Hackaday Links: December 3, 2023

Sure, it does less than originally promised, but hey — at least it’s more expensive. That about sums up Tesla fans’ feelings after the long-awaited Cybertruck reveal at the Texas Gigafactory on Thursday, where Elon Musk himself handed over the keys — or their Cyber equivalent — to a few new owners. These are expensive machines — $61,000 for the two-motor model, and just shy of $100,000 for the three-motor all-wheel-drive model with all the bells and whistles. That’s considerably more than they were expected to cost back in 2019, a fact which may be at least partially behind the drop in Tesla shares after the launch.

Curiously, Elon seemed to fixate on the survivability and toughness of the truck, perhaps in an attempt to rehabilitate the image of the truck after his “demo-hell” sneak peek a few years back, where the prototype’s “bulletproof” windows lost a fight with a metal ball. The demo this time was a considerably less energetic affair, with a baseball softly lobbed at the window. Elon also spent a lot of time going on about the bulletproofing of the truck’s “exoskeleton,” complete with video of various weapons trying to breach it. He also referred to the suitability of the Cybertruck for a post-apocalyptic world, which we very much doubt since we’re pretty sure these things won’t even start unless they can connect to the interwebz. Regardless, we find his apocalyptic fixations a little disturbing; when the richest man in the world is thinking this way, it might be a good idea to wonder what he knows.

Switching to internal combustion engines, we spied a “just rolled into the shop” story about a Ford F150 engine with catastrophic damage that seemed worth sharing as a cautionary tale if nothing else. The V6 Ecoboost engine was on a truck bought at auction — always a crapshoot — that the new owner claimed “had a little ticking sound.” He tried a few things, the sound got steadily worse, and then — well, when you can see daylight from one side of the engine block to the other, it’s not a good thing. There was damage from the top of the engine right down into the oil pan, where the remains of the failed piston and connecting rod came to rest. Amazingly, the owner said the engine still ran after the piston let loose; Built Ford Tough indeed! We know, we know — EVs will make all these issues go away. And while we agree that that’s a good thing overall, at the same time we’ll miss seeing teardowns like these.

In other Ford news, it looks like the pickup truck of the future will have a 3D printer and robotic arm built into its bed, for — reasons? The automaker has a patent pending with the German patent and trademark office whose title translates to “Passenger Car Configured To Perform Additive Manufacturing Operations,” and from the drawings appears to be an arm that’s attached to a rail across the width of the truck bed with some sort of fanciful print head attached. Exactly what this machine would print is an open question, but you could imagine uses on construction sites and the like. Or, perhaps they’ll equip it with a metal-printing head and allow users to print new engine blocks as they need them.

Good news everyone: contrary to what you might think, the Internet does not pose a risk to mental health. This comes from a study out of the University of Oxford, which examined mental health data from 2.4 million people between the ages of 15 and 89 over the period between 2005 and 2022. They found that Internet use had “little to no” impact on “global well-being.” The researchers came to this conclusion by comparing Internet use with results from the Gallup World Poll, which asks survey respondents to rate things like, “Did you smile or laugh a lot lately?” and “Did you feel well-rested?” They found no statistically significant change in well-being over the test period, but honestly, that standard seems like a moving target — the world is an objectively different place than it was in 2005, after all. And really, just a few minutes on Reddit or the comments section on YouTube should be enough to convince you that these results should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

And finally, we’re not sure what to make of this anti-sleep laser system drivers in China are being subjected to. It appears to be a series of laser projectors set up from one highway sign stanchion to another, in addition to blinkenlights adorning their uprights. The display is eye-catching, to say the least, but in these days of flashing light warnings on YouTube videos, this seems a little overboard.


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