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

2017 Goldman Environmental Prize recognizes 6 activists who risk life and limb to protect the environment

April 26, 2017 by  
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The winners of the 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize show you don’t have to be a celebrity or politician to make a change. The award, commonly called the Nobel Prize for the environment , recently recognized six inspiring individuals, ranging in age from 32 to 83, who have labored for environmental justice in their various communities . Read their stories after the jump. Rodrigue Katembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the oldest national park in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it’s still been targeted by oil companies. Central sector warden Rodrigue Katembo, 41, faced down threats when London-based SOCO International pursued oil drilling in Block V of the park. He worked to expose their illegal activities, amassing evidence over a three-year period; in the process he was arrested and tortured in 2013, two days after he refused to allow SOCO officials to work inside the park as they lacked legal authorization. He appeared in the 2014 documentary Virunga , which Leonardo DiCaprio executive produced and helped turn public opinion against SOCO. They were accused of funding violence and bribery and withdrew in late 2015; Katembo now fights illegal coltan extraction in Upemba National Park. Related: This courageous Baltimore teenager shut down America’s largest incinerator Uroš Macerl, Slovenia Uroš Macerl, 48, has been fighting air pollution in his town of Trbovlje, Slovenia for over a decade. He took over his family’s farm in his twenties, but due to environmental degradation couldn’t grow fruit on the land and raised sheep instead. Then French company Lafarge Cement (now Switzerland-based LafargeHolcim after a 2015 merger) took over a cement kiln in Trbovlje in 2002. Macerl began filing legal complaints after Lafarge applied to incinerate petcoke and industrial waste at their facilities, and found out the government had fast tracked Lafarge’s permits without environmental assessments. So he went to the European Commission. Around five years later the European Commission Inspectorate finally shuttered Lafarge’s activities in Trbvolje, but the fight isn’t over – the company keeps applying for permits and according to Goldman Environmental Prize Slovenian government members are trying to change laws to overlook environmental standards. Macerl continues the battle as president of community organization Eko Krog , or Eco Circle. Wendy Bowman, Australia 83-year-old Wendy Bowman is a sixth-generation farmer in New South Wales (NSW), Australia . Bowman has watched coal mining sprawl across the region, with the support of the NSW government, for decades. She began Minewatch NSW in the early 1990’s to gather information and put the government’s technical statements into understandable language. In 2010 Chinese company Yancoal aimed to expand a mine to Bowman’s 650-acre farm, and she said no. With the Hunter Environment Lobby, she filed a lawsuit and the court said Yancoal could move forward only if they owned the land. Yancoal continues to try and appeal. According to Goldman Environmental Prize, 16.5 million tons of coal have not been mined thanks to Bowman’s determination, and she continues to speak out against coal mining in her community. mark! Lopez, United States mark! Lopez, 32, earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz before returning to his hometown in East Los Angeles . There he fought against a neighborhood battery smelter which released arsenic and lead into the community. A 2016 analysis from California’s Department of Public Health found children living near the smelter, owned by Georgia-based Exide Technologies , had higher levels of lead in their blood than children who didn’t live nearby, as reported by The Los Angeles Times . And that’s after Exide finally closed the recycling plant in 2015. That small victory wasn’t enough for Lopez, who’d worked to mobilize the community with the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ). He wanted Exide to pay for cleanup . Last year California Governor Jerry Brown approved $176 million for cleanup and further lead testing – Lopez thinks contamination could have crept further than the 1.7 mile radius tested. Now Executive Director at EYCEJ, Lopez continues to push for safe cleanup and justice. Rodrigo Tot, Guatemala The Q’eqchi people dwell in the Guatemalan highlands, but the land of the Agua Caliente community and other Q’eqchi communities is under threat from corporations who wish to expand the Fenix Project , a nickel mine. First owned by the government, the mine was sold to Canadian company HudBay Minerals , who later sold it to Switzerland-based Solway Investment Group . Security forces for the mine have attempted to evict people, burned houses, and raped women. Agua Caliente community leader Rodrigo Tot, 57, who has labored since 1972 to obtain land titles for his people, worked with the Indian Law Resource Center and Defensoría Q’eqchi in a legal battle to secure official recognition of Q’eqchi ownership, and the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, ruled in their favor in 2011. But the government hasn’t enforced the ruling. In 2012 one of Tot’s sons was killed and another injured in what looked like a staged robbery. Tot continues to fight for the health of his community with a watch group that has held back security forces. Mining has contaminated Lake Izabal, a source of water and food for locals, with toxic metals like cadmium and chromium. Prafulla Samantara, India In India , the Odisha State Mining Company (OMC) and London-based Vedanta Resources reached an agreement on a $2 billion bauxite mine in the Niyamgiri Hills. But they didn’t inform the indigenous Dongria Kondh people, who reside in the hills – along with many endangered species – and hold the land sacred. Odisha native and activist Prafulla Samantara, 65, found out about it. In the face of harassment from state police and Vedanta personnel, he organized the people in non-violent demonstrations and filed a petition with the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court. The legal battle went on for a dozen years, but in 2013 the Supreme Court determined Dongria Kondh village councils should make the decision about Niyamgiri Hills mining. Each of the 12 councils unanimously voted against the mine. OMC petitioned the outcome but the Supreme Court denied them in 2016. According to Goldman Environmental Prize, the case established a precedent in India that village councils should determine mining activities in their localities. + Goldman Environmental Prize Images courtesy of Goldman Environmental Prize

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2017 Goldman Environmental Prize recognizes 6 activists who risk life and limb to protect the environment

Researchers close in on world’s first 100% self-charging lithium-ion battery

April 26, 2017 by  
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We’ve all experienced the nuisance of a dying phone when there’s no outlet in sight, but that moment could become a relic of the past thanks to new technology being developed by an international team of 19 scientists. The group, led by the Institute de Recherche d-Hydro-Québec and McGill University in Canada , want their battery to harvest and store light energy all on its own – without the help of solar panels . Lithium-ion batteries can only hold so much power, and must be recharged often. So researchers are developing a device that can harvest energy from light and store it. They just published a study showing a lithium-ion battery cathode can be sensitized to light by combining lithium-ion materials with dye molecules including solar cell technology. Here’s how study lead author Andrea Paolella of Hydro-Québec puts it: “In other words, our research team was able to simulate a charging process using light as a source of energy.” Related: 94-year-old inventor of lithium-ion cells develops new battery that can store 3 times more energy The cathode is only half of the process. The researchers must develop an anode that can store the light energy. If they can accomplish that feat, they will have created the first 100 percent self-charging lithium-ion battery in the world. And they’re already at work on phase two. “I’m an optimist and I think we can get a fully working device. Theoretically speaking, our goal is to develop a new hybrid solar-battery system, but depending on the power it can generate when we miniaturize it, we can imagine applications for portable devices such as phones,” said Paolella. Phase two could still take years, but co-author George Demopoulos, a professor at McGill University, thinks this passive form of charging could be significant for devices of the future. Nature Communications published the study online earlier this month. Scientists from institutions in Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom were also part of the research. Via McGill University Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Researchers close in on world’s first 100% self-charging lithium-ion battery

Seoul’s multi-tiered Deep House slopes into a gorgeous grassy roof

April 26, 2017 by  
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This house in South Korea’s capital utilizes negative space to create various micro-environments that boost the building’s energy efficiency. Architecture firm poly.m.ur designed the Deep House as a single volume featuring a slanted roof and walls where one room flows into another. The tilted roof provides ample storage inside and gives each residential unit expansive views of the surroundings. The house features a slanted roof and stone louvers along the sloping sides of the building. Taking inspiration from a design philosophy based on the idea of dispersing the main volume through the use of shallow depth, the architects created hollow spaces that improve the energy efficiency of the building and provide ample storage space . Related: Angular residence by Moon Hoon maximizes privacy and a tiny plot Box-type corner windows are strategically laid out to provide optimal views of the surrounding landscape while minimizing the effects of cold winter winds. Instead of treating windows as two-dimensional elements, the architects conceived them as “micro-spaces” or “rooms inside rooms”. + poly.m.ur Via Archdaily Photos by Kyungsub Shin

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Seoul’s multi-tiered Deep House slopes into a gorgeous grassy roof

Flying water taxis are hitting the rivers of Paris this summer

March 31, 2017 by  
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Parisians will soon have the opportunity to glide down rivers  in flying water taxis to get around the city.   SeaBubbles , a company creating flying water taxis, will debut their innovative mode of green transportation in Paris this summer on the River Seine. Instead of riding in polluting road vehicles, up to five people can hop aboard a SeaBubble and pay rather low fares – think Uber , but for rivers. SeaBubbles is pioneering the environmentally friendly transportation of the future with their flying water taxis, which are equipped with a battery driven propulsion system. Wings submerged below a waterway’s surface allow the vehicle, designed by Alain Thébault and Anders Bringdal, to appear as if it’s flying – and even at full speed the company says a SeaBubble doesn’t generate waves. The water taxis are silent, with around a 50 to 62 mile range, and can glide atop the Seine at speeds of almost 20 miles per hour. Related: Cal Craven’s CAT Aquatic Car Is the Water Taxi of the Future People will be able to climb aboard a SeaBubble via special docks along the river, and four people plus a driver will be able to travel inside. Prices comparable to Uber could make this eco-friendly option an affordable one as well. SeaBubbles also sees their creative vehicles as an answer to the trend of more people moving to cities . On their website they say by 2050 there could be around 10 billion people on Earth, and more than 75 percent could dwell in urban areas. To cut pollution generated by that amount of people residing in cities, and offer a clean, rapid form of transportation accessible for more people, SeaBubble taxis could offer a solution to a few issues at once. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is all for SeaBubbles. She said, “I really believe in the development of river transport. Most of the world’s big cities were built on riverbanks, an advantage we have to use to reduce our reliance on polluting cars.” . @SeaBubbles wants to be the Uber of water taxis, and we have the exclusive footage https://t.co/d9W7tZKsh0 pic.twitter.com/0w5rAk6vsx — Andrew J. Hawkins (@andyjayhawk) March 30, 2017 Watch for SeaBubbles this summer. + SeaBubbles Via My Modern Met Images via SeaBubbles

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Flying water taxis are hitting the rivers of Paris this summer

Kniterate is a digital knitting machine that lets you ‘print’ your own clothes

March 31, 2017 by  
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Sew good! Spanish designer Gerard Rubio is back on the scene with his revolutionary digital knitting machine, rebranded as Kniterate . The machine, which was inspired by 3D printing , operates with user-friendly software to create knitted garments from scratch, letting users design and edit templates as they go along or simply by uploading an image of a garment they’d like to recreate. Rubio’s inspiration for the knitting machine is to make it easier for people of all shapes and sizes to create their own designs . The innovative product is aimed at those, who, although may not have the time to knit a sweater the conventional way, would like to create bespoke pieces for their wardrobe. Of course, for the business-minded, the machine is also an opportunity to provide new revenue streams for independent designers, or even for existing clothing brands. Kniterate also cuts down on the incredible amount of waste seen in the large-scale retail world since the machine creates garments made to shape. Related: OpenKnit: An Open-Source “Clothing Printer” That Lets You Make Your Own Garments At its core, Kniterate is basically a modern twist on traditional knitting methods . Equipped with hundreds of computer-controlled needles, individual loop patterns are created that result in knitwear, whose shape, color, and size are all created beforehand through an easy-to-use software program. According to Rubio, Kniterate’s software is still in development, but is the company’s primary focus at the moment. The team has even created a prototype web-based app, which will hopefully allow anyone with access to design their own patterns to knit. Kniterate recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for funding; within one hour, the project had already reached its campaign goal of $100,000. + Kniterate Kickstarter Images via Kniterate

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Kniterate is a digital knitting machine that lets you ‘print’ your own clothes

Colombian town turns down $35B gold mine – prefers a clean environment

March 31, 2017 by  
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A small Colombian town just rejected a $35 billion gold mine project, putting people and the Earth before profit. Around 98 percent of the residents in Cajamarca said no to the mine due to concerns over the environment and water pollution – and Colombian Mining Minister German Arce doesn’t seem too happy with the results. South African company AngloGold Ashanti aimed to build the gold mine, called La Colosa, in Central Colombia, and it could have been the biggest gold mine in South America . The national government was in favor of La Colosa, saying mining is vital as they recover from war with Marxist rebels. But residents of Cajamarca, where the mine would be located, overwhelmingly rejected the project in a recent referendum. According to the BBC, 19,000 people live in the town, and only 76 locals voted in favor of the gold mine while 6,100 voted against. Related: Damage to Peruvian Amazon Caused by Illegal Goldmines Revealed for the First Time Local 21-year-old student Camila Méndez told Mongabay before the results were in, “I voted no for the future generations. I have two nephews of seven and three years old. Even though they do not live in Cajamarca, I know that I want them to enjoy the little I’ve been able to enjoy so far, as it concerns the countryside. If we win…we’d show the complete world that Cajamarca is able to defeat a huge multinational enterprise, a mining monster as AngloGold Ashanti.” But Arce said campaigners misled voters. He said AngloGold Ashanti had been issued an exploration license already, and that license would remain valid. Local authorities may control the land, but Arce said the national government controls any underground riches. AngloGold Ashanti still needs an environmental license, and if that is awarded Arce said it would be up to the courts or the country’s Congress to decide if local or national authorities would win the fight. Locals fear the mine would damage the mountain environment of the area, or pollute water sources. Via The Wall Street Journal and the BBC Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Colombian town turns down $35B gold mine – prefers a clean environment

The world’s first flying car is finally available for pre-order

February 17, 2017 by  
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The future is finally here: pre-orders just began for the world’s first flying car . After years of development, Netherlands-based PAL-V has launched its Liberty Sport and Liberty Pioneer vehicles – both of which can drive on land and fly through the sky. The future’s not cheap though – the base Sport model starts at $399,000 USD. According to Flying Magazine , PAL-V has been working on the Liberty for more than 15 years, with the first test flight taking place in 2015. The three-wheeled vehicle is built around a unique Rotax engine that powers a dual-propulsion drivetrain. When the vehicle is in drive mode, its propeller conveniently tucks into the back of the vehicle and the rotors fold up top. According to the company, the Liberty can travel at speeds up to 100 miles per hour, and the car can switch from driving to flying mode in just 10 to 15 minutes. https://youtu.be/GfMNtCPChxo Before you decide to make a $10,000 down payment to own one of these puppies, keep in mind that regulations require Liberty pilots to take off from an airstrip or airfield – not from your backyard or even on the road. The vehicle needs at least 590 feet of space to lift off the ground, and it can be flown to a maximum altitude of 11,480 feet. Related: Uber is working on flying electric cars to disrupt transportation again The base Sport model costs $399,000, and the tricked-out Pioneer model comes in at $599,000 – which begs the question as to whether these flying cars are truly “commercially available.” They do come with introductory training lessons, but you’ll need to get a pilot’s license before you get off the ground. The Liberty is expected to arrive on doorsteps by late 2018 + PAL-V Via Slashgear and Flying Magazine Image and video via PAL-V  

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The world’s first flying car is finally available for pre-order

Beautiful prefab home is built from repurposed shipping containers

July 15, 2016 by  
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? The asymmetrical Flying Box House is split into three levels, each of which is 100 square meters in size. The ground floor, which sits on challenging sloped terrain, serves mainly as a covered parking area for two cars and also comprises a sewing studio, laundry room, and utility spaces. Two bedrooms and the communal spaces, such like the open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining area, are located on the upper floor. The topmost floor contains the master bedroom that steps out to a large landscaped patio. ? Related: Asymmetrical Happy Cheap House is a Quirky Prefab Retreat “The superposition of those different sequences shapes the house,” write the architects. “Now we are able on this little plot to organise a complete programme of the desired urban villa.” Natural light streams into the interior through the two large bands of windows on the second floor and through the third floor patio doors. + 2A Design Via ArchDaily Images via 2A Design

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Beautiful prefab home is built from repurposed shipping containers

AeroMobil unveils futuristic flying car, plans to launch by 2017

July 11, 2016 by  
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AeroMobil just unveiled a brand new prototype of its futuristic flying car in Brussels. The AeroMobil 3.0 is the latest version of the vehicle, which is designed to be both driven on the road and flown through the air. Perhaps the most exciting part of the Brussels presentation came when AeroMobil CEO Juraj Vaculik announced that the company is planning to commercialize the car by 2017. The AeroMobil 3.0 is one of several new experimental prototypes from the Slovakian company, which hopes to debut several additional features and design improvements by the end of the year. While the company’s current prototypes are all two-seated vehicles , Vaculik hinted that could change, calling it only the “first product in a series of innovative vehicles.” Unfortunately, details about future designs haven’t yet been made public. Related: Aeromobil: Sleek Slovakian Flying Car Takes its First Flight (Video) While it’s easy to see a flying car as a luxury item, the AeroMobil team insists that there are practical uses for the vehicle. For example, it could cut commuters’ travel time, help people travel medium distances, and could even be used by first responders and law enforcement in areas with poor road infrastructure . Though the company calls the AeroMobil a “car,” it will need to be certified as an aircraft as well as a road vehicle. Those who want to see the flying roadster up close can go to the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels during working hours until August 1st. + AeroMobil

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