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The Week in Tesla News: Flamethrowers and Hover Cars and Brain Computers … Oh, My!

Tesla Roadster

This week, the Tesla news seems straight out of a science fiction movie. Elon Musk and Pablo Escobar’s brother are engaged in a heated exchange about a potentially stolen flamethrower design; Tesla is putting inconspicuous rocket engines in hovering Roadsters; and one of Musk’s companies, which has been working on a human brain-computer interface for years now, may finally reveal its secrets.

Related: Which Cars Have Self-Driving Features for 2019?

How much more sci-fi could it get? Read on for our weekly roundup of all things Tesla.

‘It’s Not a Flamethrower, Mr. Escobar’

Boring Co. Flamethrower

Musk is a man of many ventures. Tesla does electric cars, SpaceX tests rockets and The Boring Co. is digging tunnels — and, of course, making flamethrowers.

The “Not a Flamethrower” flamethrower is, um … under fire this week after Roberto Escobar, brother of deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar, accused The Boring Co. of stealing his own flamethrower design. He claims a Boring Co. engineer stole the idea for a toy flamethrower when visiting the family compound in 2017. Escobar is planning to sue over it unless he gets $100 million in Tesla shares. (He’ll also accept cash.) While the Escobar Inc. and Boring Co. flamethrowers are objectively similar in design, Musk’s company started selling the incendiary devices long before Escobar’s came to market, likely leaving the drug kingpin’s brother with few real legal options.

Rocket Roadster

Tesla Roadster

Elon Musk has already put a car in space, but this time, the SpaceX tech is staying on the ground — well, closer to it, at least. It was announced last summer that the new Tesla Roadster will come with an optional “SpaceX package” that includes cold-air thrusters (which are essentially small rocket engines). Musk said this week that the Roadster won’t look as “Back to the Future” as one might hope, with the thrusters hidden subtly behind the license plate instead of mounted on the back of the car like on Marty McFly’s iconic DeLorean from the 1985 movie. These rockets will get you from zero-to-60 mph in 1.9 seconds, Musk claims, improving not just acceleration, but also top speed, braking and cornering. He also said the new Roadster will have a 620-mile range.

In typical Elon Musk fashion, though, the discourse went a little off the rails somewhere. He claimed the rocket engines may allow the Roadster to hover above the ground — and he’s really not joking about it. Musk also hovered around a release date for the next-gen Roadster, saying it’s more of a “dessert” than a priority.

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The Brain-Computer Connection

Lesser known on Musk’s list of ventures is the brain-computing company Neuralink — lesser known due to its near-silence over the past two years of hush-hush research. Hopefully that will change this week; the company announced on Twitter that it’ll be holding an event to reveal more about what they’ve been developing.

As for the few things that are known about Neuralink, one is that it is attempting to develop “ultra-high-bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers.” The company’s mission as of 2017 was to help humans keep up with rapidly evolving artificial intelligence. Musk has also hinted at a “neural lace” that could connect the human brain to a computer so as to bypass clunky input methods like keyboards. They’ve also been exploring ways to alleviate the symptoms of conditions like epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

Ahead of the company’s big reveal, the full scale of any of this technology is unknown. But considering how Musk’s previous lofty ideas have turned out, it’s almost sure not to disappoint (in concept, anyway).

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