Drone Taxis: Dubai announces passenger drone plans

ehang 1

A passenger drone that can transport people is set to begin regular operations in Dubai from July this year. This was announced at the World Government Summit by the head of the city’s Roads and Transportation Agency.

With a lot of talk in recent years around self-driving cars, now, self-flying passenger drones are next — and could be up and flying in Dubai as soon as July this year.

The auto-piloted and eco-friendly EHang 184 is Chinese-made, with a top speed of 100 miles per hour. The egg shaped craft can fly 31 miles on one fully charged battery and can carry a single passenger with a small bag of a combined mass of 220 pounds.

Passengers will be able to select a destination from the self-driving taxi on a touch screen. The drone taxi will then take off automatically, transporting the passenger to their destination.

ehang 2

Senior lecturer in avionics and aircraft systems at the University of the West of England, Dr. Steve Wright, told BBC that the safety would have to be paramount. He said, “that normally it is easy to make the system to work. The tricky bit is making systems that are resilient to failure”.

“I would like to see the drone flying for at least 1000 hours before I saw a human in it,” Dr. Wright added.

Dr Wright did mention that he would not be volunteering for an early flight: “I’d have to be taken on board kicking and screaming.”

In a statement, the Roads & Transportation Authority said that the drones would be monitored remotely from a ground-based control room. “There’s no option to take control of the EHang 184 remotely,” adds The Daily Mail of London. “The cockpit is empty, apart from a stand to place a smartphone or tablet and a cup holder.”

“You know how it feels to sit in a Ferrari? This is 10 times better,” George Yan, co-founder of Ehang, told the Daily Mail in 2016 after the 184 was unveiled in Las Vegas.

“Everything is calculated in the backend to pick the most optimal route for you, so there is no collision with the other drones flying,” Yan added. “On the drone itself we have built pretty sophisticated back up services so if another system fails then another will take over.”

“This is not only a model,” Mattar al-Tayer, head of Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Authority, told AP. He added: “We have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies.”

We can expect to see more drones flying over the roads in the near future. At the start of the year, Israeli firm Urban Aeronautics announced that its Cormorant passenger drone – designed for military use – could be in use by 2020.

The £11 million drone can carry 500 kilograms at 185 kilometres per hour.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38967235

http://www.dailytech.com/Dubai+announces+passenger+drone+plans+/article40109.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38505626

Image Source: ehang.com

Robots making pizza: inside Silicon Valley’s robot pizzeria

Robots making pizza inside Silicon Valley robot pizzeria

Having already made a name for themselves by converting their deliver vehicles to bake pizzas during delivery, Zume Pizza have now taken their disruptive business model a step further by creating robots that make pizza.

Inside the kitchen of Mountain View’s pizzeria, Marta works over time, spreading marinara sauce on uncooked pizza bases. She never complains, takes no breaks, and is yet to take sick leave. Best of all, she works for free.

Marta is one of two robots working at Zume Pizza, a pizzeria delivery that does things a little differently. Currently, Zume only feeds people in Mountain View, California, but the company looks to take a big bite out of the $9.7 billion pizza delivery industry.

Teaming up with AAB Robotics, Zume’s partially-automated kitchen uses robot labour for certain tasks that are prone to human error, such as spreading sauce evenly — while still maintaining a human workforce to shape dough and dress the pizza bases with cheese and toppings.

“We are going to be the Amazon of food,” said Zume’s co-founder and executive chairman, Alex Garden.

Garden, 41, is the former president of Zynga Studios. Prior to that, he was general manager of Microsoft’s Xbox Live. He launched Zume in stealth mode in June 2015, when he began quietly recruiting engineers to build his patented trucks in an unmarked Mountain View garage.

Restaurant veteran, Julia Collins, 37, was brought on board in September 2015 — becoming chief executive officer and co-founder. Collins was previously the vice president and CEO of Harlem Jazz Enterprises, the holding company for Minton’s, a historic Harlem eatery.

Robots also take and process incoming orders by making use of artificial intelligence. “Pizza ordering is incredibly predictable,” Collins told KPIX. “Most of our customers order according to a rather habitual sort of method. So, what we can do is use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict what orders are going to be available for us to fulfil.”

Zume aims to have 80% of their kitchen automated by this month, and has also been working on shortening their delivery time down to five minutes.

The pizzeria also claims that high levels of automation will lower prices, however this is not the current case with a Zume large pizza costing between $1 and $4 more than a large from Domino’s.

For the time being, Zume’s aim is to win over locals. Adam Martyn, who works at Stanford University, said he treats himself to the Lucky Bueno every two weeks. That’s a spicy pie with roasted garlic, Calabrian chilli and soppressata for $18. “The robots are cool, but I order because it tastes good,” Martyn said.

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-24/inside-silicon-valley-s-robot-pizzeria

http://www.realclearlife.com/foodanddrink/silicon-valley-pizzeria-uses-robots-to-make-pizza/

Image Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

World’s first green energy boat prepares for voyage around the world

bateau-hp-00

Known as the “Solar Impulse of the Seas,” the first self-sufficient boat powered only by renewable energies — and not just the wind in its sails — hopes to make a historic six-year trip around the world.

The Solar Impulse, the plane that completed its round-the-world trip in July 2015 without the use of fuel became the first solar aeroplane ever to fly through the whole night.

Now the water-borne version of the Solar Impulse will take to the seas, only powered by the sun, the wind and self-generated hydrogen when it sets sail. The boat will begin its first of 101 stops in Paris, visiting 50 countries.

Originally designed in 1983, the 100-foot solar powered boat had great success in open-sea sailing races. From here, The Energy Observer project was dreamed up in 2015 by skippers Frédéric Dahirel and Victorien Erussard, with scuba diver and filmmaker Jérôme Delafosse also working behind the project.

“I’m passionate about new technologies,” Erussard said. “Building a self-sufficient boat could have seemed unrealistic, but this is going to be an incredible vessel. It’s very promising for the future.”

Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford University engineering professor who is working to help countries convert to 100 per cent renewable energies by 2050 said: “I believe that it is fantastic that a boat powered by hydrogen . . . will travel the world”.

He added: “It is an important step forward and consistent with this proposed path to 100 per cent clean, renewable energy worldwide for all purposes to solve energy security, job creation, air pollution and climate problems.”

The plan is to power the boats batteries in good weather with solar and wind energy. “If there’s no sun or wind, or if it’s night, stored hydrogen, generated by electrolysis powered by the solar panels and two wind turbines will take over,” explained Erussard.

The vessel will therefore not use any carbon-emitting fossil fuels, which is the case for 96 per cent of boats today.

The catamaran has an interesting past, having won the Jules Verne trophy, for a team sailing non-stop round the world, in 1994. The vessel was bought for half a million euros and extended by six meters, to 30.5 metres for the project.

Well-known French environmentalist Nicolas Hulot is backing the endeavour. “I support it because it’s the first project of this kind to actually be undertaken, it’s ambitious and looking toward the future,” Hulot told AFP.

“It’s very promising for marine transport,” Hulot added. “The Energy Observer is going to demonstrate that you can have great autonomy (at sea) and you can store and find energy when there isn’t any more wind or sun.”

Energy Observer’s voyage around the world is expected to take six years. Once the vessel has crossed the Mediterranean, it will venture out into the Atlantic and then Pacific oceans.

Funding remains an obstacle, with the expedition expected to cost at least four million euros a year, in particular to develop travelling cost. However the team remains confident that it will get the funds.

The six year planned voyage finds its inspiration from its airplane mentor the Solar Impulse, which completed its journey around the world on renewable energy and accomplished “what everyone said was impossible,” said Delafosse.

Sources:

http://e.vnexpress.net/news/world/green-powered-boat-readies-for-round-the-world-voyage-3466735.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/worlds-first-green-energy-boat-prepares-for-a-six-year-voyage-around-the-world/2017/01/11/addd870a-d37c-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?utm_term=.d007a335ad87

Image Credit: Energy Observer

World’s first green energy boat prepares for voyage around the world

bateau-hp-00

Known as the “Solar Impulse of the Seas,” the first self-sufficient boat powered only by renewable energies — and not just the wind in its sails — hopes to make a historic six-year trip around the world.

The Solar Impulse, the plane that completed its round-the-world trip in July 2015 without the use of fuel became the first solar aeroplane ever to fly through the whole night.

Now the water-borne version of the Solar Impulse will take to the seas, only powered by the sun, the wind and self-generated hydrogen when it sets sail. The boat will begin its first of 101 stops in Paris, visiting 50 countries.

Originally designed in 1983, the 100-foot solar powered boat had great success in open-sea sailing races. From here, The Energy Observer project was dreamed up in 2015 by skippers Frédéric Dahirel and Victorien Erussard, with scuba diver and filmmaker Jérôme Delafosse also working behind the project.

“I’m passionate about new technologies,” Erussard said. “Building a self-sufficient boat could have seemed unrealistic, but this is going to be an incredible vessel. It’s very promising for the future.”

Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford University engineering professor who is working to help countries convert to 100 per cent renewable energies by 2050 said: “I believe that it is fantastic that a boat powered by hydrogen . . . will travel the world”.

He added: “It is an important step forward and consistent with this proposed path to 100 per cent clean, renewable energy worldwide for all purposes to solve energy security, job creation, air pollution and climate problems.”

The plan is to power the boats batteries in good weather with solar and wind energy. “If there’s no sun or wind, or if it’s night, stored hydrogen, generated by electrolysis powered by the solar panels and two wind turbines will take over,” explained Erussard.

The vessel will therefore not use any carbon-emitting fossil fuels, which is the case for 96 per cent of boats today.

The catamaran has an interesting past, having won the Jules Verne trophy, for a team sailing non-stop round the world, in 1994. The vessel was bought for half a million euros and extended by six meters, to 30.5 metres for the project.

Well-known French environmentalist Nicolas Hulot is backing the endeavour. “I support it because it’s the first project of this kind to actually be undertaken, it’s ambitious and looking toward the future,” Hulot told AFP.

“It’s very promising for marine transport,” Hulot added. “The Energy Observer is going to demonstrate that you can have great autonomy (at sea) and you can store and find energy when there isn’t any more wind or sun.”

Energy Observer’s voyage around the world is expected to take six years. Once the vessel has crossed the Mediterranean, it will venture out into the Atlantic and then Pacific oceans.

Funding remains an obstacle, with the expedition expected to cost at least four million euros a year, in particular to develop travelling cost. However the team remains confident that it will get the funds.

The six year planned voyage finds its inspiration from its airplane mentor the Solar Impulse, which completed its journey around the world on renewable energy and accomplished “what everyone said was impossible,” said Delafosse.

Sources:

http://e.vnexpress.net/news/world/green-powered-boat-readies-for-round-the-world-voyage-3466735.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/worlds-first-green-energy-boat-prepares-for-a-six-year-voyage-around-the-world/2017/01/11/addd870a-d37c-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?utm_term=.d007a335ad87

Image Credit: Energy Observer

Ferrari looks to piston innovation and 3D printing for F1 2017

209. Ferrari looks to piston innovation and 3D printing for F1 2017

Ferrari looks to implement 3D printing technology for an innovative piston design that could deliver a major boost for its 2017 Formula 1 engine.

Failing to match its bold pre-season expectations in 2016, this year Ferrari’s efforts are taking place under a strict code of silence as of orders from president Sergio Marchionne. A lot of work has been progressing in Maranello to make a much-needed step forward.

The development of the 668 project is well developed and should make its public debut at Fiorano for a filming day later this week (February 24) – with the Formula 1 car set to be revealed as has been the case in previous years.

Engine department chief designer Sassi Lorenzo and Enrico Gualteri, responsible for assembly, hope to complete these crucial changes that technical director Mattia Binotto anticipates to be a major breakthrough.

It is tipped that the main focus of change will be in combustion, with the chamber set for a considerable increase in pressure thanks to the latest work on the Turbulent Jet Ignition System that has been used in recent years.

It’s proposed that a new micro-injector design from Magneti Marelli will help create the perfect flame for the ignition chamber to increase performance, and reduce fuel use.

The changes will put the engine under intense forces, with the possibility of 400 bar pressure – plus a big increase in temperature that can be a threat to reliability.

Focusing on innovation, Ferrari is revolutionising its approach to engine design in order to meet its targets. Tests are now ongoing about a new piston design concept that uses a new steel alloy.

Although the FIA rules limit the materials manufacturers can use, Ferrari is looking to move away from aluminium that is commonly used. Aluminium alloys are lighter than steel and also have less ability to resist deformation and not break in extreme temperatures.

The extra weight in moving car parts such as the pistons is a major issue – thus the focus on finding a solution that performs better and has more reliability. In the hopes of finding the right alloy, Maranello engineers are evaluating the latest 3D printing technologies (known in the industry as Additive Manufacturing).

By using this technique, engineers can build up thin layers on material one at a time, making it possible to create complex shapes that would have been impossible to create using traditional casting and machining methods.

3D printing allows a degree of freedom, allied to the speed of production – this has opened up a new frontier of design development that for something that was once restricted to prototyping plastic parts for wind tunnel models.

Materials such as steel alloys can now be considered because you no longer have to manufacture full surfaces. Honeycomb designs are possible, and bring the advantage of strength without the disadvantage of weight.

It’s unlikely that Ferrari is alone in looking at this new technology, and Binotto is hoping to get the performance improvements on track sooner rather than later. This could be as early as the start of the season.

 Sources:

http://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/ferrari-eyes-innovative-piston-solution-thanks-to-3d-printing-870008/

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/127947

https://3dprint.com/163734/ferrari-3d-print-pistons-formula-1/

Image Credit: XPB Images

Uber Removes Self-Driving Cars From San Francisco Roads

Uber

Uber pulled its self-driving cars from San Francisco’s streets after the state of California revoked registrations for the vehicles.

The withdraw impacted 16 Uber automobiles as a result of Uber’s obscure defiance of a California requirement that it get a $150 permit to operate self-driving cars in San Francisco.

Uber said that it began rolling out its self-driving vehicles in its hometown of San Francisco without requesting permission from authorities. The company argued it hadn’t acted any different to Tesla Motors, which makes electric cars that include a feature called Autopilot.

In relation, Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber’s self-driving vehicle team, told reporters that the Volvo XC90 SUVs in the San Francisco test fleet, didn’t require a permit since each vehicle had two technicians in the front seats at all times. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) strongly disagreed and the California Attorney General’s office demanded that Uber comply or halt the program.

Uber may say that its self-driving cars don’t need test permits, but their functionality still seems to be a work in progress. Other road users pointed out a few traffic incidents within days of the car’s arrival on Californian streets — camera footage showed a vehicle running a red light, and programming faults were identified that could see the self-driving vehicles making potentially unsafe turns in bike lanes.

Uber acknowledged from the get-go that it wouldn’t seek Autonomous Vehicle Testing permits, despite the fact that they aren’t difficult to acquire. There are currently 20 companies testing a total of 130 autonomous vehicles in California, which along with several individual test drivers have already received these permits, according to the DMV.

In a statement, Uber confirmed that it had stopped its self-driving pilot in California after the registrations were revoked. “We’re now looking at where we can redeploy these cars, but remain 100 per cent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules”.

The revocation of the registrations means that Uber cannot legally use its vehicles on San Francisco roads. The DMV did however point out that the company would be able to restart its self-driving service in the city once the relevant permit is secured.

In a letter to Uber’s Davis White, Jean Shiomoto — the director of the California DMV — said that the agency “stands ready to work with Uber collaboratively,” and that the “autonomous vehicle testing application process is simple and straightforward.”

Uber is currently still operating its self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh, where the program began in September. San Francisco was the second city where Uber customers could request a ride in a self-driving car.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2016/12/16/uber-doubles-down-on-decision-to-defy-california-on-self-driving-car-rules/#2d2f7b991834

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-22/uber-autonomous-cars-stop-after-california-cancels-registrations

http://www.theverge.com/2016/12/21/14049070/uber-san-francisco-self-driving-removed-registration-revoked

Image credit: wired.com

Workplace workouts: Self-powering gym workstations

(FILES)Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attends the Clinton Global Initiative during in this September 24, 2013 file photo in New York. Microsoft announced February 4, 2014 that Satya Nadella will take over the reigns as CEO succeeeding Steve Ballmer who is out effective immediately. Microsoft also announced that Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and "will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction." AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah/FILESMEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Bill Gate

Self-sustaining gyms

Businesses around the world are moving towards self-sustaining gyms, ensuring that when you get your cardio in at the gym you’re doing more than getting a good workout, you’re saving energy.

The Cadbury House Club, a health club in Bristol makes use of gym equipment that harnesses the energy produced during workouts, feeding the building’s power supply. The Cadbury House Club was one of the first gyms in the world to install the ARTIS Technogym machines.

ARTIS uses unique technology that reduces energy use, recycling and renewing energy. The human energy is rerouted into the network and renewed to feed the gym.

Self-powering gym workstations

More businesses may look to implement self-powering gym workstations in the office environment. A healthy lifestyle can improve your workforce productivity – encouraging business leaders to promote a healthier working environment.

Business leaders can now take the fitness concept further than cycling to work or heading out to the gym during lunch hours – with self-powering desk based exercise equipment. The idea behind self-powering gym workstations is that you can use them easily to include a ‘little and often’ exercise routine into your normal working day.

Office Fitness and other companies offer businesses a range of exercise equipment designed especially for the office. This equipment includes: under-desk steppers, mini-bikes and treadmills.

The Inside Trainer offers an upper body option, the OfficeGYM attaches to a standard desk chair’s back, with rubber resistance bands for exercises targeting at least 25 muscle groups. This allows three-dimensional exercises based on the principle of resistance training.

The value of self-powering workstations

The nine to five grind keeps many employees penned up at their desk, making exercise difficult to fit into an everyday routine.

Self-powering gym workstations don’t require energy and are friendly to the environment. Furthermore, encouraging fitness in the workplace can be extremely beneficial for employers.

Office exercise equipment such as the office fitness bike, have health benefits over inactive sitting for long periods of time. Endorphins are released during exercise, aiding employees with more self-confidence and energy – allowing them to have a more positive attitude when at work, and feel less stressed too.

By showing your employees that you care about their fitness levels you will boost morale – it demonstrates to your employees and colleagues that their health and well-being is important to the company they work for.

The future of corporate fitness

Workplace fitness is becoming the norm rather than a novelty. More companies are introducing either policies or activities that support and improve healthy behaviours. This makes employees feel valued and cared for; with less sick days, better productivity and overall more loyalty to a company. Adding gym workstations are a clear way to add healthy habits to a workforce.

In the future, we may see businesses including self-sustaining gym workstations into the office environment – rerouting workforce energy to feed the business. One thing to note is that any fitness initiative put into practice by a business should be voluntary and fun.

Sources:

http://www.technogym.com/artis/en/

https://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/06/value-energy-producing-gym/

https://www.forumforthefuture.org/greenfutures/articles/uk-gym-converts-workout-energy-building-power

http://www.officefitness.co.uk/

http://www.nj.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2015/01/office_fitness_active_sitting_is_the_start_of_working_out_at_work.html

Image Credit: OfficeGYM

Bill Gates Launches $1 Billion breakthrough energy fund

(FILES)Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attends the Clinton Global Initiative during in this September 24, 2013 file photo in New York. Microsoft announced February 4, 2014 that Satya Nadella will take over the reigns as CEO succeeeding Steve Ballmer who is out effective immediately. Microsoft also announced that Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and "will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction." AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah/FILESMEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Bill Gate

Billionaire philanthropist and investor Bill Gates, along with a group of high-profile executives, are launching a $1 billion fund, called Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), to promote clean energy technology and tackle global climate change.

The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund is made up of nearly two dozen of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business leaders, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

“I am honoured to work along with these investors to build on the powerful foundation of public investment in basic research. Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world”, Gates said.

The announcement comes just over a year after the United Nations climate change goals were set in Paris in November 2015. The fund is looking to increase the financing of emerging energy research and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

“To be successful, you have to get the most out of the technology you already have while developing the technology you still need”, Gates said in his post on his Gates Notes blog.

Energy storage technology is one of the key focus areas that BEV will invest in as part of a first wave, as more efficient and cheaper storage allows greater dependency on intermittent clean energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Gates, along with some of the world’s most respected scientists, energy experts, and energy investors, developed a list of scientific priorities that will help with the energy of the future.

In this ‘landscape of innovation’ list, Gates, along with other energy experts and investors, set five grand challenges, corresponding to the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions around the world:

  • Electricity: How can we deliver reliable, affordable zero-carbon electricity to the world?
  • Buildings: How can we eliminate emissions from our homes, offices, hospitals, and schools?
  • Manufacturing: How can we make everything we use without emitting greenhouse gases?
  • Transportation: How can we get around our communities and the world without emitting carbon?
  • Food: How can we feed the planet without contributing to climate change?

Gates says the success of the effort for clean, reliable, affordable energy relies on a lot more that the $1 billion in capital.

He added: “When it comes to energy, though, this transition—from idea to product to company—is often complicated by the challenges of the market. Unlike a software start up, getting a new energy technology from a lab to market takes a lot of infrastructure, a lot of upfront capital, and a lot of time.”

Gates plans to work closely with energy companies that are involved in funding and supporting promising technology breakthroughs.

Gates concluded his post by saying: “With patience, flexibility, collaboration, and a clear vision backed by meaningful investment, we, the fund’s investors, are confident the world can meet its energy needs in a way that is fair, safe, and sustainable. And we’re excited about the role that Breakthrough Energy Ventures will play in that effort.”

Sources:

https://www.gatesnotes.com/Energy/Breakthrough-Energy-Ventures

http://fortune.com/2016/12/11/bill-gates-john-doerr-venture-fund/

Landscape

Image credit: Mehdi Taamallah / AFP /GETTY IMAGES

Bill Gates Launches $1 Billion breakthrough energy fund

(FILES)Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attends the Clinton Global Initiative during in this September 24, 2013 file photo in New York. Microsoft announced February 4, 2014 that Satya Nadella will take over the reigns as CEO succeeeding Steve Ballmer who is out effective immediately. Microsoft also announced that Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and "will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction." AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah/FILESMEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Bill Gate

Billionaire philanthropist and investor Bill Gates, along with a group of high-profile executives, are launching a $1 billion fund, called Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), to promote clean energy technology and tackle global climate change.

The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund is made up of nearly two dozen of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business leaders, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

“I am honoured to work along with these investors to build on the powerful foundation of public investment in basic research. Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world”, Gates said.

The announcement comes just over a year after the United Nations climate change goals were set in Paris in November 2015. The fund is looking to increase the financing of emerging energy research and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

“To be successful, you have to get the most out of the technology you already have while developing the technology you still need”, Gates said in his post on his Gates Notes blog.

Energy storage technology is one of the key focus areas that BEV will invest in as part of a first wave, as more efficient and cheaper storage allows greater dependency on intermittent clean energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Gates, along with some of the world’s most respected scientists, energy experts, and energy investors, developed a list of scientific priorities that will help with the energy of the future.

In this ‘landscape of innovation’ list, Gates, along with other energy experts and investors, set five grand challenges, corresponding to the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions around the world:

  • Electricity: How can we deliver reliable, affordable zero-carbon electricity to the world?
  • Buildings: How can we eliminate emissions from our homes, offices, hospitals, and schools?
  • Manufacturing: How can we make everything we use without emitting greenhouse gases?
  • Transportation: How can we get around our communities and the world without emitting carbon?
  • Food: How can we feed the planet without contributing to climate change?

Gates says the success of the effort for clean, reliable, affordable energy relies on a lot more that the $1 billion in capital.

He added: “When it comes to energy, though, this transition—from idea to product to company—is often complicated by the challenges of the market. Unlike a software start up, getting a new energy technology from a lab to market takes a lot of infrastructure, a lot of upfront capital, and a lot of time.”

Gates plans to work closely with energy companies that are involved in funding and supporting promising technology breakthroughs.

Gates concluded his post by saying: “With patience, flexibility, collaboration, and a clear vision backed by meaningful investment, we, the fund’s investors, are confident the world can meet its energy needs in a way that is fair, safe, and sustainable. And we’re excited about the role that Breakthrough Energy Ventures will play in that effort.”

Sources:

https://www.gatesnotes.com/Energy/Breakthrough-Energy-Ventures

http://fortune.com/2016/12/11/bill-gates-john-doerr-venture-fund/

Landscape

Image credit: Mehdi Taamallah / AFP /GETTY IMAGES

Space tourism on the horizon with Virgin Galactic

The VMS Eve (Virgin Mother Ship) carrys VSS Unity (Virgin Spaceship) for its first flight ever over Mojave, CA on Thursday September 8, 2016.

Virgin Galactic has taken one small step closer to space tourism after a successful test in which SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, remained airborne on the wing of its WhiteKnightTwo mothership, VMS Eve. Now, its creators can turn their attention to preparing it for a flight of its own.

A brief history of Virgin Galactic

Founded in 2004 by Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic originally targeted a maiden space flight at the end of 2009.

However, after a disastrous crash in 2014, which caused the death of one pilot and the serious injury of the other, the dream seemed destined never to become a reality.

In the subsequent two years, though, the Virgin Galactic team has continued to develop the craft. They were rewarded in August when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration gave them a new launch licence.

Preparations have progressed quickly since then, and now they’re almost ready to launch the VSS Unity.

Readying for launch

After the successful ‘captive carry’ flight attached to Eve, when the spaceship was taken to over 50,000 feet, the Virgin Galactic team have analysed ‘a mountain of flight data’ to assess the craft’s ability to cope at the edge of the atmosphere.

Next, comes a ‘glide’ test: the VSS Unity will be limited to Mach 0.6 during a flight that will evaluate the spaceship’s performance and handling.

After that the next stages are Rocket-powered Flight, Testing For The Unexpected and Astronaut Experience Testing (making sure all the fixtures and fittings work in the cockpit), before Final Preparations.

Tourism… in space!

Should everything go well, Virgin, already a familiar name to tourists, will become the first company to take commercial travellers into space.

Since Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, some 550 people have followed. Every single one of those has been a government-funded astronaut, cosmonaut or Chinese taikonaut.

Seven hundred people have already signed up for the Virgin Galactic programme, paying US$250,000 (originally US$200,000). These men and women come from 50 different countries and are aged from under 10 to over 90.

A meaningful impact

Virgin Galactic is confident that the experience of space travel will motivate the first generation of space tourists so much, that they will, in turn, inspire future generations to strive for the stars.

“In the near future, our astronauts will share their version of the Overview Effect with audiences who have never dreamed of hearing it and who will go on to be the innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs of tomorrow,” it says.

The ‘Overview Effect’, is what astronauts feel when they first view the world from space. Perhaps that moment when they suddenly appreciate the big picture – the unity of life – will inspire Virgin Galactic’s tourists to do more for mankind.

Sources

[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7529978.stm

[2] http://www.space.com/30073-virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-crash-pilot-error.html

[3] http://spacenews.com/virgin-galactic-receives-faa-license-for-spaceshiptwo-tests/

[4] http://www.virgingalactic.com/update-from-mojave-vss-unitys-first-flight-test-completed/

[5] http://www.virgingalactic.com/update-from-mojave-the-next-phase-of-flight-test/

[6] http://www.virgingalactic.com/human-spaceflight/fly-with-us/

[7] http://www.virgingalactic.com/why-we-go/

[8] http://uk.businessinsider.com/overview-effect-nasa-apollo8-perspective-awareness-space-2015-8?r=US&IR=T