How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

May 27, 2020 by  
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How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair Elsa Wenzel Wed, 05/27/2020 – 02:00 Doing away with a culture of disposability is one of the big dreams of the circular economy. A jolt in this direction came overnight as COVID-19 drove people indoors, forcing many to rethink how they reduce, reuse or recycle items they took for granted only weeks earlier. As U.S. unemployment claims soared to 30 million, buying non-essentials became an act of either audacity or foolishness. Even window shopping has been confined to a web browser. People have been making every can of beans and square of toilet paper last. “Like it or not, the coronavirus is changing the rules of consumption,” said GreenBiz Editorial Director Heather Clancy during the Circularity Digital virtual event last week. “Millions of consumers are putting off retail purchases and looking at the stuff in their closets and cabinets and desktops in a very different way. Why should this item be thrown away when it could be repaired or refreshed and for that matter, how long should I expect these things to last?” However, most brands are in the business of selling something new, so circular economy efforts generally have tended to put repair at the bottom of the menu. Will this pandemic create a lasting change in priorities for business and end users alike? There’s no surefire answer for now, but some of the people thinking the hardest about what all of this means are those who work in product design. Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co., works hands-on with denim, zippers and buttons. Being stuck at home lately has been tough. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. “It’s called on all of my home [economics] skills, all of my ability to prototype and ideate using just the materials around my house, which has been a really exciting exercise,” Dillinger said. “It has challenged me to remember a lot of the skill set we don’t often call upon to make from nothing, to repair the broken things around us.” Embracing imperfections and repairs is part of his vision for a pair of jeans to be loved and worn for a decade until ultimately being recycled. Levi’s heritage, after all, began with durable canvas work pants worn by miners around the California gold rush. “Everyone’s favorite jean has a repair in it, a stain they don’t mind,” he said. “That mustard was a great ballgame. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product.” With that mindset, Dillinger led the design of Levi’s innovative Wellthread shirts, jackets and jeans, which launched in 2015. The company rebuilt blue jeans for recyclability, also slashing the use of water and being mindful of workers’ well-being. A Wellthread denim jacket in the line, for example, uses four technologies to incorporate recovered, chemically recycled and mechanically recycled cotton in the buttons, exterior denim and lining. The end result is 100 percent cellulosic material, the type of single, “clean” input that’s easiest for a recycling system to handle, which is why simple glass bottles, aluminum cans and newspapers have such a long recycling track record. Wellthread jeans contrast with others that are labeled as cotton but actually use blended materials, including polyester, throughout. If it were up to Dillinger, the industry would be a blank page for design. But reality has a lot of stuff in it already — most of it barely used or valued. Six out of 10 garments are incinerated within a year of production, according to McKinsey research. That means important and scarce natural resources are ruthlessly consumed and discarded, like the more than 3,700 liters of water needed to produce a pair of jeans. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. Fast fashion and high-performance fabrics have compounded waste by accelerating the output of apparel that’s virtually impossible to recycle. Take, for example, a blend of wool, viscose, polyamide and cashmere in a scarf or sweater. “You would need a solvent for one, a mechanical process for another, heat for another,” Dillinger said. The problem is shared across industries, including in electronics, which make up the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Only 20 percent of e-waste is recycled, according to a United Nations University report in 2017 . The fate of the rest is mostly unknown, probably either landfilled, reused or recycled informally. For Ed Boyd, an inside look at a recycling plant was a wake-up call. The senior vice president of Dell’s Experience Design Group recently visited a new Wistron electronics recycling plant in Dallas, one of the largest in North America. A typical notebook computer includes more than 200 ingredients, only a handful of which can be processed by such a facility. The rest get separated and sent around the planet for handling. “I’ve been involved in recycling materials for a long time, but seeing it firsthand in that kind of environment was kind of daunting,” Boyd said. “I was looking at this through a designer’s eyes thinking, I’ve kind of created this problem. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. And that has kicked off a lot of exciting work at Dell really aiming at changing that.” Over the past few years, Dell already has been getting more questions from customers about environmental impacts, reflecting a dramatic shift in sentiment that’s pushing electronics makers to rethink their approaches, Boyd said. Dell’s “moonshot goals” for 2030 include three things: for an equivalent product to be reused or recycled for every item bought by a customer; for recycled or renewable materials to make up all its packaging; and for more than half of the materials in its products to be made of recycled or renewable materials. Dell already has plucked some of the low-hanging fruit of closed-loop materials, such as by using reclaimed ocean plastics . In 2011, it introduced the use of mushroom-based cushioning to ship servers. Boyd said the PC maker is exploring with its suppliers how to rethink core product components responsibly, including battery cells, motherboards and displays. It’s also considering biopolymers to prevent waste and solar-powered smelting to reduce manufacturing footprints. And Boyd wants Dell to innovate by creating products that can be assembled and later disassembled quickly, extending life cycles by enabling repeated cycles of reuse or upcycling. That’s been the objective for DIY advocates such as Kyle Wiens, at the forefront of the right to repair movement for more than 15 years. The CEO and co-founder of the iFixit repair website, famous for ticking off Apple, pointed out how the 30 or so metals inside a given cell phone have a low recovery rate, making product reuse more efficient than recycling at this time. “It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society,” Wiens said. “I hope we’re moving in the other direction.” iFixit helps 100 million people a year fix things, including one in every five Californians, Wiens said. The company sees eight figures in annual sales of toolkits, switches, spark plugs and other parts, but its repairs database is free. It offers nearly 63,000 crowdsourced manuals and advice for an amazing assortment of products, including cars, garden hoses, jacket zippers and PCs. Some 70,000 people have accessed iFixIt’s instructions for repairing a countertop Starbucks Barista machine. iFixIt also rates products for their accessibility to fixers. A Dell Inspiron laptop that can be opened with a Phillips screwdriver got a 10 out of 10 score, while a Microsoft Surface that needed to be cut open received a score of three. (An upgrade later earned that model’s successor two more points.) Wiens is excited that iFixit is diving into on-demand 3D printing, starting with a component it sells for a coffee maker. He said he’d like to collaborate with companies to create products designed from the outset with components that can be printed in case of a breakdown. “We really think it needs to be a partnership between the repair community and the manufacturer to make it work,” he said. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Since the pandemic hemmed most of society into their homes, iFixit has seen a spike in searches for fixing devices, laptops and the Nintendo Switch. Last week, it dove into new territory and activism by publishing 13,000 manuals for medical devices , everything from hospital bed headboards to nebulizers to scales, becoming the world’s largest source of details for medical repairs. The company is hoping this ambitious effort will lighten the workloads of the exhausted biomedical technicians who keep hospital equipment humming and beeping. For better or worse, most appliances rely on human muscle and brainpower for longevity. But information technology is beginning to change some of this.  Boyd is intrigued by the possibility of “self-healing” electronics that reconstitute or repair themselves, made possible by artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI already helps predict when a laptop battery will fail. Also further out, and in Dell’s planning stages, is how to augment and design equipment that improves over the course of a decade or two. Product-as-a-service models could become part of an industry transformation, he said, eliminating the need for companies to keep up revenues by releasing whole new lines of modestly updated electronics every year. “We’re having an interesting moment in technology right now, with the birth of 5G and strong cloud connectivity — we can make products in the future that don’t degrade; they actually get better,” Boyd said. Dillinger, on the other hand, wants to remind people to “get a little analog” and take a stab at sewing a button. iFixit has directions for that, too. Pull Quote There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Topics Circular Economy Consumer Electronics Circularity 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Automation is only part of the picture. Shutterstock Serggod Close Authorship

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How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

May 26, 2020 by  
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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets Kathrin Winkler Tue, 05/26/2020 – 08:00 A few months back (and forever ago), our professional colleagues in our Sustainability Veterans group expressed their thoughts on the most important attributes for advancing a sustainability career. Our goal was to share lessons that we learned in the trenches to help those following us to build on our experiences. But we never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic. As unprecedented as these times are, and as uncertain as the near future may be, some past events offer small but important parallels that could yield tools and ideas for how to proceed. In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to: “In your career, was there a crisis (such as the Great Recession or other major disruption) in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID?” The answers are varied and disparate — and, in some cases, even contradictory. Together, they remind us that there is no one universal answer, that companies and cultures differ, and that while we may see echoes of the past in our world today, we are traversing entirely new territory, compass in hand, but without a map. About the Sustainability Veterans: We are a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in the world of corporate sustainability. We are exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. Here’s what they had to say: Observe to solve: On Sept. 11, I was in Malaysia watching events unfold from half a world away. I learned to take a step back, watch and then figure out where to have the biggest impact. We are still in crisis mode. Take time to be observant before deciding on how sustainability can be a solution.  — Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for DuPont from 1998 until 2019. Up Is down: My favorite crisis example is Apollo 13. In my experience, successful crisis management forces organizations to see externalities and ecosystems which have not always been self-evident. “Normal” isn’t “normal,” “up” is “down” and crisis unleashes untapped human capital, innovation, creativity and laser-focus on what can be done versus what cannot. — Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples. Shifting focus: During times of crisis we get a glimpse of the next emerging issue and how companies can impact for the long term. Following the financial crisis, we focused on more corporate transparency and accountability. Today, we have the opportunity to advocate for equity — in healthcare and access to resources. — Cecily Joseph is former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School. Take the long view and put people first. Recognize that we are all part of an interdependent global community. Both are vital for dealing with the immediate crisis, and for ongoing and future crises.   — Bill Weihl was Google’s Green Energy Czar, leading climate and clean energy work, then spent six years at Facebook as director of sustainability. In 2020, he founded ClimateVoice. The calm voice : With all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus, sustainability managers should strive to be the calm voice of reason for the company. Help your company understand that how they respond to people in this time of crisis must continue to balance the people, planet and profit equation of sustainability. — Paul Murray , president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries and previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller. Follow the counterintuitive : Crises remind us that systems are complex, interconnected and difficult to “fix,” and yet there are leverage points which have disproportionate ability to move the system in the right direction. Unfortunately, because they are counterintuitive we almost always push on them the wrong way . In your rush to solve whatever problems COVID-19 has created for you, investing time and effort in a systems-thinking approach will always improve the outcome. — Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change. A silver lining : For those of us working in corporate sustainability, one silver lining is that we’re comfortable with complexity and change, and our modus operandi is to plan for the long term.   — Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans. Jump in : In a crisis, I always believed that our team should jump in big-time, especially if what’s happening is related to a social/environmental predicament. For example, in the early 2000s, my McDonald’s team got very involved in the obesity problem. I never thought I’d be spending 75 percent of my time for a few years on this, which also means you don’t work on other efforts that are important. — Bob Langert is retired vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s Corporation and editor at large for GreenBiz. The rest will follow : We were in the law library at Dell, watching the horror of the World Trade Center exploding with a plane. The room was full, but stunningly silent. However, within minutes, we had all hands on deck, locating our team members and confirming their safety. People came first, above all. As they should, and do, now. Take care of your teams, your family and those you love. Help others less fortunate. The rest will follow. — Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies chief responsibility officer. Volunteer and dig in : I learned an important lesson after the anguishing loss of Alaska Flight 261. Even if it’s not part of your normal job function, look for volunteer opportunities to dig in and help. Your day job is going to be there for you when you are finished. By helping others, you will help yourself deal with grief and anxiety, and the deep (and new) relationships forged with fellow volunteers will never be forgotten. — Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program. Stop. Look. Listen. A moment (or extended period) of crisis requires a deep breath, an assessment of impact and understanding of implication across the full stakeholder spectrum. One can’t always control the initial damage, but can manage emotions, actions and the example set for others to follow in charting the course necessary for recovery. — Mark Spears retired from The Walt Disney Company after nearly 30 years, spanning a series of finance, strategic planning and sustainability roles. He serves as founder and chief strategist at common+value, a sustainability consultancy. Go overboard : In 1986, I was working for Sandoz when we had the big warehouse fire in Switzerland that contaminated the Rhine River. We responded by coming up with the most stringent warehousing guidelines in the world; previously warehousing was viewed as a low-risk activity. The lesson learned was that we went overboard with our standards because we were under strict orders to make sure we never had another such incident. — Jim Thomas has led sustainability programs at Novartis, Gerber, JCPenney and Petco. Tone down the celebration : Though the scale differs, in 2008 people were losing their jobs and afraid for their futures. One of the best tools in our toolbox had always been the celebration of success, but we learned that it was not the time for self-congratulation. Rather, we needed to focus on listening, empathy and building personal, community and business resilience. — Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC Corporation, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz. Immediate vs. restorative : The 2008 financial crisis sparked hopes of a fundamental shift from short-term profits to longer-term values. As the economic downturn persisted, financially stressed companies and consumers made decisions more on value — what they could afford — than values. There is a lesson for we who hope for a different future coming from the COVID-19 crisis. We need to address immediate needs before building consensus on a restorative future. — Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates LLC, and climate change action through Plan C Advisors. Pull Quote In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? Contributors Bob Langert Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

Sculptural, solar-powered home generates more energy than it uses

October 24, 2019 by  
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In the Texan suburb of Addison just north of Dallas, 5G Studio Collaborative has completed the Winnwood Residence, a contemporary home that blurs the line between the indoors and out. Certified LEED Platinum , the single-family home offsets all its energy use with a 10 kW rooftop solar array and geothermal wells drilled beneath the driveway. Walls of glass, large skylights and outdoor living spaces immerse the residents in the landscape and help bring in natural light and ventilation to reduce the home’s energy demands. Completed in 2016, the Winnwood Residence is a sculptural, single-story home that spreads out across 4,600 square feet to embrace varied landscape views, one of which is a land and water conservation park funded by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the U.S. Department of the Interior; the front third of the client’s property has been designated as an extension to the conservation project across the street. To keep focus on the outdoors, the architects opted for a minimalist yet modern design of “a solid black plaster mass sitting within an enclosed garden.” The interiors are also simple and feature white walls of smooth reflective plaster and minimalist decor. Related: Solar-powered Austin home can save owners nearly $100K in energy costs “The exterior finish is black plaster, upon which climbing Boston Ivy is expected to overtake overtime; the shadowy blackness of the exterior surfaces allows one to truly enjoy light, not shadow, filtering through the trees,” the architects explained in a statement. “The architecture elegantly and quietly achieves its sustainability objectives; proposes a new vocabulary of architecture that is decidedly un-local yet celebrates Texas living and is very much about the landscape as it is about the interior.” The building will gradually blend into the lush landscape, which has been repopulated with native and adaptive species. To further reduce site impact, the architects installed a rainwater collection cistern beneath the driveway to minimize runoff and increase water permeability. Geothermal and solar energy power the energy-positive home. + 5G Studio Collaborative Photography by Adam Mørk via 5G Studio Collaborative

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Sculptural, solar-powered home generates more energy than it uses

Walmart’s tiny home on wheels is embarking on a tour around the country

February 8, 2019 by  
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While Walmart may not be exactly synonymous with sophisticated home design now, that could all change if Allswell has anything to do with it. Walmart-owned Allswell is a bedding and mattress company that is using a stunning tiny home, designed by the creative team from Modern Tiny Living , to showcase its quality mattresses. Setting off across the country on February 8, the gorgeous tiny home on wheels will make its way from NYC to Seattle, stopping at various sleep-deprived cities along the way. The tiny home was custom-made by the experienced tiny home builders from Modern Tiny Living. At just 200 square feet, the home is quite compact. However, working closely with the Allswell team, the company was able to deliver truly stunning results that will not only be the perfect vessel to showcase the ultra-comfy, sleep-inducing merchandise but also to feature the best of tiny home design . Related: This gorgeous tiny home is perfect for entertaining guests A black and white facade with a quaint gabled roof over the front door gives the design a traditional yet modern appearance. On the interior, all-white shiplap runs up to the high cathedral ceiling. The two thick wooden beams that cross the ceiling, along with the hard wood flooring, contrast nicely with the white walls. The interior design throughout the home is bright and airy, with a neutral color pallet that is broken up by a gorgeous blue kitchen. The combination of bright blue cabinets with a large, white farm sink and shiny countertops adds a contemporary touch to the design. Adjacent to the kitchen space is the Allswell tiny home’s principle feature: a large mattress. The mattress is front and center in the bedroom, easily found thanks to the fun glass-paneled garage door. On the other side of the home is another mattress that pulls double-duty as a day bed. The home is outfitted with plenty of storage as well. Kicking off its  tiny home tour in a city that ironically never sleeps, Allswell is currently in Union Square as it prepares for its cross-country trek. The team plans to stop in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and will end in Seattle. + Allswell + Modern Tiny Living Via Forbes Images via Allswell

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Walmart’s tiny home on wheels is embarking on a tour around the country

Fast food industry under pressure to decrease its global footprint stat

February 8, 2019 by  
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Fast food is one of the most popular conveniences of modern society, but it comes at a huge risk to the environment. Amid growing concerns of agriculture and water risks, a group of global investors are putting pressure on the fast food industry to come up with a sustainable model to lower their footprint on the environment. The investors, who manage a combined $6.5 trillion, issued letters to six of the largest fast food chains in the United States. The letters asked the companies to explain their plan to reduce risks associated with meat and dairy products by the spring of 2019. The companies targeted include McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Chipotle Mexican Grills, Yum! Brands (Pizza Hut and KFC) and Wendy’s Co. There are over 80 investors who signed on to the initiative, which is also backed by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). The ICCR has a long track record of talking with fast food chains about environmental issues, such as water hazards and deforestation. Related: Prosecco production is destroying soil in some Italian vineyards “Every day around 84 million adults consume fast food in the U.S. alone, but the inconvenient truth of convenience food is that the environmental impacts of the sector’s meat and dairy products have hit unsustainable levels,” said Jeremy Coller, the head of Coller Capital, in a statement. One of the biggest issues with fast food restaurants is their dependency on agriculture, specifically the beef industry . With fast food continuing to rise in popularity, the demand for more beef has reached unsustainable levels. Not to mention, the severe impact the dairy industry has on the environment. To help combat the situation, the new initiative hopes to work with companies to reduce water waste and deforestation, as well as improve conditions in animal agriculture all across the board. Working together, companies in the fast food industry can improve the environment and help cut down on greenhouse gas emissions . It is unclear how the fast food companies have reacted to the letter. If they choose not to act and better the environment, experts predict the agricultural industry — which includes dairy and meat production — will account for around 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions within the next 30 years. Via Ceres Image via Shutterstock

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France is the first country to ban all 5 pesticides linked to bee deaths

February 8, 2019 by  
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In a decisive move, France has become the first country to ban all five of the top pesticides blamed for bee die-off around the world. The phenomenon dubbed “colony collapse disorder” has seen bees dying in record numbers, and scientists are pointing fingers as neonicotinoid pesticides as the primary suspect. The EU led the charge by banning three of the pesticides: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. However, France took it one step further by also banning thiacloprid and acetamiprid in all farming activities, including greenhouses. Related: Bee hive vandalism in Iowa kills tens of thousands of honeybees The neonicotinoids ( with a similar structure to nicotine ) were introduced in the 1990s and work by attacking the central nervous system of the insects. With the same chemical being dusted on plants that bees target, they also ingest it. Researchers report that neonicotinoids are responsible for a lower sperm count in bees, cutting reproduction rates. Other reports have shown how the chemicals interfere with memory and homing skills, resulting in bees flying away and not returning to the hive. The latest research suggests bees may find the toxic chemicals addictive, keeping them returning for more. The scientific link between pesticides and the declining health of bee populations has many concerned about the future of our food products. Plants, flowers and trees won’t grow without the pollination that bees provide, which means food won’t grow, either. Some farmers are reporting near total losses to their bee populations, which has a dire effect on the workings of the farm. While environmentalists and bee keepers are saluting the decision to ban these pesticides , some farmers are feeling disheartened by their ability to compete in the food production market without chemicals to protect them against invasive bugs and harmful insects. The farmers feel there is not enough evidence to support such a dramatic move. The elimination of these pesticides begs the question of what will replace them and what potential issues could arise from those solutions. In contrast to the landmark move by France, President Trump repealed an Obama-era policy that had banned the use of these pesticides near national wildlife refuges, once again allowing farmers to use them in otherwise protected regions with limited oversight. Via The Telegraph Image via Anna Reiff

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France is the first country to ban all 5 pesticides linked to bee deaths

The Treebox is an amazing modern home set high up in the treetops

February 12, 2018 by  
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This gorgeous wooden home in Texas captures the experience of living high up in the treetops. Designed by Wernerfield , the PH2 Treebox is raised several meters off the ground, and its living quarters are sheltered by the surrounding forest. Wernerfield was commissioned to design an addition to an existing split-level house on a wooded property in Dallas. The team responded with a design that takes its cues from the form of the main house. Related: Microsoft unveils amazing treehouse office where employees can brainstorm in fresh air “The existing home’s split-level plan provides an elevated deck at the rear that is wrapped by the forest,” said the architects. “This sensation of being elevated and floating in the forest was carried forward as the central design concept throughout the project.” Related: Aging Portuguese granary transformed into a serene sanctuary in the trees The architects set the home on 12-foot-high metal columns, creating space for a sheltered parking area below. A metal staircase leads up to the dwelling area. The home’s exterior is clad in charred wood , which is both discrete and durable. The interior comprises a guest quarters and an office space (separated by a breezeway), and it has a minimalist, warm material palette that accentuates the connection to the forest. + Wernerfield Via Dezeen Photos by Robert Yu

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The Treebox is an amazing modern home set high up in the treetops

BMW gears up for electric buses with Proterra investment

June 13, 2017 by  
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The North American company has sold at least 400 buses to Seattle, Dallas, Nashville and several dozen other U.S. cities.

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BMW gears up for electric buses with Proterra investment

Uber inks deal to demonstrate on-demand flying taxis at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai

April 26, 2017 by  
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Getting from point A to point B in a car traveling on the ground is so 2017. Instead, Uber is working on a future where people will zip across cities in the sky. The company plans to test their on-demand flying car service, called Uber Elevate, in Dallas and Dubai by 2020. Uber wants customers to be able to press a button and summon a high-speed flying vehicle to transport them around a city through a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) network. They claim their zero-emissions vehicles will be electric and quiet, taking off and landing vertically – like a helicopter . Uber is developing the vehicles with five partners , including aviation companies like Bell Helicopter and Embraer . Related: Uber is working on flying electric cars to disrupt transportation again And they’ve already got a few cities on board. Uber has an agreement with Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, including a joint study into pricing, routes, and people movement. Uber aims to launch an Uber Elevate Network demonstration at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai. They also aim to initiate a pilot program in Dallas the same year before full-scale operations in Texas in 2023. Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said, “What started as a simple question: ‘Why can’t I push a button and get a ride?’ has turned, for Uber, into a passionate pursuit of the pinnacle of urban mobility – the reduction of congestion and pollution from transportation, giving people their time back, freeing up real estate dedicated to parking and providing access to mobility in all corners of a city.” The BBC noted the technology isn’t proven yet, but Uber thinks their flying car service could cost around the same as their car transportation system. Regulation and safety are two other major hurdles Uber must leap before their technology can take to the skies. Via the BBC and Phys.org Images via Uber ( 1 , 2 )

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Uber inks deal to demonstrate on-demand flying taxis at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai

The 10 most viral Inhabitat stories of the year

January 1, 2017 by  
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Why do some online articles go viral and reach millions of readers around the world? Emotional engagement has a lot to do with it. Some tug on the heart, like this devastating photo of an emaciated polar bear that swept over social media in the past few months. Others inspire us to dream of a brighter future, like Dallas’ plans to create one of the largest urban nature parks in America . And others are just plain crazy – like Norway’s proposal for the world’s first floating underwater traffic tunnels and China’s smog-sucking vacuum tower (which may actually be working)! Here were the most viral Inhabitat stories of 2016 – vote for your favorite: [poll id=114]

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