Autonomous Vehicles, the Microsoft/Activision Deal, and a GPS that can Pinpoint your Location within Inches

Posted by Jacob Radke

Tesla’s Major Milestone

Fully autonomous vehicles have been the talk of the street for a while now.

There has been speculation like “can Tesla even pull this off?”, “will another vehicle company get there first?”, and “will AVs even be something that people want and trust?”

Well, I guess we have the answer to two of those questions as Tesla rolls out its Full Self-Driving Beta, which it has been gradually rolling out over the past couple of years. It is now available to anyone who’s paid for the feature in North America.

Access to the beta relies on drivers purchasing Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” functionality, which is currently offered at a $15,000 fee when buying a car, or as part of an up-to $199 subscription.

I’ve talked about this for a while. One of the largest pushbacks of Tesla’s valuation is that isn’t in line with other auto manufacturers. Ford produced 3.9 million vehicles in 2021 alone while Tesla only delivered 938,172 vehicles in 2021. With that wide of a vehicle spread why on Earth would Tesla be the 5th largest company on the planet?

Well in my opinion, and the opinion of the street, it has to do with subscriptions and recurring revenue. That is why tech companies are so large. They just keep compounding on themselves. If Apple sells an iPhone, that’s not the end. They also sell you a $10/month Apple Music subscription and an Apple TV subscription, these things add up and create revenue on top of the actual sale of the product.

The same goes for Tesla. Their valuation rests on the fact that they can charge subscriptions on several different features overall boosting the compounding effect of sales. Tesla is not a car company it’s a tech company that sells software for cars, it just does so in a way that it sells software for its own cars, a much more profitable business in the long run.

There are actually a lot of similarities between Tesla and Apple. Apple sells the iPhone, Tesla sells cars.

Apple has the device that developers create stuff for, therefor Apple gets part of the cut.

Telsa is no different, if developers want to start creating apps for Tesla they could and Tesla would get a cut.

Similar to how Apple just damaged Meta with its in-app purchases for mobile ad purchases. If you want to buy ads on your iPhone you now are paying 30% of that to Apple and 70% to Meta, but Meta is the one taking the hit.  

Some people don’t like Tesla still so it wouldn’t surprise me if this gets swept under the rug, but the news is out there and Tesla is a clear front-runner in the race to autonomous driving.

The Federal Trade Commission is Likely to Block Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision

In a new politico report, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is likely going to file an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s $69 billion bid to takeover video game giant Activision Blizzard, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The FTC has been trying desperately to rein in the power of big tech companies and Microsoft has been at the front of it, naturally, since the beginning.

Yet if this lawsuit were to take place it would be the largest block yet under Chair Lina Khan.

Microsoft’s reasoning behind this acquisition is clear. Similar to Tesla, Apple, or any other big tech company. This generates more recurring revenues. They want to expand their cloud gaming business, which is currently in beta, that allows users to pay for a subscription that gives them access to a library of games that they can play without spending 4 hours downloading it. Not only that but it would likely allow them to sell more Xboxes as that is where cloud gaming lives.

A common thread, device and subscriptions. The largest companies own both.

Not only that but Activision's relative standing in the video game world is pretty firm. They develop some of the most popular games including Call of Duty, Candy Crush, World of Warcraft, and many others.

Microsoft would have future say in the games that it produces but more importantly it can entice new subscribers to cloud gaming to try those games.

What is better a one-time $65 or $5/month for 5 years? In my opinion that is probably too cheap of a subscription, but it is only in beta. Similar to the streaming giants video games have the same chances.

Will the FTC block this, I don’t know. My guess is that they will for two reasons.

  1. It gives Microsoft a huge advantage and monopoly on video games
  2. The acquisition is too large to not block

The size alone is damaging to the deal.

The SuperGPS

Do you ever get annoyed when you open up your Google Maps and all you see is a giant blue circle, maybe that’s only me, but it feels like it can be better.

But now apparently researchers have come up with new technology that could possibly replace GPS. It’s Called SuperGPS and it's accurate within 3.9 inches and it doesn't rely on navigation satellite systems, those are the pesky things that can’t always narrow down your location.

The SuperGPS system combines transmitters, receivers, a data center, and a synchronized atomic clock. (Delft University of Technology); Source Article

"We realized that with a few cutting-edge innovations, the telecommunication network could be transformed into a very accurate alternative positioning system that is independent of GPS" says physicist Jeroen Koelemeij from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

"We have succeeded and have successfully developed a system that can provide connectivity just like existing mobile and Wi-Fi networks do, as well as accurate positioning and time distribution like GPS."

In a test site with six radio transmitters, the researchers were able to demonstrate their system in action across an area of 7,104 square feet. The timings of the transmitted radio signals can be measured and interpreted to gauge distance, which then reveals the position of individual devices.

One of the key components of the new network positioning system is a synchronized atomic clock. Perfect timing means more precise positioning. Essentially, the fiber optic cables act as connections that keep everything in sync, and accurate to one billionth of a second.

And so maybe I won’t have to deal with pesky large blue circles anymore.

Last Week’s Laminate Money Podcast

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