Sunday, June 19, 2016

The US DOT-Advocacy or monopoly?

We have a lot to think about...
An Act in Relation to Removal of Obstructions to Navigation in the Mouth of the Mississippi River
"What a vast field would the exercise of this power open for jobbing and corruption! Members of Congress, from an honest desire to promote the interest of their constituents, would struggle for improvements within their own districts, and the body itself must necessarily be converted into an arena where each would endeavor to obtain from the Treasury as much money as possible for its own locality.  The temptation would prove irresistible."

President Buchanan's veto message, February 1860
Eight presidents have proclaimed foreign oil to be an enemy.

The US Department of Energy has a "sustainable transportation" program within its EERE Office. Is there money for sustainable transportation within that program?

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies$105 m
Bioenergy Technologies279 m
Vehicle Technologies468 m

What do you think?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Disruption is 10X – Innovation is 2X

In Silicon Valley we hear a lot about innovation. It is the mantra for entrepreneurs, managers, engineers, educators, even our local politicians.

Disruption >> Innovation

What's a little harder to see is disruption to the entire order. We are so used to change in Silicon Valley that we don't always see how fast a complete transformation shifts into place ... or what it takes for that shift to happen.

Since I first heard Bucky Fuller explain the essential discipline of doing more with less, shifting from "fossil fuels" to renewable energy has been the obvious answer for me. I still regularly encounter skepticism, but that's normal for those of us who act upon the pressing need for clean energy.

One person who has done an excellent job of articulating this need and the opportunity it represents is Tony Seba [video]. He calls it Clean Disruption [slide deck]. Clean disruption goes far beyond clean innovation. Echoing that sentiment in the context of becoming Solar Nations, it's high time for humanity to make an about-face, to abandon fossil fuels, not only because it's necessary but also because it's more effective, and more economical ... by far.

Tony sees the big picture. It's not hard, after all. Here's how he laid it out for transportation in his presentation (slide #70):

3D - Clean Disruption of [Transportation]
©2016 Tony Seba
Well, if you look closely, you will notice that he has actually drawn vehicles for a 2D world where the configuration driver is still rubber tires on asphalt (a variation on the theme of fossil fuels, a substance that breeds potholes in the end). And the Law of Conservation of Momentum still holds, dictating that sooner or later, energy efficient, asset utilizing, autonomy capable cars will still bump into things. (Ouch!) And because of that, they can't go very fast, either. They gotta watch out for people and things on the ground.

In the modern 3D city, transportation will soon become 3D too, something like this:

The Solarevolution™
Come the Solarevolution, solar-powered, automated, non-stop, elevated podcars will run on high strength steel lasting 10X longer than asphalt -- and cheaper. The pods will weigh 10X less than Teslas. (They don't have to carry lots of heavy batteries and be built like tanks to protect their occupants.) The pillars will require 1000X less land area than cars, freeing up the ground level for human activity.
4D - Clean Transportation
(with apologies to Tony Seba)
Ooops.... Excuse me while I make a little adjustment...
Ahh, that's better.
So now we have room in our cities for people, pets, pedals and petals!
4D Transportation as if people mattered

And travelers win too. Because elevated vehicles can't hit people, the passengers in podcars zooming overhead will get to where they're going much faster.

Now that's what I call disruption!

(Clean, too!)