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Archive for the ‘sustainability’ category

Mar 23, 2019

The thrilling potential for off-grid solar energy

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

There’s an energy revolution happening in villages and towns across Africa — off-grid solar energy is becoming a viable alternative to traditional electricity systems. In a bold talk about a true leapfrog moment, Amar Inamdar introduces us to proud owners of off-grid solar kits — and explains how this technology has the opportunity to meet two extraordinary goals: energy access for all and a low-carbon future. “Every household a proud producer as well as consumer of energy,” Inamdar says. “That’s the democracy of energy.” (Followed by a brief Q&A with TED Curator Chris Anderson)

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Mar 22, 2019

These drones plant trees

Posted by in categories: business, climatology, drones, engineering, habitats, robotics/AI, sustainability

Climate change is a sprawling, complex problem. But there is an astonishingly simple way to make a difference: plant more trees. Trees scrub pollution from the air, reduce erosion, improve water quality, provide homes for animals and insects, and enhance our lives in countless other ways.

It turns out that ecosystem restoration is also an emerging business opportunity. A new report from the World Resources Institute and the Nature Conservancy says governments around the world have committed to reviving nearly 400 million acres of wilderness — an area larger than South Africa. As countries push to regrow forests, startups are dreaming up new, faster ways to plant trees. For some innovators, like NASA veteran Dr. Lauren Fletcher, that means using drones.

Fletcher said his conversion from stargazer to eco-warrior was driven by his worry about climate change, which has been dramatically worsened by deforestation. To tackle the problem, he created BioCarbon Engineering, which he describes as an ecosystem restoration company. Working with colleagues, he came up with a 30-pound unmanned aerial vehicle nicknamed “Robin.” It can fly over the most rugged landscapes on earth, planting trees in precise locations at the rate of 120 per minute.

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Mar 22, 2019

Unmanned Systems Grow in European Agriculture

Posted by in categories: business, drones, food, robotics/AI, sustainability

Unmanned systems’ global inroads are including European agriculture. GNSS for precision guidance of tractors and harvesters is already in place. More recent innovations include fully driverless and smart systems, while drones remain poised to fly.

The experience of one Dutch company is instructive. Precision Makers is an up-and- coming manufacturer of automated farm systems. The company delivers two main products. One, a conversion kit called X-Pert, turns existing mowers and tractors into driverless machines. The other is a fully robotized, unmanned vehicle called Greenbot. Both systems enable automated precision operations, but while one has been successful in terms of sales, the other has not.

Precision Makers Business Development Director, Allard Martinet, told Inside Unmanned Systems, “Sales of our X-Pert conversion system have been very good. We started in 2008, first converting the Toro golf course mower, and then we expanded that into solutions for other vehicles. Today, there are more than 150 X-Pert converted vehicles running.”

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Mar 22, 2019

New Facility Aims to Capture 40 Million Trees’ Worth of CO2 Every Year

Posted by in categories: economics, sustainability

Good for the environment and the economy.

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Mar 21, 2019

Elon Musk says he owes his success to a 3-step problem-solving trick used by Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, sustainability, transportation

It has nothing to do with how hard he works, and everything to do with how he thinks.

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Mar 21, 2019

In Switzerland, a giant new machine is sucking carbon directly from the air

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

Circa 2017


Experts debate whether technology is useful for curbing climate change.

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Mar 19, 2019

The implausibility of intelligence explosion

Posted by in categories: business, climatology, existential risks, robotics/AI, sustainability

In 1965, I. J. Good described for the first time the notion of “intelligence explosion”, as it relates to artificial intelligence (AI):

Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion,” and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.

Decades later, the concept of an “intelligence explosion” — leading to the sudden rise of “superintelligence” and the accidental end of the human race — has taken hold in the AI community. Famous business leaders are casting it as a major risk, greater than nuclear war or climate change. Average graduate students in machine learning are endorsing it. In a 2015 email survey targeting AI researchers, 29% of respondents answered that intelligence explosion was “likely” or “highly likely”. A further 21% considered it a serious possibility.

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Mar 19, 2019

Latest Space Based Solar Power Concepts and Experiments at Caltech

Posted by in categories: solar power, space travel, sustainability

Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI) is a multi-year research in the field of Space Solar Power Initiative conducted by Caltech team in collaboration with Northrop Grumman (NG) Aerospace and Mission Systems division.

SSPI approach: • Enabling technologies developed at Caltech • Ultra-light deployable space structures • High efficiency ultra-light photovoltaic (PV) • Phased Array and Power Transmission • Integration of concentrating PV, radiators, MW power conversion and antennas in single cell unit • Localized electronics and control for system robustness, electronic beam steering • Identical spacecraft flying in formation • Target is specific power over 2000 Watts per kilogram. This would cost competitive with ground-based power.

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Mar 18, 2019

Reforestation Drones Can Plant 100K Trees In An Hour

Posted by in categories: drones, engineering, sustainability

Sure, it’ll be great when a drone can drop off your Amazon Prime goodies or 7-Eleven snacks just minutes after you order them… but it’ll be even better when they help regrow millions of trees.

That’s what U.K.-based BioCarbon Engineering has set out to do. The company has been developing a high-tech system that uses drones to replant deforested areas — even in areas where planting wouldn’t be feasible using older methods.

BioCarbon’s system utilizes drones for two separate stages of the process. First, they’re sent into the target area to create a detailed, three-dimensional map. Once they’ve completed that step, the planting drones return to the site to do their thing.

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Mar 16, 2019

Tesla model Y first ride

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

Taking Tesla’s new Model Y for a test ride.

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