Couple converts 16-year-old van into a compact solar home on wheels

February 24, 2017 by  
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An increasing number of digital nomads are replacing their conventional houses with practical, mobile homes powered by renewable energy technologies . Freelancer photographer Norbert Juhász and his fiancée Dora, a writer, have joined the fray with a 16-year-old van they transformed into a solar-powered home on wheels, and they’re driving it from Budapest to Morocco. While the exterior of the van is unremarkable, its interior packs all the amenities the couple needs on their journey. A multifunctional seat turns into a bed for two and includes a storage space and electrical system underneath. Opposite the bed is a small kitchen unit with a gas cooktop, gas cylinder, sink and a large water tank with a pressure-sensing pump. The tank is connected to an extra hook-up that leads to the rear of the van, where the water is used for quick showers. An L-shaped cabinet accommodates a refrigerator and more storage spaces, and features another section that doubles as a seating structure. Related: How this photographer escaped the grid with her tiny Teardrop Trailer The vehicle is powered by a 12-volt electrical system charged by either the 250-watt solar panels mounted on the roof, or the engine’s generator. Excess energy can be stored in 200-Ah batteries attached to an inverter. The couple spent around $7,200 for the van’s transformation, including its custom-made furniture. They will travel through Southern Europe all the way to Morocco, and document their journey on the Rundabella website and Facebook page . + Norbert Juhász + Rundabella Via Treehugger Photos by Norbert Juhász

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Couple converts 16-year-old van into a compact solar home on wheels

Dubai plans to launch autonomous flying drone taxis by mid-2017

February 17, 2017 by  
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Adding to its reputation as a leader in experimental transportation , Dubai is hoping to launch autonomous air taxis capable of transporting people far above the city’s traffic woes as soon as the middle of 2017. According to Auto Blog, the United Arab Emirates Roads and Transportation authority announced the plans earlier this week, after a demonstration of the technology at the three-day World Government Summit . The Chinese-made Ehang 184 drone used in the demonstration can travel at 62 miles per hour at heights up to 984 feet. The drone is powered by an electric motor that can spin its eight propellers for up to 30 minutes at a time, with a two-hour recharge cycle in between. Specially designed to withstand the extreme desert temperatures of the Middle East , the Ehang 184 also comes equipped with a variety of safety features designed to provide peace of mind to those brave souls who choose to fly in it. This includes a program that tells the drone to automatically land at the nearest safe destination if even the most minor thing goes wrong, and secure networks designed to ward off hackers. The fact that its flights are all monitored throughout by ground control should add additional assurance. Related: Meet Gita, an intelligent autonomous cargo robot that can carry your stuff And people could be trusting the Ehang drone with their lives sooner, rather than later, as the head of Dubai’s transportation authority has told the Kuwait Times his ministry is already experimenting with using the autonomous vehicle in-flight. Dubai’s experiments with autonomous drone taxis are just one part of its forward-thinking approach to transport. The country is also the future home of the Elon Musk’s first Hyperloop project , which will connect Abu Dhabi to Dubai, a 100-mile trip that will take just 12 minutes. Via Auto Blog Images via ETC-USC and Sam Valadi , Flickr Creative Commons

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Dubai plans to launch autonomous flying drone taxis by mid-2017

Formula E unveils the next generation of all-electric racing

February 16, 2017 by  
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The all-electric Forumla E racing series is set to get a major update for its fifth season, which kicks off at the end of 2018. Spark Racing Technology won the contract to build the second-generation race car bodies for the series fifth season and has just revealed the initial renderings, and they are simply stunning! Spark Racing Technology currently builds the race car bodies that run now in the competition, but the French company hopes to make some major improvements to its new design, including improved aerodynamics and lighter weight. The improvements will not only improve the efficiency of the race car’s battery , but also make the cars faster. Related: Tiny electric car smashes world record by hitting 0-60 mph in 1.5 seconds The concept that we see in these images will likely go through a few more iterations as its gets closer to the kick off the fifth season. Spark still has to work with chassis manufacturing partner Dallara, which may make the final car look quite different. Either way, unlike road cars , which get toned down from the original concepts, the final version of Spark’s new race car could be even more extreme. Another big update that we’ll see in the fifth season is a new battery that is being developed by McLaren , Sony, and Atieva that will give the race cars a much longer driving range, which will last the entire race. Currently drivers have to swap out the batteries during the race. + Spark Racing Technologies All images @ Spark Racing Technologies

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Formula E unveils the next generation of all-electric racing

Tesla to start test-building the Model 3 this month

February 9, 2017 by  
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Now that the Chevy Bolt has officially arrived, the attention is now on Tesla to see if it can meet its production deadlines for the Model 3. According to Reuters, Elon Musk’s company is now one step closer to the start of the official production as the automaker plans to test-build the Model 3 later this month. Tesla hasn’t confirmed how many Model 3 vehicles will be produced this month, but it will likely be a small number. In part this will allow the automaker test the existing assembly system, and quality test the Model 3 . It’s rumored that the pilot production will kick off on February 20, which will also give Tesla the ability to share the news and potentially reveal pre-production models two days later when it shares its four-quarter 2016 results on February 22. Related: Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car Tesla is expected to shut down production at its California plant for a week later this month to prepare for the high-volume Model 3. The brief shutdown will enable Tesla to make some necessary changes to the paint shop and other maintenance upgrades, both prerequisites for kicking off production of the Model 3 later this year. If all goes as planned, this should happen in July, and Tesla hopes to ramp up production significantly by 2018. + Tesla Via Reuters All images © Tesla

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Tesla to start test-building the Model 3 this month

Tiny TigerMoth Camper generates power while being towed

February 7, 2017 by  
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Taxa Outdoors’ tow camper, the TigerMoth , is a compact home on wheels geared towards traveling adventurers. The lightweight camper sleeps two, has LED lights, and even better, comes with a built-in electrical system that generates energy while being towed. The camper’s battery can store energy for at least seven days, making off-grid living easier than ever before. Although certainly compact, the camper sleeps two comfortably and thanks to its lightweight size of just 900 pounds, can be towed virtually anywhere. The unique side latch allows for easy access and the large window allows for amazing views and air circulation. Built with adventurers in mind, the small structure has a roof rack system for bikes or kayaks, a tongue-mounted toolbox, and a roof cargo deck for additional gear storage. Related: Traveling family renovates old school bus as both solar-powered home and hostel The camper’s tow vehicle connection recharges the battery while on the road, providing enough electricity for at least seven days of off-grid living . Although solar panels have to be ordered, the camper roof is pre-wired for installation. As far as the basic amenities go, the tiny camper can sleep two people comfortably and comes with LED lighting installed in the kitchen area and sleeping area. There is 5.5 square feet of countertop for food preparation or work space. Along with various hooks and bungees, two large cubbies provide extra storage space. + Taca Outdoors

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Tiny TigerMoth Camper generates power while being towed

Bill Gates warns against climate-change denial

February 7, 2017 by  
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Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates recently spoke out against denying climate change during a student question-and-answer session at Columbia University in New York City earlier this month. Joined by voluntary tax-information sharer and fellow monied person Warren Buffett , the Microsoft founder also called for greater innovation in clean energy. He said, “Certain topics are so complicated like climate change that to really get a broad understanding is a bit difficult and particularly when people take that complexity and create uncertainty about it”. And Gates is more than happy to put his money where his mouth is. In December, he and a team of investors said they would pump more than $1 billion into Breakthrough Energy Ventures , a fund that invests in technologies that will curtail the planet’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Related: Bill Gates pledges $2 billion to renewable energy research We need to find energy that’s “reliable, cheap, and clean,” he said, before promising that “the innovations there will be profound.” He added, “There are many paths to get to where we need to go”. Perhaps another billionaire we know should pay attention? Photo by DFID Via U.S.A. Today

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Bill Gates warns against climate-change denial

Hawaii bill calls for 100% green transportation by 2045

January 20, 2017 by  
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Hawaii lawmakers want the state’s ground transportation to run entirely on renewables by 2045. As a majority of their imported fossil fuels go towards transportation, if every car on the road was instead powered by clean electricity , it could make a huge difference for the state’s emissions. But there’s still a long way to go. Not only does the bill need to be passed, but just around 5,000 of the one million cars in Hawaii are currently electric . Hawaii already leads the United States in renewable energy goals, with a target of utilities sourcing 100 percent of electricity from clean sources by 2045. But they want to go a step further, now calling for 100 percent renewable ground transportation. Related: 45-ton Azura generator harvests energy from Hawaii’s waves The 2045 clean ground transportation goal wouldn’t be a mandate, unlike the 2045 electricity goal under which utilities will be fined if they do not source all their electricity from renewable sources by the deadline. If you live in Hawaii, you won’t have to turn in your gas-guzzling car; state representative Chris Lee, who’s the Energy and Environment committee chairman, said, “Nobody wants to step in and force people to get rid of cars that they might love now.” The Hawaii Legislature began Wednesday, and there the bill will be introduced. Lawmakers are unsure if funding will be part of the bill. But it is clear that it will focus only on ground transportation and not air transportation, a sector where it’s more difficult to power crafts renewably. For Hawaii to achieve its goals, other states and countries will have to pitch in. Energy consulting company HD Baker & Co. managing director Hugh Baker said, “Our ability to achieve it is really going to be dependent on what happens throughout the entire automotive industry. We can say we want 100 percent clean transportation technology, but the market in Hawaii is not nearly big enough by itself to move the whole global automotive industry. It will really take more than just Hawaii.” Via Phys.org Images via Good Free Photos and Ken Lund on Flickr

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Tech entrepreneur renovates UK castle into a giant happy office space

January 20, 2017 by  
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When entrepreneur Chris Morling decided to renovate a historic castle into his company’s UK headquarters, he looked for a designer who would think out of the box, and well … that’s exactly what he got. Morling hired famed designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen who teamed up with Interaction to take on the massive task of transforming the “ugly, unfriendly and un-creative” interior into a dizzyingly vibrant office space with plenty of sustainable features for money.co.uk . https://youtu.be/KiSFafxBGpk Located in Cirencester, UK, the 10,000-square-foot Victorian Castle is now filled with a dizzying hodgepodge of colorful paints and quirky design features , from Rolling Stone-inspired toilets and suits of armour to a Star Wars-themed cinema and even an ice cave meeting room. Although certainly flashy, the office space is really geared to the comfort of the employees. There are plenty of distinct areas for team meetings or quiet nooks like the library for a little bit of solitude. Nature lovers can enjoy the large vertical garden wall in the reception area, which is equipped with automatic water release system. Related: Medieval Italian Castle Transformed into Modern Mountain Museum Mr. Morling told the Daily Mail that the inspiration behind the renovation was to make his employees happy, “It is about making this a wonderful place, a productive place to work,” he said. “What we have done is modeled all the design around the needs of the team. Some people want to stand while they work, some people to work alone. Ultimately it boils down to creating a space where you feel comfortable.” Thankfully though, this design isn’t purely in-your-face aesthetics. The castle was installed with a super-efficient high specification energy recovery system that provides fresh air ventilation into every single room in the castle, cutting down on the office’s energy needs. For further energy conservation , each room is equipped with passive infrared sensors that light up when people are in the room and turn off when they aren’t. + Money.co.uk + Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen + Interaction Via The Daily Mail Images courtesy of Interaction

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The world’s "most compact folding bike" fits in your carry-on luggage

January 16, 2017 by  
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Imagine a bike that folds down so small you can take it on an airplane in your carry-on luggage. It exists – and it’s called the Kwiggle . The sleek, city-ready vehicle designed by German engineer Karsten Bettin can be folded up and stowed under a subway seat, in a car trunk, or even in an airplane’s overhead compartment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6My3Xd40YI4 The Kwiggle is the “most compact folding bike in the world,” according to the company . The unique vehicle allows riders to speed through cities upright, and it can be folded in a snappy 10 seconds. The bike weighs in at about 19 pounds, and it can hit a top speed of nearly 20 miles per hour. And it folds up small enough to fit into a 55 by 40 by 25 centimeter carry-on bag, or a 1.8 by 1.3 by 0.8 foot carry-on. Related: World’s lightest folding bike weighs less than a watermelon A wrought alloy bike frame makes the Kwiggle stable and tough, and its aluminum wheels are highly corrosion resistant. An adjustable seat allows riders from 4’6 to 6’2 to ride the Kwiggle with ease. The upright riding position has other benefits beyond a higher point of view. According to the company, orthopedic specialists love the Kwiggle. The bike “uniquely supports the mobility of the back and prevents tension in the should and neck area,” the company says on their website . That makes the bike not only a perfect fit for swift urban travel, but for exercising as well. Bettin has developed the Kwiggle over seven years, and he’s now selling the bike on Kickstarter . Backers can snag a one-speed Kwiggle for 1,240 Euros, or around $1,315. Two-speed Kwiggles start at 1,340 Euros or about $1,421. You can check out the campaign here . + Kwiggle Via Treehugger Images via Kwiggle Facebook and screenshot

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The world’s "most compact folding bike" fits in your carry-on luggage

IKEA introduces Sladda, a chainless bike built for urban mobility

January 13, 2017 by  
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The next time you walk into an IKEA store , you might just be able to leave with a new bicycle. While it may seem to be a strange direction for a furniture company to take, the expansion into transportation connects with the company’s larger vision of sustainability . With more and more people moving to dense urban areas, car ownership is becoming increasingly impractical for many. As part of its push toward sustainability and elegant, everyday solutions, IKEA has designed an innovative new chainless bike that can be adapted for just about any need.

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IKEA introduces Sladda, a chainless bike built for urban mobility

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