Aptera upgrades its unique solar-charging EV

January 20, 2022 by  
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Aptera’s three-wheeler enclosed electric car has already made its mark as a unique new offering on the EV scene. The solar-charging EV never needs to be plugged in, all while competing with mid-level Teslas for range when charged as a traditional EV. Now, Aptera says it has completed some major upgrades to make the cars even more competitive. Here’s what’s new with Aptera’s revolutionary EVs. Aptera’s solar-charging EV already has the longest range of any production vehicle with 1,000 miles per charge and the ability to travel up to 40 miles a day on free power from its integrated solar panels . Now, the solar panels have been future-proofed, designed to be switched out for updates as solar technology improves. The solar cells integrated into the car’s roof panels have also been hail tested and undergone other testing to maximize efficiency. Related: Ambitious new EV charging network launches in the US The car’s body is created with 3D-printed components that have six key structural parts. They have been integrated with a new suspension designed for even better aerodynamics, which makes them use less energy than any other electric and hybrid vehicles on the road today. Is one of the key differences the light weight from only three wheels and very little cargo space? Yes, but it’s more than that. The new Beta models have improved structural stability to reduce shake and increased efficiency by improving the airflow over the lowered vehicle stance. The company slightly increased the front-row headroom and hip room for more driving comfort. Aptera has looked at both sleek shape and light weight and combined that with self-charging tech that can charge while you drive to improve range. Turning radius, stability and maneuverability have all improved. The mobility startup will use these changes in the Beta to model their first production cars, coming soon. Over 13,000 people have already reserved an Aptera. The vehicles are expected to use only 100 Wh per mile, making them the most efficient vehicles in production. Each Aptera features 2.4 square meters of solar panels that produce enough energy for 40 miles of driving off-grid per day. “We’ll start by producing our first few hundred vehicles, our Paradigm Editions,” said Pablo Ucar, Aptera’s Vice President of Production and Procurement. “As our supply chain becomes more established, we’ll ramp to 250 per month, and eventually reach our target of producing 40 vehicles per day. To support this demand, we’re predicting growth of our manufacturing and engineering staff by 3-5x over the next three years.” + Aptera Via Medium Images via Aptera

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Aptera upgrades its unique solar-charging EV

Mercedes-Benz new VISION EQXX is a classy electric vehicle

January 6, 2022 by  
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Mercedes-Benz has just unveiled its new VISION EQXX, claiming it to be the most efficient car Mercedes has ever built. With a range of more than 1,000 kilometers on a single charge, they drove out to lead the electric vehicle market.  The VISION EQXX went from paper to completed vehicle in just 18 months by a multidisciplinary team, including Stuttgart, Formula 1, Formula E and start-ups and partners from around the world. The designers focused on building a lightweight, sustainable and powerful electric vehicle that combines innovation, intelligence and luxury.  “The technology programme behind the VISION EQXX will define and enable future Mercedes-Benz models and features,” said Markus Schäfer, member of the board of management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, chief technology officer responsible for development and procurement. “They are proving that innovations from motorsport – where powertrains are already highly electrified – have immediate relevance for road car development. We are challenging current development processes with innovative spirit and outside-the-box thinking. This truly is the way forward.” Related: 20 new electric vehicles driving onto the scene in 2022 Ultra-efficient battery power  The VISION EQXX will be capable of exceeding 1,000 kilometers on a single charge with an energy consumption of less than 10 kilowatt-hours per 100 kilometers. That means there is an efficiency of more than six miles per kilowatt-hour.  To put that into perspective: A single charge would take you from Berlin to Paris, from New York to Cincinnati, Ohio. Based on the team’s research, they believe that a driver in the U.S. would only have to fully recharge the VISION EQXX twice per month.  Rather than increasing the size of the battery, Mercedes developed a completely new battery pack. It achieves an energy density close to 400 Wh/I, making it possible to fit the battery pack into the compact dimensions. The battery weighs around 495 kilograms (around 1091.29 pounds) and also has active cell balancing, meaning it draws energy evenly while the car is driving. That means up to 95% of the energy from the battery ends up at the wheels.  Recycled, vegan and plant-based materials throughout Adding to the lightweight design of the VISION EQXX, the car also has sustainable materials and organic-inspired design detailing – absolutely no animal-derived products. Mercedes wants to replace petroleum and animal-based products used in their cars, keeping a luxurious design in balance with nature.  Throughout the VISION EQXX is animal-free leather alternatives such as Deserttex, a sustainable cactus-based biomaterial. It also has recycled PET bottles in a shimmering fabric to enhance the floor area and door trim. DINAMICA, a material made from 38% PET was used to create a wrap-around effect linking the screen with the door and headliner.  The lid is made from a sugar-cane waste material reinforced with carbon fiber. On the interior, the door pulls are made from a high-strength vegan silk fabric called AMSilk’s Biosteel fiber. The seat cushion details have vegan leather made from the roots of mushroom called mycelium, a certified bio-based renewable ingredient, while the carpets are made from 100% bamboo fiber. Additionally, the interior has sustainable plastic substitutes made from household and landfill waste.   Solar power roof enhances range The VISION EQXX draws additional energy from the 117 solar cells built on its roof. The solar energy is stored in lightweight batteries, which supply a climate blower, the lights and other functions throughout the vehicle. The results are lower energy drain on the system and an increase in range. On a typical day, this can add 25 kilometers of range on long-distance drives. Innovative engineering meets 3D printing  At the rear floor of the VISION EQXX is BIONEQXX, the largest aluminum structural casting at Mercedes. It was developed in-house using digital techniques resulting in optimum functionality within the compact space.  Openings in the BIONEQXX rear-floor were closed with patches produced on a 3D printer by external partner UBQ Materials, an Israel-based start-up. It is a sustainable plastic substitute made from waste that ends up in landfills, including mixed plastics, cardboard and baby nappies.  There are 42 UBQ patches throughout the vehicle, allowing for high stiffness and good surround sound qualities. The result of this innovative engineering marked a milestone to Mercedes’ lightweight design. The approach reduces 15% to 20% of the weight.  Intelligent user interface and experience  To top it all off, the VISION EQXX features a stunning, completely seamless 47.5-inch display monitor that works in tune with the human mind. The design demonstrates graphics that enable digital worlds, such as music and navigation, to instantly respond to the driver’s needs. It has 8K resolution, a thin and lightweight mini-LED display to bring the world outside into the car. The software-led development is revolutionizing the way electric cars are designed.  “The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars,” said Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG. “[It] is an advanced car in so many dimensions – and it even looks stunning and futuristic . With that, it underlines where our entire company is headed: We will build the world’s most desirable electric cars.” + Mercedes-Benz Images via Mercedes-Benz

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Mercedes-Benz new VISION EQXX is a classy electric vehicle

Singapore is banning all new private vehicles from its roads

October 24, 2017 by  
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The government of Singapore , one of the densest countries in the world, has announced that the number of private cars on its roads will be frozen next year, even as the number of vehicles used for public transit are expected to increase. The rate of growth for all passenger cars and motorcycles will be decreased from the current 0.25 percent per year to effectively zero percent starting in February 2018. In going forward with this move, Singapore, one of the wealthiest countries in Asia , is building on its past successes related to its vehicle growth caps, such as its prevention of monstrous traffic jams that plague other cities in the region. Singapore is already one of the most expensive places to purchase a personal vehicle in part because of a requirement that vehicle owners acquire a “certificate of entitlement,” which is valid for only 10 years and has an average price tag of US$37,000. Even a relatively standard sedan can cost up to four times as much as it would cost in the United States . For this reason, there are only around 600,000 private cars in Singapore, which has a population of over 5.5 million people. Related: Green-roofed desalination plant is world’s first to treat both fresh and saltwater In making the growth cap announcement, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) stated that more than 12 percent of Singapore’s land area (only 277.6 square miles) is already taken up by roads and there is very little room left for the expansion of private vehicle ownership. To compensate for the decrease in private vehicles on the road, the Singapore government will invest Sg$28 billion over the next five years to develop and improve its public transit system . This includes Singapore’s metro rail, which, like many rapid rail systems in major cities , has been suffering from significant delays. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Singapore is banning all new private vehicles from its roads

What the tiniest creatures can teach us about adapting to life’s challenges

October 24, 2017 by  
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John Steinbeck wrote that “all things are one thing and that one thing is all things—plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time.” He had a great big feeling about life, but spent a lot of time just poking around little tidepools to get it. Great minds–from Copernicus to Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein–have always done this, observing life’s tiny details and looking for connections between them. These little things add up to deep patterns that can sometimes change the world. Steinbeck’s gentle nudge to “look from the tidepool to the stars and then back to the tidepool again”–is actually an act of revolution. Little things trigger big changes–and that’s exactly how biomimicry can help us better adapt to the world around us. A lot of people don’t know that Steinbeck was also a biologist, or that his best friend was Ed Ricketts, the only scientist in history to have 15 animal species (and a nightclub) named after him . Before Ricketts, biology was a pretty Victorian affair. Gentlemen naturalists traveled around collecting specimens, dissecting them and pinning them on boards, categorizing and naming them. Most studied each creature separately, but Ricketts was compelled by the connections between them–he is widely regarded as the first marine ecologist. Ricketts and Steinbeck were having tough times in their personal lives, and decided to charter a fishing boat, and escape along the Pacific Coast. They went from Monterey to San Diego, along the length of Baja California, around Cabo San Lucas, and finally into the Sea of Cortez. Steinbeck’s book, The Log From the Sea of Cortez , is a cult classic for geeks like me, describing how the pair dropped anchor here and there, puttering around the tidepools they discovered, observing and collecting tiny creatures along the way. Inevitably, a group of little kids would gather round to see what they were up to. The kids had never seen scientists before, and didn’t know what to make of grown men poking around tidepools for something besides dinner. Exploring was strictly kid stuff, so they figured Ricketts and Steinbeck must be doing something else. “ What did you lose? ” they would ask. The men would look at them in surprise. “ Nothing! “ “ Well, what are you looking for then? “ Being a philosophical kind of writer, Steinbeck thought this was a great question. What exactly were they looking for? What were they expecting these tiny creatures to teach them? Quite a lot, it turns out, and many regard Ricketts’ book Between Pacific Tides as the Bible of modern marine biology. There were hundreds of small discoveries–and 50 new species–but Ricketts’ key contribution was the way he untangled complex relationships among ocean inhabitants, large and small. He saw that water temperatures affected plankton levels, which affected larger species, and that overfishing in warm years led to crashes in the sardine populations years later. He even predicted the catastrophic loss of the once-thriving Monterey fishery. Everything was connected, and small effects reverberated in unexpected ways through vast ecological webs. Ricketts made a habit of observing small details in the living world, and saw them build to deep patterns that suddenly changed everything. This process–studying nature’s little details, finding the connections between them, identifying deep patterns that stand the test of time, and abstracting them into solutions we can borrow—is the key to biomimicry , the art and science of innovation inspired by nature. Biomimicry is part of a profound change in the way we see the world, the way we make and do things, and the way we think about our way of life. When we really look, we begin to realize that humans face exactly the same kinds of problems other species do, and that the 30 million or so species that share this planet with us have their own solutions. “After 3.8 billion years of research and development,” writes biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus , “failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.” These strategies are the ultimate in sustainability—solutions that have worked for generations without diminishing the potential for future offspring to succeed. Sharks have cruised the oceans virtually unchanged for 400 million years, and the ancient Hawaiian concept of the octopus as the last survivor of a past universe is accurate, because their relatives passed through several major extinction events that wiped out almost all their contemporaries. These ways of life work, even as the world changes. 99.9% of the species that have ever existed are now extinct, and those that remain are the survivors, the most successful 0.1% of all life. As I write in my new book, Teeming: How Superorganisms Work Together to Build Infinite Wealth on a Finite Planet (and your company can too) , we clever humans overthink our answers, forcing square pegs into round holes because we can. We invent one-off solutions—and new polymers–for every problem, and get heavy-handed about creating them. If we’re dealing with high impact—in the automotive or aerospace industry, for instance—we heat, beat, treat various raw resources into submission. If we need to stick something in place, we use toxic glues. Flooding? Build a giant dam. Drought? Build a very long ditch. Our solutions require huge amounts of energy and materials, and produce a lot of waste–things no creature can eat. Our chemical answers make us sick, and poison our planet, and are neither adaptive nor resilient. The creatures of the tidepools solve these same kinds of challenges every day, without fancy Research and Development teams or even—in many cases—brains. Big waves smash down and sweep across the rocks. Organisms are stranded in the baking sun, blasted with UV light. Tiny creatures are constantly flooded or baked, exposed to radical swings in salinity and temperature. Yet their strategies last, while our own industrial solutions have only been around a couple hundred years and seem to create more heartaches and headaches. What can these little beings teach us? Related: INTERVIEW: Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker on how biomimicry can improve happiness and creativity in the workplace Sea urchins thrive in pounding surf, because their spines are like shock absorbers, helping them wedge between rocks. Look through the scanning electron microscope, and you see an exquisite microstructure, perfectly designed to spread impact forces and stop cracks from spreading, with predetermined weak points that can fail without hurting the animal. Stiff and strong, yet flexible, these natural ceramics regenerate at surrounding temperatures from local minerals, powered by algal energy scraped from nearby rocks and grown from sunlight. Abalone and oyster shells offer stunning mother of pearl with remarkable properties. One deep-water oyster–the windowpane oyster—is nearly transparent and practically bulletproof. Nacre, as this material called, is incredibly strong, and yet chemically, isn’t much different from crumbly chalk. Look under the right microscope, and you’ll see it is composed of many layers of tiny hexagonal tiles, mortared with thin sheets of bendy, elastic protein. All of it is hyper-efficient, made from local materials, using life-friendly chemistry and conditions. Material scientists are working hard to 3D print analogous solutions. Barnacles filter tiny food particles from the water, protruding their highly modified legs to use as nets. But when the tide goes out, their homes seal perfectly shut, protecting their tiny, watery world. The microscope reveals four little French doors that open and shut. Each is hard and strong, but near the edges, they transition into a flexible, plastic-like gel, like the rubbery seal inside your car door–but intricately fringed to create an incredibly tight, interlocking seal. These are precision mechanics, grown from nanoscopic genetic blueprints, in microscopic cell factories. They self-repair when damaged, and respond intelligently and instantly to changing conditions. Sea cucumbers are soft and floppy, sliding through the narrow spaces between rocks. But when touched, tiny hairy whiskers in their skin enzymatically orient and bind into a firm, rigid net. When the predator is gone, other enzymes break the bonds and make the skin soft again. Scientists are copying this for electrodes (rigid for implanting, and soft in the body), and protective clothing like bulletproof vests. Seastars must stick to the reefs as they move around in search of prey, even as violent waves come and go. The solution is a reversible adhesive—a sticky glue that works underwater, even on slimy algae–that they excrete from their feet and turn instantly on and off with protein activators. Imagine if we could copy that! All these solutions work at ambient temperatures using locally available materials and water as a solvent. There are no toxic chemicals, no extreme heat, no carbon emissions. They don’t even need to be manufactured—they assemble themselves from the bottom up, powered (ultimately) by sunlight. These solutions adapt to local conditions on the fly and are made from a small set of universal building blocks that other creatures can eat and make new things with. These solutions are edible! They are smart, responsive, and flexible, and perform as well, if not better, than synthetic materials–while weighing 30 to 300% less. They are deeply efficient and sustainable, shaped by billions of years of natural selection, making our own synthetic solutions look distinctly amateurish. These solutions and many more have caught the eye of “mainstream” business and other organizations–Fortune Magazine called Biomimicry the #1 trend in business for 2017, and many institutions not traditionally thought of as “green”–including the military, NASA, and a wide range of industrial chemical, medical, and material science companies are eager to tap nature’s “open source” genius. It’s an exciting time, and little ripples of innovation are starting to add up to a tidal wave of change. Biomimicry is a profound change in the way we see the world, the way we and do things, and the way we think about our way of life. Small things build to deep patterns that have the power to change everything. For every challenge we face, we can ask ourselves how nature would do it, then look closely. The little things we see around us every day could one day change the world . + Teeming: How Superorganisms Build Infinite Wealth in a Finite World lead image via Unsplash Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker is an evolutionary biologist, primatologist, and biomimicry pioneer with an extensive background in leadership, innovation, and sustainability. Her book Teeming: How Superorganisms Work to Build Infinite Wealth in a Finite World is available now .

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Nissan’s new EV ecosystem could give free power to EV owners

October 5, 2017 by  
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The future looks bright for electric vehicle (EV) owners. Nissan recently unveiled plans for the four pillars of their EV ecosystem, including a commitment to expand what they called the biggest fast charger network in Europe by 20 percent. They also aim to offer free power for EV owners who have a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) system, which feeds power from a car’s battery pack to the grid or a home. Nissan sketched plans for the future recently at the Nissan Futures 3.0 event in Norway. They showed off the new Nissan Leaf , which they said can travel 378 kilometers, or around 235 miles, on one charge. They also announced a longer-range all-electric e-NV200 van, which has a 280-kilometer, or 174-mile, range. Related: People in Denmark are earning up to $1,530 just by parking their EVs The second pillar of their plan is their commitment to infrastructure . During the upcoming 18 months, they plan to increase the number of fast chargers in Europe from 4,600 to 5,600. Their third pillar is new home and business chargers; their double-speed seven kilowatt (kW) home charger can recharge a vehicle in five and a half hours. Meanwhile, their 22 kW charger, targeted at businesses, can charge an EV in two hours. They also showcased the xStorage , their home energy storage system. And they have a scheme to get owners free power. xStorage is bidirectional, which means with it EV owners can send power to the grid from a car battery pack. They have been testing the free energy idea in Denmark. Nissan explained in a press release, “Using Nissan bidirectional charging, customers can draw energy from the grid to power their car or van and then ‘sell’ back to the grid for others to use. This means, once a nominal charge has been paid by the business for the installation of a V2G charger there are no fuel or energy costs – just free power for your EV.” They announced a United Kingdom collaboration with OVO allowing owners to buy xStorage at a discounted price, enabling them to charge an EV or start selling power to the grid. Nissan said these owners could make around £350, or around $461, a year. They hope to explore the idea of free power for EV owners in other regions of Europe. Via Nissan and Electrek Images via Nissan

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Nissan’s new EV ecosystem could give free power to EV owners

Scientists say ice may fizz and bubble like champagne when floating in outer space

October 5, 2017 by  
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A group of scientists now believe that ice fizzes and bubbles like champagne when floating in outer space . This discovery was made when researchers at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan first created a mixture of three substances commonly found on comets and interstellar clouds from which stars form: water, ammonia, and methanol. Next, the team exposed this mixture to ultraviolet radiation to imitate the harsh environment beyond the atmosphere. As the ice temperature increased to -213 degrees Celsius, it started to crack, but at only five degrees beyond, bubbles began to form and pop within the ice. This bubbling ceased when the ice warmed to -123 degrees Celsius, and returned to its fully solid form. When the experiment was repeated under different circumstances, the ice’s behavior changed substantially. There were fewer bubbles in ice with less amounts of ammonia and methanol; without UV radiation, there were no bubbles at all. When exposed to radiation, the scientists noticed an increase in hydrogen gas. This suggests that the ice bubbles are formed by hydrogen, which had split off from the methane and ammonia molecules under radiation. In addition to its unusual bubbling, space ice also assumes the viscous quality of refrigerated honey at temperatures between ?185° C and ?161° C. Related: New NASA discovery hints at water elsewhere in the solar system Previous experiments, such as those conducted by Cornelia Meinert of the University Nice Sophia Antipolis in France and her colleagues, have shown that irradiated ice contains a large amount of organic molecules, including ribose, an essential ingredient in DNA . Previously, skeptics of life within space argued that the complex molecules essential for life may have been contamination. “Now [these new results are] helping us argue that at this very low temperature, the small precursor molecules can actually react with each other,” said Meinert, who was not involved in the new experiment. “This is supporting the idea that all these organic molecules can form in the ice, and might also be present in comets.” Via Science News Images via Hubble ESA/Flickr and Science News

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Scientists say ice may fizz and bubble like champagne when floating in outer space

New 35-acre public park brings ‘wild urbanism’ to Moscow

October 5, 2017 by  
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If you’re looking for urban wilderness, it might be time to visit Moscow. Diller Scofidio + Renfro won a competition in 2013 to design Moscow’s first new public park in 50 years . Now, the New York architecture firm has just opened Zaryadye Park, a markedly wild, pathless green space that includes various augmented microclimates to mimic various parts of Russia, including steppes, forests, wetlands, and even tundra. Located in a former commercial part of Moscow just next to Red Square, the creation of the 35-acre park is part of a major push by the city to improve and increase local green space. Commissioned by Moscow Chief Architect, Sergey Kuznetsov, the innovative park design by Diller Scofidio + Renfro includes a number of unique features that stand out from traditional Russian parks. Related: Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Elizabeth Diller is working on an opera for the High Line In contrast to the city’s highly landscaped and symmetrical parks, Zaryadye’s design embraces a notable wild side that avoids the typical designated zones found in most parks. Free from paved walking trails, the entire surface of the new park is open green space , with grey paving stones that surround the perimeter. According to the architects, the “wild” green space was a strategic design meant to encourage complete freedom of movement – offering an “unscripted park experience” for visitors. “It is a park for Russia made from Russia…it samples the natures of Russia and merges them with the city, to become a design that could only happen here. It embodies a wild urbanism, a place where architecture and landscape are one,” explains architect, Charles Renfro. The interior is planted with native flora, which is used to create a replica of the country’s four major microclimates : steppes, forests, wetlands, and tundra. Using temperature control systems as well as daylight simulation and wind elimination, the augmented climates allow locals to use the park all year long. Open hills in wintertime become fun sledding hills and five pavilions allow for shaded shelter among the green space. There are also two amphitheaters and a philharmonic concert hall. + Diller Scofidio + Renfro Via Archdaily Images via Philippe Ruault and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

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Nissan reveals ‘revolutionary’ new wave of EVs

October 5, 2017 by  
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Carmaker claims investments in infrastructure and battery advances will “change the way people access and pay for the power in their cars.”

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Nissan reveals ‘revolutionary’ new wave of EVs

How transportation infrastructure keeps sustainability on the move

October 5, 2017 by  
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The basic experience of transportation infrastructure has remained the same for the past 50 years. That’s all about to change.

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Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issues

October 2, 2017 by  
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Pedestrians and cyclists cheered yesterday as Paris closed all of its streets to cars. The government held a Car Free Day and the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog. Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city . From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture , or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea. Related: Activists Show What it Would Look Like if Bikes Took Up as Much Room as Cars Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic . The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters , skates, bikes , or walking . The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday. Via Paris and Associated Press/NBC News Images © Henri Garat – Mairie de Paris

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