Japanese government begins plans for driverless driving by 2020

Japan’s Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will soon embark on a project to realize an “autopilot system” for automatic driving, a system for guiding motor vehicles on expressways without human assistance.

The system is expected to contribute significantly to such goals as alleviating drivers’ fatigue, preventing road accidents and easing traffic congestion. It would be for vehicles referred to as self-driving cars capable of sensing their environment and navigating by themselves, with people not required to perform any mechanical operation besides choosing their destinations.

With a view to making an autopilot system a reality in the early 2020s, the ministry will launch a study panel of experts this year, to start full-scale discussions about a self-steering vehicle control project.

The ministry envisages an autonomous vehicle system in which, after leaving your home, motorists would enter an interchange of a nearby expressway while manually operating their cars.

When pulling into the expressway’s lane exclusively for the autopilot system, the driving mode would change to “automatic driving” and input your destination into the system. Motorists would take their hands and feet off the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake.

 

Via‘Driverless driving’ envisioned for Japan in early 2020s

 

Continue reading Japanese government begins plans for driverless driving by 2020

Google takes a big step towards becoming a (smart) encyclopedia – look out Wikipedia!

“We’re in the early phases of moving from being an information engine to a knowledge engine” – Google

That’s a quote from the video below where Google explains a new panel they are adding to search. Called the ‘knowledge graph’ it is basically a mini-encyclopedia. See the panels in the images below.

 

 

This is a big competitive move for Google. Not only are they taking on Facebook with Google+, Microsoft with Google Docs, and Apple with Android, now they have Wikipedia in their sights.

Of course, Wikipedia will still serve a huge purpose for in-depth information, but you can expect Wikipedia to experience a precipitous drop in page views once people are getting their basic information from these panels.

It also puts Google in an interesting position. While this is a natural improvement in search it also creates a conflict of interest for them. One of the many they are currently facing, some of which are in the courts facing anti-trust issues.

Will Google devalue Wikipedia in favor of their ‘knowledge graph’?

Or, lower its ranking if people begin using it less?

Hard to predict, but notice that in the images above Google clearly (intentionally?) shows Wikipedia as the top result. That may not keep.

 

Learn more:

What’s it like going solar (installing panels on your roof)?

I’ve been seeing a lot more solar panels installed on homes. Which has me wondering, what is the impact on cost, inconvenience, and utilities.

Scott over on the Zero Waste Blog has the perfect, written-by-an-engineer, write-up. It is worth reading the whole thing, but here is a meaty excerpt:

So what has the impact been? Well, we did actually turn up the heat – so I don’t have to wear the puff jacket all the time. But despite the relaxation of the “thermostat tyranny”, we have seen a huge decrease in our month bills:

  • For our first full month (FEB 13 to MAR 14): We used negative 5 kWh (our meter ran backwards). Of course, in Northern California, we had a sunny, warm February, with virtually no rain. For the same period in 2011, we used 601 kWh.
  • For the 2nd month (MAR 14 to APR 13): We used 141 kWh. Last month was cold and very rainy (i.e., less solar power), we had guests and turned up the electric heaters. For the same period in 2011, we used 567 kWh.
  • Bottomline: Our total electric bill for two months is $17.50, plus $8.88 in unavoidable taxes, etc. For comparison sake, the same two months last year cost us $207.28.

keep readingZero Waste Blog

 

// Photo – Pink Dispatcher

Huntington Beach Goes Solar

Huntington Beach is leading the nation in many green areas, including clean energy. In just a few weeks, the city government’s largest buildings, City Hall and Central Library, will have full solar installations in the parking lot.

This project is the result of several years of energy savings for the city, including a review of the energy costs for the city government, broken down below:

HB City Government Electricity 2008-09

  • Street Lights – $2.0 million
  • City Hall – $564K
  • Water Pumping – $519K
  • Central Library – $398K
  • Traffic Lights – $90k
  • Other – $836K
  • Total – $4.5 million

** Source: HB Energy Action Plan (pdf)

As you can see the street lights in the city are, by far, the most expensive. After that comes City Hall and Central Library, which combined cost the city nearly 1$ million/year.

In response the city used Obama’s stimulus money to fund a solar feasibility project. The results showed a positive return for the city and they put out a contract:

“SunEdison was selected as the winning bidder for the solar project…(and the city) entered into a 20-year, 2.3 Megawatt Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) contract, with SunEdison providing, owning, and operating the equipment. The city purchases the solar power at a flat rate from SunEdison.”

“According to the terms of this agreement the city is not liable for any capital costs or maintenance. Additionally, the city benefits from shaded parking.”

Continue reading Huntington Beach Goes Solar

A Blogging Champion At Work: From 295 To Over 46,000 Monthly Views

Over the past several months, I’ve had the unique opportunity to watch my partner-in-crime focus on building 1X57 as a blog.

Starting in July, Steve began blogging full-time for 1X57, producing content on a daily basis, focusing on what he loves and finds interesting, which includes topics such as surfing, comics, big data, and more.

It’s been a fascinating process to witness, especially since it’s been more than just SEO or creating catchy titles. His focus has been on improving the quality of his writing, learning to be a journalist, mastering web publishing and connecting with audiences who care about the things he cares about. Not to mention growing his social media prowess.

And it’s working.

Back in November 2010, we had 295 unique monthly views. By August 2011, the site has grown to receive almost 47,000 monthly views, over 150x growth…

…which is significant for us, since the growth we experienced in our first two years (starting with our initial post in November 2008, through November 2010) increased from only the 10’s to the 100’s for monthly views.

If you’re interested in hearing more about @robotchampion‘s journey from zero to blog dominance, please vote for his SXSW 2012 talk, “Blogging isn’t dead, it just went professional.”

I promise you, he won’t disappoint.

NOTE: Voting ends tomorrow, Friday, September 2, 11:59 CDT.