Elon Musk’s Boring Company asks LA to start digging a tunnel within city limits

November 22, 2017 by  
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Will The Boring Company get the green light from Los Angeles to start digging a traffic-killing tunnel ? Elon Musk’s venture recently filed an application with officials for approval to commence digging within city limits. A Boring Company spokesperson said the tunnel could stretch from Hawthorne – where Musk’s other company SpaceX is located – “along the 405 to Westwood, with a number of stops along the way.” According to Los Angeles’ Bureau of Engineering spokesperson Mary Nemick The Boring Company filed their application, although she and a spokesperson for the mayor said they wouldn’t immediately release the documents. The Los Angeles Times said lawmakers will now face questions about whether or not the city should back a privatized transportation system with new technology , and what type of environmental review there might be. Related: Elon Musk shows first glimpse of the Boring Company tunnel beneath LA Picture of The Boring Company LA tunnel taken yesterday pic.twitter.com/TfdVKyXFsJ — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2017 The tunnel could ultimately link the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with the San Fernando Valley. A Boring Company spokesperson said this week the tunnel could transport passengers on electric platforms traveling at speeds as fast as 130 miles per hour. Pedestrians and bicyclists could board a capsule able to carry eight to 16 people. The tunnel’s diameter would be around 12 feet, and it would be funded “entirely with private money,” according to a spokesperson. In an April TED talk, Musk suggested the trip between LAX and Westwood would take a mere six minutes. Musk also seems ambitious about the time it could take to complete the tunnel: a year or so to stretch along “the whole 405 N-S corridor from LAX to the 101,” he said in a tweet . The Los Angeles Times noted digging is typically the quickest portion of a tunnel project; environmental reviews and permits can take years. Councilman Mike Bonin invited Boring Company representatives to talk with the City Council next year about the effort, and requested a report on potential policy and regulatory questions. He said in an interview, “So far, in the public imagination, this idea has been at the level of blog posts and cocktail party conversation. We need to flesh it out more.” Via The Los Angeles Times Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company asks LA to start digging a tunnel within city limits

Cards Against Humanity buys land on the US-Mexico border to block Trump’s wall

November 15, 2017 by  
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You may have gotten some laughs from the irreverent Cards Against Humanity game in the past, but now the people behind the “party game for horrible people” have a higher objective: stop Donald Trump’s border wall. The company bought land on the border and worked with a law firm to make it harder for the Trump administration to act on its plan – and they asked fans to chip in $15 for a piece of the land in their new Cards Against Humanity Saves America campaign. Cards Against Humanity doesn’t want to see a United States-Mexico border wall erected, so they’re working to thwart Trump with their recent land purchase. On their campaign page, they said, “Donald Trump is a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans. He is so afraid that he wants to build a twenty-billion dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing. So we’ve purchased a plot of vacant land on the border and retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built.” Related: Provocative street art installation shows baby peering over US-Mexico border wall Those who gave Cards Against Humanity $15 earned “six America-saving surprises” during the holidays. The company has been quiet about most of the surprises, but they did say backers could expect an illustrated map of the land they purchased, new cards, and a certificate of their promise to battle Trump’s border wall. Other surprises are set to be delivered in December. The campaign seems to have resonated with Americans – The Washington Post reported it sold out in hours. This isn’t the first time Cards Against Humanity has gotten political , using humor to draw attention to current issues. For example, earlier this year they created a Weed Pack and donated proceeds to the Marijuana Public Policy Project to fight for legalization. They also sent potatoes to Republican Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson to persuade him to hold a town hall about the Affordable Care Act. + Cards Against Humanity Saves America Images via Cards Against Humanity Saves America and Anthony Albright on Flickr

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Cards Against Humanity buys land on the US-Mexico border to block Trump’s wall

Hyperloop-inspired company promises 200 mph travel without the vacuum tubes

November 15, 2017 by  
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Arrivo, a high-speed transportation company founded by former SpaceX and Hyperloop One engineer Brogan BamBrogan, has announced a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation to construct a “ hyperloop-inspired ” track through Denver . Unlike the hyperloop design, which depends on new infrastructure, Arrivo’s system involves building open tracks on existing roadways and uses magnets to pull pods, which would hold cars, trucks, or buses, along a track at speeds of up to 200 mph. “People will tell you that a well-functioning freeway can move 2,000 to 2,500 vehicles an hour,” said BamBrogan said at a news conference. “The Arrivo system — because it’s a dedicated roadway with 21st century technology — can move 20,000 vehicles an hour.” Arrivo is distinct from Hyperloop in that it is designed for local travel rather than long, inter-city travel. For example, an Arrivo route from Denver Airport to the city’s downtown, a 32 mile journey that can take up to an hour in traffic, might instead take 8 minutes and cost as much as a toll road. Next year, Arrivo will invest $10 to $15 million into its research facility and test track in Colorado and plans to hire 40 to 50 engineers, with up to 200 engineers working on the project by 2020. Related: Winning Mexloop Hyperloop design could connect 42M people in new megalopolis The State of Colorado is enthusiastic about the project, but the partnership with Arrivo remains in its early stages. “As they prove out the technology and we prove the feasibility, then in a couple of years, we’ll talk about whether there is an infrastructure investment here,” said Shailen Bhatt in an interview with the Denver Post . “There’s no commitment by the state to say we’re going to definitely build one here, but we’re pretty confident that they’ll deliver a product that will move people quickly and safely.” Via The Denver Post and the Verge Images via Arrivo and Depositphotos

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Hyperloop-inspired company promises 200 mph travel without the vacuum tubes

Siemens debuts first electrified eHighway in the US

November 9, 2017 by  
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Siemens just launched a one-mile long demonstration site for its electrified eHighway system, the first of its kind in the United States . The eHighway demo is being run in California  near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The demonstration system includes an overhead catenary system, through which three electric big-rig trucks can recharge, that is similar those found above trolley or streetcar lines. Through the eHighway system, select highway lanes could be electrified, allowing electric vehicles to charge as they move and empowering a zero-emissions transportation system on existing port infrastructure. Siemens, in collaboration with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), is hoping to address a serious source of air pollution  with the new eHighway system. Large trucks, such as those used for shipping goods across country, are the largest contributing source of smog-forming emissions in Southern California. “This project will help us evaluate the feasibility of a zero-emission cargo movement system using overhead catenary wires,” said Wayne Nastri, SCAQMD’s executive officer. “This demonstration could lead to the deployment of eHighway systems that will reduce pollution and benefit public health for residents living near the ports.” Currently, a battery-electric truck, a natural gas-hybrid-electric truck, and a diesel hybrid truck are being tested for effectiveness at the demonstration site on South Alameda Street from East Lomita Boulevard to the Dominguez Channel in Carson, California. While this may be the first eHighway site in the United States, the first such system on public roads opened in Sweden in June 2016. Related: World’s first electric dump truck stores as much energy as 8 Tesla Model S cars The eHighway system is designed with the future in mind. “Experts expect global CO2 emissions from road freight traffic to more than double by 2050,” said Andreas Thon, head of Turnkey Projects & Electrification, North America. “This electrified truck system, what we call eHighway, can modernize the existing infrastructure using the latest technology to accommodate the growing amount of freight travel, reduce harmful emissions , and keep these ports, one of our country’s major economic drivers, competitive.” + Siemens USA Images via Siemens USA

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Siemens debuts first electrified eHighway in the US

Investors bullish on potential for sustainable infrastructure

November 7, 2017 by  
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Experts talk up public-private collaboration for ‘urban planning 2.0.’

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6 things that vex corporate sustainability execs

November 7, 2017 by  
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Insights into some of the more frustrating challenges of CSR and sustainability today.

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6 things that vex corporate sustainability execs

Dunkirk, France offers free public transit to all

October 26, 2017 by  
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The small coastal city of Dunkirk in northern France is perhaps most famous, at the moment, for its portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s eponymous 2017 film, but it also deserves special attention for its decision to offer free public transit to all. In a move designed to reinforce economic fairness and establish Dunkirk as a sustainable, low-carbon community, Mayor Patrice Vergriete established the city’s inclusive transit policy, which will expand free public transit service to seven days a week starting in September 2018. The policy change, paid for with money that was originally allocated for the construction of a sports stadium, has been successful in increasing and diversifying ridership and could prove to be a powerful model for other cities looking to improve their quality of life and decrease their carbon footprint. When Vergriete first ran for mayor in 2014, he articulated his vision of a diverse, inclusive city that welcomes young people and families, supports the mobility of the elderly, and empowers people with limited economic means , according to CityLab . “I wanted to give back purchasing power to the families,” explained Vergriete on his initial motive. After launching free weekend services, ridership soared, up 30 percent on Saturday and 80 percent on Sunday. When free public transit is fully expanding to an all-week schedule, Dunkirk will be the largest city in France, though not the first, to offer this service. Related: Singapore is banning all new private vehicles from its roads Although the public transit services in Dunkirk may be free to riders, it is not a free ride for the local government, which must fund the service . Vergriete has observed that some are skeptical of the city’s ability to deliver these services without burdening taxpayers. “They think it’s like magic,” said Vergriete. “They think it’s not possible, that you are a liar. You cannot pay the salaries of the drivers, for the buses, with free transport.” In fact, only 10 percent of the public transit’s funding in Dunkirk was paid for with fares, a model that is similarly used in cities around the world , writes CityLab. Since rider fares are already such a small slice of the pie, “mayors should think about making it free,” said Vergriete. “It’s really a choice that we are making to charge.” In addition to support from the regional government’s general budget, the free transit service is primarily funded by a special transit tax on businesses, which was originally raised by Vergriete’s predecessor to pay for an expansion to a local sports arena. “It is a question of political priority ,” said Vergriete, whose administration chose to use that money set aside for a stadium to fund inclusive public transit instead. Via CityLab Images via  Vincent Desjardins/Flickr , Marco Chiesa/Flickr and Depositphotos

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Dunkirk, France offers free public transit to all

Ai Weiwei installs huge fences in New York City to challenge Trumps border control measures

October 17, 2017 by  
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Ai Weiwei continues to address the refugee crisis through his latest multi-site, multi-media exhibition in New York City . In a campaign against Donald Trump’s border-control measures, the famous Chinese artist and human-rights activist has enclosed spaces throughout New York with gigantic security fences . The project, titled Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, includes a huge golden cage placed in Central Park, and a fence-like enclosure embedded within the Washington Square Arch. In 2016, Weiwei traveled to 23 countries and visited over 40 refugee camps while filming his documentary Human Flow . He chose a proverb from Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall as the title for this new piece, which continues to explore the theme of borders. Related: Ai Weiwei Uses 1.2 Million LEGO Bricks to Portray 176 Political Prisoners and Exiles The artist worked with New York charity the Public Art Fund to create temporary structures in three locations in New York City. Funded through Kickstarter, the project aims to provoke and further the discussion about Trump’s plans to tighten immigration controls. The large circular gold structure, titled Gilded Cage, was installed on the Doris C Freedman Plaza, just a few minutes away from Trump Tower . The second installation is embedded in the Washington Square Arch as a mirrored passageway in the shape of two joined human figures. In Queens, Weiwei wrapped the Unisphere in Corona Park in mesh netting to create a low-lying fence. The exhibition will run until 11 February 2018, and it also includes several smaller interventions scattered throughout the city. + Ai Weiwei Photos by Jason Wyche via Public Art Fund, NY

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Ai Weiwei installs huge fences in New York City to challenge Trumps border control measures

Will America’s infrastructure investment withstand future disasters?

October 9, 2017 by  
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Communities are increasingly keeping climate change in mind as they plan roads, sewers and energy grids.

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Will America’s infrastructure investment withstand future disasters?

Tesla nears halfway mark on world’s largest battery installation in South Australia

October 2, 2017 by  
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Tesla just announced that the world’s largest battery installation is about halfway finished. The 100MW/129MWh utility-grade battery bank near the site of the 100MW Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia will be the largest system connected to an energy grid. This massive undertaking was inspired by a bet between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who could not believe that Tesla was able to install its grid-tied battery systems as quickly as it claimed. Musk, confident in his company’s work, promised to install the world’s largest battery bank in 100 days or the State of South Australia would receive it for free. The clock is now ticking. After accepting the challenge, Tesla participated in a competitive bidding process to unlock a $115 million renewable energy fund from the State of South Australia , which has suffered disruptive blackouts in recent summer seasons. After estimating that the world’s largest battery bank would cost $32.35 million, excluding labor costs and taxes, Tesla was awarded the contract in partnership with the French company Neoen, which owns the Hornsdale Wind Farm on which the battery bank is being built. Musk made clear that the negotiation phase did not count towards the 100 days deadline. The stakes are high; if Tesla fails to complete its task within 100 days, it could suffer a loss of $50 million or more. Related: Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico Last Friday, Tesla officially announced the start of its 100-day challenge, though it would seem that the company gave itself a bit of a head start. The battery bank, which is being built at the Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada , is nearly halfway complete as is the installation of batteries into the bank. “To have that [construction] done in two months … you can’t remodel your kitchen in that period of time,” said Musk at a kickoff event, seeming to acknowledge the absurdity of the situation. If any company is up to this kind of challenge, one based on a bet between billionaires, it’s Tesla. Via Ars Technica Images via Tesla

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Tesla nears halfway mark on world’s largest battery installation in South Australia

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