close automatically to control the flow of air through the front of the vehicle, improving aerodynamics and reducing drag. Other design elements that are important in electric vehicles include tapered rear ends, flush door handles, and well-designed side mirrors.
Many electric vehicles on the market today have excellent aerodynamic design, with some models achieving industry-leading levels of efficiency. For example, the Tesla Model S has a sleek and aerodynamic shape with a low coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.208, making it one of the most aerodynamically efficient production cars ever made.
While the Model S, and most other popular electric vehicles have shown to implement significant aerodynamic improvements to achieve greater range and efficiency, this is quickly becoming the norm in the industry and there aren’t too many manufactures that are truly pushing the boundaries of possibility. One standout exception is the three-wheeled solar electric vehicle from Aptera.
Pushing the Boundaries (Again)
Aptera, a California-based start-up recently resurrected in 2019, is set apart from most EV makers in their unwavering commitment to aero efficiency to increase speed, range, and overall efficiency performance.
Aptera's flagship model is a three-wheeled EV that looks more like a futuristic airplane without wings than a car. In fact, the name ‘Aptera’ comes from the ancient Greek word ‘apteron,’ which means ‘wingless.” The body shape is characterized by a teardrop profile that minimizes drag, while the rear wheel is enclosed to further reduce turbulence. The vehicle also has a flat underbody and a narrow frontal area, which contribute to its exceptional aerodynamics.
According to Aptera, versions of the vehicle will have a drag coefficient of only .13 and, when paired with the largest battery pack, will achieve a range of up to 1,000 miles on a single charge, which is more than double most of the current longest-range EVs on the market (the Lucid Air being the exception with more than 500 miles of range). The vehicle can also accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in as little as 3.5 seconds, making it a formidable performer despite its unconventional design.
Although Aptera's focus on aerodynamic efficiency is commendable, it's important to acknowledge that, like other revolutionary vehicles before it, some potential buyers may find its teardrop shape unusual or unappealing. However, this shouldn't detract from the fact that the innovative design features of the Aptera are likely to influence the industry as a whole. It's highly probable that we will see an increase in future electric vehicles with exceptional aerodynamic efficiency, which will ultimately benefit all consumers.
It is clear that vehicle aerodynamics has had a significant impact on the automotive industry throughout its history. While pushing the boundaries of what is possible in any given time period can lead to revolutionary designs, it can also have negative effects on the marketability of a vehicle. Nonetheless, it is important to recognize the crucial role that these vehicles have played in advancing the industry as a whole.
By constantly pushing the limits of aerodynamics, engineers and designers have been able to create more efficient and faster vehicles that continue to shape the future of transportation. As we move forward, it is exciting to think about the possibilities that await us in the world of vehicle aerodynamics.
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Aptera Will Have DCFC Standard
In a video update today, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony shared the news that many Aptera reservation holders were waiting for: DC Fast Charging WILL be standard on Aptera vehicles. In the video, the pair explains the process of designing and choosing the hardware on which they will eventually settle for the final production vehicle design.
The current intention for fast charging capability is the 40 kW - 60 kW range. "At a minimum, the heating from all of the busbars we have, 40kW is below the limit" Fambro explained, but as current goes up, the sizes of the busbars and cables need to be increased, but that "through validation we'll see how higher we can get above 40 kW. But I believe it's a 40 kW minimum up to 60 kW after validation."
"It's really exciting that every Launch Edition Aptera will already have the technologies incorporated in them to be compatible with the supercharger network," Anthony added, hinting at the possibility of using the Tesla's network of high-powered charging stations. There is no news yet on if Tesla will open up their Supercharger network to non-Tesla vehicles, although that wouldn't be a surprise considering that they have already started doing so in Europe.
This exciting news comes on the heels of a major backlash from the Aptera community following the recent presentation of the Launch Edition vehicle. While development of the DCFC capability for the Aptera vehicles had previously been paused, it seems now that the company will focus on it's final development. When the people ask... they shall receive.
See the full video here:
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During the Launch Edition online presentation, Aptera Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro shared that the initial production of Aptera vehicles will not have DC fast charging capability.
As you might imagine, this caused a lot of reservation holders to speak up about their displeasure with that decision. Many taking to Aptera's community forum to share their thoughts and feelings on the matter... some even threatening to cancel their reservation.
However, there is good news on the horizon for those, like myself, wanting to have the ability to recharge quickly while on the road. Chris McCammon, Content Specialist for Aptera, responded to the forum post saying, "Even though we will not have DC fast charging to start in the Launch Edition vehicles, we plan to offer a DC fast-charge capability at a rate of 100 miles in 10 minutes – eventually and as an upgrade to the Launch vehicles at a later date."
During the Launch Edition presentation, this was not clear. However, his comment may come be reassuring to many who were looking forward to having their Aptera vehicle capable of fast charging. Previously the company discussed having charging speeds up to 60 kW (100 miles of range in 10 min.)
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Yesterday, Jan. 20th, Aptera showed their Launch Edition vehicle to the world in an online presentation. Steve Fambro, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, explained: “We’ve solved the equation for a more efficient way to travel by harnessing the power of the sun, and we’re excited to introduce our Launch Edition vehicle to the world. Our tireless efforts have resulted in the Aptera vehicle, that can take you where you want to go using the creative energy directly from our sun and efficiently converted into free movement.”
Aptera’s Launch Edition was created with one purpose in mind — energy efficiency. Its unique shape, ultra-lightweight, and ultra-strong materials allow Aptera to slip through the air using a quarter of the energy compared to other electric and hybrid vehicles on the road today. Equipped with roughly 700 watts of proprietary solar technology, Aptera drives up to 40 miles per day directly from the sun’s rays, making it possible to never plug in to charge again.
Stellar Charging Infrastructure
With Aptera’s solar technology, consistent access to a charging station or even a plug and socket isn’t necessary. Aptera’s Launch Edition comes integrated with a solar charging package allowing most people to drive for weeks, even months, without ever having to plug in to charge. In a location with very high sun exposure like Southern California, the average American driver would never have to plug in, based on the daily average of 29 miles. In a location with medium sun exposure such as New York or Chicago, you will only need to plug in roughly three times per year.
Plus, with Aptera’s efficient vehicle platform, any standard power outlet in the world becomes a place to charge your vehicle. When plugged into a 120V outlet, Aptera’s Launch Edition can still charge over 13 miles per hour or roughly 150 miles overnight.
In partnership with CPC Group, Aptera has developed an efficient and streamlined process for manufacturing their Launch Edition vehicles. These methods allow for quicker vehicle deliveries and a better use of raw materials. One of the most important aspects of this process is Aptera’s specialized composite body, or Body in Carbon – BinC. The resulting BinC takes much less time to assemble and yields quality and repeatability that is truly a new paradigm for manufacturing composite vehicle bodies and closures, especially when compared to other steel or aluminum vehicles.
This process is only just the beginning of Aptera’s plans to move solar mobility forward. After the company’s Launch Edition production line is up and running, Aptera expects eight different assembly plants to be in operation around the globe by 2028.
Aptera is finalizing the fourth and final phase of its product development, Delta. As part of this phase, Aptera will complete crash testing and validation. Once completed, Aptera plans to scale quickly into full-scale single shift production of 10,000 vehicles per year. From there, Aptera will expand its output to dual shift 20,000 vehicles per year out of its Carlsbad, California facility.
“While our delivery timeline is funding dependent, our goal is to begin production by the end of 2023,” Chris Anthony, Co-Founder and Co-CEO said. “Once we meet our fundraising objectives, we will be able to provide a more accurate delivery timeline.”
With over 40,000 reservations, the production of Aptera’s Launch Edition vehicle symbolizes the dawn of a new era for the company as it shifts toward manufacturing. For more information on Aptera’s Launch Edition, download the full spec sheet here.
“Our Launch Edition is our chance to show the world something that’s never existed before,” says Anthony. “Our identity at Aptera is about transformation, reinvention, and surprises. The Launch Edition is our chance to lead a movement that’s for everyone. We are solar mobility, and we are the future.”