Geek Zone: Electric car patents are suddenly fair game

Musk has followed the lead of the open source software movement in removing patents in an effort to grow the technology

Last week, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, made all Tesla’s patents available online for free to encourage innovation in the electric car industry. By working with other auto manufacturers, rather than going it alone and trying to hamper the progress of competitors with the patent stranglehold, he is in fact saying, copy our stuff: “Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.”

Electric cars make up less than one per cent of vehicle sales today.

As a resident of a town that is joined at the hip to the success of Calgary’s oil industry, one wonders if electric cars will be good for Invermere. In my view, people will travel more and further with their much cheaper per kilometre (self-driving) electric car than their expensive gas guzzler, so places like Invermere will actually benefit. Take note, Musk knows a thing or two, proven by Tesla stocks’ 625 per cent gain in value, making this PayPal founder the 140th richest man in the world.

About three years ago, Invermere installed its first two electric car plug in points at the District of Invermere Office and at Kicking Horse Coffee, which you can find at plugshare.com. Musk has followed the lead of the open source software movement in removing patents in an effort to grow the technology, which he is undoubtedly king of. Less lawyers, more innovation. In fact, the best thing to ever come out of a U.S. patent office was Albert Einstein, who used his idle time there as a clerk to dream up the General Theory of Relativity.

Last month, Google released to the public videos of their first driverless, steering wheel-less, pedal-less car. They expect to begin road trials within two years. Their existing fleet of modified driverless cars have already clocked up 700,000 miles, accident-free.

Tesla is planning on having its to-be-released AWD SUV, the Tesla Model X with self-driving capability, ready for production by 2019. If you haven’t already seen some Teslas on the road, there will likely be more as Tesla expands its empire into Calgary later in the summer, giving you a taste for technology that has been around for much longer than the Model T. In fact, the world’s first speeding citation and imprisonment was issued by a bicycle-riding cop to an electric taxi in New York in 1899 for going 19 kilometres per hour, a whopping six kilometres per hour over the speed limit.

Maybe with quantum injections of innovation like what Tesla has exhibited, the robots will be beating the humans in the FIFA World Cup much sooner than the anticipated 2050.

Rob Orchiston is a software programmer who lives in Invermere and stays on top of the latest trends in technology.  Email any Science and Technology questions or comments to echo.geek.zone@gmail.com.

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