Dubai has officially started testing flying taxis

September 26, 2017 by  
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Dubai is now one step closer to launching the world’s first flying taxi service. On Monday, Volocopter successfully tested its two-seater Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), which hovered for about five minutes approximately 200 meters off the ground. The vehicle resembles a small helicopter topped with 18 propellers, and it’s powered entirely by electricity. Volocopter ‘s AAT prototype is remarkably quiet, and it has a cruise speed of 50 km/h and a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h. In total, the drone taxi measures two meters in height and it has a diameter (including propellers) of just over seven meters. When it’s officially launched, the AAT will be able to fly without remote control guidance and take trips up to 30 minutes at a time. In case of trouble, there are a number of fail-safes – including backup batteries, rotors, and even built-in parachutes. “Implementation would see you using your smartphone , having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you. The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination,” said CEO of Volocopter, Florian Reuter. “It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way.” Related: Lilium’s all-electric flying taxi could travel from Manhattan to JFK in 5 minutes Venture Beat reports that the test flight occurred during a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. “Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country‘s development but also builds bridges into the future,” said Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement. “This is another testament to our commitment to driving positive change. We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society.” Volocopter plans to launch a flying taxi service in Dubai within five years. Time is ticking, as more than a dozen, well-funded firms in the U.S. and Europe are developing their own high-tech flying vehicles. + Volocopter Via Venture Beat, The National Images via Dubai Media Office

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Dubai has officially started testing flying taxis

World’s first electric dump truck stores as much energy as 8 Tesla Model S cars

September 15, 2017 by  
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Even the construction industry can “go green.” A collection of Swiss companies is proving this to be true by developing the world’s largest electric vehicle and in record time. The E-Dumper weighs a whopping 45 tons and has 700 kWh of storage capacity. That’s as much as eight Tesla Model S vehicles. To ensure it is as environmentally-friendly as possible, the E-Dumper’s base is a used Komatsu HD 605-7 dumper truck. The original diesel engine has been removed and replaced with a chassis for battery packs that will power the new E-Dumper. When we say this vehicle is big, we mean big. Its tires measure over 6.5 feet in diameter, and the driver is required to climb nine stairs to reach the cabin. Its size and strength ensure it can transport materials from a mountain ridge to a valley 20 times per day. This is important, as moving materials from the slopes of the Chasseral to the Ciments Vigier SA cements works near Biel is what the e-dump truck will be doing for the next 10 years. Because the vehicle is electric , there is no need to “heat up” the brakes when descending. This is because the enormous electric engine acts as a generator and recharges the battery pack. That same energy is then used to help the vehicle travel back up the hill. Phys reports, “If all goes as planned, the electric dumper truck will even harvest more electricity while traveling downhill than it needs for the ascent. Instead of consuming fossil fuels , it would then feed surplus electricity into the grid.” The costly venture is being spearheaded by Ciments Vigier SA . Lithium Storage GmbH from Illnau and the Kuhn Group have been hired to “get the ball rolling,” so to speak. The project is also backed by Empa; battery expert Marcel Held is in charge of safety assessments. Related: Chinese company LeEco begins building $3 billion electric car factory The E-Dumper’s battery pack will weigh an incredible 4.5 tons and consist of 1,440 nickel manganese cobalt cells. This is the first time ever a land vehicle has been equipped with such a vast battery pack. “Nickel manganese cobalt cells are also the choice of the German automobile industry when it comes to the next generation of electric cars,” Held said. This is also the first time a vehicle of this performance class has been constructed to ascend and descend slopes of up to 13 percent inclination, all the while charging its battery pack by 40 kWh during a single descent and using electrical currents up to 3,000 amperes while climbing steep terrain. If the E-Dump Truck proves successful, Ciments Vigier SA could potentially power up to eight purely-electric vehicles using long-term. Once this has been accomplished, other companies may start producing large-scale, electric construction vehicles as well. + Ciments Vigier SA Via Phys.org Images via Lithium Storage GmbH ,  SAE International

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World’s first electric dump truck stores as much energy as 8 Tesla Model S cars

Houston Bike Share offers free bicycles to people who lost cars to Harvey

September 14, 2017 by  
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Houston Bike Share is distributing free bicycles to those who lost their vehicles in Hurricane Harvey . When the powerful storm dumped a record amount of rain on the Houston area, damaging at least 100,000 homes and killing more than 70 people, it also destroyed hundreds of thousands of cars. Many of those who lost their vehicles are still paying for them, which makes purchasing a new car difficult. Through its program Keep Houston Rolling , in partnership with  BikeHouston , Freewheels Houston and Rice Bikes , Houston Bike Share aims to provide access to alternative transportation to those who need it. Houston is a car city, as is clear in its infrastructure and its local culture. “I love driving my car, I’m never going to get rid of it,” admitted Carter Stern, executive director of  Houston Bike Share . “But I ride my bike to work three to four days a week, and that’s great. I [view] the mobility in a city less as a binary decision and more as giving people a healthy ecosystem of options.” In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, access to bikes could make a difference for those who currently are immobile without their vehicles. “It’s a way for us to put a dent in some of the issues that are going to be facing Houston in the aftermath of the storm,” said Stern. Related: China’s largest bike share launches air-purifying bicycles for 20 million citizens Although Keep Houston Rolling is serving an immediate need in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it may have a sustained impact on how the city views and supports biking as a transportation mode going forward.  “When I go to city meetings or talk with the community, there’s a lot of skepticism around using a bike for utilitarian purposes, not just for fun,” said Stern. “But once you start using it to go to the store or go to work, you realize it’s healthy, it’s easy, it’s good, it’s relaxing.” Via Fast Company Lead image via Pixabay , others via Houston Bike Share and Brandon Navarro

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3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that wont break the bank)

September 14, 2017 by  
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One major issue a lot of backyard farmers have to contend with is water . All plants need water in order to thrive, and that generally means people have to hose down their gardens twice a day to ensure a healthy, generous harvest. With droughts and water shortages becoming more frequent, we need to be innovative when it comes to harvesting and using this precious resource: read on to find out how you can capture water around your own home, for startlingly less cost than you might have guessed. Trashcan Barrels For about $20, you can make a rainwater collection barrel from a simple trash can. What you’ll need and how to make it: A 20-gallon plastic garbage can—make sure to get one with a domed lid Mosquito netting A drill with a small hole saw bit 1 valve spigot that has a bulkhead fitting Waterproof duct tape or plumbing tape Teflon tape to secure the spigot Step 1 : Use your drill to create several drainage holes in the center of the garbage can’s lid. Then drill an overflow hole into the side of the barrel, about 3 inches down from the top. Step 2 : Cut a piece of mosquito netting large enough to cover those holes, and use the duct or plumber’s tape to secure it on the convex side. You’ll be tipping the lid upside-down to create a bowl, so you want the netting facing downwards, into the barrel. Step 3 : Drill a hole about 3 inches from the barrel’s bottom, get your bulkhead into place, and then insert the spigot. It’s a good idea to use the teflon tape around the spigot first to make sure it’s watertight, and then twist it firmly into place to secure it. Step 4 : Secure that upside-down lid onto the barrel, and seal with duct tape. You’ll need to prop your barrel a foot or two above the ground, so stack up some cement masonry blocks or random bricks as a stand for it. Voila! It’ll catch rainwater when it falls, and the netting will prevent leaf detritus from falling into the water below. Related: Bowl-shaped roofs harvest rainwater and promote natural cooling in arid environments Earth Mounds Got a shovel? Then you can make these. Basically, this technique just involves moving soil around in your yard to create channels that direct rainwater to where you want it to collect. Pretty much every bit of land has naturally occurring microclimates : these are areas that are either higher or lower than the rest of the soil around them, or get more light (or more shade), or have different clay/sand/loam ratios. You can determine where the wetter microclimates in your own land are by doing a quick, heavy watering with your garden hose, and watching where the water runs. You can use your shovel to dig shallow trenches to divert water to where you want it to go, and use the soil you’ve removed to build up shallow walls on either side of that trench for reinforcement. You’re essentially creating mini streams that will flow towards the plants that require the most moisture, and away from those that prefer drier feet. Ideal areas that will benefit from this kind of diversion system are: Trees, especially those that produce fruit or nuts, as they require a lot of water Brassica beds: dedicated areas where you’ll grow kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and so on Lettuce beds: those greens are thirsty Corn rows: its shallow roots don’t hold water well, so it needs to drink often Legume patches: peas, snow peas, beans Related: DIY hugelkultur – how to build raised garden beds Mulch Say it out loud, just for fun: “mmmulch”. Satisfying little word, isn’t it? It’s also a tremendously effective way to collect (and keep) moisture in your garden. A lot of people end up watering their food gardens far more often than should be necessary because so much moisture is lost through evaporation, so the best way to combat that is with mulch . Grass clippings, trimmed leaves from plants like squash and comfrey, and bits of bark can all be lain atop your garden’s soil—just make sure to keep it about half an inch away from vegetable stems so that it doesn’t cause root rot. Here’s a tip: lay strips of copper coil around these mulchy mounds to keep slugs away, since they won’t cross the metal barrier. Those slugs may love moist mulch, but the copper will keep them away from your vegetables. As an aside, don’t be too overzealous with your weeding: those inedible plants may be “unsightly” as far as a traditional garden goes, but they help to keep water in the soil and prevent erosion. Additionally, if you let your chickens roam around freely, they can feed on those weeds instead of on your vegetables. Unless the unwanted plants are causing real harm, let them be. Photos via Pixabay, Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that wont break the bank)

BMW unveils dynamic new rival to the Tesla Model S

September 13, 2017 by  
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When the first models from the electric BMW i sub-brand arrived a few years ago, fans were hopeful they would rival the Tesla Model S. Instead, the BMW i3 and BMW i8 went after different buyers, while people wanting a sleek electric sedan were left with only the Model S as an option. Now it looks like BMW is finally getting ready to add a fully-electric four-door sedan to its portfolio with the debut of the BMW i Vision Dynamics concept. The BMW i Vision Dynamics is a low-slung four-door electric sedan concept that will slot in between the BMW i3 and BMW i8 in the automaker’s lineup. BMW hasn’t announced what the actual name will be, but it will not be called the rumored BMW i5. Related: BMW releases a sportier i3 electric car “With the i3 and i8 we have designed a revolutionary city car and a revolutionary sports car,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “And now the BMW i Vision Dynamics is combining electric mobility with the core values of BMW: dynamism and elegance. We are therefore demonstrating how the product range and the design language of BMW i can be evolved further into other concepts.” With its long wheelbase, flowing roofline and short overhangs, the BMW i Vision Dynamics is sportier than the i3 with a design that’s sure to appease Model S fans. With a driving range of 373 miles, a top speed over 120 mph and a 0-62 mph time of four seconds, the i Vision Dynamics shows enormous promise. BMW hasn’t announced when the production version will arrive, but it has confirmed that by 2025 it will offer 25 models with an electrified drive system – of which 12 will be fully-electric. + BMW Images @BMW

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Beautiful cedar home stands high on stilts to accommodate heavy snowfall in Japan

September 13, 2017 by  
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Fukushima-based firm Life Style Koubou has embedded a beautiful vacation home in the middle of an evergreen forest with stunning mountain views. Built at the base of Mount Bandai in Japan, the One Year Project is made from locally-sourced cedar and it’s set on high stilts to allow snow to gather around its base. The two structures that make up the home are connected by a bridge and separated by use. One building holds a wet area with the kitchen and bathrooms, while a living room with a cozy fireplace is located in the dry building. The entire structure was built using cedar, but the dry building has floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy 360-degree views of the amazing scenery. Related: Life Style Koubou’s House In Itsuura is a timber treehouse-like home in Japan The area around Mount Bandai is known to get quite a lot of snowfall in the winter, so the architects built the home on stilts to accommodate the snowfall. The white stilts, which run up through the interior of the buildings, are embedded into large rocks that sit on the ground underneath in order to reduce the building’s pressure on the land . The strategic design lets the homeowners enjoy the natural area without damaging the landscape. + Life Style Koubou Via Contemporist

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Amsterdam is transforming a prison into a green energy-generating neighborhood

September 13, 2017 by  
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A brighter, solar-powered future is coming to Bijlmerbajes, a former prison complex in Amsterdam . The Dutch government tapped OMA to design a masterplan of the 7.5-hectare site, as well as a significant portion of the 135,000-square-meter mixed-use development. Designed in collaboration with FABRICations architects and LOLA Landscape , the new masterplan will transform the prison complex’s iconic six towers into Bajes Kwartier, an energy-neutral development powered by renewable energy and built largely from recycled materials. Built in the 1970s near the Amsterdam Amstel railways station, the Bijlmerbajes prison complex is a well-known urban landmark that permanently closed in June 2016. The former prison’s six linked towers and administrative building are located in the geographic center of Amsterdam’s new urban development, making it ripe for rebirth as a vibrant civic and cultural space. The new 7.5-hectare Bajes Kwartier development will conceptually preserve Bijlmerbajes’ “island character” and reuse building materials. Prefab elements from the existing walls will be recycled as cladding for the new residential buildings, while prison bars will be recycled into balustrades, and cell doors reused as edge panels for pedestrian bridges. Bajes Kwartier will become a mostly car-free environment and focus on elevating the pedestrian and cyclist experience. The masterplan includes approximately 1,350 residential units that include rentals and luxury condominiums, with 30 percent set aside for affordable housing. All but one of the prison towers will be demolished and the remaining building will be transformed into a “green tower” with a vertical park and urban farming . The centrally located administrative building will be turned into an arts and design center. The mixed-use development will also comprise a restaurant, health center, school, parks, water features, and underground parking lot. Related: OMA gets green light for their first major public building in the UK All the new buildings will be energy-neutral thanks to superior insulation and energy saving design, as well as hookups to solar power, wind power, and biomass power . Nearly 100 percent of the existing building material will be reused or recycled. The project is scheduled to begin in early 2018. + OMA Via ArchDaily

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Jaguar gives "the most beautiful car ever made" an electric upgrade

September 11, 2017 by  
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In 1961, the Jaguar E-type was labeled as one of the best looking cars of all time. Even Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car ever made.” Now Jaguar has turned the retro E-type into an electric car , which the automaker calls the E-type Zero. To create the E-type Zero, Jaguar started with a 1968 Series 1.5 Jaguar E-type Roadster. Its six-cylinder combustion engine was then swapped out for an electric powertrain with 295 horsepower. Its lithium-ion battery pack has the same dimensions and weight as the original engine and it’s even placed in the exact same location as the former transmission. Even with the new electric powertrain and its components, Jaguar managed to cut 100 pounds from the original car’s weight. This means that it drives and handles just like the original E-type, while emitting zero emissions. Thanks to its electric powertrain, the E-type Zero is actually faster than the original E-type with a 0-62 mph time of 5.5 seconds, about one second quicker than the original. The electric powertrain uses some of the same parts as the upcoming I-Pace electric car and has a driving range up to 170 miles. “We have integrated the new electric powertrain into the existing E-type structure, which means a conventional engine could be reinstalled at any point,” said Tim Hannig, Director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic. “We think this is essential as it ensures a period Jaguar remains authentic to its DNA”. + Jaguar Images @Jaguar

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Lilium’s all-electric flying taxi could travel from Manhattan to JFK in 5 minutes

September 6, 2017 by  
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A startup from Germany has secured $90 million to build the all-electric flying taxi of the future. Albeit still under development, Lilium’s five-seater commercial jet could be ready for take off as soon as 2019, and, according to a company statement, it could get users from Manhattan to JFK airport in just five minutes. The Verge reports that the $90 million will be used to build the company’s five-seat commercial Lilium Jet, as well as grow its team by at least 70 people. The envisioned Lilium Jet would be able to stay in the air for approximately one hour on a single charge and travel at speeds exceeding 180 mph. At that pace, the jet could travel from London to Paris in an hour. Integrated technology would allow passengers to order an air-taxi to a nearby landing pad. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Lilium Jet's all-electric flying car Watch this all-electric ‘flying car’ take its first test flight. Posted by The Verge on Thursday, April 20, 2017 Lilium has now raised more than $100 million. Investors in the latest funding round include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström’s Atomico, Tencent, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams’ Obvious Ventures, and a private banking group. CEO and co-founder of Lilium , Daniel Wiegland said, “This is the next stage in our rapid evolution from an idea to the production of a commercially successful aircraft that will revolutionize the way we travel in and around the world’s cities.” Related: Lilium is the world’s first personal aircraft designed for vertical takeoff and landing In a study conducted by Swiss bank UBS , more than half of the 8,000 people surveyed were unwilling to travel in a pilotless vehicle — despite the mode of technology being less expensive than conventional forms.  Perhaps as self-driving cars become more mainstream and fatalities reduce as a result, the concept of traveling in a driver-less flying taxi will become easier to accept. In the meantime, this vessel will be crewed. We can’t wait to see what happens net. + Lilium Via The Verge Images via Lilium

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2018 Nissan Leaf debuts with 150 mile driving range for just 30k

September 6, 2017 by  
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After teasing us for weeks, Nissan has finally unveiled the second-generation 2018 Nissan Leaf. The new Leaf is completely new inside and out, with single-pedal driving, automation, more power, and most importantly, its driving range has been increased to a more usable 150 miles. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been seven years since the first Nissan Leaf arrived in 2010. Now seven years later the Leaf is facing much stiffer competition than it originally did. As a result, the new Leaf has been amped up to tackle the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3. Related: BMW releases a sportier i3 electric car For starters, Nissan fixed the main concern electric car buyers had with the last generation: its driving range. With a max 107 mile driving range, the current generation Leaf has been overshadowed by the Bolt, Model 3 and even slightly squeezed out by the BMW i3 and 2017 VW e-Golf. With the 2018 Nissan Leaf being able to now travel 150 miles on a single charge, that means the Leaf is now closer to the top of the segment, only to be out done by Tesla and the Chevy Bolt . Under the hood, there’s also a new electric powertrain that now generates 147 horsepower and 236 lb-ft. of torque. If you want a more powerful Nissan Leaf with a longer driving range, Nissan has confirmed that another more expensive version of the Leaf is coming for 2019. Besides the new electric powertrain, the 2018 Leaf also features new driving technologies. The ProPILOT Assist driver assistance technology allows for semi-autonomous driving on single-lane highways. The 2018 Leaf also comes with Nissan’s new e-Pedal technology, that perfects one-pedal driving. It lets drivers start, accelerate, decelerate and stop by using only the accelerator. Inside the 2018 Leaf’s seats are covered in seats with vibrant blue stitching and a new 7-inch touchscreen sits in the center console. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have also been added. The 2018 Nissan Leaf is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. and Europe in early 2018. Pricing for the 2018 Leaf in the U.S. will start at $29,990. Images @Nissan + Nissan

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