France aims to roll out world’s first autonomous high-speed trains within 7 years

June 16, 2017 by  
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High-speed trains in France could soon be driverless, if the country’s national railway operator SNCF has anything to say about it. They aim to test what they call drone trains in 2019, with the hope the TGV trains could start running around four years after that. SNCF President Guillaume Pepy said if the project is successful, they will be the world’s first operator to run a high-speed autonomous train. Here’s how high-speed autonomous trains would work: sensors would equip the high-speed drone train, which currently travel at up to 320 kmh (200 mph), to run smoothly across tracks in France. The technology would help the trains detect obstacles and brake automatically. The train could also be piloted remotely, although a conductor would still be present at least initially in case of emergency. The onboard drivers would also manage opening and closing of doors. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ SNCF said they’re not working on the technology to reduce their staff. They told French publication FranceInfo there will always be a need for a human onboard. SNCF adjoint director Matthieu Chabanel likened the drone trains to autopilot systems aboard an airplane , telling FranceInfo, “On high-speed, we are aiming for automation in the sense of automatic steering as in aircraft. In aircraft, you always have a driver, fortunately, but you have an automatic steering system.” Through the drone trains, SNCF hopes to ramp up the frequency and speed of TGV trips, especially around Paris . They think automated trains could increase the number of trips between the country’s capital and Lyon by 25 percent. FranceInfo reported a team of ten people is devoted to the project, and they are collaborating with research institutions and other rail companies like Alstom. The first prototype tests would transport goods, with passengers possibly hopping aboard around 2023. Via The Verge and FranceInfo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia

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France aims to roll out world’s first autonomous high-speed trains within 7 years

China is spending over $500 billion to expand high-speed rail

January 2, 2017 by  
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China is planning some serious upgrades to its public transportation system in the next few years. By 2020, the country hopes to have increased its high-speed railway coverage by 18,650 miles. The project will cost an estimated 3.5 trillion yuan, or about $503 billion USD. Not only will the population be more mobile, but the rails will significantly cut down on carbon emissions and air pollution. Adding on 18,650 miles to a railway system is a humongous feat and difficult to comprehend. The expansion would be roughly the equivalent of driving from New York City to Los Angeles six and a half times. It will also connect 80 percent of the country’s biggest cities and leave room for further rural expansion. Related: Chinese firm aiming for world record with 373 mph maglev train Much of the existing and future high-speed rails are located in coastal and eastern regions of China. Yet, access to the west and poorer regions of the country are being considered for future investments, despite the fact that they will not be as profitable. “We believe these railway lines will break even over time as the flow of people and goods experience fast growth,” said Yang Yudong, administrator of the National Railway Administration. As a global observer, one of the most appealing aspects of the project is how much air pollution will be slashed by connecting a bustling population to efficient public transit. China has been battling smog for decades, and taking vehicles off the streets could be the piece of the puzzle needed to make lasting improvements. Via Clean Technica Images via Wikipedia , Wikimedia

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China is spending over $500 billion to expand high-speed rail

Amtrak to launch next-gen high-speed trains in US in five years

August 29, 2016 by  
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In a big leap forward for American railroad transportation, Amtrak is accepting a $2.45 billion loan from the federal government to improve its technology . The project will span over the next several years and include the addition of 28 next-generation high-speed trains, major upgrades to four major Northeastern stations, and tons of amenities to draw in more passengers. When Amtrak ’s new trains hit the tracks in 2021, travelers will have a high-tech transportation option unmatched by any other in the country. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH-3FsmU6KQ Vice President Joe Biden made the historic announcement at the station that bears his name in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday, noting that the bulk of the loan—around $2 billion—is earmarked for the new high-tech train cars . Once they are put into service, the new cars will increase the Acela fleet by 40 percent. The new additions will be decidedly next-generation in nature, with one-third more rider capacity, additional outlets and USB connections, better Wi-Fi, and the ability to travel as fast as 186 miles per hour. Related: Amtrak teams with Google to create a real-time train locator map “This is a serious, serious upgrade,” Biden said during his announcement. “One out of every three jobs (in the country) are here, along this corridor… you’d need seven more lanes on I-95 to accommodate the traffic if Amtrak shut down.” Amtrak’s new cars are promised to be 95 percent USA-made, built primarily in New York by Alstom. The 28 new cars will service the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston and Washington D.C., and are expected to reduce energy usage by 20 percent. The increased passenger capacity combined with higher speed and lower energy consumption could represent a major win for travelers and commuters, as well as the surrounding environment. The remaining $450 million of the federal loan will be used to upgrade four major Northeast Amtrak stations, including Union Station in Washington DC and Penn Station in New York City. The railroad infrastructure between Boston and D.C. will also get a long-awaited sprucing up. All work is expected to be completed by 2021. Via Engadget Images via Amtrak and Wikipedia

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Amtrak to launch next-gen high-speed trains in US in five years

Japanese-style bullet train in Texas on track for late 2017 groundbreaking

June 22, 2016 by  
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Japanese-style bullet trains zipping passengers between Houston and Dallas in less than 90 minutes at a top speed of 205 mph? While much attention has been paid to California’s high-speed rail project currently under construction , Texas could become the first state to begin running 200 mph-plus fast trains. Texas could possibly beat the Golden State by two years by breaking ground at the end of next year and opening to the public in 2020. California’s initial operating segment (IOS) from Madera to Bakersfield is expected to go online in 2022, while phase one from San Francisco to Los Angeles is expected to open in 2029 with a top speed of 220 mph and travel time of two hours and 38 minutes. Texas Central Railway , the private company that is developing the high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth, is planning to use trains based on the  N700 Series Shinkansen , the rolling stock that has operated in Japan since 2007. The train series was developed by JR Central and JR West with tilting capability. Related: World’s longest, deepest rail tunnel opens after almost 20 years of construction The multi-billion dollar project is projected to employ around 10,000 people per year during the design and construction phases and create 1,000 new jobs once the rail line is operational. Studies have shown that the project would pour $4.3 billion into the region during the construction phases and $352.4 million each year once operation begins. In a letter sent to the Surface Transportation Board last month, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) expressed its support for the project, stating that “the Texas Central initiative is an important demonstration of the role private capital can and must play in building our new transportation economy, and is thus an important private project of national significance, introducing a new high-speed rail option between the two largest metropolitan regions in Texas. Connecting these two regions by passenger rail for the first time will have a significant, positive effect on the entire interstate rail network.” + Texas Central Railway Via Cypress Creek Mirror Images via Texas Central Railway

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Japanese-style bullet train in Texas on track for late 2017 groundbreaking

How a city in Bangladesh famously won its war on air pollution

June 22, 2016 by  
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Rajshahi, a city in Bangladesh , used to be known for was air pollution . Locals battled dust and smog, often leaving windows closed on stifling summer days to avoid gathering a layer of dirt inside. It was ranked as one of the ” world’s most polluted cities “. Then they turned things around. In a surprise success story, Rajshahi cut more air pollution than any other place on Earth. Efforts to address pollution in Rajshahi began over 15 years ago with a drive to plant trees . About 12 years ago, the city addressed transportation pollution by purchasing rickshaws from China that are battery-powered, cutting down on fumes expelled by diesel- and petrol-powered vehicles. Large trucks were banned from entering the city center during the day. Brick kilns were outfitted with different chimneys and fuel to reduce pollution. Related: 6 brilliant smog-eating designs ridding cities of air pollution Inspired by visits to London, China and Japan, Rajshahi’s chief engineer Ashrafel Haque started building new, better pavements in the town. These not only encourage people to walk, but also help keep dust levels down. So far the city has built around nine miles of pavement, with plans to build an additional 21 miles. Haque is also working to install Bangladesh’s first bicycle lane which will further reduce the need to use cars and other polluting vehicles. Concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5, measurements of coarse and fine particle pollution, show the difference in air pollution levels. Between 2014 and 2016, PM10 levels plunged from 195 micrograms per cubic meters to 63.9, nearly a two-third reduction. PM2.5 levels dropped from 70 micrograms per cubic meter to 37. Residents now express pride in Rajshai, and residents with asthma report life is particularly better for them now. According to The Guardian, now that the city has been cleaned up, locals work harder to keep it clean. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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How a city in Bangladesh famously won its war on air pollution

Atmospheric 1950s home renovated as a school facilitates self-guided education

June 22, 2016 by  
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The building sits in a residential neighborhood with strict building regulations that forced the architects to stick to acceptable geometry and materials. It is designed to become a “third teacher” with a flexible learning environment . Using a design strategy that accentuates fluidity, the architects created a variety of spaces and established the connection between interior and exterior spaces. Related: The Garden School is a New Green-Roofed Learning Facility for China In order to comply with building regulations and still come up with an interesting design solution, the team used standard materials in an interesting way. This attitude resulted in a configuration of different scales and sequences of folds and patterns . They also integrated the existing 1950s pitched roof into the design to facilitate solar energy and rainwater harvesting . + Scalar Architecture Photos by Miguel de Guzmán

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Atmospheric 1950s home renovated as a school facilitates self-guided education

Alite’s pop-up Sierra Shack tents connect to create multi-room shelters

June 22, 2016 by  
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The Sierra Shack weighs less than 7 pounds, and you can sling it over your shoulder for easy transport. Its three zip-up doors allow you to customize your privacy, or even zip together additional tents to make a larger space. This modular feature means you can have a big social space during the day and partition off tents for private bedrooms at night. Related: Top eco-friendly camping gear for conscientious outdoor enthusiasts Setting the tent up and breaking it down is a breeze, and campers can rest assured the waterproof design means a comfortable and dry respite. The Sierra Shack can be toted along the most difficult trails, where cars can’t go, for a remote and peaceful camping experience. Combine your tent with Alite’s selection of folding chairs, totes, cooking supplies, sleeping bags, and waterproof blankets and you have everything you need for the perfect camping trip. + Alite Images via Alite

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Alite’s pop-up Sierra Shack tents connect to create multi-room shelters

Trailblazing slate tiles with hidden solar thermal reduce energy use by 85%

June 22, 2016 by  
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Harnessing the sun’s warmth to heat water is an approach fading in popularity in many places where solar power is already used, but it still makes sense for especially sunny places like Spain. Because natural slate is dark in color, it attracts the sun’s heat, and a rooftop sheathed in Thermoslate tiles can, according to the company’s website, provide up to two-thirds of a home’s hot water needs annually. Other homes with Thermoslate rooftops are reducing energy consumption by as much as 85 percent annually. Related: Spain reveals plans for first public streetlight system powered by wind and sun The tiles can be used for an attractive roof covering , a beautiful slate floor, or even outdoor wall cladding. For rooftop applications, there are two different options for installation method—one with nails, much like traditional roof tiles, and another using hooks that make it possible to slide the slate tiles out. The hook method allows for easier maintenance and repair because, although natural slate is quite durable, roof tiles can become damaged over time. The innocuous appearance of the Thermoslate system make it a good match for historic renovation projects because, once installed, it’s nearly impossible to detect a difference from a traditional slate tile rooftop. Via Treehugger Images via Cupa Pizarras

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Trailblazing slate tiles with hidden solar thermal reduce energy use by 85%

First China, US highspeed rail will connect Las Vegas and Los Angeles in 80 minutes flat

September 18, 2015 by  
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Travelers wanting to get from Las Vegas to Los Angeles – and vice versa – could see a drastic reduction in the amount of time needed for that trip, thanks to a high-speed train set to break ground next year . A partnership between a private US company and China Railway Group will bring a 150 mph rail that will carry passengers along the 230-mile journey in around 80 minutes. That’s a mega improvement over the four hours it takes to drive the same distance. Read the rest of First China, US highspeed rail will connect Las Vegas and Los Angeles in 80 minutes flat

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First China, US highspeed rail will connect Las Vegas and Los Angeles in 80 minutes flat

Ford’s new smartwatch app lets drivers keep (very) close tabs on their electric car

September 18, 2015 by  
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One of the best parts about electric cars is how connected they are. While some automakers have released apps connecting owners to their electric cars via their smartphone, others are taking connectedness a step further. To people’s wrists. Ford has announced a new smartwatch app called MyFord Mobile that lets drivers check important data, like available driving range, straight from their Android Wear or Apple Watch . Read the rest of Ford’s new smartwatch app lets drivers keep (very) close tabs on their electric car

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Ford’s new smartwatch app lets drivers keep (very) close tabs on their electric car

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