Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Solar Powered

The Sunstar solar-powered UAV concept from Solar Flight

Raymond's California-based company Solar Flight has released details of its fourth solar-powered aircraft, the Sunstar. The airplane has been designed for unmanned flight, though a human pilot version is also an option, and is reported to have more performance potential than any other projects currently under development, with greater flight speeds in a turbulence-tolerant design.  Read More

The Zephyr has become the first High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) system to complete a...

The solar-powered, high-altitude long endurance (HALE) UAV previously known as the Qinetiq Zephyr, which is now part of the Airbus High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) programme and called the Airbus Zephyr, has continued its record-breaking ways in its first civil flight in the skies over Dubai earlier this month.  Read More

Scrobby is an autonomous robot prototype designed to keep domestic solar panels clean and ...

Solar panels need regular cleaning to ensure they are working at their optimum efficiency, and spraying them with the hose from the ground or relying on a heavy downpour won't necessarily get the job done. Like the windows on your house, they need to be scrubbed and polished for maximum effect. Enter Scrobby, a solar-powered, autonomous robot prototype designed to keep domestic solar panels clean and clear.  Read More

The new Digital Drum 2.0 from UNICEF and partners

For the past couple of years, UNICEF Uganda and partners have been designing, developing, prototyping and rolling out youth-focused community computers that can operate on mains power where available, or solar-power in remote rural areas. Work has just finished on the design of the second generation Digital Kiosk, and the UK's fanless computer specialist Aleutia is now working on a new open source, low power computer system to squeeze into the table-topped repurposed oil drum that will become the Digital Drum.  Read More

The Soofa bench is the creation of Changing Environments, an MIT Media Lab spin-off compan...

A number of parks in the Boston area will soon receive solar-powered smart benches, courtesy of Changing Environments, an MIT Media Lab spin-off company. Dubbed Soofa, the benches sport a solar panel, a pair of charging points for smartphones (or similar devices), and they monitor environmental data such as local air quality and noise pollution.  Read More

The Rhino Cube, by Boulder, Colorado-based company Rhino Cubed (Photo: Rhino Cubed)

Boulder, Colorado-based small home firm Rhino Cubed recently launched its line of shipping container-based micro-homes. The most fully-equipped model is named the Rhino Cube, and is suitable for use as a weekend retreat or full-time dwelling. It can operate either on or off-the-grid, and will set you back US$60,000.  Read More

The Sunseeker Duo becomes the first solar-powered airplane to carry two people

Last month, Solar Flight revealed that the team was working hard to get its Sunseeker Duo ready for the first passenger flights this (northern) summer. Today, the company announced that husband and wife team Eric and Irena Raymond have taken to the skies together, making the Duo the first solar-powered airplane to carry two people.  Read More

Several years in the making, the Beast features a solar-powered battery pack for eco-frien...

Since the release of its groundbreaking wireless Shadow Ebike in 2011, Canadian electric vehicle company Daymak has been toiling away looking to take its eco-friendly bike tech beyond the asphalt. The Beast is a product of around two years of development and, fitted with 8-inch thick tires and solar power battery pack, is equipped to power sun-fueled expeditions over the roughest of terrain.  Read More

Is space-based solar power the answer to our energy needs? JAXA envisions solar satellites...

Space-based solar power seems like an idea from a Star Trek script, but given the uncertain future of its power generation industry, Japan stands to gain as much as anyone by exploring this potential source of renewable energy. The disaster at Fukushima, limited access to fossil fuels and advances in technology has, at least in the eyes of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), added further weight to the notion of a space-based solar power system. The agency is developing a complex roadmap involving a 1 GW extraterrestrial solar farm, a microwave beam and a man-made island in the Tokyo harbor which could be used collect solar energy in space and supply power to Earth by 2040.  Read More

The Sunseeker Duo first took flight back in December 2013, with the team since testing dif...

For all the advancements made in solar power technology, developing an airplane that could harvest enough of the sun's energy to not only be flown for extended periods, but take another person along for the ride has proven a difficult task. The team at Solar Flight recently took on this challenge, unveiling its plans for what would be the world's first two-seater solar aircraft, the Sunseeker Duo. Today, the company announced that it has spent the last few months testing the plane's flight performance and the results hold some promise for helping achieve its lofty ambitions.  Read More

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