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California

Google has followed up news of its "self-driving lessons learned" with an announcement that it is to begin testing its self-driving cars on public roads in California. The first complete prototype was unveiled late last year. The new pilot will allow Google to study public responses to the cars and have them face real-world challenges.

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The California utility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), has begun bidding energy resources from fleets of electric vehicles and storage systems into the state’s wholesale power market. The pilot program, one of the first of its kind, is meant to provide insights into how electric vehicles and other kinds of distributed energy resources can make the grid more reliable and efficient. Read More
Google has released renders and preliminary information regarding its planned new headquarters in Mountain View, California. Finer details are unavailable at this stage, but the firm has commissioned top-tier architects Bjarke Ingels (of BIG) and Thomas Heatherwick to handle the design, and what information we do have points toward a sustainable, flexible, and future-proof headquarters for the company. Read More
Elon Musk's Hyperloop is going to become a reality, but not quite on the grand scale it was originally conceived for just yet. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has reached an agreement to build a 5-mile (8-km) passenger track for Quay Valley, a proposed "sustainable model town for the 21st century" in California's central valley. Read More
You may not have noticed, but the Earth had a close shave on Monday as an asteroid with its own moon made a cosmic near miss. As it passed within 3.1 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon, NASA's 230-foot-wide Deep Space Network captured radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its tiny satellite. Read More
The Orion spacecraft may have taken less than five hours to fly into space and back, but it will take a fortnight for it to return to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, so Lockheed Martin, builder of the capsule, is conducting tests on the fly. As the 19,650 lb (8,913 kg) capsule designed to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit was unloaded ashore in San Diego, California from the recovery ship USS Anchorage, Lockheed engineers were waiting to take samples of the heat shield and begin processing the flight recorders. Read More
Drinking recycled urine may be the stuff of Dune novels, and a drastic response to California’s ongoing drought. But officials in Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley are hoping its new high-tech purification plant will help residents get past the ick factor and eventually allow treated wastewater to flow through their faucets in a "toilet to tap" scenario. Opened in July, the $72 million Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center is the most advanced such plant in the US, and uses a multi-step system of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet rays to produce water of higher quality than typical drinking water. Read More
When we think of electric vehicles, we generally think of conveyances down the lower on of the size spectrum, like cars, bikes and maybe even skateboards. But at this year’s American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo in Houston, BYD Motors took things in the other direction with the premiere of what it claims is the world’s largest battery electric vehicle – the Lancaster eBus. Read More

The US Air Force’s reusable unmanned spacecraft, the X-37B, is scheduled to return to Earth this week. Although the exact day and time remains undetermined, preparations are underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in anticipation of the arrival of the mini-shuttle as it ends its classified Orbital Test Vehicle mission 3 (OTV-3). Read More

Students at California Polytechnic Pomona have been reinterpreting the cabins used by visitors to US state parks as part of a program by the Architecture Department Studio. Revamp the Camp aimed to make the cabins in California State Parks cheaper and greener, as well as more appealing to a wider range of park users. Read More
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