June 6, 2016
Many people are excited about the prospect of driverless cars. They believe this could reduce the fossil fuel usage and reduce the need for importing foreign made cars. They are definitely capable of making humans more productive. But, we can’t help asking a few questions before we can come to terms with this.
In a broader perspective, autonomous vehicles are already there. There are many high tech cars that have automation systems to prevent collisions. These cars use laser or radar to gauge the distance between the next car and warn the driver about the applying brakes in case the gap is too narrow.
What was once available only in high-end cars is now slowly stepping into the moderately priced cars as well. Another automation system that is available is look out for people or objects in blind spots and prevents you from running over. These are applicable only when the driver makes a mistake.
Taking this a notch further is the “autopilot mode” which follows the highway and changes lanes for avoiding other cars. This doesn’t mean you get to take your hands off the wheel and text or go check the social media pages. You still have to watch the road and keep your hands on the steering so that you could manage in case there are any mishaps.
Driverless cars are something that is even more ambitious than this. They are meant to eliminate the drivers themselves. They are smart cars that can drive through crowded streets, understand traffic lights, deal with intersections, cyclists and even sudden pedestrians. To even hear this as a concept is amazing. This is very difficult to accomplish in all the locations around the world. But not having a responsible adult and no steering when does scare us to an extent.
Cars have always been one of the dependent modes of transport for most of us. Railways and buses should be used more for traveling to places that have the connectivity. It is good that we have technology as long as it keeps us safe and helps improve our life. But it is not good to eliminate ourselves and let technology rule the world.
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March 6, 2016
Many houses are adapting themselves to have solar panels. Not as a backup but as a centralized electricity grid. Does this indicate that in future all houses can run on solar energy and there will be no need for the electric grid? The question is debatable.
Solar power is definitely booming. With a little bit of support, the technology is going to rule the world. Professor Newman has a great view about this for us. He works at the Curtin University of Perth.
Solar power is not an evolving technology. It has already evolved. But is it sufficient enough to support the number of power systems we have at home? The city of Perth is a standing example of what distributed solar power can do. This new phenomenon is referred as citizen utilities.
It is estimated that since 2010 more than 22 percent of the homes in Perth have adopted to solar power. That is more than 190,000 systems that have been installed. Approximately, 530 MW power has been generated and this is currently the largest power station in Australia. The number of people that is moving on to solar power is increasing b 20 percent every year. More than 1.5 million households in Australia have adopted to solar power and by 2031, 18,000 MW power will be produced solely by solar panels.
Most of the sales in solar systems have happened in large families where the electricity bill is also proportionately higher. More than 50 percent of the houses in Australian suburbs run on solar power.
Therefore, in future grids will be designed in such a way that the users should be able to generate their own power and manage excess electricity. This concept is called as “citizen utilities”. Microgrids such as this will become more feasible to move electricity and any payments associated with it.
Group housing building managers can take this up to implement this across their building and become local energy managers. In lifestyle villages and industrial estates, the owner can become the local utility. By doing this, we are certainly entering a citizen utility era.