Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Latest Aptera News? Openpilot Comes to the Highly Anticipated Solar EVs

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The latest Aptera news sees the California solar car manufacturer integrate the open-source Openpilot driver assistance system.

Aptera, the three-wheeled solar-powered cars from the future, have yet to make their market debut, but there’s more buzz around them than ever. Case in point, the Aptera news that the company will bring the Openpilot assistance system into the vehicles allowing the car to steer, brake, and stop at red lights and stop signs without driver intervention.

According to Aptera, the forthcoming SEVs, expected to hit the market by the end of the year, will come equipped to work with Openpilot, with the hardware shipping to the car owners after they receive their vehicles. Aptera says the installation takes less than 30 minutes.

Openpilot

Openpilot was developed by Comma.AI, but it is no longer affiliated with the open-source platform. It uses ten percent of the power of other assistance systems and is the only program of its kind aside from Tesla’s. In 2020, Consumer Reports rated Openpilot as the number one driver assistance program.

The integration is being led by longtime Openpilot community member Chris McCammon. He says that since 2017, the software has “matured immensely” and now supports more than 200 vehicle models with an easy-to-install kit. “Even though Openpilot has vastly surpassed nearly all driver assistance systems on the market today, big auto players have not embraced it. They continue to throw hundreds of millions of dollars into developing their own inferior systems, while Openpilot is open-source software that anyone can implement for free.”

Aptera Beta Track Test
Aptera Beta Track Test | Courtesy

The news builds on the buzz surrounding the Aptera Motors launch. The company is still taking pre-orders for the cars expected later this year. They’ll be the first mass-produced solar vehicles on the market, and retailing at just under $26,000.

“We are closer than we’ve ever been to bringing Aptera into production,” Chris Anthony, Aptera’s co-founder and co-CEO told the San Diego Business Journal in January. Anthony says 2023 will bring manufacturing and continued innovation “as we endeavor to meet our ambitious goal of making solar mobility a reality for everyone.”

“The plan is to scale as quickly as possible to full-scale production beginning with our Launch Edition Aptera,” Anthony said. “To help us ramp up our production volume more quickly, our Launch Edition vehicle will have one unified configuration.”

In other Aptera news: the most efficient and environmentally friendly car (not yet) on the road

The California-based solar electric vehicle manufacturer is committed to creating sustainable transportation solutions. The company’s name is derived from the Greek word “apteron,” which means “wingless,” and reflects the company’s philosophy of creating vehicles that are aerodynamic, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

Aptera’s flagship is designed to be the most efficient and environmentally friendly car on the road — a single charge can provide a 1,000-mile range, and its rooftop solar panels can bring in 40 miles of range — more than the average daily car use (about 35 miles). This means for the average car user, the vehicle could run solely on solar power. But the car is also compatible with most charging ports.

aptera
Will Apteras replace EVs? Courtesy

The small three-wheeled car packs a bang for its buck, too. The AWD can go from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and the front-wheel drive in about 5.5 seconds. The car’s aerodynamic design helps its speed, requiring less energy to move through the air, which also helps preserve battery range and efficiency. The car is designed to be a high-performance vehicle; it provides 110 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque.

Aptera Motors says its sustainability commitment extends beyond just the performance of the vehicle; it also sources materials and components from sustainable and ethical suppliers, and uses environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.

But is Aptera actually a car?

Those three wheels may remind you of the 2021 Netflix documentary “Lady and the Dale” about a three-wheeled car scam in the 1970s. The Aptera appears to be a very real car, already spotted on the road. But it may technically not be a car, according to CNet.

“In the humorless eyes of your local DMV clerk, the Aptera is a motorcycle, or perhaps an ‘auto-cycle.’ You’d need to check the motor vehicle rules in your state, but you should at least not need a helmet as the thing is fully enclosed. You might, however, need a motorcycle or three-wheel vehicle endorsement. And note that, as a non-car, the Aptera does not have to conform to the same safety standards as cars, like having airbags,” Brian Cooley writes.

Aptera
The Aptera could revolutionize city driving | Courtesy

There are other solar EVs though that do technically qualify as cars. Sono Motors, Lightyear, Fisker, and Squad, are all vying for the clean-fuel car market with SEVs.

Like EVs, solar cars and three-wheeled Apteras utilize plug-in technology but also include photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight into electricity. These cells are typically made from silicon and are arranged in panels that are installed on the vehicle’s roof or body.

The amount of energy that can be generated by solar panels depends on a variety of factors, including the size and efficiency of the panels, the level of sunlight, and the angle and orientation of the panels. On average, a solar-powered EV can generate between 2 and 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per day, depending on the factors mentioned above.

The market for solar-powered EVs is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, as more consumers and governments prioritize sustainability and renewable energy. According to one recent report, the SEV market should be worth $46.11 billion by 2031.

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