Manufacturing Minute: Tesla Challenges Rival Automakers

Also in this episode, an experimental solar panel and a 21-foot robotic arm.

In this episode, solar highway panels, a NASA robot and Tesla's call to action.

So Cool Solar

A new form of solar panel was recently installed along a Dutch highway.

But unlike conventional solar panels, these are cheaper, resemble stained glass and also serve as noise-cancelling barriers.

Harnessing a new kind of renewable energy called L.S.C., the panels are currently being tested to see if they’ll be effective on a larger scale.

If so, they could revolutionize the solar industry.

NASA’s New Toy

Officials at NASA this week unveiled a new robot that will help it build next-generation components for spaceflight.

The 21-foot robotic arm, located at a NASA facility in Alabama, releases composite fibers through 16 different spools.

When combined, the spools are capable of producing some of the world's largest structures made up of composites -- materials with the strength of metals but only a fraction of their weight.

NASA hopes to use the robot to more easily develop prototypes for spacecraft parts.

Those parts, in turn, could one day lead to lighter vehicles and enable the transmission of more astronauts, equipment and supplies into space.

Tesla Takes A Stand

A Tesla executive recently challenged rival automakers to manufacture more compelling electric vehicles, while also contending that fuel efficiency standards be tougher.

Referring to the nationwide mandate that automakers boost average fuel economy and the number of zero-emissions vehicles by 2025, Tesla claimed that most of its competitors are only focused on minimum compliance. Officials in California, however, went against Telsa and sided with mid-size automakers, who had asked that sales of plug-in hybrids count toward the new standard.

So, What Do You Think?

With U.S. consumers proving slow to adopt alternative fuel technologies, is Tesla’s rigid stance and goal of creating 100-percent electric transportation too far-fetched?

Or should Tesla’s competitors step up and produce more and better zero-emissions vehicles?

Email us or leave your comments below, and check out our sites every Tuesday and Thursday for your next Manufacturing Minute.

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