On Tuesday afternoon, Tesla CEO Elon Musk dropped a bombshell via—what else?—a tweet. “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420,” he wrote. “Funding secured.” The dude was serious, it turned out. But it’s not clear he had cleared the announcement with his lawyers. Nor his board. Nor the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has reportedly opened an investigation into whether that “funding secured” statement was, in fact, true. If it wasn’t, it just might cost the electric carmaker a metric ton in lawsuits. Or, worse comes to the absolute worst, prison?
Elsewhere in the transportation universe, New York City’s city council made history by placing a one-year freeze on the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles on its streets, and by creating a minimum wage for its ride-hail drivers. This week, being a giant in the transpo space may prove expensive. Let’s get you caught up.
Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
- If Musk really wants to take Tesla private, he’ll need a lot of dough—this would be the largest take-private transaction in US history. Does he have it? And if he doesn’t, who does? Senior writer Jack Stewart and I spent this week looking into the conundrum.
- With everyone focused on self-driving cars, less attention has been paid to semiautonomous features in cars that are on roads right now. Turns out consumers still are a bit confused about those vehicles’ limitations. Jack spoke to researchers who are trying to hold those vehicles to rigorous safety standards.
- On Wednesday, New York City became the first American metro to cap the number of ride-hail vehicles on its streets, and to set a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers. Will the city’s crackdown be replicated in other places, which have long resented the way ride-hail companies burst onto their roads? Stay tuned.
- Speaking of Uber: The company announced it had shut down its self-driving trucks division in July. But now it’s August, and another company is ready to rise from its ashes. Don Burnette, a veteran of Uber’s trucking operation, its controversial predecessor, Otto (which famously got Uber into legal hot water with Waymo), and Waymo, has launched his own thing, Kodiak Robotics. Kodiak will focus on highway driving, which should be way easier for trucks than navigating messy and confusing cities.
- Meet Scale API, the 35-person startup that’s labeling most of the big autonomous vehicle developers’ training data—and wants to find a smart, safe way to get the companies to share.
- Gear section editor Michael Calore lends his expertise, pedal foot, and giggles to WIRED Transportation in a test drive of Ford’s re-vamped Mustang Bullitt. The car may be silly, he writes. But silly cars are delightful.
Bike-share Enthusiasts of the Week
Bike-share programs like New York Citi Bike, the Bay Area’s Ford GoBike, and Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare have a common problem: You show up to rent a bike, and find that the dock is empty, bicycles nowhere to be seen. The company behind these systems, the Lyft-owned Motivate, employ bike rebalancers to move cycles from unpopular stations back to popular ones. But the systems also run a Bike Angels program, which gives riders incentives to dock bikes where they’re needed. This short documentary by filmmaker Peter Gerard follows Citi Bike’s top angels, an endearing group of cycling (and point) obsessives, as they strategize to the top of the system’s leaderboard.
News from elsewhere on the internet
In the Rearview
Essential stories from WIRED’s past
There’s the Elon Musk kind of gambling, and then there’s the actual kind of gambling, with slot machines and cards. And cheating at that gambling. Last year, WIRED met a casino hacker making millions off slot machines.