Truck Platooning

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Problem: Trucks and other large commercial vehicles often travel in isolation. Their size and slow acceleration requires substantial fuel resources and they often have negative impacts to traffic flows on busy roadways.

Solution: Truck platooning pairs two trucks, one which is operated conventionally and the other partially operated. This linking strategy enables trucks to take up less space on streets than if they were to operate independently. It also saves fuel for the follower.

  • The city of Columbus is hosting a trial of two-truck platoons for a busy roadway that leads to a major logistics hub.
  • Partially operated trucks follow traditionally operated ones. Software by Peloton Technology pairs the two vehicles so that speed, controlled braking, and controlled acceleration are automatically in sync.
  • The lead truck cuts through the air and wind to reduce drag for the follower, thus increasing its fuel efficiency.
  • This trial is a precursor to a future where self-driving trucks will follow traditionally operated vehicles.

Stakeholders:

  • truck and freight operators
  • municipal transportation agencies
  • commuters

Next 3 Steps:

  • record and measure results from platoon trial
  • share results and findings with transportation agencies nationwide
  • establish federal standards for truck platooning

Sources:

https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2016/07/20/driverless-18-wheelers-coming-to-columbus-as-truck.html

https://peloton-tech.com/how-it-works/

Comment:

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/16/drb2171-2/comment-page-1/#comment-1452

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Adaptive Traffic Control

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Problem: Conventional traffic control systems have timed signals and are unable to make adjustments based on real-time traffic conditions. This leads to predictable traffic backups and congestion during peak commuting hours, as well as increased vehicle emissions from stalled vehicles.

Solution: Adaptive traffic controls that will adjust signal timing based on real time data on traffic conditions to help vehicles move more efficiently in high-traffic corridors.

  • Seattle’s Department of Transportation adopted a smart adaptive traffic control system for a high-traffic corridor in the growing South Lake Union neighborhood.
  • Sensors detect vehicles in every lane of every intersection along the route to determine traffic conditions.
  • Algorithms process the data to predict traffic flows and adjusts the amount of time available to each movement through intersections to inform signal timing.
  • The system is able to predict and adapt to congestion that from rush hour, sports events, concerts, and other special events.

Stakeholders:

  • transportation departments
  • surface transit (bus, streetcar)
  • commuters

First 3 Steps:

  • measure improvements in traffic flow from adaptive traffic controls
  • identify additional high-traffic corridors for next phase
  • implement adaptive control systems in all high traffic corridors

Sources:

http://sdotblog.seattle.gov/2017/04/24/city-of-seattle-introduces-mercer-adaptive-signal-system-to-keep-traffic-moving/

Comment on “Ocean Cleanup”

The anchor and ballast concept is key in slowing down the system to capture the floating plastic that moves faster. In addition, the natural forces on the water helps position the system where the highest concentration of trash is to make it even more efficient.

Fast-Charging Busses

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Problem: At the moment, many public transit bus fleets are still utilizing fossil-fuel powered vehicles. While many systems are transitioning to hybrid models, there are not many 100% emissions-free bus lines around the world.

Solution: A bus that is 100% electric, wire-free, and able to be re-charged at stations that are equipped with charging points.

  • New electric busses by Swiss manufacturer HESS will use flash-charging technology that will enable batteries mounted on bus roofs to be charged in 20 seconds (while passengers enter and exit) with 600-kilowatts at stations where charging ports are installed.
  • Busses are hooked to the charge point in less than 1 second. Charging stations at the end of line terminals will provide full charges to the busses before their next route.
  • The city of Nantes, France is adopting this technology for a full route (Line 4).
  • Electric busses are not only emissions free, they also produce much less noise than conventional busses.

Stakeholders:

  • municipal transportation authorities
  • transit riders
  • communities along bus transit routes

First 3 Steps:

  • Document the performance of Line 4 in Nantes for a period of time after the new bus rollout (vehicles and stations)
  • Make improvements and fixes where necessary for both vehicles and infrastructure
  • Market the bus system to transit authorities that have aging bus fleets and are looking to upgrade to sustainable models

Sources:

https://smartcitiesworld.net/news/nantes-invests-in-fast-charging-for-buses-2258

http://new.abb.com/news/detail/2310/nantes-chooses-breakthrough-abb-e-bus-technology

Blog Comment:

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/02/olli-the-self-driving-electric-mini-bus/comment-page-1/#comment-1308

 

Smart Recycling Bin

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Problem: Recycling bins are often confusing for users, and items are frequently discarded in the wrong receptacles.

Solution: A smart recycling bin that uses camera technology and AI algorithms to recognize objects and notify which receptacle to discard them in.

  • Cambridge Consultants is a British company that has developed a recycling bin with computer vision built in.
  • The bin’s camera identifies the material and the proper receptacle lights up to indicate where to discard the item.
  • The product can register users to encourage proper recycling and link the behavior to a rewards program developed by the bin’s sponsor or owner.
  • The bin can also collect data on the items being recycled to gain insight on consumer habits or to track a retailer’s sustainability goals.

Stakeholders:

  • retailers with sustainability goals
  • municipalities with public spaces
  • commercial property owners

Next 3 steps:

  • continue to improve the algorithm that identifies items to be recycled
  • market the product to retailers, building management firms, and city agencies
  • analyze data collected to provide metrics that can support case for improved recycling with the product

Sources:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/smart-recycling-bin-could-sort-your-waste-you-180964848/

https://www.cambridgeconsultants.com/media/press-releases/smarter-way-recycle

Comment:

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/16/mit-robot-swims-through-water-and-gas-pipes-to-detect-leaks/#comment-1230

Smartscooter & Smart Energy Network

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Problem: current individual transportation modes, especially in developing countries, still rely on vehicles such as scooters that burn fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gasses. In addition, vehicle ownership in developing nations is expected to rise.

Solution: A zero emission electric scooter that is powered by a removable battery which is obtained through a shared charging network.

  • Gogoro is a Taiwan-based startup that manufactures and sells electric scooters powered by removable battery packs.
  • Customers purchase ownership of the scooter, and gain membership to a charging network where they obtain and swap out the battery packs.
  • Battery station locations and battery availability is managed through a mobile app.
  • Gogoro can analyze data of charging activity to help inform where to distribute more batteries and when to take advantage of off-peak charging

Stakeholders:

  • conventional scooter owners
  • cities with high traffic pollution

First 3 steps:

  • identify cities with high scooter/moped ridership
  • propose the Smart Energy Network to municipal transportation departments
  • market to consumers

Sources:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/this-electric-scooter-company-is-hoping-to-change-the-future-of-transport

https://www.gogoro.com/smart-energy/

Blog Comment:

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/12/off-grid-solar-powered-water-device-zero-mass-water/comment-page-1/#comment-1184

 

Toilet Paper Bicycle Lanes

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Problem: wastewater treatment plants consume a lot of energy to filter out toilet paper that has been flushed. In addition, the final incineration process ends up destroying valuable resources in wastewater sludge that can be repurposed, one of which is cellulose.

Solution: filtering out cellulose found in wastewater and reusing it as an aggregate for porous asphalt that can be used for infrastructure such as bicycle lanes.

  • In the Netherlands, roads are paved with a porous asphalt called open-graded asphalt friction course. Cellulose is a key ingredient that is added to hold the wet mix together during paving.
  • Cellulose is a key byproduct of the 180,000 tons of toilet paper found in wastewater annually in the Netherlands.
  • An industrial sieve filters out cellulose from wastewater before it is cleaned, sterilized, and dried. The result is a viable admixture for the porous asphalt.
  • In addition to asphalt for bicycle lanes, the repurposed cellulose could theoretically be recycled into paper, filters, building insulation, and textiles.

Stakeholders:

  • wastewater treatment plants
  • municipal water authorities

First 3 Steps:

  • identify wastewater treatment plants that are overburdened and are interested in reducing their solid waste
  • find industrial manufacturers willing to partner for a program to repurpose cellulose from wastewater into aggregate mixtures
  • continue to search for new ways to repurpose wastewater cellulose for industrial products

Sources:

https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/09/bike-path-recycled-toilet-paper-netherlands/541326/

http://mentalfloss.com/article/504999/netherlands-paving-its-roads-recycled-toilet-paper

Response to Fully Circular Furniture:

This is a fantastic enterprise innovation, especially in a world where furniture is increasingly priced to be disposable and designed not to be recyclable. However, the article and the manufacturer do not delve into how the product packaging fits into the sustainability ethos. I would like to know if there was any thought put into it, as trash from furniture packaging is a substantial component of the product’s waste potential. I appreciate how the furniture was designed to optimize the recurring use of individual components. Design in the packaging to be minimal and zero-waste would be the next step.

Smog-eating Skyscrapers

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Problem: cities often produce excess air pollution through the energy consumption of its buildings and transportation networks, and the problem is exacerbated by limited green space and lack of carbon-absorbing plant life.

Solution: building vertically by integrating ground-level plants and foliage that absorb carbon dioxide and help maintain thermal comfort for building occupants.

  • a new skyscraper in Taipei is designed to hold 23,000 trees and shrubs on its facade, roof, and balconies.
  • the plants are projected to absorb 130 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
  • the building is twisted (modeled after a DNA strand) which helps maximize daylighting and natural ventilation in an effort to reduce the energy consumption of its inhabitants

Stakeholders:

  • cities, especially those with major air pollution issues, and their municipal building departments
  • architects and landscape architects
  • developers

First 3 steps:

  • survey the performance of the building (and similar projects worldwide) over a period of time to measure its impact on energy savings, air quality, occupant health, and maintenance costs compared to a baseline building model
  • present the findings to city building departments to propose changes in building codes that will facilitate similar designs for new construction projects
  • spread awareness to architects and developers

Sources:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/08/this-twisting-taiwan-tower-block-has-nearly-has-many-plants-as-central-park

http://vincent.callebaut.org/object/110130_taipei/taipei/projects