AUDIs new electric car will have autonomous vehicle capability and a roof that holds real plants

May 15, 2019 by  
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AUDI revealed the concept for a new electric car with autonomous driving capabilities at Auto Shanghai 2019, and this vehicle really pushes the limits when it comes to connecting technology with nature. Apart from the AI technology implemented to take most of the effort out of driving in general, the AI:ME autonomous vehicle is completely electric. On the interior of the car, a wooden pergola roof allows climbing plants to grow and thrive. According to the company, the AUDI AI systems are “capable of learning and thinking, while also being proactive and personal. Thanks to Audi AI, models bearing the four rings will be both intelligent and empathetic in the future. They will be able to continually interact with their surroundings and passengers, and thus adapt themselves in a better way than ever before to the requirements of those on board.” That’s some serious evolution. Related: AUDI unveils two new swanky self-driving concepts in Frankfurt The autonomous driving capabilities go up to level four on the AI:ME, meaning that though the system doesn’t require any assistance from the driver themselves, it is limited to certain regions, such as highways or specific areas in inner cities. The uncommonly raised headlights will be used to alert other drivers and pedestrians to the presence of the car, rather than as a tool to illuminate the road (unnecessary, as the occupants of the car won’t be driving). The interior has plenty of storage space — a must for autonomous cars, as the passengers will need ample room to do whatever they’re doing instead of driving. Rather than pedals, the AUDI AI:ME has comfortable footrests, and the seats prioritize comfort over function. A 3D monitor with VR goggles allows for everything from watching movies to interactive gaming while in the car , and the high-quality audio system combined with the noise-canceling interior makes outside traffic noise a thing of the past. As for the “green” roof , this is a first for the automobile industry. The designers used filigree wooden struts to construct a pergola above the interior roof surface, giving it the ability to hold living plants. AUDI not only wanted to create a connection between the driver and nature with this innovation but also to improve the air quality within the car (advanced air filters also remove outside odors from traffic and the city). The AI tech uses intelligent algorithms to monitor stress levels of the car’s occupants. This helps the car itself to actually get to know the driver, therefore improving their experience, whether it be preferred temperatures or seat adjustments. + Audi Images via Audi

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AUDIs new electric car will have autonomous vehicle capability and a roof that holds real plants

UN lists plastic as hazardous waste, votes to control international trade

May 15, 2019 by  
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On May 10, 187 countries voted to list plastic as hazardous waste and tighten control over its international trade. The governing agreement, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal dictates legally binding standards for importing and exporting toxic materials. For the first time ever, the agreement now includes plastic , with the exception of PE, PP and PET plastics. The new agreement gives lower income countries — particularly Southeast Asian countries — more control over the indiscriminate dumping of toxic materials. “This is a crucial first step toward stopping the use of developing countries as a dumping ground for the world’s plastic waste , especially those coming from rich nations,” said Von Hernandez from Break Free From Plastic. European nations and the U.S. export waste to African and Asian countries as a way to dispose of their trash and hazardous materials. Sometimes these countries are paid for their recycling or landfill services, but many times the dumping happens without permission. Under the Basel Convention agreement, export countries must receive written permits before dumping hazardous waste, which now includes most contaminated, mixed and non-recyclable plastic . Related: A guide to the different types of plastic In 2018, China banned imports of plastic waste and nearby countries Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand saw a massive upsurge in dumping. With China no longer an option, the $200 billion global recycling industry suddenly had no buyers that could handle the scale of the world’s plastic addiction. Ports in the U.S. and Europe began to overflow with plastic while exporters struggled to find new dumping sites. The U.S. is not a member of the Basel Convention and therefore could not participate in the vote. As the largest exporter of plastic, however, it will be required to obtain permits when dumping in participating countries. The American Chemistry Council and Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries were among the outspoken opponents, arguing these new obstacles will hinder recycling programs. One million citizens around the world signed online petitions in support of the new agreement. “Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues,”  said Rolph Payet , executive secretary of the convention. “The fact that this week close to 1 million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action here in Geneva at the COPs is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high.” + UN Environment Via Plastic Pollution Convention and CNN Image via Jasmin Sessler

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UN lists plastic as hazardous waste, votes to control international trade

With the launch of self-driving ride-share service ‘Waymo One,’ what’s next for cities?

February 5, 2019 by  
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Google’s autonomous vehicle offshoot and other AVs claim to help relieve urban area issues — but there are four questions they must answer first.

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With the launch of self-driving ride-share service ‘Waymo One,’ what’s next for cities?

The rise of plastic insecurity in China’s Yangtze River economic belt

February 5, 2019 by  
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Waste management and pollution prevention are historically ineffective in China — here’s why that matters.

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The rise of plastic insecurity in China’s Yangtze River economic belt

Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service

March 27, 2018 by  
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Waymo, an autonomous vehicle company owned by Google ‘s parent company Alphabet, will add 20,000 all-electric Jaguar I-PACE SUVs to its self-driving car fleet over the next two years. The stylish I-PACE SUV will be one of several vehicles available for use in the company’s self-driving car service set to open in 2018. “This year in 2018, starting in Phoenix, Arizona — members of the public will be able to take these fully self-driving cars anywhere within our service area,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said . “To work, to school, to the grocery store. Anywhere they’d go with a typical car.” Waymo’s Arizona debut comes amid the recent news that an Arizona woman was struck and killed by a self-driving car operated by Waymo’s rival Uber. Waymo recently reached a $245 million settlement with Uber over allegations that Uber had stolen trade secrets regarding Waymo’s LIDAR system. The Arizona Department of Transportation has suspended Uber from testing its autonomous vehicles in the state, while Waymo remains on the road. Uber has also shut-down similar autonomous vehicle programs in Toronto, San Francisco and Pittsburgh while investigations into the crash continue. Related: Poor urban design could be at fault for Uber driverless car crash The 20,000 Waymo I-PACE SUVs would be capable of servicing up to one million rides per day. In expanding its operations, Waymo emphasizes its safety record. “We’ve created 20,000 individual test scenarios for our cars to test on,” said Krafcik. The announcement of a substantial vehicle fleet for the Phoenix roll-out demonstrates that Waymo has taken a significant step forward in the race to pioneer the world of self-driving cars . The upcoming trials should demonstrate the challenges and opportunities of autonomous vehicles in greater detail. Via Mashable Images via Waymo

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Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service

Scientists create ‘umbrella’ spray to protect coral reefs from sun damage

March 27, 2018 by  
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Researchers have crafted a new liquid substance that can be sprayed onto the surface of the water above vulnerable coral reefs , shielding them from intense UV and visible light beaming down from the Sun . In doing so, the spray may help to defend reefs from extreme bleaching events. 50,000 times thinner than a human hair, the biodegradable spray is made from a natural lipid and calcium carbonate, a key component of coral reefs. “It is white so it reflects and scatters all the light which hits the ocean surface,” study researcher Andrew Negri told the Sydney Morning Herald . Laboratory tests revealed that the spray was capable of reducing the amount of light reaching underwater coral by 20 percent. “In the laboratory, it actually stays on the surface for several weeks, but in the ocean it could be broken up by wave action and moved around by the currents,” explained Negri. The spray will quickly biodegrade after it is broken up. Trials in a real-world environment will begin soon to refine the spray and make it more resilient to sometimes turbulent waters . Related: Spraying spiders with graphene helps them spin webs 6 times stronger than normal Conservationists are enthused about the idea of using the spray to protect acute vulnerabilities in coral reefs. “The idea being that you could in the future, knowing there is going to be hot days ahead… spray this film on top of key reefs… and this will act as a bit of a shield… almost like an umbrella, to protect these reefs underneath and the animals underneath,” Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden told the Sydney Morning Herald . “It’s important to note that this is not intended to be a solution that can be applied over the whole 348,000 square kilometres of Great Barrier Reef ,” Marsden noted. “That would never be practical, but it could be deployed on a smaller, local level to protect high value or high-risk areas of reef.” Via The Sydney Morning Herald Images via Depositphotos (2 , 3 )

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Scientists create ‘umbrella’ spray to protect coral reefs from sun damage

Most active volcano in Europe ‘sliding into the sea’

March 27, 2018 by  
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Volcanic eruptions or lava flows you’ve heard of, but what about a volcano sliding into the sea? Scientists say that’s exactly what’s happening to Mount Etna, which The Open University described as the most active volcano in Europe. It’s the first time scientists have directly observed anything like it, and it could have disturbing consequences in the future. “Constant movement could contribute to a major landslide along Etna’s coast, causing devastating tsunamis to surrounding areas.” Mount Etna in Italy is headed towards the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers have observed parts of volcanoes move, but according to the BBC , these scientists think this is the first time anyone has directly observed basement sliding of a whole active volcano. They drew on 11 years of GPS measurements all over Etna to make the discovery. Related: Mount Etna eruption creates a display of fire, ash, and lightning over Sicily The Open University ‘s John Murray, lead author of the study on the work, said Mount Etna is moving 14 millimeters (mm) a year toward the Mediterranean. “While 14 mm might not seem much, previous studies of long-extinct volcanoes found those sliding downslope in a similar way have resulted in catastrophic landslides later in their history,” Murray said in the university’s statement. Should we be worried? Etna might not slide into the sea in our lifetimes, so local residents needn’t be afraid, but “continued sliding for hundreds or thousands of years could cause it to become dangerously unstable,” Murray said. He told the BBC scientists should monitor the motion to see if it accelerates. Mount Etna’s movement may impact research today, however; Murray said it could interfere with signals that clue scientists into where magma is. It could be trickier to monitor the likelihood of an eruption. The Bulletin of Volcanology published the research online late last week; scientists from Université Clermont Auvergne in France and Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom contributed. + The Open University + Bulletin of Volcanology Via the BBC Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Most active volcano in Europe ‘sliding into the sea’

Self driving semi-truck makes the first ever autonomous beer run

October 26, 2016 by  
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You can now buy beer shipped by a self-driving truck . Autonomous truck company Otto , which was founded by two former Google employees and has now joined with Uber , just made history with the ” world’s first shipment by a self-driving truck .” They transported 51,744 Budweiser beer cans around 120 miles through Colorado . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb0Kzb3haK8 An Otto truck ferried the beer from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, passing through the Denver downtown area on the way. A professional driver was present in the truck, but monitored the vehicle while in the sleeper berth rather than the driver’s seat. The truck was equipped with lidar sensors, radar, and cameras to navigate the Colorado roads, and steered, braked, and accelerated without any human help the whole trip. According to Otto, the state of Colorado offered full support for the venture. Related: Two ex-Google employees are turning existing trucks into autonomous vehicles According to an Otto blog post on the momentous drive, “When you’ll see a truck driving down the road with nobody in the front seat, you’ll know that it’s highly unlikely to get into a collision, drive aggressively, or waste a single drop of fuel.” Otto envisions their self-driving trucks could help drivers. In a blog post on joining Uber , they cited an article from The Atlantic that said about a third of 3.5 million U.S. truckers will face a serious accident during their careers. Also, turnover in the trucking industry is rapid; companies lose around 90 percent of drivers yearly as the drivers seek better opportunities. When Otto joined with Uber they hoped to create a freight network that would create such opportunities for drivers. Otto said, “Our self-driving trucks will allow drivers to rest while their truck is moving, and our platform will ensure drivers can easily find loads and are paid fairly…Self-driving trucks together with a marketplace create a virtuous cycle where everyone benefits.” + Otto Images via Otto and Otto Facebook

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Self driving semi-truck makes the first ever autonomous beer run

GM exec confirms plans to launch a self-driving Chevy Bolt EV with Lyft

July 20, 2016 by  
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A General Motors executive just confirmed that the automaker is working on an autonomous version of the upcoming Chevy Bolt EV . The self-driving Bolt will be the automaker’s first fully autonomous vehicle , and it will be available to Lyft drivers as part of the automaker’s $500 billion investment in the ride-sharing company. Pam Fletcher, executive chief engineer of autonomous tech at GM , recently revealed to Tech Insider that the autonomous Chevy Bolt will be here in the near future. “We have not made that announcement yet, but what I would say is this is all coming much faster than people anticipate, so I’ll say that much. We have been transparent about that,” Fletcher stated. Related: Chevy unveils first pre-production Bolt EV ahead of Tesla’s Model 3 debut While GM has yet to reveal an expected arrival date of the autonomous Chevy Bolt EV , prototypes of the self-driving Bolt are currently being driven around San Francisco by Cruise Automation – the self-driving car startup that GM bought earlier this year. It’s being reported that GM and Lyft could start testing autonomous vehicles on public roads by the end of the year. The 2017 Chevy Bolt with its 200-mile driving range is expected to enter production by the end of the year. “What I would say is this car is a big part of a transformation of transportation and mobility,” GM’s Pam Fletcher concluded about the future of the Chevy Bolt. + General Motors Via Tech Insider All images @ Cruise Automation and General Motors

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GM exec confirms plans to launch a self-driving Chevy Bolt EV with Lyft

Giant glittering dance floor inspires strangers to dance in the streets of Montreal

July 20, 2016 by  
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Spanning a pedestrian road closed off to cars between the museum and a church, the 3,000-square-foot DANCE FLOOR comprises glittering paving with golden footprints pointed in a variety of directions. The mosaic-like urban installation evokes hammered gold in reference to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Pompeii exhibition. Passersby drawn to the glint and shine of the gold footprints are invited to improvise steps on the giant dance floor . Related: Historic Church With Tiffany Stained Glass Transformed into Beautiful Concert Hall for Montreal “With Verville’s proposal the participants experiment movement, both free and structured by the course, to surrender to the pleasure of an impulsive action or casual wandering,” says a press release. “Welcoming varied and unforgettable performances, DANCE FLOOR shines a new dynamism to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ area.” The DANCE FLOOR is complemented with raised rectangular volumes, also covered in golden footprints , which can be used as seating or as an elevated surface to jump or dance on. + Jean Verville architecte Images by Maxime Brouillet and François Bodlet

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Giant glittering dance floor inspires strangers to dance in the streets of Montreal

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