Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk at Web 2.0 Summit in 2008
Flickr/ JD Lasica Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk at Web 2.0 Summit in 2008

South African engineer and inventor Elon Musk's electric automobile and energy storage company Tesla Motors has acquired SolarCity, a full-service solar power system provider, to create what it calls "the world's only vertically integrated sustainable energy company," according to a press release. The deal will bring Tesla's cars and power storage products together with SolarCity's solar panel installation and distribution network. This union comes after a month-and-a-half-long discussion between the two companies—Musk is a majority shareholder in both—following an offer from Tesla in June. Tesla Energy, the company's sustainable energy–focused branch, launched in March offering Powerwall, a rechargable lithium-ion battery reserve, and Powerpack, a utility and business energy storage system. "By joining forces, we can operate more efficiently and fully integrate our products, while providing customers with an aesthetically beautiful and simple one-stop solar [and] storage experience: one installation, one service contract, one phone app," Tesla says in the same press release. Another project Tesla has in the works is its $5 billion Gigafactory located in Reno, Nev., which is set to have the largest building footprint in the world. This factory will play a pivotal role in the production of the lithium-ion batteries whose applications include storing what is reaped from SolarCity's panels. Some critics are wary of the deal because SolarCity founders and brothers Lyndon and Peter Rive are Musk's first cousins, and neither company has been particularly lucrative on its own. However, if successful, the merger could afford a new model for how consumers purchase and store their renewable energy. The terms of the deal will be finalized in the fall. [Tesla Motors + Business Insider + Los Angeles Times + The Wall Street Journal]

ICYMI: New York–based experiential design firm ESI Design used 5 million LEDs to create an immersive, interactive media wall installation in a Washington, D.C., building lobby. [ARCHITECT]

Pantone's new smartphone app, Pantone Studio, provides users with Pantone Institute–approved color trend reports, articles, and research. It includes a function that acts as an eyedropper tool to identify colors in a user's environment. [Fast Co. Design]

Zurich-based architecture firm Gramazio Kohler is using robotics to fabricate complex reinforced-metal forms (shown above) from 3mm steel wire. [Gramazio Kohler]

A Chinese company built a prototype elevated bus system that features an overhead carrier design to mitigate the country's traffic congestion. So far, five cities have signed up to pilot the system. [The Verge]

Designers are uniting in defense of Apple's patent-infringement claim against Samsung—which, in 2015, ruled that "the iPhone's appearance could not be protected through trademarks"—arguing that the form of a product is pivotal to its function. [Core77]

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Chicago say they've found a solution to the world's excess of carbon dioxide: turning it back into fuel. [Argonne National Laboratory]

What if a building could actively evolve and adapt to its environment? The AADRL Spyropoulos Design Lab, a post-graduate program at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, in London, is exploring the role of robotics in architecture. [Creative Applications Network]