China takes on the Hyperloop with a supersonic ‘flying train’

September 4, 2017 by  
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Hyperloop mania has been heating up with the recent news that Elon Musk is planning to build one of the systems himself . Now China has their own answer: T-Flight, a “flying train” they say could travel even faster than a Hyperloop. This proposed mode of transportation could also reportedly shatter the sound barrier at 2,485 miles per hour (mph). China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) is working on the flying train that could travel at supersonic speeds, according to chief engineer Mao Kai, speaking to the state-run China News Service (CNS). A Hyperloop would travel at speeds of around 760 mph, just below the sound barrier. Related: Hyperloop One exhibits exciting first images of full-scale test track The flying train doesn’t truly fly. Instead, CNET described it as basically a Maglev train in a vacuum tube, quoting the South China Morning Post which said it draws inspiration from bullet trains, supersonic flight, and, of course, the Hyperloop. Kai told CNS people don’t need to worry about passenger safety since as acceleration speed wouldn’t even be as fast as an airplane taking off. He also said the flying train wouldn’t run on fossil fuels and wouldn’t be impacted by weather conditions. The train could also connect with subways. According to CNS, the project team is working with more than 20 research institutes to realize this project. Experts have their doubts. Beijing Transport University professor Zhao Jian told South China Morning Post the human body can only endure acceleration speeds of up to 4,000 kilometers per hour, or 2,485 mph, for a very brief time period. He told the news outlet, “In that case, are the passengers going to be astronauts only?” Other people say there’s no braking system in the world that would be able to halt the flying train in an emergency stop and have the passengers live. Internet users said the government should focus on other important issues. One Beijing commenter wrote on social media network Sina Weibo, “Can the government please invent technology to solve traffic jams first?” There’s no time frame for when a flying train might materialize, although according to CNET, it’s among the first serious concepts for supersonic ground transportation. Via CNET , China News Service , and South China Morning Post Images via screenshot

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China takes on the Hyperloop with a supersonic ‘flying train’

Elon Musks Boring Company receives green light to dig a two-mile test tunnel

August 28, 2017 by  
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Progress is being made on Elon Musk’s version of the Hyperloop , a supersonic train that could potentially travel up to 700 mph. Last week, the City Council in Hawthorne, California voted four to one in favor of allowing Musk’s Boring Company to dig a two-mile-long underground test tunnel. The newly-approved extension will stretch beyond the company’s property line outside of Los Angeles and will run 44 feet below the public roads and utilities that surround SpaceX headquarters. Reportedly, consumers won’t even notice the construction. The test tunnel will allow Boring Company to test its own version of the supersonic train which Musk previously shared open plans for. As The Verge reports, the planned route doesn’t go under any privately-owned residential or commercial property, aside from that owned by SpaceX. When the test tunnel is completed, the city can request the company fill it with concrete or soil. Read more: Hyperloop One conducts first full-scale test of superfast transportation system Brett Horton, senior director of facilities and construction for SpaceX , assured the Council that people in the area won’t even notice the construction — or the testing. He said, “They won’t even know we’re there” even though digging will take place below their feet. To assuage concern, Horton added that the company thoroughly tests the soil and will deliver the results to the city on a daily basis. If the ground is found to move as little as half-an-inch in either direction, work will stop until a solution is found. If the public has concerns, they can contact the city or visit SpaceX headquarters, he added. “Our operations team is on site at the entrance shaft, so we’re easy to reach,” said Horton. Hawthorne’s Mayor Alex Vargas said, “This is groundbreaking, this is establishing a precedent, and I think we all agree that we want to make sure that this goes off without a hitch.” The Boring Company still needs to obtain an “encroachment permit” before it can dig the test tunnel. Because some are still wary of the proposed Hyperloop , the company might still run into challenges. Regardless, the City Council’s approval is an essential step for Musk’s latest project. + Boring Company Via The Verge Images via Boring Company , Optimist Daily

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Elon Musks Boring Company receives green light to dig a two-mile test tunnel

India to ban driverless cars to protect citizens jobs

July 25, 2017 by  
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By the year 2030, 25 percent of American citizens will transit via self-driving vehicles – but the situation will be very different in India. This is because India’s transport and highways minister, Nitin Gadkari, announced today that self-driving cars will not be allowed in the country. He told reporters, “We won’t allow driverless cars in India. I am very clear on this.” As Engadget reports, the statement does not reflect safety concerns. Rather, Gadkari rejects self-driving vehicles because they could potentially take jobs away from drivers in the country. “We won’t allow any technology that takes away jobs. In a country where you have unemployment , you can’t have a technology that ends up taking people’s jobs,” said Gadkari. India’s transport and highways minister added that the government is working on opening several training facilities across the country in an effort to ensure 5,000 more professional drivers take to the roads over the next few years. He rejects the notion of self-driving vehicles, even while admitting that India is presently short about 22,000 commercial drivers. Though the decision may seem like a negative development, India wasn’t on track to receive self-driving technology anytime soon. According to statements made by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, this is because the country’s haphazard roads and congested traffic present great barriers to the implementation of driverless cars. Related: Half of the World’s Consumers Trust Autonomous Cars, According to a New Study India-based Tata Elxsi is ambitious to introduce autonomous vehicles to the country, however. In recent months, the company has been testing self-driving vehicles on a track designed to resemble the country’s roads. Engineers have even gone as far as to install pedestrians, livestock, unsigned merge lanes and limited signage on the track to give the driverless cars as “real of an experience as possible.” With this new declaration by Gadkari, however, it is unknown what action the company will take. Via Engadget Images via Pixabay

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Taipei transforms subway cars into ultra-realistic swimming pools and sports fields

July 19, 2017 by  
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No diving, please! Taipei is getting into the sporting spirit by transforming the interiors of its subway trains into mini sports arenas to celebrate the 29th Summer Universiade Games . The fun artwork, which is shockingly realistic, was inspired by the major sporting events that will take place during the event such as swimming, track and field, soccer, baseball and basketball. Photo by huei_0804 The 29th Summer Universiade Games will be held in Taipei from August 19th to August 30th. To celebrate the event, the city has transformed the interior of the city’s MRT trains to resemble sporting arenas . The city really went all-out to create lifelike settings – the swimming train, covered in what looks like inches of flowing water, is shockingly realistic. Related: Beijing’s futuristic new subway stations are straight out of Blade Runner Each of the subway trains has also been equipped with a FAQ box that will provide information about the scheduled events as well as rules and interesting facts related to the sport portrayed in each carriage. The fun campaign, which is sponsored by The Department of Information and Tourism and EasyCard Corporation, encourages subway riders to take selfies to post on Instagram to generate awareness of the sporting event. + Taipei Tourism Via This is Colossal Images via Taipei Tourism and Instagram

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Vertical Line Garden engulfs visitors in a flurry of colorful kinetic tapes

July 19, 2017 by  
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Canadian design studio BACKOFFICE found a surprising and fun new use for commercial barrier tape for the Vertical Line Garden, a kinetic installation bursting with color that changes dramatically with the light and wind. Developed for the 2017 International Garden Festival in Quebec , the Vertical Line Garden offers a twist on the formal traditional garden, using “contemporary ready-made means and hyper un-natural materials.” The multi-sensory and interactive pavilion comes to life as the pavilion’s hanging barricade tapes move about in the wind and generate a flurry of sound and color. Now in its fourth iteration, the Vertical Line Garden began in 2014 as an exercise in horizontal elements. Today’s version is the most spatial of the four iterations and is entirely vertical with added color and pattern. The installation is built of mass-produced safety and construction materials including commercial barrier tape, a timber frame , and a net. These man-made elements create great contrast with the cultivated Les Jardins de Métis and also communicate the theme of environmental protection and safeguarding. Related: Intriguing ION2 installation in Seattle responds to the movement of passersby BACKOFFICE writes: “The main material forming the installation , barricade tape (barrier tape), is typically used to delineate a perimeter and keep people out of a particular area or zone. Here however it is used precisely to bring visitors into the space and entice them to inhabit it.” To encourage people to stay and use the space, custom-fabricated bent-metal and canvas lounge chairs are provided. The billowing canopy that engulfs the interior is a dazzling display of color, light, and pattern. + BACKOFFICE Images by Martin Bond

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Vertical Line Garden engulfs visitors in a flurry of colorful kinetic tapes

A beautiful "canopy of light" resurrects the Guangzhou East Railway Station in China

June 23, 2017 by  
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One of the biggest railway terminals in China recently received an extensive renovation that shelters the main entrance with a beautiful “canopy of light.” The Architectural design and Research Institute of SCUT renovated the landmark Guangzhou East Railway Station by installing artificial landscape elements, repairing the public spaces , and introducing a series of amenities that meet the requirements of a modern railway station. The station was constructed in the mid 1990s, and it suffered from poorly organized of circulation and ventilation routes. Guangzhou won the bid to host the 2010 Asian Games, which provided it with the opportunity to upgrade the station and convert it into the valuable public space it’s supposed to be. Related: Renovated Paris Rail Station Will House 1000 Start-Ups! The architects cut several openings into the floor to allow natural light to filter inside. They moved the main entrance from the ground floor to the upper level and created a curved glass canopy that protects pedestrians from excessive sunlight and rain. All the metal elements are modular , and they were prefabricated in local factories and installed on site. A recent renovation round, executed six years after the Asian Games, introduced smaller elements like a loop-shaped kiosk, translucent curtains beneath the roof and other public amenities. + Architectural design and Research Institute of SCUT Photos by Liky Lam

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A beautiful "canopy of light" resurrects the Guangzhou East Railway Station in China

China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’

June 6, 2017 by  
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City public transportation systems typically rely on a mix of trains and buses . But what if the two could be combined? Chinese company CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive recently debuted a trackless train that could ease traffic and emissions in urban centers. The Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) uses sensors to run along invisible tracks on city streets. Train tracks on city streets could be a thing of the past if all goes well with the ART, recently unveiled in the city of Zhuzhou in the Hunan province in China , where it recently went on a trial run. Firstpost described the ART as the world’s first trackless train. Sensor technology enables the ART to glide over roads, helping it track a guiding system in place. The sensors send the information back to the train’s central control unit – what Firstpost described as a brain – to help it travel smoothly. Related: You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train More than 300 people can ride on the ART, which is comprised of three carriages in its basic state but can expand to include five. It has rubber wheels with plastic cores. A twin-head system means the train never has to make a U-turn, according to Firstpost. The trackless train is over 103 feet long. The ART is powered by electricity , so it won’t give off carbon emissions as traditional trains do. It can travel at a speed of around 43 miles per hour. CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive has reportedly been testing the ART technology for around four years, but the trackless train could finally be ready to roll out on the road in 2018. The company boasts a wide array of electric locomotives. Their Blue Locomotive won the title of Best New Energy Locomotive at the Berlin International Rail Transit Technology Exhibition. Via Firstpost Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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Nations tallest timber building to rise in Portland

June 6, 2017 by  
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The nation’s tallest wooden high-rise will soon take shape in Portland , Oregon. Funded by a $1.5 million-dollar award from the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition , the innovative timber building, named Framework, will be built from domestically sourced and engineered wood products. LEVER Architecture designed the mixed-use high-rise as a beacon of sustainability with its use of low-carbon materials, green roof, and resilient design. Slated to begin construction this fall, the 12-story Framework building will comprise ground-floor bank and retail, five floors of office space, and five floors for 60 residential units with a mix of studios as well as one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Nearly half of the 90,000-square-foot building will be zoned for affordable housing. The mixed-use building will also be primarily built of cross laminated timber and is designed to be fire- and earthquake-resistant. In a Framework press release: “Beneficial State Bank, a triple bottom line community bank, teamed with project^, a values-based commercial real estate developer; and Home Forward, the public housing authority for Multnomah County, Oregon to reimagine their existing Pearl District property in Portland, Oregon into Framework, the nation’s first wood high-rise building. The building seeks to develop a model for a sustainable urban ecology by promoting social justice , sustainable building, and economic opportunity thus yielding broad advancement of these objectives at a national scale.” Related: Magnificent timber skyscraper will sequester carbon and add greenery to Bordeaux Framework, which is expected to complete construction in late 2018, will likely be the nation’s first timber high-rise building with wood from the ground-floor as well as the first with exposed wood in North America. The building is also expected to use significantly less energy than a traditional building of similar size and function with energy savings of 60 percent when compared to code and water savings exceeding 30 percent compared to code. Framework is also expected to result in 1,824 tons of carbon dioxide emission offsets, equivalent to taking 348 cars off the road for a year. + LEVER Architecture

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Elon Musk reveals boring tunnels are for Hyperloop

May 23, 2017 by  
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Cleantech pioneer Elon Musk wants you to drive a Tesla electric car or truck, power your home with SolarCity solar panels and store renewable electricity with Tesla Powerwall battery packs. Oh yeah, he also wants to zip you from DC to NYC in less than 30 minutes via Hyperloop pods that can reach speeds of more than 600 miles per hour racing through evacuated tubes. Now Musk has revealed that part of the reason he started The Boring Company , besides finding a solution for LA’s “soul-destroying traffic,” is to launch and test Hyperloop by using his new Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to dig underneath the City of Angels . “Fast to dig, low cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes,” the company’s new FAQ page states regarding its specific goals, adding that “the electric skate can transport automobiles, goods, and/or people. And if one adds a vacuum shell, it is now a Hyperloop Pod which can travel at 600+ miles per hour.” Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company video envisions underground LA as a crazy slot car race The FAQ page mentions that The Boring Company aims to fix congestion in major cities by building an underground network of road tunnels “many levels deep” with the ability to keep adding levels. The key to making this work would be “increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more.” Costs would be mitigated by reducing the tunnel diameter, which the site claims can be accomplished by placing vehicles on a “stabilized electric sled.” Speeding up tunneling is another way to reduce costs, with the stated goal for the TBM to defeat the snail in a race. Hyperloop One has already built a full-scale test track at the company’s development site in Nevada. Countries from India to South Korea  to the United Arab Emirates  to Russia  have expressed interest in Hyperloop technology. It is clear that the race to build the first Hyperloop rapid transit system is underway and similar to his other ventures, Musk is eager to take the lead. + The Boring Company + Hyperloop One Via Archinect Images via The Boring Company

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Nations largest cross-laminated timber academic building is an icon of sustainability

May 23, 2017 by  
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The first and largest cross-laminated timber (CLT) academic building in the U.S. has opened at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. Designed by Leers Weinzapfel Associates , the multidisciplinary Design Building brings together 500 students and 50 faculty across four departments into a light-filled 87,000-square-foot space. As a beacon of sustainability, the building features energy-saving elements, such as chilled beams and radiant flooring, and targets LEED Gold certification. Cross-laminated timber has long been praised for its durability, lightness, and speed of construction, however, has been slow to catch on in the U.S. relative to Europe and Canada. As the largest installation of wood-concrete composites in North America, the UMass Design Building paves the way in a growing trend of “mass timber” buildings. Cast-in-place concrete and CLT make up the Design Building’s floor slabs, while glue-laminated timber was used for the posts, beams, shear wall cores, and “zipper” trusses. To reference the colors and patterns of the nearby forests, the four-story building is wrapped in a durable envelope of copper-colored anodized aluminum panels punctuated with vertical windows. The glazing and skylights maximize daylight to the interior to reduce reliance on artificial lighting. Stormwater is managed onsite with bioswales and timber dams that filter and redirect runoff back to the Connecticut River. Related: Taiwan’s first CLT building paves way to greener alternatives to concrete and steel “To create a center space of collaboration, a coiling and rising band of studios, faculty offices and classrooms surrounds a skylit Commons for gathering and presentations,” write the architects. “The building also forms a green roof terrace, a contemplative space shared by the studios and faculty and a potential experimental space for the landscape department. The slope of the site creates a tall four-story façade on the west facing the mall, and the rising structure invites the community into the building and reveals the activities within.” + Leers Weinzapfel Associates Via Dezeen Images via Leers Weinzapfel Associates

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