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Tesla Semi charging corridor project is still alive despite Biden admin funding snub | TechCrunch


Tesla is pushing forward with a plan to build an electric big rig charging corridor stretching from Texas to California, despite being snubbed by a lucrative federal funding program that’s part of Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. But the original scope of the project could still change, TechCrunch has learned.

The company had been seeking nearly $100 million from the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant program under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Combined with around $24 million of its own money, Tesla wanted to build nine electric semi-truck charging stations between Laredo, Texas and Fremont, California.

The corridor, if built, would be a first-of-its-kind charging network that could enable both long-distance and regional electric trucking and help clean up a big chunk of the otherwise dirty transportation sector. Without it, though, Tesla’s promise to electrify heavy-duty trucking could fall even farther behind schedule than it already is.

The project as pitched to the FHWA was called TESSERACT, which stands for “Transport Electrification Supporting Semis Operating in Arizona, California, and Texas,” according to a slide buried in a 964-page filing with the South Coast Air Quality Management District. (Tesla collaborated with SCAQMD on the application.)

But Tesla was not among the 47 recipients that the Biden administration announced in January. Collectively, those winners received $623 million to build electric vehicle charging and refueling stations across the country. This is despite Tesla winning around 13% of all other charging awards so far from the Infrastructure Act, though that has only netted the company around $17 million.

Rohan Patel, who left his VP position at Tesla this week as the company laid off 10% of its workforce, said in a message to TechCrunch that Tesla may turn to state funding opportunities, or future rounds of the CFI program. Some of the sites along the route “are no-brainers even without funding,” he said.

Image Credits: TechCrunch

The 1,800-mile route would theoretically connect Tesla’s two North American vehicle factories, as well as one that is planned — but delayed — in Mexico. Each station was originally slated to be equipped with eight 750kW chargers for Tesla Semis, and four chargers open to other electric trucks. It’s unclear how effective it would be if the company was unable to build all nine stations, which are situated at roughly equal distances along the route.

About half of the Biden administration’s choices for the CFI funding focused on building out EV charging infrastructure in “urban and rural communities, including at convenient and high-use locations like schools, parks, libraries, multi-family housing, and more.”

The other half was dedicated to funding 11 “corridor” projects, including a number on the same I-10 corridor that makes up part of Tesla’s proposed route. That includes $70 million to the North Texas Council of Governments to build up to five hydrogen fueling stations for medium and heavy-duty trucks in the Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio areas.

“The project will help create a hydrogen corridor from southern California to Texas,” the Department of Transportation wrote in a statement in January.

“Funding hydrogen stations will go down as purely wasted money,” Patel told TechCrunch this week.

While he no longer speaks on behalf of Tesla, he also criticized funding hydrogen infrastructure when he was still with the company.

“Governments around the globe are wasting tax dollars on hydrogen for light/heavy duty infrastructure,” he wrote on X in February. “Like smoking, it’s never too late to quit.”

Funding isn’t the only challenge to the project. Another complicating factor could be Tesla’s recent restructuring.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the company is now “balls to the wall for autonomy,” and has reportedly already sacrificed a planned low-cost EV in favor of making a purpose-built robotaxi the company’s priority. The Semi is years behind schedule, and Tesla has only built around 100 to date.

Despite all this, the Tesla Semi program is still slowly attracting customers. Just a few days after the restructuring, the head of the Semi program Dan Priestly announced via social media a new potential customer for the trucks. Priestly also said in March that Tesla has been using Semis to ship battery packs from Nevada to the Fremont factory.




Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Google fires 28 employees after sit-in protest over controversial Project Nimbus contract with Israel | TechCrunch


Google has terminated the employment of 28 employees following a prolonged sit-in protest at the company’s Sunnyvale and New York offices.

The protests were in response to Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract inked by Google and Amazon with the Israeli government and its military three years ago. The controversial project, which also reportedly includes the provision of advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, allegedly has strict contractual stipulations that prevent Google and Amazon from bowing to boycott pressure — this effectively means that they must continue providing services to Israel no matter what.

Conflict

There have been countless protests and public chastising from within the companies’ ranks since 2021, but with the heightening Israel-Palestine conflict in the wake of last October’s attacks by Hamas, this is spilling further into the workforce of corporations deemed not only to be helping Israel, but actively profiteering from the conflict.

While the latest rallies included demonstrations outside Google’s Sunnyvale and New York offices, as well as Amazon’s Seattle HQ, protestors went one step further by going inside the buildings, including the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.

In a statement issued to TechCrunch via anti big-tech advocacy firm Justice Speaks, Hasan Ibraheem, a Google software engineer participating in the New York City sit-in protest, said that by providing cloud and AI infrastructure to the Israeli military, Google is “directly implicated in the genocide of the Palestinian people.”

“It’s my responsibility to do everything I can to end this contract even while Google pretends nothing is wrong,” Ibraheem said. “The idea of working for a company that directly provides infrastructure for genocide makes me sick. We’ve tried sending petitions to leadership but they’ve gone ignored. We will make sure they can’t ignore us anymore. We will make as much noise as possible. So many workers don’t know that Google has this contract with the IOF [Israel Offensive Forces]. So many don’t know that their colleagues have been facing harassment for being Muslim, Palestinian and Arab and speaking out. So many people don’t realize how complicit their own company is. It’s our job to make sure they do.”

Nine Google workers were also arrested and forcibly removed from the company’s offices, four of whom were in New York and five in Sunnyvale. A separate statement issued by Justice Speaks on behalf of the so-called “Nimbus nine” protestors, said that they had demanded to speak with Kurian, a request that went unmet.

The statement reads in full:

Last night, Google made the decision to arrest us, the company’s own workers — instead of engaging with our concerns about Project Nimbus, the company’s $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with Israel. Those of us sitting in Thomas Kurian’s office repeatedly requested to speak with the Google Cloud CEO, but our requests were denied. Throughout the past three years, since the contract’s signing, we have repeatedly attempted to engage with Google executives about Project Nimbus through company channels, including town halls, forums, petitions signed by over a thousand workers, and direct outreach from concerned workers.

Google executives have ignored our concerns about our ethical responsibility for the impact of our technology as well as the damage to our workplace health and safety caused by this contract, and the company’s internal environment of retaliation, harassment, and bullying. At every turn, instead, Google is repressing speech inside the company, and condoning harassment, intimidation, bullying, silencing, and censorship of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim Googlers.

Workers have the right to know how their labor is being used, and to have a say in ensuring the technology they build is not used for harm. Workers also have the right to go to work without fear, anxiety, and stress due to the potential that their labor is being used to power a genocide. Google is depriving us of these basic rights, which is what led us to sit-in at offices across the country yesterday.

Meanwhile, Google continues to lie to its workers, the media, and the public. Google continues to claim, as of yesterday, that Project Nimbus is “not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services.” Yet, reporting from TIME Magazine proves otherwise. Google has built custom tools for Israel’s Ministry of Defense, and has doubled down on contracting with the Israeli Occupational Forces, Israel’s military, since the start of its genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. By continuing its lies, Google is disrespecting and disregarding consumers, the media, as well as, most importantly, us—its workers.

We will not stay silent in light of Google’s bare-faced lies. Hundreds and thousands of Google workers have joined No Tech for Apartheid’s call for the company to Drop Project Nimbus. Despite Google’s attempts to silence us and disregard our concerns, we will persist. We will continue to organize and fight until Google drops Project Nimbus and stops aiding and abetting Israel’s genocide and apartheid state in Palestine.”

A Google spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that 28 employees were fired, and that it will “continue to investigate and take action” if needed.

“These protests were part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google,” the spokesperson said. “A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a few of our locations. Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”


Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Apple lays off over 600 employees in California after abandoning electric car project | TechCrunch


Apple is laying off 614 employees in California after abandoning its electric car project. According to the WARN notice posted by the California Employment Development Department, Apple notified the affected employees on March 28 and the changes will go into effect on May 27. Affected employees worked at eight locations in Santa Clara, roughly 45 miles south of San Francisco.

Although the notice doesn’t specify which projects the employees were working on, Bloomberg reports that most of the affected employees were working at buildings related to its canceled car project, while others were working at a facility for its next-generation screen development.

Apple wound down both of these projects toward the end of February. The company started working on its car project, known internally as “Project Titan,” in 2014, and told employees that it was canceling it on February 27. Bloomberg reported at the time that some remaining employees who were working on the car project would be shifted to Apple’s generative AI projects.

Around the same time, Apple reportedly ended efforts to design and develop its own next-generation displays. The displays were supposed to be added to the company’s Apple Watch before potentially going into the company’s other devices.

The layoffs mark Apple’s first major round of job cuts post-pandemic.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Software Development in Sri Lanka

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