Audi’s E-bike concept: We should all want this

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audi e-bike conceptAudi’s beautiful e-bike concept may be what the future of bicycling—and, indeed, most non-highway single person transportation—ought to be aspiring to: It gets people out of cars they don’t need to be pushing and buying so much gas for; it’s great for city and suburban use; it has built-in safety features; it still allows the rider to pedal if desired; but it also offers an electric motor that will take you at close to car-speeds wherever you need to go.

Take a good look at the bike (ignore the seat, for now) and you’ll see what I mean. Continue reading

You want a self-driving car. Think about it.

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Self-driving car from I, Robot

Self-driving car from I, Robot, courtesy 20th Century Fox

I know.  It almost sounds blasphemous.  Imagine, a car that drives itself, as do the cars in my novel Sarcology.  No input from a driver, other than telling the car your destination.  Then turning your back on the car until it tells you you’ve arrived.  It’s crazy.  No car could drive as well as you can.  No car could get you where you’re going faster or easier than you can.  And no robot could be a safer driver than you.

Yet, robotics technology is improving by leaps and bounds every day.  Google, using the latest in computers, GPS and sensory technology, has created a car that has run so safely over the past year (one accident, caused by the other car) that two states have decided to make self-driving cars legal on their streets.  Other states are already looking them over, as other car makers and experimenters are working on their own self-driving car technology.  And in every state, many drivers now gladly watch in hands-off mode as cars park themselves.  The writing is on the traffic sign.

And you still don’t want cars to drive you around?  Well, maybe you just haven’t thought it through. Continue reading

Curiosity and efficiency

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Curiosity Rover landing (NASA)

Curiosity Rover landing (NASA)

I stayed up the other night to watch NASA’s Curiosity Rover descent onto the Martian surface.  Well, it wasn’t so much watching Curiosity… it was watching NASA personnel reacting to the telemetry that told them what Curiosity was doing.  In some ways, it’s like watching a sports announcer calling the game, instead of actually watching the game.  But hey, with NASA, that’s the way it works.

Though it’s been awhile since I watched a NASA event, much less stayed up late to see one, this one fascinated me because it was a landing design unlike anything NASA had done before: Using a “skycrane” platform to hover over the surface, lower the rover to the ground on cables, then cut loose and land elsewhere.  If you haven’t seen the simulations of how it should (and apparently did) work, you should.

But there’s something else that fascinates me, about this moment, and about NASA: They have become a textbook model of American efficiency. Continue reading

Excerpt from Chasing the Light: A serious and romantic look at our near future

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Chasing the Light, by Steven Lyle JordanPlease enjoy an excerpt from Chasing the Light, a novel of the near future.

Chasing the Light is a “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy returns to find girl and make his fortune” story, set in the United States of a very realistic near-tomorrow.  The young lovers, Tom Everson and Doña Navarra, are forced apart due to circumstances beyond their control, and Tom risks everything to be reunited with Doña.

In fact, the story could be said to begin any day now, as it is kicked off by violent events caused by the energy crisis and the oil industry’s contentious activities to dominate the energy landscape.  Continue reading

How biking can save us

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Oh, look… another infographic! One of these days, I have to make one of these myself… but for now, you can enjoy this one about the power of bicycles to transform our world.

I can attest to some of the data below… for instance, weight loss.  I lost about 20 pounds in a year of riding just 2 miles from home to the local MARC station, then another 1.5 miles from Union Station to my office.  I admit I do little biking to shop, but I tend to combine trips, and if the store I want to hit is between the station and home, I stop along the way. Continue reading

Solar Decathalon: Is the future of American housing in here?

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Team Maryland's Solar Decathalon 2011 houseThe 2011 Solar Decathalon is on in Washington, D.C.  As in previous years, universities and governments from around the world have shown up in Washington to display energy-efficient home designs, supported by the companies that provide the technology for efficient homes, and demonstrating unique and clever ways of putting them all together. Continue reading

Vacationing efficiently

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A recent long-weekend vacation, taken by me and my wife, saw me driving from my home north of Washington, DC, to Atlanta, Ga, then to Nags Head, NC, and back home.  We drove for a few reasons: One, I am increasingly un-enamored with plane flight (the cost, the hassle, the security, the discomfort); Two, we weren’t sure of our return stopover; and Three, we weren’t sure of our schedule (we were afraid of being called midway through vaca by the vet, to tell us our 18-year-old cat was about to die in their boarding care, and the vaca would be cut short).

Anyway, the trip went as scheduled, everyone had a great time, and even the cat survived without an episode.  But the trip found me thinking about my transportation choice: Environmentally speaking, was it better for me to drive that trip… or, if I could’ve arranged it, should we have flown? Continue reading

Foreign automakers already have what America needs

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While the EPA knocks out a new CAFE standard of just under 55MPG by 2025 (which the U.S. automakers can still weasel out of as they have in the past), BMW reveals two new electric concepts, the i3 and the i8.

Continue reading