Solar-powered autonomous car could revolutionize travel

September 5, 2018 by  
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There’s finally hope for those tired of waiting on mile-long taxi stands at the airport. Developed by architect Steve Lee of Los Angeles-based Aprilli Design Studio , the Autonomous Travel Suite is a solar-powered electric vehicle that could revolutionize the future of travel and urban design. Lee was inspired to create the driverless  mobile suites to provide travelers with a comfortable door-to-door transportation service, complete with a memory foam mattress, kitchen and mini bar, a washroom and work space. Recently chosen as a finalist in the Radical Innovation Awards , the self-driving hotel suite would be part of an Autonomous Hotel Chain. Conceptualized as a personal rental car and hotel room, the self-driving cars are meant to be an extension of what Lee calls a “parent suite,” offering all of the comforts of a luxury suite while on the road. Related: GM unveils new self-driving car with no pedals and no steering wheel When not in use, the solar-powered cars would charge in a docking facility at the main hotel, of which the mobile unit would serve as an extension. Guests would be able to choose between different room types and sizes at different prices, and they could order custom features, such as a televisions or extra beds. The futuristic design was created with the busy traveler in mind, offering a driverless, door-to-door car service  that would allow guests to work or rest while on the go. The car interiors would include a foam mattress, a wash room and a working space, along with ample storage for luggage. In addition to the comfy living area, the suites would be built with smart glass, which can be dimmed for privacy. At the moment, the driverless hotel suite on wheels is just a concept, but Lee maintains that its real-world cost would be beneficial to travelers. Pricing would be cost-effective, because the solar-powered cars would bundle both transportation and lodging. + Aprilli Design Suite Via Curbed Images via Radical Innovation Awards

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Solar-powered autonomous car could revolutionize travel

Europe officially has more than one million electric cars

August 28, 2018 by  
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More than a million electric cars can now be seen on the streets of Europe, thanks in part to a sales surge in the first half of 2018. Europe has reached this benchmark more quickly than the United States, which is on track to meet it later this year. Europe and the U.S. have trailed behind China, which reached one million electric vehicle sales in 2017; however, Europe’s achievement is no small feat. Related: The number of electric vehicles on the streets could triple in two years Europe saw 195,000 electric cars sold during the first half of this year, a 42 percent increase from last year. This figure includes electric cars sold in the European Union as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Norway, the latter of which continues to lead the way, with the highest number of electric vehicles sold. Related: World’s fastest electric car charger offers 120-miles of range in 8 minutes Industry analyst EV-Volumes  estimates that European sales of electric vehicles will reach 1.35 million by the end of the year. The figure includes both fully electric vehicles as well as hybrid plug-in models that switch to conventional engines after their short-distance battery runs out of power. Industry leaders are optimistic about the outlook for environmentally friendly cars, despite plug-in hybrids only accounting for 2% of market share. Viktor Irle, market analyst at EV-Volumes, commented, “a stock of one million electric vehicles is an important milestone on the road to electrification and meeting emission targets but it is of course not enough.” One thing, though, is certain – Europe definitely has the drive to achieve fossil-fuel-free roads. Via The Guardian    

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Europe officially has more than one million electric cars

United Nations recognizes first-ever carbon-neutral soccer club

July 31, 2018 by  
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The Forest Green Rovers , a Gloucestershire-based team in the English Football League that prides itself as “the world’s greenest football club,” has been recognized by the United Nations carbon-neutral – a world first. The team joined the Football League last year in its first-ever debut in the 129-year history of the club and is part of Britain’s  League Two . In addition to receiving the prestigious UN designation, the professional soccer club has signed up for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Climate Neutral Now initiative for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. The Climate Neutral Now initiative was developed in the wake of the  Paris Agreement  to encourage climate action around the world. Related: Adidas unveils a Manchester United jersey created with ocean plastic The club also serves vegan food to its fans and was awarded a vegan trademark from the Vegan Society as well. The Forest Green Rovers came up with the idea because they wanted to create awareness of the “huge environmental and animal welfare impacts of livestock farming.” They also wished to improve player performance all while giving fans “healthier, tastier food on match days.” The Forest Green Rovers stadium uses 100% green energy supplied by the club’s chairman, Dale Vince, founder of renewable energy company Ecotricity . The parking lot features electric car charging facilities, making it easier for eco-conscious fans to attend the games. All rainfall is collected and recycled from the field and stand areas in order to minimize water consumption. And, in true futuristic and sustainable fashion, the club even has a solar-powered robot to mow its beautiful, organic soccer field. Cheers to that! + Forest Green Rovers + UNFCCC Via The Guardian

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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

June 1, 2018 by  
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Even as the U.S. turns away from clean energy, California continues to charge ahead. Empowering the largest investment in the U.S.  by the electric industry to transform a transportation system, the California Public Utilities Commission has approved a collective budget of $738 million for four utility companies to “accelerate widespread transportation electrification.” This move, required by a 2015 clean energy law in California, marks an important step toward developing comprehensive infrastructure to switch transportation from fossil fuels to clean electric power. The unprecedented investment follows the recent approval of 15 pilot programs that, with a collective budget of $43 million, aim to electrify transit buses , school buses, cranes, agricultural trucks, delivery trucks, airport equipment and other vehicles. The pilot programs will run over the course of a year, while the major initiative will unfold over several years. These programs specifically look to benefit communities that have historically suffered under hazardous levels of air pollution, a public health threat that the widespread adoption of electric vehicles will alleviate. The initiative will fund, among other things, new charging stations, related infrastructure and services for installing new charging stations in homes. Related: Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires These new initiatives in California have received broad support from stakeholders in the state, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, General Motors and the Sierra Club. Although the link between transportation and utility companies may traditionally seem weak, the Commission under California state law determined that the electric vehicle programs serve the utility customer’s interests by offering more reliable, less expensive service. With its most recent investment in the future of transportation, California seems poised to be a leader in clean energy for many years to come. Via NRDC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

June 1, 2018 by  
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Hong Kong is the biggest trading hub for shark fins in the world. Although they’ve taken steps to halt illegal trading, conservation group Sea Shepherd recently uncovered a shipment with fins from endangered sharks that arrived via a Singapore Airlines flight for a Hong Kong dried seafood company. Sea Shepherd said the fins came from whale sharks and possibly oceanic whitetip sharks. Endangered shark fins arrived in a 2,150-pound shipment marked ‘Dry Seafood’ for Win Lee Fung Ltd . The shipment came from Colombo, Sri Lanka by way of Singapore. Singapore Airlines bans shark fin cargo and said they’d sent a reminder to all stations to administer sampling checks on shipments with such a label. They also said they blacklisted the shipper. Sea Shepherd Asia director Gary Stokes told Reuters , “This is another case of misleading and deceiving. The shipment came declared as ‘dried seafood’ so [it] didn’t flag any alarms.” Related: 500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor Shark fins can be imported in Hong Kong, but for species listed by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), there must be a permit. The species discovered in the shipment were CITES Appendix 2 species and were concealed among legal fins. Sea Shepherd said smugglers operate by utilizing a vague description — and as Hong Kong Customs is barely able to check 1 percent of containers arriving in the territory, a shipment with a label like ‘Dry Seafood’ could easily escape notice. “Sea Shepherd Global have asked the Hong Kong Government for a mandatory use of the international Harmonized Shipping Codes for all wildlife products at time of booking for any goods destined to Hong Kong,” Sea Shepherd said in its statement. “Only then would Hong Kong Customs and [Agricultural, Fishers & Conservation Department] stand a fighting chance to have more effective inspections on containers when they know the contents before they arrive.” As of now, shark fin smugglers only have to declare what was in a shipment 14 days after it has arrived in Hong Kong or pay a penalty of around $10. The World Wildlife Fund said around 100 million sharks could be killed every year, and they’re frequently targeted for their fins. + Sea Shepherd Via Reuters Images courtesy of Sea Shepherd Global

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Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

Companies push to start oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

June 1, 2018 by  
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Following Congress’s move to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas production, a long-sought goal of the Republican Party, fossil fuel companies are moving forward with their plans to develop the wilderness and hope to survey the region by winter. Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation, two Alaska Native companies, as well as one oil company have applied for a permit to begin seismic surveying on the refuge’s coastal plain. However, despite promises that the process would be as environmentally sensitive as possible, documents obtained by the Washington Post indicate that the Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the initial plan as “not adequate,” noting its “lack of applicable details for proper agency review.” The area the companies hope to explore for oil is also the location of the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd, from which the local Gwich’in First Nation community finds food and cultural significance. In fact, the prospective area where two teams of 150 people are proposed to survey isn’t even visited by the Gwich’in people out of respect for its importance. The speed with which the companies have pushed to begin oil drilling has concerned the locals. “Why can’t they just wait to have more information?” Gwich’in Steering Committee executive director Bernadette Dementieff told Earther . “The oil isn’t going anywhere. There’s nothing wrong with waiting. It makes no sense to rush.” Perhaps the oil companies are concerned that the U.S. may, under a different Congress, return to its long-held status quo of banning oil drilling in the refuge. Related: Spending bill would open the world’s largest intact temperate forest to logging Although the nearby Native town of Kaktovik supported oil and gas drilling in 2005, more recently, the mayor sent a letter to Congress to oppose opening the land to industry. The process has moved forward so quickly since the bill opening the refuge to oil drilling was signed into law that Dementieff was not even aware of the drilling application until she was contacted by Earther. “That is completely insane and disrespectful,” she said. Dementieff believes that Native communities in Alaska will rally together to stop the drilling from ever occurring. “We’ll go to every courtroom. We’ll go to every community meeting. We’re not giving up. We’re not going to allow them to destroy the calving grounds.” Via Earther Images via  Depositphotos and Bob Clarke

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Companies push to start oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Nico Nevolo quit his job at Tesla to live in his Model X – and he’s loving it

May 16, 2018 by  
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Van life can be a creative way to lessen one’s impact on the planet, but many van dwellers are still riding in gas-guzzling vehicles. Nico Nevolo, however, has broken away from that trend and become one of the pioneers of a new paradigm: EV van life. A former Tesla employee, Nevolo quit his job in March of this year to share his experiences living in his Tesla Model X under the name TeslaVanLife , and so far he says it’s been the best decision of his life. Inhabitat caught up with Nevolo to hear more about his journey and vision for TeslaVanLife. Nevolo worked at Tesla for just over three years, beginning in customer service and then moving to headquarters, where he worked as an analyst. He started living in his Model X last October, but the infamously expensive Bay Area rents were only one factor in his decision to live in his car. “It’s experiencing life in a different capacity, and a capacity at which I think is bringing me more happiness as I’ve grown older and seen how I want to live my own life,” Nevolo told Inhabitat. Related: Living out of a van has never looked this good He quit his job to take his Tesla love on the road. “I did love working behind a computer for Tesla, I really did love it, but there was something missing,” Nevolo said. “I hadn’t really seen anyone living in an electric vehicle , let alone a Tesla, and I recognized I had a very interesting experience…I’ve seen the electric vehicle industry grow before my eyes, so I wanted to tell that story.” In his Model X, he can store things in the front trunk and a rear compartment beneath his bed. He didn’t want the inside of his van home to look cluttered, so he doesn’t store anything on his bed. During the day, he folds up his bed and puts his seats up. Nevolo said people always expect him to say one of the hardest things about van life is bathing, but he’s found that facilities are readily available. What is tricky is food. He can keep food cold in an ice chest for around a week, but keeping it at a temperature where it won’t spoil is only possible for about two days. “Managing long term meals is definitely the most difficult thing I’ve encountered,” he said. “Something I’m really going to start experimenting with — and I used to do it even when I lived in an apartment — is buying food and cooking for a day or two. I would just buy enough food for a day or two, which unfortunately doesn’t save you the most money, but you’re getting fresh food.” Battery charging can be another consideration for EV van living, but Nevolo hasn’t found it to be too difficult in California , where he’s spent a large amount of his van life. Supercharging his Model X is free, and he said the Supercharger network is growing exponentially. Also, with the exception of some desolate areas, he found the network connected across the United States on a cross-country road trip to surprise his grandfather in New Jersey with a Tesla Model 3 . The flexibility of van living has opened up new possibilities for Nevolo. “The best thing is honestly being able to say yes to absolutely anything,” he said. “There is no one way of living.” Nevolo took his time taking the Model 3 to his grandfather and traveled around the country for about a month, so he could compare the experiences of living in a Model X versus a Model 3. “The technology in the Model 3: mindblowing,” he said. The Model 3 can charge more quickly because of advanced battery technology . But for long-term van life, the Model X seems to beat out the Model 3. “In the Model 3, you have to bend over like a normal car, it’s very low, and you’re like kinking your back,” Nevolo said. “With the X, I almost have a faux sense of being able to stand up in my home because the door opens up above my head and I actually have two inches of clearance when the door’s all the way up, and I’m six foot one. It feels like I’m in a bedroom.” You can stay tuned for his Tesla adventures by subscribing to TeslaVanLife . Nevolo said, “I want to shed light and entertainment and insight on a whole bunch of communities I’m very interested in, like van life, Tesla, or even music festival communities.” + TeslaVanLife YouTube + TeslaVanLife Patreon + TeslaVanLife Instagram Images courtesy of Nico Nevolo

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Nico Nevolo quit his job at Tesla to live in his Model X – and he’s loving it

World’s fastest electric car charger offers 120-mile range in 8 minutes

April 27, 2018 by  
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Electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment is surging forward — maybe faster than the cars it’s supposed to fill up. ABB recently launched their Terra High Power (HP) charger , which provides a stunning 120 miles in eight minutes, but New Atlas pointed out many EVs can’t yet handle the 350 kilowatts at which this fast charger operates. The Terra HP DC charger can fill cars up at a rate nearly three times that of Tesla Superchargers . ABB said the charger is “the first 350 kW product on the market,” and that gas stations or highway rest stops are ideal for the fast charger. CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a statement , “This high-power fast charger provides electric vehicles with up to seven times more range in the same charging time than previous models.” Related: Germany unveils plans for the world’s largest EV charging station Sounds impressive, but is ABB ahead of its time? New Atlas said there is nothing on the market able to handle 350 kW. Many vehicles are limited to 50 kW; preserving battery life is the reason. Charging batteries up super fast can be damaging to battery life. There are cars that can handle more; the 2018 Nissan Leaf is one such example, able to handle 100 kW. But enabling batteries to handle such rapid charging is just one more task on the list of things battery researchers need to tackle, New Atlas said, alongside thermal stability, energy density, and more. Of course, to compete with gasoline-fueled cars at long ranges better, EVs will need to be able to handle super fast charging. Filling up a fossil fuel car at the gas station usually takes just a few minutes right now. New Atlas said the Terra HP units will probably only get close to their charging capability when several cars are plugged in simultaneously — at least for now. + ABB ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Via New Atlas Images via ABB ( 1 , 2 )

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This charming old-fashioned caravan tiny house is 100% self sustaining

April 27, 2018 by  
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This caravan tiny house is a blast from the past. Designed and constructed by father-and-son builders Nick and Aaron Troisi ( The Unknown Craftsmen ), the tiny home on wheels is 100 percent self-sufficient. The wandering caravan includes a curved roof, custom woodwork and round windows. The home also has LED lighting, and it’s designed to operate completely off-grid . The home’s exterior is clad in pine panels painted red. A deck, built with raw-cut wooden logs, leads to the charming curved door. The father-son duo strategically designed a double-height roof to create a sleeping loft. The curved roof greatly enhances the tiny home’s interior and has three circular windows to bring in natural light . Related: Steve Areen’s incredible DIY wagon home built with mostly recycled materials Inside, the home resembles a hobbit-esque cavern. Lined with wooden beams, the high ceiling allowed the builders to add a quaint sleeping loft, accessible by stairs. The living area includes a curved reading nook with a small sofa, bright throw pillows and a cute window that lets in light. The designers incorporated a number of repurposed items into the home, including a brass bucket used as the kitchen sink. The round windows are actually repurposed theater light lenses — a feature that pays homage to the owner’s long career in the performing arts. Custom woodwork abounds — from the panels on the walls to the kitchen counter top, which was made from an apricot tree. The home was crafted with several types of wood cut from the owner’s own yard: pine, apricot, cherry and more. Aaron Troisi explained that the inspiration behind the wood-heavy design came from a desire to “explore the natural beauty of the organic world.” + The Unknown Craftsmen Via Tiny Living Images via The Unknown Craftsmen

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This charming old-fashioned caravan tiny house is 100% self sustaining

Tesla voluntarily makes their biggest recall ever for 123,000 Model S vehicles

March 30, 2018 by  
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Tesla just issued their biggest ever recall  involving over 123,000 Model S cars. The automaker said they noticed excessive corrosion in power steering bolts, The Verge and Agence France Presse reported. They’re voluntarily recalling the cars and will retrofit impacted cars with a new part that will resolve the issue. Tesla recalled thousands of Model S cars built before April 2016. There haven’t been any crashes or injuries reported connected to the issue — in an email sent to customers, the automaker said this is a proactive move. According to Agence France Presse, the problem has only been observed in locations where salt is used on winter roads to melt ice or snow, but Tesla will retrofit all Model S cars containing the part. No other models are involved in this recall. Related: The Tesla Semi just made its first cargo trip transporting battery packs Tesla’s email said, “If the bolts fail, the driver is still able to steer the car, increased force is required due to loss or reduction of power assist. This primarily makes the car harder to drive at low speeds and for parallel parking, but does not materially affect control at high speed, where only small steering wheel force is needed.” The company said if an owner hasn’t experienced issues, they don’t have to cease driving the cars, and that they would let owners know when retrofits, estimated to take around one hour, were available in their area. The Verge said this is Tesla’s largest recall; in 2015 they recalled 90,000 Model S cars due to a faulty seat belt, and in 2017 they recalled 53,000 Model X and Model S vehicles because of a parking brake issue. The publication also noted the recall comes right as the company is getting ready to report quarterly deliveries — people will be watching to see how many Model 3 cars Tesla has delivered to customers this year. Via The Verge and Agence France Presse Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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