Simone Giertz’s converted Tesla Model 3 pickup truck is wonderful

YouTuber Simone Giertz, celebrated DIY inventor, roboticist and general maker of cool stuff decided not to wait for Tesla’s forthcoming pickup truck. Instead, she bought a Tesla Model 3 direct from the company new and then used elbow grease, ingenuity, some help from friends and power tools to turn it into a two-seater with a flatbed.

The amazing thing is, unlike some of the robots Giertz is famous for making, the final product looks terrific – both in terms of the detail work, and in terms of its functionality. Giertz also installed a cage over the truck bed, and a tailgate that can double as a work bench. Plus, as you can see from this fake commercial for the so-called “Truckla,” the thing still rips both on and off-road.

Along with her crew, Giertz rented a dedicated workshop to do the build, which took around two weeks and a lot of sawing at the metal chassis. The team had to rebuild crucial components like the roll cage to ensure that the finished product was still safe.

There’s still work to be done in terms of waterproofing, lifting up the vehicle, giving it a paint makeover and more, per Giertz, but the finished product looks amazing, and potentially better than whatever sci-fi nightmare Elon Musk is putting together for the actual Tesla pickup.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Rivian debuts a pull-out kitchen for its electric pickup trick

Sometimes you need scrambled eggs. And with that thought, toady at the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, AZ, Rivian announced a major accessory for its electric pickup: A camp kitchen. The unit slides out from the Rivian R1T’s so-called gear tunnel that lives between the bed and cab. The kitchen includes storage and a stove that’s powered by the R1T’s 180kWh battery pack.

This kitchen unit is the first significant concept Rivian has unveiled for the pickup’s unusual gear tunnel. This space provides another locked storage compartment for the pickup — but why have it all, many asked when it was revealed? And now, with this kitchen unit, Rivian is responding to the questions. It seems Rivian wants to make its vehicles the center of an ecosystem of add-ons. The company already revealed racks, vehicle-mounted tents and even a flashlight that hides in the side of the driver’s door. Expect more camping and outdoor gear as Rivian cements its brand image around adventurers.

Rivian is positioning its products for a particular lifestyle. Think Patagonia-wearing, Range Rover-driving, outdoorsy types or at least those who aspire to have that image. It’s a smart play, and so far, Rivian has stayed true to this image. All of its advertisements, social media posts, and appearances make it clear that Rivian is carefully aligning its brand image.

Trucks and SUVs are generally marketed to workman and families. TV commercials feature dusty men hauling bails of hay and women unloading groceries and closing the rear tailgate with her foot. But not Rivian.

So far Rivian has shown its products in the backwoods, running trails and sitting next to campfires. The people in the commercials are on an adventure, wearing coats by The North Face and sleeping in REI tents. With the kitchen from today’s announcements, they can pull a kitchen out of their pickup and make some coffee.

Rivian tells TechCrunch this is just a concept, but the company intends to bring this unit to production. There are likely to be other units for the gear tunnel. I, for one, would love to have a slide-out dog washing and drying station because there’s nothing worse than putting a muddy dog in a truck.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Closing In On 30M Users, Waze Goes Big On Social: Adds Facebook Connect, Pickup Requests, Location Sharing & More


Apple’s launch of its new mapping service, the ensuing backlash and management shakeup, have been anything but its proudest moments. Adding insult to injury, As Kim-Mai reported two weeks ago, Apple’s pain quickly turned into a gain for other map makers. However, for most, this was only a temporary blip. Only one company was able to sustain increased marketshare: Waze, which saw its share of U.S. iPhone users jump from 7 percent to 10 percent.

Of course, while Waze has been able to benefit from Apple’s stumbles and continue to grow its user base, in the end, quality product and user experiences tend to matter more than size. So, to sustain its traction, Waze is today betting that, by offering a more socially-integrated user experience it can continue trending in the right direction and avoid those pesky diminishing returns.

In addition to its newly designed maps, moods and interface (graphic redesign), Waze now allows users to see friends that are driving to their destination, along with the ability to share drives, pickups and meetup spots and communicate status from the road. Users can now also check in to their destination without leaving the app.

On top of that, Waze is adding Facebook single sign-on so that drivers can log in from The Social Network and take their social graph with them on their drives. More importantly, this Facebook integration allows drivers to collect friends around a shared destination point, distribute directions, short cuts and all that good stuff.

Waze also now serves convenient shortcuts so you don’t have to continue navigating, you can mute audio directions, drop parking pins and track friends and loved ones on their route to and from destinations.

This new social functionality could be attractive to many Waze users, especially because it saves them from having to explain where they are or do so by text (probably while driving). Instead, users can send a pick up request to friends, which shows the recipient their location and allows them to navigate directly.

While you wait for your friend to pick you up at the bar, you can watch a live map of their route and get an ETA, even if you don’t have Waze. That last part being a key differentiator with, say, Lyft, which offers a live-ish view as you wait for your pink mustache ride to arrive.

On the one hand, this experience could be great for kids (and spouses), because they no longer have to ask mom when she’s going to be home for dinner. They can just follow her homebound progress on Waze, with an updating ETA. On the other hand, for teenagers, philanderers, fugitives and anyone who doesn’t want parents, loved ones, or the local police force following their every move, there’s a chance this socially integrated, realtime GPS tracking might not be so appealing.

To address this, Waze has built privacy protection mechanisms into its new social experience, which allow users to control the way in which they interact with the app’s new social layers. Most importantly, this includes the ability to “go invisible” and hide from the map at anytime. Though I’m sure moms will figure out how to hack their way around that roadblock.

The fact of the matter is that, leading up to the launch of iOS 6, many were cautious in their future predictions for Waze — given that Apple was set to debut built-in turn-by-turn directions and that Google had already done so for Android. Those doubting the long-term viability of third-party navigation apps were far from crazy.

Of course, Apple Maps disappointed to say the least and Waze’s growth has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, for Waze, sustaining its gain in marketshare in the wake of the Apple Maps fiasco ended up being one more quiet victory in what appears to have been a series of quiet victories for the Israeli navigation and traffic app.

To wit: In July, Waze announced that it had reached 20 million users, half of which were added over the previous six months — with 1.8 million new users joining in June alone.

As part of its announcement today, the startup also revealed that its user base has since increased to 29 million, which means that it has seen approximately 9 million downloads over the last four months. What’s more, Waze told the Wall Street Journal at the end of September that it had reached 26 million downloads. Now at 29 million, that works out to about 3 million downloads in just over one month.

So there’s that.

Of course, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and iOS navigation will get better. But with reliable directions that improve with scale and by offering in-transit communication and social functionality, check-ins, Facebook sign-on, automatic shortcuts, private messaging, and features like the indication of toll road usage in routing, Waze’s stamina (and defensibility against the Big Boys) is starting to look a lot more convincing.

Waze on the App Store here and Google Play here.

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