San Francisco is too expensive – so this couple hit the road in an amazing renovated van

June 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

After just four months of dating, San Francisco residents Juliana and Richmond grew weary of the city’s shockingly high real estate scene. So they decided to convert a 15-year-old Sprinter Van into 50 square feet of custom-built living space, with a recessing mechanical bed, hidden storage and a stowable tabletop. The couple spent months creating their home on wheels – lovingly called Home Sweet Van – and then they set off to explore the world. After buying the old van, the couple went to work by gutting the interior before adding new wood paneling, seating with hidden storage, and even a mechanical bed that rises on rails to the ceiling height, providing more space when not in use. Related: Living out of a van has never looked this good The traveling duo parks the converted van in various places while on the road such as local campgrounds, national forest lands, and, of course, the always popular Walmart parking lots. Although the Home Sweet Van unfortunately does not have a bathroom or shower, the couple has learned to plan their day accordingly, “You get used to planning your day around, ‘where am I going to go [to the bathroom] in the morning and where am I going to go at night,’” Richmond explained. The couple recently returned from exploring North America, but once again, have found it difficult to park in peace in their hometown of San Francisco. Now, they’re living in Oregon. If you are interested in building your own van, the couple has a digital book packed full of tips. + Home Sweet Van Via Business Insider

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San Francisco is too expensive – so this couple hit the road in an amazing renovated van

New self-driving electric RoboBuses are launching in Finland this year

June 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The world is becoming increasingly automated, and a new self-driving bus in Finland is evidence of this. Beginning in the fall of 2017, the Finnish capital will launch a new autonomous electric “RoboBusLine.” According to the City of Helsinki the line “represents a shift from an experimental phase to regular, scheduled public transit service with self-driving buses.” Not only will the self-driving vehicles reduce the costs of transportation and improve access to public transit – they will also reduce the amount of cars that are on the road and slash emissions. In August of 2016, the Sohjoa project (an EU-financed initiative by the six largest cities in Finland, Finnish universities and transportation authorities) launched two EasyMile EZ10 electric minibuses in Helsinki. Reportedly, the initiative is part of the EU-financed mySMARTLife program, in which European cities are encouraged to develop energy-efficient mobility to reduce energy consumption in cities by 10-15 percent. So far, the electric minibuses have been tested in real traffic conditions – and they will continue to be monitored in urban areas until August 2017. Each bus has an operator on board in case of an emergency and travels at about 7 mph (11 km per hour), learning the route and accruing knowledge as it transits . Said Sohjoa project manager, Oscar Nissin of Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, “We focus on a number of aspects including sensor technology, user experience, and how to complement overall public transit services with self-driving buses.” Once the self-driving trials are complete, the Finnish cities of Espoo and Tampere will launch the buses to shuttle passengers from Helsinki’s Mustikkamaa recreational Island to Helsinki Zoo. Project leader and Metropolia’s smart mobility program director, Harri Santamala, explained that the “RoboBus will allow us to test operation in everyday public transit conditions. It will be used to study the long-term operability of self-driving buses and customer behavior. Related: The world’s first self-driving grocery store just hit the streets of Shanghai Finland is an ideal location for a self-driving bus to launch, as the country’s law does not state that a vehicle has to have a driver. Additionally, autonomous buses could offer a solution to a persistent problem in Helsinki: transporting riders from a regular public transit stop to their homes. A press release says, “Automated, remote-controlled bus service could markedly reduce the costs of the last-mile service and improve access to public transit . The ultimate goal is to increase public transit use and so to reduce cars and needs to drive in the city.” Because the electric minus is in a competitive bid process, the route, its launch date, and schedule will be announced at a later time. + Helsinkin RoboBusLine Image via Helsinkin RoboBusLine

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New self-driving electric RoboBuses are launching in Finland this year

Living out of a van has never looked this good

April 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

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For those who daydream of living the nomadic life, but are afraid of taking the leap, a new company is offering a taste of van life on a temporary basis. Colorado-based Native Campervans rents out converted vans that come with all of the essentials needed for living off-grid and on the road. Founders of the company, college friends Jonathan Moran and Dillon Hansen, say that it was a personal road trip that inspired them to create the business, “A few years ago, we took a trip to New Zealand in a campervan. The trip was amazing. It forced us to observe nature, be present and adventure. A few years later we decided to invest ourselves into that passion and began the business of purchasing, renovating and renting out campervans . The goal has been to give others the same experiences we had that’s both affordable and accessible.” Related: Amazing DIY van conversion boasts a wood-burning stove and chimney Renters have their choice of two sizes, “Smalls” and “Biggies.” The latter are converted 136″ Ram ProMasters , which offer ample interior space. All of the vans were designed to provide comfortable living space as well as optimal maneuverability. The vans come with a queen-size bed, kitchen and seating area, with plenty of storage compartments throughout the van. The Biggies are prewired for solar, and acccording to Hansen, the next step will be installing solar panels on the vans. “[Right now] the vehicles run off an ancillary battery that is charged when the van is moving. One hour of driving charges the vehicle for one day. This supports the lights, refrigerator and inverter so individuals can charge their electronics. No plug-ins at campgrounds necessary.” + Native Campervans Via Treehugger Images via Native Campervans 

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Living out of a van has never looked this good

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