Futuristic floating bubble car wins London design competition

September 21, 2017 by  
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Renault and Central Saint Martins – UAL have teamed up to develop the car of the future. Part of a design competition, students of the school’s MA Industrial Design program have been challenged to think about the future of autonomous, modular cars, along with the infrastructure and services that might support them. The winning design, The Float, envisions futuristic bubble cars that use magnetic levitation technology to get around. The competition started with 15 students with three semi-finalists left standing – Stephanie Chang Liu for her ‘Flo’ design, with three different sized vehicles, Tuna Yenici for his emotive vehicle named ‘Vue’ and Yuchen Cai for her vision of vehicles moving around using Maglev technology, called ‘The Float’. Yuchen Cai was announced as the winner at the opening of Designjunction 2017. The Float connects people in a new way, demonstrating how autonomy will help drivers become more open and social with the outside world. With the appearance of a bubble that moves without conventional wheels, it uses magnetic levitation technology that gives it the ability to move in any direction without the need to turn around. Related: Audi unveils two new swanky self-driving concepts in Frankfurt The exterior is covered in transparent glass, while passengers sit in silver seats. The large swathes of glass will provide a new way for people to connect through tessellation. Users can also use a smartphone app to rent a Float, just like how a user would request an Uber or Lyft ride. The concepts have been unveiled in London at Designjunction 2017, which runs from September 21-24. Renault is a partner in the competition, since it is eager to develop the technologies of the future with an emphasis on electric power, autonomous driving and connected technologies. Renault’s ultimate goal is to have autonomous electric vehicles on the road by the early 2020s. + Renault Images @Renault

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New electric smart fortwo is ready to revolutionize car-sharing

August 31, 2017 by  
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Smart is planning to transition its small lineup of tiny cars to fully electric powertrains – in the not-too-distant future. The company has unveiled a preview of what the future smart fortwo could look like and how it could forever change the world of car-sharing. At first glance, the smart vision EQ fortwo concept looks like a more modern take on the current fortwo, but there’s more than meets the eye here. The EQ fortwo concept is smart’s vision of a future in which autonomous cars can improve the car-sharing experience in urban cities. Currently the car2go car-sharing service uses the smart fortwo, with over 2.6 million users worldwide. The vision EQ fortwo concept would build on this, since users wouldn’t have to search for a car or find a place to park it after they reach their destination. Instead, users summon the vision EQ fortwo, just like when they would request an Uber or Lyft ride. The vision EQ fortwo then drives autonomously to the pick up point and once the user reaches the destination the concept moves on its own to pick up the next user. It never actually parks on the street, like car2go , which will help reduce the amount of needed parking spaces. Related: From now on all Smart cars in North America will be electric On the outside, the smart vision EQ fortwo concept’s exterior communicates with users and pedestrians through a Black Panel Grille and LED displays, which replace traditional headlights and taillights. If the car is unoccupied, information about local events, the weather, news or the time can be displayed. The smart’s Black Panel Grille indicates whether the car is occupied by one or by two passengers. The smart vision EQ fortwo concept is powered by a 30 kWh battery. When its battery is depleted, it can automatically drive to a charging point to recharge its battery pack . Smart will debut the vision EQ fortwo concept next month at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. + smart Images @smart

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New electric smart fortwo is ready to revolutionize car-sharing

Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into "an extreme killer storm"

August 31, 2017 by  
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Melting Arctic ice and spiking temperatures don’t just affect the northernmost part of Earth. According to Cornell University professor Charles Greene, they can also impact storms , like Hurricane Harvey, that are thousands of miles away – prompting them to stall or meander. He said in a statement, “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Just like Superstorm Sandy , Arctic warming likely played an important role in making Hurricane Harvey such an extreme killer storm.” Greene said warming in the Arctic slows jet streams, or global air currents, impacting the nature of big storms like Harvey, which so far has poured around 24.5 trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana. Researchers can be reluctant to say exactly how climate change might have altered a certain storm, though many agree rising sea levels can cause higher surges, while higher temperatures in the air and sea surfaces will thrust more water into the atmosphere, which then falls as precipitation. Related: 7 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey Gizmodo spoke to several other scientists, and at least one, climate scientist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was unsure warming had a significant role in Harvey. Penn State University climate scientist Richard Alley told Gizmodo, “Mostly, this is weather – big, dangerous weather, but still weather. But, because of global warming the ocean is a little higher than it otherwise would be, and that made the storm surge higher.” Meanwhile Greene compared Harvey to Superstorm Sandy, which also lingered instead of swerving out to the ocean as he said 90 percent of most late-season hurricanes do. He said, “ Houston would have suffered much less damage if Category 4 Hurricane Harvey had just crashed through the city and petered out in West Texas. But instead, the storm system is stalled in place and just continues to dump record amounts of rainfall from the Gulf on the city.” Via Huffington Post South Africa and Gizmodo Images via NASA and Army National Guard photo by Lt. Zachary West

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Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into "an extreme killer storm"

Meet the solar-powered electric motorhome we’ve all been waiting for

August 31, 2017 by  
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Tesla and Cummins are making waves right now with their new electric-powered semi trucks, but one other long-range vehicle has yet to make a significant jump to greener pastures – until now. German camper manufacturer Dethleffs has unveiled the e.home concept – a solar-powered electric motorhome. The idea of an electric motorhome would seem like a great idea, until you realize that many of the remote locations that you’d be traveling to probably don’t have the charging infrastructure you would need. That’s where the e.home concept comes in. Since it’s a solar-powered motorhome, it can use the power of the sun to recharge the motorhome’s battery pack. Related: sCarabane: a self-sufficient expanding caravan powered by the sun and wind The e.home is built on Dethleffs Iveco Daily Electric chassis. The Iveco Daily is powered by a 107-hp electric motor with several different battery options, but the largest gives it a range up to 174 miles on the European Cycle, in non-camper trim. With the extra weight of the camper, the range of the e.home concept drops to just over 100 miles. That short driving range won’t really matter, since the e.home has 334 square feet of thin-film solar panels on its exterior. The solar panels can generate up to 3,000 watts of electricity to power the 228-Ah sodium-nickel-chloride battery. Besides the solar panels and electric motor, there are other efficient tricks to the e.home concept, like a heating system that uses phase change materials to absorb heat when the outside temperature rises above 79°. The heat is then released into the cabin when the temperature drops at night. There are also infrared heating panels in the floor, walls and furniture. There are also some driver assistance technologies in the e.home, like the Mobileye-based front vehicle monitoring system and the CampConnect app. Via New Atlas + Dethleffs Images @Dethleffs

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Meet the solar-powered electric motorhome we’ve all been waiting for

Green-roofed Albion Library in Toronto feels like an extension of your living room

August 31, 2017 by  
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It’s no surprise that the Albion Public Library is one of the busiest libraries in Toronto—its welcoming and light-filled atmosphere makes it feel like an extension of a cozy living room. Perkins+Will completed the new 29,000-square-foot library to serve the city’s Rexdale neighborhood, a diverse community with many immigrant families. The new building also incorporates innovative sustainable principles and includes a sloped green roof, energy-saving technologies, and stormwater management strategies. The Albion District Library is the culmination of numerous community workshops that informed the decision for a new-build, rather than a renovation of the existing building. The new facility was built on the underutilized parking lot so that the existing library could stay operable until construction competition, after which the old site was converted into a lush public plaza with a landscaped parking lot and space for a market square. The architects wrote: “The new parking lot will also be designed as a multi-use space, functioning as a parking lot during the day for normal operating hours and serving as a community event space for special occasions.” Related: World’s largest bookstore opens in Tehran, Iran The new library includes a Children’s Area, a Computer Learning Center, and a Digital Innovation + Maker Space with a 3D printer and Urban Living Room. The contemporary building catches the eye with its colorful polychrome terra-cotta screen and glazing that lets in ample natural light. Greenery is woven into the design, from the sloped green roof atop the building to the interior courtyard gardens and pavilions. The library was completed in 2016. + Perkins+Will Via ArchDaily Images via Perkins+Will

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Green-roofed Albion Library in Toronto feels like an extension of your living room

Audi’s new solar-roofed car expected by the end of 2017

August 24, 2017 by  
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The idea of a solar-powered car has been floating around for years, with many little-known companies promising to bring the concept to life. But now it may finally happen. Audi recently announced that it’s working on a solar-powered vehicle prototype that they expect to complete by the end of 2017. Audi has teamed up with Alta Devices, a division of the Chinese solar-cell specialist, Hanergy, to develop thin-film solar cells that can be integrated into a panoramic glass roof. The solar cells would then power the vehicle’s electrical systems, like the air-conditioning system or seat heaters, which would improve the range of an electric vehicle . The idea of solar-powered accessories isn’t entirely new: both Toyota and Nissan have also used the technology. Related: Sono Motors unveils the $18,000 SION solar-powered car The bigger news is that the two companies hope to improve the technology, so that the solar energy could directly charge an electric car’s battery. Audi hasn’t given a timetable for that capability, but the new solar cells have an efficiency of more than 25 percent. Audi also says the solar cells, which will be produced in California by Alta Devices , perform well in low light and high temperature conditions. “The range of electric cars plays a decisive role for our customers. Together with Hanergy, we plan to install innovative solar technology in our electric cars that will extend their range and is also sustainable,” stated Audi Board of Management Member for Procurement Dr. Bernd Martens. + Audi Images @Audi

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Audi’s new solar-roofed car expected by the end of 2017

These cyborg bacteria are better at photosynthesis than plants

August 24, 2017 by  
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Could cyborg bacteria generate clean power in the future? Researchers at UC Berkeley covered bacteria with small semiconductors that function like solar panels in order to see how much of the sun’s energy they could capture. The cyborg bacteria have a solar efficiency of 80% – which is four times greater than commercial solar panels and six times greater than the chlorophyll plants use in photosynthesis . Researchers in Peidong Yang’s laboratory gave the nonphotosynthetic bacterium Moorella thermoacetica cadmium, and the bacteria’s natural defense allowed it to produce cadmium sulfide crystals which accrued on the outside of their bodies and essentially acted as mini solar panels. The bacteria normally can produce acetic acid – which can be used for fuel, plastics, or pharmaceuticals – with carbon dioxide (CO2). But using their tiny solar panels, they were able to create acetic acid more efficiently with CO2, light, and water. Related: Cambridge scientists use light and plants to make cheap, clean hydrogen Kelsey Sakimoto of Harvard University , a past member of Yang’s group, told the BBC, “It’s shamefully simple, we’ve harnessed a natural ability of these bacteria that had never been looked at through this lens…You grow them in their liquid broth and you just add small aliquots of cadmium solution and you wait a couple of days and out pops these photosynthetic organisms. It’s all very simple, mix-in-a-pot chemistry .” Artificial photosynthesis techniques can be expensive, but big vats of liquid, in which the bacteria can be kept in sunlight, are really all that’s needed for this new process, so it could work well even in rural areas or developing countries . The self-replicating, self-regenerating bacteria offer a zero-waste technology, according to UC Berkeley. Sakimoto and Yang presented the research at the recent meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C. Via the BBC , The Verge , and the University of California, Berkeley Images via planetMitch aunger on Unsplash and Kelsey K. Sakimoto

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These cyborg bacteria are better at photosynthesis than plants

Mercedes-Benz unveils stunning art deco-inspired electric car

August 21, 2017 by  
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Mercedes-Benz decided to go back to the 1930s for its latest concept car, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 cabriolet concept. With its imposing grille and long, sensuous curves, this stunning car may be inspired by the art deco movement dating back to France before World War I, but it has a 21st century powertrain with four electric motors. At 20-feet-long, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 cabriolet is over five feet longer than the Nissan Leaf . At the front there’s a grille that’s inspired by a pinstripe suit, while as you move back, the extremely long hood and flowing lines are definitive of the art deco era. At the rear, Mercedes-Benz drew inspiration from a luxury yacht for the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 cabriolet’s round “boat tail.” Related: Mercedes-Benz unveils latest Tesla Model X rival – the Generation EQ “The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet takes modern luxury into the realms of the ultimate in luxury, and is the perfect embodiment of our design strategy,” explains Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG. He adds, “Breathtaking proportions combined with a luxurious “haute couture” interior help to create the ultimate experience.” Inside, there’s only room for two passengers, but the yacht theme continues with an open-pore wood floor with inlaid aluminum. The spacious interior features a flowing aesthetic that brings exterior and interior together, a holistic design that highlights a floating, transparent center tunnel visualizing the drive system’s electrical energy flow with blue fiber optics. While the design of the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 cabriolet concept may recall the best of the art deco era, its powertrain looks to the future. The concept is powered by four electric motors that generate a total 750 horsepower. With that much power, it could reach 60 mph in four seconds, and it has a driving range over 200 miles. Images @Mercedes-Benz + Mercedes-Benz

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Mercedes-Benz unveils stunning art deco-inspired electric car

Prototype 9 is a retro electric roadster with the Nissan Leaf’s heart

August 17, 2017 by  
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Infiniti is bringing us back to the 1940s with its Prototype 9 roadster, which is set to debut this month at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. On the outside the Prototype 9 is a sexy retro concept – but under the skin it’s all about the future, since it’s powered by the next-generation Nissan Leaf’s electric powertrain. “Prototype 9 celebrates the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our forebears at Nissan Motor Corporation, on whose shoulders we stand today,” stated Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design. “It started as a discussion: What if Infiniti had created a race car in the 1940s? If one were to imagine an open-wheeled Infiniti racer on the famous circuits of the era, such as Japan’s Tamagawa Speedway, what would that look like?” Related: Why the new Nissan Leaf won’t need a brake pedal The Prototype 9 is powered by Nissan’s new EV powertrain, which mates a 30 kWh battery with a prototype electric motor. The electric motor generates 148 hp and drives the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. The Prototype 9 has a top speed of 105.6 mph, and reaches 62 mph in 5.5 seconds. It also has a maximum EV range of 20 minutes if you drive it really hard on a track. While the Prototype 9 is going to debut later this month, we won’t have to wait too long to see the next-generation Nissan Leaf. The 2018 Nissan Leaf is scheduled to debut on September 5. Images @Infiniti + Infiniti

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Prototype 9 is a retro electric roadster with the Nissan Leaf’s heart

Aston Martin is releasing its first electric car in 2019

June 30, 2017 by  
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Aston Martin is known for creating some of the sexiest, most powerful cars in the world, but times are changing. Today the automaker shoves large gas guzzling V8 and V12 engines under the hood of its models, but starting in 2019, something greener is coming into the fold. Aston Martin has confirmed that its first electric car , the RapidE, will be introduced in 2019. Two years ago, Aston Martin teased the idea of a fully-electric car with the RapidE concept and now they are ready to make the concept a reality. For the RapidE, Aston Martin is going to create a rival to the Tesla Model S , with its four-doors and powerful electric motor. They are teaming up with Williams Advanced Engineering, who worked on the original concept, to create the RapidE. Related: Aston Martin RapidE electric concept previews the automaker’s 800-hp electric sedan Aston Martin hasn’t announced the specifics about the electric powertrain, but does allude to the fact that it will have more than one electric motor . “The instantaneous delivery characteristics of electric motors means the RapidE will offer a unique driving experience of a kind not experienced before in an Aston Martin.” Sadly Aston Martin is only planning to produce 155 RapidE electric cars once production kicks off in 2019. “RapidE represents a sustainable future in which Aston Martin’s values of seductive style and supreme performance don’t merely co-exist alongside a new zero-emission powertrain, but are enhanced by it,” stated Aston Martin President and CEO, Dr Andy Palmer. “The internal combustion engine has been at the heart of Aston Martin for more than a century, and will continue to be for years to come. RapidE will showcase Aston Martin’s vision, desire and capability to successfully embrace radical change, delivering a new breed of car that stays true to our ethos and delights our customers.” Images @Aston Martin + Aston Martin

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