Autonomous cars have the potential to have a major impact on road transport. Even more so if it is combined with narrow track vehicle designs. Depending on the sophistication, the move to autonomous vehicles would eventually eliminate driver caused accidents, allow cars to be used by people who are not fit to drive existing vehicles, use inter vehicle communication to increase road carrying capacity while making car sharing far more practical, and……
There are an extraordinary number of companies converging on the idea of self-driving cars from all sorts of different angles, but the undisputed leader of the pack is Google, whose self-driving vehicles have logged a total of nearly 700,000 development miles. In a video released today, Google shows some fantastic visualizations to demonstrate what the car is seeing in complex traffic situations. You can watch how the car handles roadworks, level crossings, complex intersections and a range of interactions with cyclists – including recognizing their hand signals.
In this image, the car has spotted a roadworks scenario blocking the road. It sees the signage in yellow, plus a bunch of cars in purple, and a group of witches hats in orange. It’s approaching the scene with caution and has not yet made a decision to proceed – the red line indicates a barrier the car will not cross.
2. LOCAL WIND POWER
One of the problems with wind power is that the current crop of wind power generators are something most of don’t want within line of sight and definitely don’t want next door. Noise, radar interference, visual pollution and wildlife injuries are all grist to the nimby mill. Unlike rooftop solar, conventional wind power has been stuck with the high cost of power distribution via the grid.
The Eco Whisper comes in two sizes: a 6.5 meter diameter that generates up to 20 kW, and a 3.25 meter diameter that generates up to 5 kW. The former stands 21 meters tall, while the latter is 18 meters tall.
I got 563,000 hits when I ggogled “quiet wind turbine.”
Sweden’s Green City Ferries is preparing to launch what it claims is the world’s first “supercharged” electric passenger ferry. Carrying 100 passengers between Solna Strand and Gamla Stan, the Movitz will need just 10 minutes to charge its batteries between 1-hour long service runs. That’s perfect for a ferry operation, because it means it’ll be charged by the time passengers have embarked and disembarked. With extremely low maintenance requirements and reduced running costs, the ferry will reportedly save some 50,000 liters of diesel and 130 tons of carbon emissions into the bargain.
Over the last fifteen years, the average newly built Australian house has grown by over twenty-seven m2 (or 10 percent) to 243.6 square metres by mid 2011. At the same time, the actual household size has decreased from 2.7 to 2.6 people, which implies we need even more houses as people choose to live alone.
243.6 m2 works out at 93.7 m2 per person. To put that in context a bedroom in our house big enough to take two single beds was 7.5 m2. The 2011 figure equals 12.5 x7.5 m2 rooms per person.
Perhaps we could start dealing with the housing crisis by making it was easier to convert large houses into a number of smaller units.
3XA maximized the space available in this small urban apartment by creating a “semi-mezzanine,” as the designers like to describe it. This was necessary as the ceiling height of 3.7 m (12 ft) didn’t allow a proper second floor, or indeed, mezzanine.
Therefore, the designers fitted a bed area over the main wardrobe, which is accessible via a small wooden staircase. The kitchen and dining area are also combined into one, and a blind door was also fitted to a spare wall, in a bid to increase the feeling of space.
I am old enough to remember when most Australians thought squid was bait, not the key ingredient for salt and pepper calamari. We have a similar attitude now to deliberately eating insects even though NPR says: “2 billion people worldwide already enjoy insects with gusto — in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Australia….. Among the most popular of the 1,900 species consumed are beetles, caterpillars, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts and crickets.”
Insects use less land, water and other resources than alternative sources of protein. For example, the headline link contained this diagram showing what could be produced from a 100 US gallons (378.5 litres) of water:
One advantage of insect farming is that it can be quite small scale and, in the case of crickets, some of the food can come in the form of food scraps. (I got over 7 million hits when I googled “farming edible insects”.) If you have a crickets farm you might find “How to prepare and cook crickets‘ useful.
“To get an idea of how far the RET has taken us, the table below shows average solar PV system prices (in $/W terms) for March 2014. The first column shows current average system prices (from April 2014) with STC value included, while the second column shows the prices for the month if the SRES didn’t exist. The third column contains subsidised solar system prices from August 2012, when Solar Choice began keeping records. (Figures reflect non-weighted average prices for all of Australia’s major cities mentioned above.)
The effect of removing the STC is significant: 27% for 1.5 kW installations 39% for 5 kW.
My personal view is that the FIT tariff should be determined by some form of auction/competitive tendering. In theory, if this happens getting rid of the STC would simply mean that the FIT for new installations would be higher while the return on capital would remain the same. Problem is that the increase in upfront cost may put some investors off.
$84 billion total estimated construction cost including rolling stock, project management and contingency Melbourne-Sydney is estimated to cost $40 billion, and Sydney-Brisbane $44 billion. Of this, $18 billion of the total estimated construction cost is required for entering the cities of Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane.
The case for high speed rail will be stronger if it is built as an alternative to Abbott’s Badgery Creek airport. Then again, other nasty people are suggesting that the new airport at Badgerys Creek isn’t really needed anyway. Abbott is being all macho as the hero that has finally made the second airport decision after 30 years. The real lesson for a more thoughtful leader might be that people have been claiming for thirty years that the second airport is needed even though experience shows that ways have been found to boost airport capacity. I have read that Sydney airport’s plane movements per runway are low by world standards.