Why the new Nissan Leaf won’t need a brake pedal

July 20, 2017 by  
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Your next car may not have a brake pedal. But don’t worry – you’ll still be able to drive safely. Nissan’s new Leaf will feature what they call an e-Pedal, which allows users to speed up, slow down, and stop using just one pedal. This seemingly small change could alter car design of the future in a large way. The e-Pedal could forever change the way we drive. Drivers simply push down on the pedal to accelerate, as normal, but when they ease up on the pedal the car slows down, and when they take their foot off completely the car stops. The technology works even on hills, allowing a car to stay in place without a person needing the hold the brake pedal down. Nissan describes the e-Pedal as the world’s first one-pedal operation. Related: The 2018 Nissan Leaf will feature semi-autonomous driving technology According to Nissan, “drivers can cover 90 percent of their driving needs with the e-Pedal.” They think users in heavy traffic or on city commutes could benefit from the new design, since they wouldn’t have to constantly move their foot back and forth to decelerate and accelerate. They say the e-Pedal will simplify driving and make the journey more engaging. The idea may not be quite as crazy as it seems. HuffPost explains when you ease your foot off the accelerator in a gasoline -fueled car today, the engine in the car prompts it to slow down. This feature is lacking in electric vehicles , though, so manufacturers typically put a regenerative braking feature in the design so the car will brake when you release the pedal. In electric cars this motion also generates electricity from the wheels’ movement. Will other car manufacturers follow suit? And will drivers love or loathe the new feature? The e-Pedal will premier on September 6, so we may get more answers then. Via Nissan and HuffPost United Kingdom Images via Nissan ( 1 , 2 )

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Why the new Nissan Leaf won’t need a brake pedal

Congress just voted to allow the slaughter of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros

July 20, 2017 by  
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This week, a Congressional committee signed the death warrant for tens of thousands of wild horses and burros in the US. The House Appropriations Committee voted on Tuesday to remove language from the BLM budget that prohibited the “destruction of healthy, unadopted wild horses and burros,” opening the door for the arguably unnecessary culling of the iconic symbols of the American West. Representative Chris Stewart (R-Utah) authored the amendment, stating “I love horses and am concerned about the most humane treatment and care for these majestic animals. In Utah, wild horses are having significant impact on the range and in many instances are dying slow, painful deaths through starvation at the expense of native vegetation and wildlife.” Experts argue, however, that there is enough land for managed horse populations, but this public land is often used for commercial livestock instead. There is also little evidence that many  wild horses are starving, except where mismanagement has prevented access to food and water. Related: Now Trump wants to condemn wild horses to slaughter If the bill becomes law, it would mean that the BLM could begin killing horses and burros that they deem un-adoptable, so long as the animals aren’t destined to be used as meat. However, wild horse advocates have long called for better sterilization techniques to help control populations, rather than resorting to destroying horses. During the short debate over the measure, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) pointed out that better efforts using contraceptives to limit horse populations should be adopted. “Let’s be clear: House Appropriations Committee members just signed a death warrant for America’s mustangs and it will lead to the wholesale destruction of these irreplaceable national treasures,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Campaign . Via USA Today Images via Unsplash ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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Congress just voted to allow the slaughter of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros

India to only sell electric cars by 2030

June 5, 2017 by  
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India is taking huge strides to escape its dubious distinction as one of the most polluted countries on Earth. The government is taking dramatic measures to clean the country’s air – including the switch to sell solely electric cars in just 13 years. If the amount of diesel and petrol cars dwindles on the streets of India, the country could lower the dangerous levels of air pollution that have led to the deaths of 1.2 million people annually. Energy minister Piyush Goyal said India would financially back the move for the first two to three years; then electric vehicle production will be “driven by demand and not subsidy.” Related: New Delhi has the worst air pollution of any city on earth The move has been praised by environmentalists and, naturally, worried the oil industry. India is the third biggest oil importer in the world – each year they spend $150 billion on oil. Moving to electric cars could save the country $60 billion in energy expenses. Indian car owners would also save money by switching to electric vehicles . Goyal, who presented the government’s plan at the Confederation of Indian Industry Annual Session 2017 in New Delhi, said the government would invest in charging infrastructure, beginning in big urban areas like Delhi. He also said they were considering methods like swapping batteries “so cars don’t have to wait for batteries to be charged,” saying, “Electric cars can then move to petrol pumps, swap their batteries, and drive out, just like they do now. And it will take less time than what it takes to put petrol in your car, like in Formula 1 races!” The transition to electric cars would also help the country slash greenhouse gas emissions. Calculations indicate India’s carbon emissions could decrease 37 percent by 2030 with the move to electric vehicles. Via World Economic Forum and International Business Times Images via Mahindra Electric Facebook

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It took more than 25 years to build this incredible walkable world map

June 5, 2017 by  
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You’d need around 11 years to walk around the globe – if you can walk on water. But a world map in Denmark makes the feat possible in a few minutes. Verdenskortet , or world map , is a walkable map , made of soil and stone, built on top of a pond. It took Søren Poulsen more than two decades to complete this extraordinary project, and it was worth the wait. Poulsen, who was born in 1888 in Denmark, realized a stone on his land was shaped similar to the Jutland Peninsula. That stone launched the idea to create a world map, and Poulsen started the project in 1944. He continued working on the map, located at his childhood home at Klejtrup Lake, until he died in 1969. Today the map comprises the center of a park offering outdoor activities and event space. Around 35,000 people visit every single year. Related: Our World: A Giant Pixelated LEGO Map Built from 1 Million Bricks! Poulson made the map out of rocks and dirt, using just hand tools, a pushcart, and a wheelbarrow. The Verdenskortet Facebook page explains the stones comprising the world map were moved onto the ice during winter, and then in spring the stones could be moved into place. Flags mark each country, and there’s even yellow bricks dividing America up into states. Red poles indicate where the equator lies. The world map is 300 feet by 150 feet, and every 10 inches represents around 69 miles in the real world. Today the park offers guided tours of Verdenskortet, paired with coffee and cake. People can play miniature golf on the grass, or take a class field trip to the map. Visitors can take a boat trip around the mini Pacific Ocean , and on land go on pony rides, play old Viking games, or jump on a trampoline. Park entry is inexpensive; around $12 for adults and $8 for kids. + Verdenskortet Via GOOD Images via Verdenskortet Facebook

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It took more than 25 years to build this incredible walkable world map

What’s next for the Paris Accord

June 5, 2017 by  
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What happens to the Paris Climate Agreement now that the leader of the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions has signaled his intent to withdraw from the landmark accord? We take a closer look at the consequences of Donald Trump’s decision to rescind US efforts to limit global warming in accordance with the 2015 agreement. President Donald Trump is a showman and his press conference was political theater for the 61 million Americans who voted him into office last November. The reality is that the withdrawal process could take up to four years to complete and Trump could be exiting the White House before he exits the Paris Accord if he doesn’t win reelection. The other reality is that, thanks to Senate Republicans who would never ratify the Paris Accord as a treaty, in order to push it past the finish line with the US onboard, the deal had to be “non-binding,” meaning all actions are voluntary. Related: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement By declaring its intent to withdraw from the Paris Accord, the US joins Syria and Nicaragua in refusing the deal. It should be noted that Nicaragua didn’t join the agreement because it didn’t go far enough in emissions reductions for the Central American nation. Minus the US, a total of  194 countries have signed and 147 parties have ratified the accord , representing 66 percent of global emissions. The accord entered into force on November 4, 2016 — 30 days after at least 55 parties representing at least 55 percent of global emissions joined. While it certainly could be argued that Trump has damaged America’s standing in the international community, it is not so clear that Trump has actually hurt the Paris Accord, Actually, there are indications that Trump’s announcement is having the opposite effect, with countries, cities and corporations redoubling their commitments to the Paris Accord and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Many experts believe that since Trump was never serious about committing the US to climate action, that his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord could actually free up other world leaders to draft an even stronger agreement with enforcement mechanisms not possible with a Republican-ruled Senate in the US. Australian climate scientist Luke Kemp told The New York Times, “I worry that letting the United States just stay in the agreement and do whatever it wants could show how weak Paris is. It sends the message that the agreement is more about symbolism than action.” CHINA AND EU TAKING THE LEAD With Trump ceding US leadership on climate, China and the European Union are stepping in to fill the power vacuum. In a joint statement following Trump’s announcement, China and the EU — backed by all 28 EU member states — reaffirmed their commitment to full implementation of the Paris climate deal. The statement, the first between the EU and China, commited to cutting back on fossil fuels and increasing development of green technologies. Related: China says they’ll stay in the Paris Agreement – with or without Trump “The EU and China consider climate action and the clean energy transition an imperative more important than ever,” the statement reads. “The increasing impacts of climate change require a decisive response.” CITIES, STATES AND BUSINESSES STEPPING UP A group that so far includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses is negotiating with the United Nations to have their climate contributions accepted alongside other nations who have signed onto the accord. The Democratic governors of California, Washington and New York formed the US Climate Alliance to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Accord after Trump’s announcement. It isn’t only Democrats defying Trump — Charlie Baker, the popular Republican governor of Massachusetts, said on Friday that he was joining the US Climate Alliance . Related: US states and cities say they’re sticking to the Paris Accord without Trump “As the commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change,” Baker said in a statement, adding that the initiative aims “to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation.” Also after Trump’s announcement, 187 mayors representing more than 52 million Americans and some of the largest US cities, stated their intention to individually join the Paris Accord and work together on stronger climate change mitigation measures and transitioning to the 21st century clean energy economy. Cities around the world protested Trump pulling out of the Paris accord, including Tel Aviv, which lit up city hall in green lights . “We need to take responsibility for the next generation,” Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement posted to Facebook. “That means, among other things, continuing to research, learn and act on the quality of the environment and the climate.” Major corporations are also on board with the Paris Accord — 95 of the world’s largest companies have commited to 100 percent renewables, including Google, Walmart and Nike. GREEN TECHNOLOGIES GETTING CHEAPER The price of solar, wind, batteries and other green technologies are dropping fast, leading to increased integration into the electricity grid. In 2016, the amount of new solar power coming online nearly doubled from the previous year — enough to power 2 million homes. Related: The sweet moment California got a record 50% of its electricity from solar Republican-ruled states are leading the renewables revolution. Kansas tripled its wind power production between 2011 and 2015. Wyoming leads the nation with 1,600 watts of new renewable energy capacity per capita being built. Nevada leads the nation in new solar power jobs while North Dakota leads in new wind power jobs. The conservative town of Georgetown, Texas is on track to be 100 percent renewable energy this year, becoming the largest US city to achieve the clean energy goal. Dale Ross, the mayor of Georgetown, admits “it’s the reddest of cities, in the reddest of states…but we put national politics aside to do our best for the people we’re elected to serve.” Images via Wikipedia 1 , 2 , 3 , 4  and White House Archives

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Mirrored shipping container building reflects its natural surroundings in Taipei

June 5, 2017 by  
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We use mirrors to reflect on ourselves – but this mirrored building in Taipei asks us to reflect on how we interact with our environment. B+P Architects transformed an old shipping container into a shining art annex in New Taipei City that blends in with its surroundings while challenging viewers to question their relationship to nature. The project, titled “Within The Reflection : THE ARK of ART” establishes diversified environments for creativity using mirror-polished stainless steel. Its aim is to create a space where neighboring communities can learn about aesthetics. The architects chose to put the container at the far end of a boulevard in order to preserve the serenity and peace as integral parts of the project. Related: “Reflect London” conceals Covent Garden construction with a dazzling mirror display Mirrored buildings like Doug Aitken’s Mirage House and this beautiful reflective cafe in Japan by Bandesign are captivating examples of architecture blending into its surroundings and accentuating the beauty of nature. Mirror-polished stainless steel boards that cover the building allow the large box-shaped volume to be concealed in the reflections of the surrounding environment. Another aspect of the use of mirror-like surfaces is to stimulate students to rethink the relationship between themselves and their environments. + B+P Architects Via Archinect Photos by Hung-Yu Lin, WENYA Studio

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Mirrored shipping container building reflects its natural surroundings in Taipei

New autopilot software update improves performance and feel of Tesla cars

May 26, 2017 by  
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Tesla may be the most valuable car company in the United States, but they are still raising the bar for autonomous vehicles. The company has been working to improve their software , and their new Autopilot update comes with relaxed speed restrictions that make driving on undivided roads and off highways even better. Tesla recently began pushing a new software update for cars with the second generation Autopilot. The new update allows cars to zoom along up to speeds of 90 miles per hour (mph), but also threw out the old limit of 35 mph for off-highway driving and aligned it with the old speed restrictions on the first generation Autopilot, which is five mph greater than the speed limit detected. If the Model S doesn’t detect a speed limit, the restriction is 45 mph. Related: Did Tesla Autopilot predict an upcoming accident before it actually happened? Vice president of Autopilot software Chris Lattner said on Twitter the performance and feel of the car is much improved. It appears Autosteer now is on par with the feature in the first generation Autopilot, according to Electrek – they said Autopilot 2.0 didn’t show signs of progress as Tesla moved away from using Mobileye technology and started using their own computer vision. Elon Musk said his company saw “a bit of a dip” after they unexpectedly transitioned away from Mobileye. But Electrek said it appears they’ve now largely overcome the issue. Musk said in a conference call, “…we had to basically recreate all the Mobileye functionality in about six months – which we did.” Electrek said Tesla has been better utilizing front-facing cameras on their vehicles. Handling around curves and turns looks better with the new update, as does driving on roads that aren’t divided and have little markings. Whether or not the car detects speed limits could be an issue; Electrek suggested that feature could be improved in future updates. YouTube user Tesla Trip took a spin with the new software and posted a 23 minute video showing the excellent handling on roads with few markings; you can check it out here . Via Electrek ( 1 , 2 ) Images via screenshot

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New autopilot software update improves performance and feel of Tesla cars

Student-designed car could cross almost the entire U.S. on one gallon of gas

May 26, 2017 by  
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Engineering students at Quebec’s Université Laval just designed a gas-fueled car so efficient , you could travel further than the distance between Atlanta, Georgia and Seattle, Washington on a single gallon of gasoline . The students just won the Shell Eco-marathon Americas contest for internal combustion engine cars with their vehicle, the Alérion Supermileage car, which gets 2,713.1 miles per gallon of gasoline. Every year students battle it out in the Shell contest for fuel-efficient vehicles, and this isn’t the first time Université Laval students have snagged the prize. They’ve won seven of the competitions in 10 years. They beat out 30 vehicles designed by students. Related: US vehicle emissions hit record low as fuel economy climbs to record high There’s a lot about the winning car that’s secret; the team wants to keep a competitive edge in the contest. But we do know the car seats one person. A former winning entry from Université Laval incorporated a Briggs & Stratton single cylinder 3.5 horsepower engine, although the team reportedly made a lot of changes to the engine in their recent winning vehicle. Thin tires helped minimize surface area contact, and a carbon fiber body kept the car lightweight. HowStuffWorks explained supermileage vehicles can also obtain all their mileage through a car body stripped down to only the elements necessary for speed and safety, as well as aerodynamic design. The front area of the Alérion Supermileage is small to reduce wind resistance. More than 100 student teams participated in the competition, entering their designs under different categories. There are two vehicle classes: UrbanConcept cars are designed to provide an answer to real-life road needs, while Prototype cars are more futuristic and streamlined; you probably won’t see them on highways any time soon. The Université Laval winning car was classified as a Prototype car in the internal combustion category (other categories include battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell ). Via HowStuffWorks , Shell , and Université Laval Images via Shell

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Student-designed car could cross almost the entire U.S. on one gallon of gas

Retro electric motorbike with 40-mile range fits in the trunk of a car

May 22, 2017 by  
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Urban mobility is seeing something of a renaissance. As cars congest and pollute cities, people are rethinking how to get around. One company based in Singapore , seeks to inject a little fun and imagination into urban travel. Vanda Electrics is offering a small electric motorbike called the Motochimp that they claim will open your eyes “to the surreal in everyday spaces, as you meander through streets and dreamscapes.” The future of urban mobility isn’t all sleek electric cars or pioneering flying cars . Vanda Electrics infuses a sense of playfulness into a commute with their Motochimp, a foldable motorbike that can be packed into a car trunk. The unconventional vehicle was designed to celebrate spontaneous joy rides and “defy boredom and faceless urban transport.” From the website, it appears the motorbike will come in at least three bright colors: red, blue, and yellow. Related: Hyundai foldable electric Ioniq scooter will make your commute awesome The bike’s draw isn’t only its funky design , but the nearly 40 mile range it can get on one charge. The company also says the battery charges rapidly. The zero emissions vehicle will be able to cruise through the streets at speeds of 20 miles per hour. Jonny Smith of YouTube channel Fully Charged drove the Motochimp around and said the quirky vehicle is like the “child of a tube of toothpaste, Lego, and a packet of Pez candy.” He also likened the bike to a 1960’s coffee machine. According to Treehugger, the motorbike is expected to enter production in 2017 and could be released in the United Kingdom and possibly the United States by 2018. The price is yet unclear; Smith said the Motochimp could cost around $1,600 while Auto Express put the price tag closer to $2,000. Treehugger pointed out with prices that expensive, the Motochimp isn’t likely to be a vehicle for the masses, but could offer a fun alternative for those who want to ditch their cars. + Vanda Electrics + Motochimp Via Treehugger Images via Motochimp Facebook

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Retro electric motorbike with 40-mile range fits in the trunk of a car

Sleek Swiss-designed electric supercar takes on Tesla

May 17, 2017 by  
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Tesla’s got some new competition from Switzerland. Inspired in design by classic Italian supercars , the Elextra will be hand-built in Germany, though its maker plans to limit production to 100 pieces to ensure exclusivity. The all- electric vehicle can reach 62 miles per hour from zero in a snappy 2.3 seconds, and travels nearly 400 miles on a single charge. The Elextra is meant to redefine supercars, while drawing on modern technology to offer a clean ride. It is constructed with carbon fiber and boasts a dual motor electric drivetrain. The output power of the twin motors is 680 horsepower. The Elextra can reach 155 miles per hour, and has a total range of 373 miles. That rapid speed of zero to 62 miles per hour in 2.3 seconds is just faster than the Tesla Model S P100D. Related: Singapore’s Vanda Electric just unveiled a 1,500 horsepower electric supercar On the Elextra website, CEO Robert Palm of Classic Factory , which is behind the Elextra, said, “The idea behind Elextra is to combine pure lines reminding of the most exciting Italian supercars of the past, whilst being resolutely forward-thinking thanks to its low, sleek, and beautiful design , paired with today’s most advanced technology.” New Atlas pointed out hints of Ferrari-Lamborghini in the car’s wedge nose. A large greenhouse and signature V on the vehicle’s roof add flair. Yet the Elextra isn’t all style over function – it still has four seats and four doors so a whole family could go for a spin. New Atlas compared the amount of seating to the old Lamborghini Espada, which offered the sports car feel but had four seats inside. While designed in Switzerland, the cars will be built near Stuttgart, Germany. The company has not yet said how much the car will cost, but that they will be releasing more details this year. + Elextra Via New Atlas and Elextra Images via Elextra

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