Category Archives: Green
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has received approval to deploy its Project Loon LTE balloons in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Project Loon was a former Google X Lab project which was developed to provide mobile data access to disaster zones and remote areas by using high-altitude weather balloons. The project is now under the domain of Alphabet.
The Federal Communications Commission has issued an “emergency license” for the Project Loon balloons to be deployed in Puerto Rico.
The FCC estimates that 83 percent of the island’s cellular sites are still down ever since Hurricane Maria caused remarkable damage to Puerto Rico. The high-altitude weather balloons that Alphabet will deploy are also going to help restore service in the U.S. Virgin Islands that got hit by the hurricane as well.
In order to deliver signals to people’s devices, Loon has to be integrated with a telco partner’s network. The balloons aren’t capable of doing that by themselves.
“We’ve been making solid progress on this next step and would like to thank everyone who’s been lending a hand,” said a spokesperson, adding that “We’re grateful for the support of the FCC and the Puerto Rican authorities as we work hard to see if it’s possible to use Loon balloons to bring emergency connectivity to the island during this time of need.”
[CEATEC 2017] As our natural resources aren’t exactly unlimited, the world has started to look forwards renewable sources of energy, such as taking advantage of the wind, water, and sun to generate energy. Many tech companies are also working at creating greener and more sustainable products, such as Tesla.
The company had previously unveiled a power pack that homeowners could install in their homes that could serve to power the home as opposed to drawing energy from the grid. As it turns out, Honda has something similar that they are showing off at CEATEC 2017 in Japan this year that comes in the form of a mobile power pack.
As you can see in the photos, Honda’s mobile power pack is indeed mobile as it relatively small and portable. It is a 1 KWh battery pack that can be charged wirelessly when dropped into its charging dock. The idea behind it is that it can be swapped around at charging stations, meaning that if you run out of juice, you can go to a charging station and swap it for a fully charged one.
According to Honda, this battery pack seems to have been designed for electric motorcycles and will require two to power one. Alternatively it can also be used for traveling, like when you go camping and you need the battery pack to power certain things, like lights.
The majority of electric cars we’ve seen are of the sedan variety, and also for the most part have been designed for developed markets and cities where the roads are well-paved. However this also means that another market has been completely neglected, which is the emerging market where in some parts of the world, roads aren’t even paved at all.
One such market is rural Africa, but the Technical University of Munich has created an electric car prototype that has been designed to work under such conditions. Dubbed aCar, this is a four-wheel drive electric car that is capable of handling both dirt roads and off-roading, thanks to the use of the electric motor which ensures that the car always has full torque.
Unfortunately there are limitations and that is the current prototype only has a range of 50 miles. However the upside is that the way the aCar has been designed, it has a modular design and can be “transformed” to a car that can carry passengers or cargo. Its battery can also be used to power other devices like a winch.
The aCar was put to the test earlier this July in Ghana and is expected to go into production where it is estimated to cost below €10,000.
The problem with electric cars is that they require recharging. You might argue that our regular cars also need to be refueled, but the main difference is that the time it takes to refuel a car is significantly less compared to if you were to charge an electric car. Of course charging times have been cut down quite a bit over the years, but it isn’t necessarily quite as fast yet.
However this is something that Daimler wants to change as the company has managed to raise $60 million in an investment that will help further super-fast EV charging technology. The investment will be going towards an Israeli startup by the name of StoreDot, who has been working on technology that has the potential to fully charge an EV in as little as five minutes.
For those unfamiliar, StoreDot is a company that has been exploring fast-charging technology not just in cars, but also smartphones. Earlier this year, the company unveiled its FlashBattery that they are hoping will replace the lithium-ion batteries in cars in the future. Not only does this battery support super-fast charging, but it is also said to be able to provide a range of about 300 miles.
StoreDot is clearly not the only one working on faster charging tech. Tesla also has its own Supercharger that can fully charge one of its cars in about 2 hours, but if StoreDot can bring that down to 5 minutes, we reckon Tesla’s got their work cut out for them.
Electric cars are the future simply because in terms of sustainability, they are better than regular gas-powered cars that consume fossil fuel, which is a finite source. Volkswagen knows this and in a report from Reuters, the carmaker has announced their plans to step up their EV efforts and are aiming to have at least 300 EV models by 2030.
Note that these won’t be all Volkswagen branded cars, but it will be spread throughout the various brands that it owns (such as AUDI, Bentley, Bugatti, and so on, just to name a few). The company will be investing $24 billion in their efforts to create more EVs and has set a new goal of introducing at least 80 new EV models across its brands by 2025, versus their previous goal of 25. They are also aiming to create an electric version of its existing 300 models over the course of the next decade or so.
Carmakers aren’t the only ones who are pushing to create more EVs in the future. Even countries and governments are looking to do their part in making the change, with the most recent report indicating that China is looking to set a deadline on the ban of sales and production of fossil fuel-powered cars, joining the likes of Germany and Norway.
There are also non-carmaker companies who are looking to become “greener”, such as Uber who has recently announced that they want its entire London fleet to consist of EVs by 2025.
Self-driving cars aren’t new, and while there are many, many companies working on developing the technology, self-driving cars have yet to become commercially available, although we guess the closest thing we’ve got at the moment would be Tesla’s Autopilot mode, which actually feels like a more advanced version of cruise control.
This is due to various legal and regulatory hurdles that needs to be sorted out before driverless cars can be allowed on the road for non-testing purposes, so it remains to be seen who could be the first to bring such vehicles to market. However in a recent blog post on Medium by Kyle Vogt, the CEO and founder of Cruise Automation, a driverless startup that was acquired by GM, it seems that GM could be the first.
The company has recently taken the wraps off what they are calling the world’s first mass-producible car, meaning that this isn’t a concept or an existing car outfitted with sensors for testing, but rather this is a vehicle that could be mass produced like any other car. According to Vogt, “The car we’re unveiling today is actually our 3rd generation self-driving car, but it’s the first that meets the redundancy and safety requirements we believe are necessary to operate without a driver. There’s no other car like this in existence.”
However like we said, there are certain regulatory hurdles that needs to be crossed first before we start seeing these cars being made available to consumers, but in the meantime assuming all goes to plan, GM could really be the first to hit the ground running with self-driving cars.
By now it is pretty obvious that many carmakers are making the shift towards creating hybrids or full electric cars, where there will no longer be the need to consume fossil fuels in order to power them (or at least consume less). In fact recently in China, the government is hoping to set a deadline in which all fossil fuel-cars will be banned from being sold or made.
Over in the UK, it looks like Uber wants to do their part in pushing for EVs to become more mainstream, and have since announced a new initiative called “Clean Air Plan”. This is an initiative in which Uber is hoping to push all of its drivers in London to start driving EVs by 2025. Note that this is just for the London market, which means that the rest of the UK isn’t covered, but we suppose it’s a start.
The initiative also includes a fund in which drivers who do get on board with it will be able to claim up to £5,000 that they can use towards the purchase of a new hybrid or electric car, with Uber estimating that they will pay as much as £150 million over the lifetime of the program. In addition to this, Uber will also be launching a diesel scrappage program in London.
This will see the first 1,000 people who hand over a diesel vehicle with pre-Euro 4 emissions given £1,500 in Uber credits. According to Fred Jones, Uber’s Head of UK Cities, “Air pollution is a growing problem and we’re determined to play our part. Londoners already know many cars on our app are hybrids, but we want to go much further and go all electric in the capital.”
It is clear that the future of cars is that they will be going electric and possibly fully autonomous too. However for now, fossil fuel still remains the “popular” choice, and that’s something that countries want to change, such as Germany who hopes to ban internal combustion engines by 2030, while Norway wants to ban gas-powered cars as early as 2025.
Now it looks like China also wants to put an end to fossil fuel-powered cars, and in a report from Bloomberg, the country’s government is said to be working with regulators in coming up with a deadline in which carmakers will have to put an end to the production and sales of fossil fuel-powered cars, at least as far as China’s market is concerned.
China’s pollution is pretty well-known and at one point in time it got so bad where they had to issue a red alert to its residents, so the move at removing fossil fuel-powered cars doesn’t come as a surprise. The country’s government has vowed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030. According to Liu Zhijia, an assistant general manager at Chery Automobile, he expects that such a ban might only come into effect in 2040.
Liu was quoted as saying, “The implementation of the ban for such a big market like China can be later than 2040. That will leave plenty of time for everyone to prepare.” That being said despite these measures, it was previously estimated by the Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries that in 2040, electric cars will still only make up 1% of the global car market.