World’s First ‘Solar Road’ is Generating More Power Than Expected

Just imagine if our roads could act as solar panels and are able to generate power for our houses as well as charge the electric vehicles that drive on them.

The Netherlands built the world’s first solar road in Krommenie, dubbed as SolaRoad, a year ago. It is an experimental bike path that functions as a giant solar panel. The results have surprised the designers, as over the past year the path has generated 70 kWh/m2 of energy, which is sufficient to power about three houses.

Here are some important features of the revolutionary SolaRoad:

  • SolaRoad path only covers 70 meters or about 230 feet.
  • The road is strong enough to support 12-ton fire trucks without any damage.
  • Solar Panels are placed between glass, silicon rubber, and concrete.
  • The road has skid-resistant glass and hence supports bicycles and vehicles as well as pedestrian traffic.
  • Electricity generated by this road is fed into the electricity grid.

Over 9800 kWh of energy was generated from 70 meters of space, so imagine the potential of this technology if adopted on a wider scale.

Looking at the success of this project, engineers foresee that many more cities around the world will adopt the idea and use existing roadways to gather cheap and sustainable energy.

Futuristic Flying Vehicles Will Deliver Goods Then Poof Out of Existence

It sounds like an engineering fantasy or a scene out of a Harry Potter movie, but it is real that Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, is developing unmanned, single-use, unpowered air vehicles that do their job and then just disappear.

Building on recent innovations in the Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program, DARPA has launched ICARUS (Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems), which is tasked with developing vanishing air vehicles that can be dropped from an aircraft to make precise deliveries to isolated locations and then evaporate into thin air.

VAPR researchers have already developed ephemeral materials, including a small polymer panel that sublimates directly from a solid phase to a gas phase and a glass material embedded with electronics that shatters into tiny particles after use.

In battlefields, many sophisticated technologies are often used and are left behind, which can fall into the wrong hands, making them very risky. Moreover, these discarded electronics can also harm the environment. Self-destructing electronics will rule out all these problems.

ICARUS will have other applications as well, like delivering food, water, perishable vaccines, insulin, and blood to people struck by natural disasters or epidemics, as well as for supporting military units in the field. Usually, the organizations that dispense such materials have to go back to collect the vehicles they used to drop the supplies, or they leave these vehicles to decompose.

Tesla’s Controversial Autopilot Mode Disabled for Hong Kong Owners

According to International Business Times, Tesla has been forced to disable its controversial autopilot mode for Hong Kong owners after city officials requested the opportunity to perform a thorough safety review of the autonomous features.

Obviously, it makes sense for Hong Kong officials to be a bit cautious when it comes to an autopilot mode still in beta, considering the insane traffic the city generally experiences.

“The Autosteer and Auto Lane Change functions in our recent 7.0 software update are still pending approval from Hong Kong’s Transport Department,” the company wrote to Tesla owners in Hong Kong yesterday. “To ensure we comply with the country’s regulators, we will be temporarily turning off these two functions on all Model S in Hong Kong effective immediately.”

“We will be putting some additional constraints on when Autopilot can be activated to minimize the possibility of people doing crazy things with it,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on an earnings call earlier this month.

All in all, good on both parties for attempting what’s best to minimize crashes when it comes to Tesla’s autopilot mode right now.

Adidas 3D-Printed Shoe Prototype is Made of Plastic Waste From the Ocean

Adidas collaborated with Parley for the Oceans to create a new 3D-printed shoe concept that is made out of plastic waste from the ocean.

The prototype features a 3D-printed midsole made from recycled polyester and fishing nets in addition to the upper part of the shoe which is comprised of “ocean plastic content.”

Adidas says the shoe “stands for how we can set new industry standards.”

Adidas
Adidas

“Protecting life underwater became the 14th development goal of the United Nations,” said Parley’s founder Cyrill Gutsch in a press release. “Therefore, Parley in Paris is all about updating knowledge, sharing visions, fine-tuning strategies, creating concepts and forging collaborations in order to kickstart change.”

While this is yet another interesting 3D-printed concept, I’m interested in actually seeing how practical some of these ideas are versus simply using them as marketing tools.

It’s an interesting idea and if we can clean up our seas in the process, good on Adidas and Parley for the Oceans

Ford Receives Permit From California to Test Autonomous Cars Next Year

The California Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program has granted Ford a permit to begin testing its autonomous cars on public roadways next year.

California continues to be an extremely popular location to test autonomous cars as Ford joins the likes of BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Google when it comes to companies with self-driving car testing permits in the state.

Ford’s Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto is responsible for developing the company’s Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans, which will be the vehicles the company plans on testing on California’s public roads in 2016.

It will be interesting to see whether a major car manufacturer or tech company creates the first viable autonomous cars for the public.

Ford
Ford

More PLC Courses Being Offered as Demand for High Tech Jobs Increases

More and more colleges and universities across the country are adding new courses to keep up with the improving economy and increasing demand for high tech jobs.

Many facilities deal in high-volume work with automated equipment, but they also need employees highly proficient in computer training in order to ensure their complex systems are safe from cyber attacks.

As a result, more classes are being offered in high growth areas, specifically Introduction to Automation Using Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s) and Cyber Security/Risk Management.

PLC courses focus on helping automation technicians, electricians, industrial maintenance mechanics, and energy management system operators learn the implementation of automated systems in manufacturing and service company settings designed to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

Cyber Security courses are aimed at all those looking to protect computer systems from viruses, hackers, worms, and other threats to confidential information.

All in all, now might be the time to jump into some of these new PLC courses and improve your proficiency in a number of areas involving automated equipment.

Oak Labs & Ralph Lauren are Testing an Interactive Fitting Room With a Smart Mirror

New York-based startup Oak Labs is teaming up with the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship store in New York City to unveil its new smart, interactive fitting room.

No matter how you look at shopping, fitting rooms are still an extremely pertinent part of the in-store experience, allowing shoppers to get the perfect fit they might not be able to achieve by ordering online.

Oak CEO Healey Cypher is looking to make purchases as seamless as possible through the company’s interactive fitting room, which looks like something right out of the future.

“Everything we build has to be human,” he said, stressing the importance of how the fitting room is meant to be inviting and engaging.

Oak Labs
Oak Labs

How Does the Interactive Fitting Room Work?

Once a shopper walks into the Ralph Lauren demo room, the lights respond, as does the interactive display in the mirror, which immediately shows the clothes brought in on the display.

From there, the shopper can interact with the smart mirror by choosing different sizes, colors, or other styles.

It’s probably not too far off shopping online on your iPad, yet in an actual store and the fitting room mirror working as your tablet.

Of course, the whole idea behind this technology is to ensure more shoppers go through with making a purchase before going home and ordering the same thing online.

We’ll see if this takes off or never becomes a viable shopping option.

Vision Tokyo is a Flashy Autonomous Car Concept From Mercedes-Benz

The latest autonomous concept car from Mercedes-Benz, called Vision Tokyo, was recently introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show.

The company proclaims its new self-driving car idea is “a chill-out zone in the midst of the megacity traffic mayhem.”

And who am I to argue with that description, because after all, the design, including the exterior and interior of the vehicle, do look pretty chill.

An arc-shaped couch in the vehicle allows for up to 5 passengers to comfortably relax. The car also has a fuel cell drivetrain and futuristic wraparound displays.

Obviously, this concept is far from ready for production, but Mercedes does seem to be taking on a Tron-like theme with their ideas.

Perhaps the coolest feature of Vision Tokyo is the fact that a steering wheel can pop out on your command, allowing for a rider to have “personal contact whenever possible.”

Mercedes has also envisioned a hologram projection system for showing apps and maps in three-dimensional space, which can be seen in the images below.

Whether or not Vision Tokyo ever comes to fruition remains to be seen, but at least we are getting an idea of what some future self-driving cars might look like and the features they will entail.

Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz

International Space Station Has Experienced a Small Electrical Fault With No Quick Fix

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will have to do without one power channel for the time being due to a small electrical fault, NASA has announced.

NASA says the fault reduces the available power channels from 8 to 7, which happened as a result of a short circuit on equipment on the station’s framework.

The short tripped a current switching device in one of the power channels, making it unusable, but luckily does not put the astronauts at risk at the moment.

For the time being, the astronauts have switched systems, and, unfortunately, there are no appropriate spares on board for a quick fix.

As a result, NASA plans to send spare parts aboard a SpaceX delivery that’s scheduled for early 2016.

Some of you may remember a similar problem occurred back in 2014 that was eventually resolved by performing a spacewalk.

Martin Aircraft Gains Approval for World’s First Commercial Personal Jetpack

The world first saw the personal jetpack in the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball. Now, 51 years later, the technology finally looks ready for prime time.

The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand has just granted Martin Aircraft, founded by Kiwi inventor Glenn Martin, approval for its latest model jetpack for manned flight. Martin’s Prototype 12, latest in a line of test prototypes, has been under development for more than 30 years.

According to Martin Aircraft, the first commercially available jetpacks will sell for $150,000 and be available to the public for purchase in 2016. The Martin Jetpack is expected to provide more than 30 minutes flight time, a built-in safety system, and have manned and unmanned search and rescue, military, recreational, and commercial applications.

Martin’s Jetpack uses ducted fans instead of jets and looks more like a platform than a jetpack. The technology is solid enough that Martin Aviation has received an order for jet packs from Dubai’s Civil Defense Service, which will use the technology for emergency responders.

The following video dramatizes what the Martin Jetpack will be capable of:

For a Martin Jetpack image gallery, visit their website!