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Archive for the ‘transportation’ category: Page 257

May 28, 2015

Increase Gas Tax as Cartel Price Rises

Posted by in categories: economics, energy, geopolitics, transportation

It’s been awhile since the cost of gasoline topped $4 in the U.S. The national average hit $4.11 on July 11, 2008 and came close in May 2011 at $3.96. On New Years Day 2015, I drove through the night from Chicago to Boston. Despite the cold weather, the economics of fuel made it the best day for a road trip in years. I bought gas at a Pilot service station just off the Ohio Turnpike at $1.92/gallon. For me, it seemed like a bargain. Yet, 23 states charge less for gasoline than Ohio.

gas_price_2014-2015Now, at the end of May 2015, gas is rebounding from that low. Drivers on Memorial Day weekend faced the highest cost for gasoline of the year so far.

It’s tempting for politicians to advocate using tax breaks to smooth price spikes. With energy often surpassing the expense of food and rent and with so many individuals using fuel to make a living, reducing user fees or taxes during periods of very high fuel cost seems like the humane thing to do.

It seems humane, but it has the opposite effect. In fact, it is deeply punitive! That’s because the cost of gas is not an act of nature, nor even of free market economics. It is a product of cartels, special interests, conflict and FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). Offering relief during price spikes sustains demand while doing absolutely nothing to increase supply. This, in turn, exacerbates the spike, creates shortages for critical services and transfers enormous sums of money from consumers to producers. In effect, it is a free gift for producer nations.

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Apr 24, 2015

To be a Space Faring Civilization

Posted by in categories: astronomy, cosmology, human trajectories, innovation, science, space, space travel, transportation

Until 2006 our Solar System consisted essentially of a star, planets, moons, and very much smaller bodies known as asteroids and comets. In 2006 the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Division III Working Committee addressed scientific issues and the Planet Definition Committee address cultural and social issues with regard to planet classifications. They introduced the “pluton” for bodies similar to planets but much smaller.

The IAU set down three rules to differentiate between planets and dwarf planets. First, the object must be in orbit around a star, while not being itself a star. Second, the object must be large enough (or more technically correct, massive enough) for its own gravity to pull it into a nearly spherical shape. The shape of objects with mass above 5×1020 kg and diameter greater than 800 km would normally be determined by self-gravity, but all borderline cases would have to be established by observation.

Third, plutons or dwarf planets, are distinguished from classical planets in that they reside in orbits around the Sun that take longer than 200 years to complete (i.e. they orbit beyond Neptune). Plutons typically have orbits with a large orbital inclination and a large eccentricity (noncircular orbits). A planet should dominate its zone, either gravitationally, or in its size distribution. That is, the definition of “planet” should also include the requirement that it has cleared its orbital zone. Of course this third requirement automatically implies the second. Thus, one notes that planets and plutons are differentiated by the third requirement.

As we are soon to become a space faring civilization, we should rethink these cultural and social issues, differently, by subtraction or addition. By subtraction, if one breaks the other requirements? Comets and asteroids break the second requirement that the object must be large enough. Breaking the first requirement, which the IAU chose not address at the time, would have planet sized bodies not orbiting a star. From a socio-cultural perspective, one could suggest that these be named “darktons” (from dark + plutons). “Dark” because without orbiting a star, these objects would not be easily visible; “tons” because in deep space, without much matter, these bodies could not meet the third requirement of being able to dominate its zone.

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Apr 5, 2015

This Is Big: A Robo-Car Just Drove Across the Country

Posted by in categories: disruptive technology, driverless cars, human trajectories, robotics/AI, transportation

— WiredAutonomous car from Delphi drives on Treasure Island in preparation for a cross-country trip from San Francisco to New York City in San FranciscoAn autonomous car just drove across the country.

Nine days after leaving San Francisco, a blue car packed with tech from a company you’ve probably never heard of rolled into New York City after crossing 15 states and 3,400 miles to make history. The car did 99 percent of the driving on its own, yielding to the carbon-based life form behind the wheel only when it was time to leave the highway and hit city streets.

This amazing feat, by the automotive supplier Delphi, underscores the great leaps this technology has taken in recent years, and just how close it is to becoming a part of our lives. Yes, many regulatory and legislative questions must be answered, and it remains to be seen whether consumers are ready to cede control of their cars, but the hardware is, without doubt, up to the task. Read More

Apr 4, 2015

Firm working on Elon Musk’s Hyperloop leases space in L.A.‘s Arts District

Posted by in category: transportation

Hyperloop
Hyperloop isn’t all hype.

A company behind the futuristic, high-speed transportation system fantasized by Tesla and SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk has leased warehouse space in downtown Los Angeles and is rapidly adding new workers to a staff of 20 full-time employees.

Musk’s imaginary Hyperloop would use vacuum tubes to transport freight and passengers at speeds of 750 mph, racing from Los Angeles to San Francisco in half an hour. Until recently, it’s been little more than an idea.Read more

Mar 29, 2015

It’s Time For Robot Pilots

Posted by in categories: automation, human trajectories, robotics/AI, security, transportation

Jason Koebler — MotherBoard

http://motherboard-images.vice.com/content-images/article/20326/1427390573566811.png?crop=1xw:0.8160465116279069xh;*,*&resize=2300:*&output-format=jpeg&output-quality=90
It’s increasingly looking like the plane that crashed Monday in France, killing 150 people, went down because one of the pilots ​turned off the autopilot and intentionally crashed it into the ground. Why are we still letting humans fly passenger planes?

The short answer is, we’re not really. It’s no secret that planes are already highly automated, and, with technology that’s available today (but that isn’t installed on the Airbus A320 operated by Germanwings that crashed), it would have been possible for someone in a ground station somewhere to have wrested control of the plane from those on board and reestablished autopilot (or to have piloted the plane from the ground)Read more

Mar 10, 2015

Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation: book review

Posted by in categories: energy, transportation

Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation:
How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030
By Tony Seba

Book review by Jose Cordeiro


All the armies in the world are not as powerful as an idea whose time has come.
Victor Hugo, 1854

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Feb 22, 2015

Hyperloop Is Coming

Posted by in category: transportation

By –Singularity Hubhttp://cdn.singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/hyperloop-is-coming-3-1000x400.jpg

Have you heard of the Hyperloop? It’s the concept described as “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and a bullet train.” Think: Los Angeles to Vegas in 20 minutes or LA to San Francisco in 35 minutes.

A new company called Hyperloop Technologies, Inc. was announced on the cover of Forbes this week, and they are taking on a bold new mission. I’m proud to be a founding director of the company, and very excited about the supercredible team that has come together to make Hyperloop happen.

I sit on the Board of the company along with Shervin Pishevar (major early Investor in Uber, Sherpa Ventures), Joe Lonsdale (Founder Palantir & Formation 8), Jim Messina (Pres. Obama’s Reelection Campaign Manager), David Sacks (Paypal, Yammer), and Brogan BamBrogran (Former SpaceX Engineer, and acting CEO).

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Feb 16, 2015

Apple Has Hundreds Working On An Electric Car Design, Says WSJ

Posted by in category: transportation

by — TechCrunch

Apple is working on a car, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Mac maker kicked off a top-secret project to develop an electric car with a minivan aesthetic, per the WSJ’s sources, after CEO Tim Cook approved the project nearly a year ago. It includes “hundreds” of staffers and is led by Ford Motor vet and Apple VP Steve Zadesky. The project involves research into battery tech, robotics and metal production, according to the paper.

The report comes hot on the heels of a Financial Times story confirming Apple R&D efforts around car tech, and goes further than either that report or an earlier one from Business Insider wherein an Apple employee reportedly confirmed some kind of car-focused project. As I wrote earlier, it makes perfect logical sense that Apple would focus some effort on this area, given the direction in which the tech industry in general is headed.

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Jan 21, 2015

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Will Revolutionize Transportation, But That’s Only The Beginning Of The Change It’ll Bring

Posted by in category: transportation

By — Singularity Hub

http://cdn.singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/hyperloop-1000x400.jpg

San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes flat—that was the dream of the Hyperloop.

Back in 2013, Elon Musk introduced the world to this dream a 60 page white paper. The paper caused a stir. The idea—a levitating, solar-power supersonic train—was both pure geek porn and a transportation revolution in the making. It definitely captured people’s imagination.

Continue reading “Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Will Revolutionize Transportation, But That’s Only The Beginning Of The Change It’ll Bring” »

Dec 28, 2014

London Underground set for fast, new driverless trains

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

By — Gizmag

The new trains feature wider doors and walk-through carriages

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has today revealed the designs for the New Tube for London – a fleet of 250 trains set to go into operation in the mid-2020s. The design, which pays homage to the heritage of the Underground, brings significant improvements to the service, with the trains capable of fully automatic operation.

The New Tube services aim to tackle the city’s rising population by not only increasing capacity, but also improving speed and frequency of trains. Transport for London (TfL) worked with PriestmanGoode on the new design, which is set to make significant improvements to the service while retaining the recognizable look of London Underground transportation.

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