In this week's Abundance Insider: Tesla robo-taxis, eco-friendly transparent wood, and Alphabet's Wing drones get FAA certification.
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What it is: This week, Elon Musk revealed that Tesla plans to roll out autonomous Robo-Taxis by next year. While he acknowledged the massive regulatory hurdles ahead for this project, Musk said that “Next year for sure, we will have over 1 million Robo-Taxis on the road.” Once rolled out, Tesla owners will be able to offer their cars onto the ‘Tesla Network’ via the Tesla mobile App, so that other people can use it in a ridesharing fashion similar to Uber and Lyft. Tesla estimates Tesla owners will be able to earn over $30,000 per year from offering their car as a Tesla Network Robo-Taxi. “The fundamental message that consumers should be taking today is that it is financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla,” he said.
Why it's important: Earlier this year, Lyft saw a massive IPO with a current market cap of over $16 billion. Uber is expected to go public with a valuation of over $90 billion. Now, Tesla is entering the game to disrupt this already-disruptive industry. With millions of autonomous-ready cars already on the road, Tesla is well equipped to transform the ridesharing landscape. With its new autonomous plans, Tesla is set to dramatically undercut Uber and Lyft ($0.18 per mile vs. $2 to $3 per mile), a boon to Tesla owners and ridesharing customers alike. Billions of dollars worldwide are being pumped into R&D to make autonomous cars commonplace. How will you leverage this colossal opportunity? Share on Facebook
Spotted by Claire Adair / Written by Max Goldberg
What it is: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has awarded Alphabet-owned drone delivery startup Wing the first Air Carrier Certification. With this certification, the U.S. officially joins Canberra, Australia, where Wing has been testing delivery drones since 2014. The permit enables Wing to deliver goods from local businesses to homes, even flying over civilians and out of the drone operator's line of sight. In “the coming weeks,” Wing will begin a pilot program in the Blacksburg and Christiansburg areas of Virginia.
Why it's important: Delivery drones will transform how we move products around the planet. These vehicles remove the energy inefficiency of moving heavy steel trucks simply to deliver small packages. They also enable rapid point-to-point delivery of essential goods (e.g. medicines, blood plasma), creature comforts (e.g. toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo) and, importantly, takeout food and groceries. With on-demand autonomous delivery, what essentials will you order directly to your door? Share on Facebook
Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg
What it is: A research team led by Celine Montanari at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has invented a type of transparent wood that can absorb and release heat, making it an ideal construction material for energy-efficient buildings. To advance previous work in transparent wood -- created by removing the lignin from Balsa wood and replacing it with an acrylic to provide strength -- the team added polyethylene glycol to the acrylic, which melts under high temperature and hardens as it cools. According to Monetary, 100 grams of this transparent wood material with the polyethylene glycol inside can absorb up to 8,000 joules of heat, which is roughly what a 1W bulb can produce in two hours.
Why it's important: Materials science and biology aren’t just converging in health sciences, but in construction and manufacturing. Produced at scale, this transparent wood could revolutionize energy-efficient architecture. What technology breakthroughs in adjacent industries might solve a challenge in your business? Share on Facebook
Spotted by Claire Adair / Written by Jason Goodwin
What it is: AliveCor, the company pioneering portable ECG monitoring with KardiaMobile, announced this week that it has received FDA clearance for the detection of Bradycardia and Tachycardia, two arrhythmias that are not Afib and between 40-50 or 100-140 beats per minute, respectively. As expected, patients often become frustrated when results from their ECG devices deliver “inconclusive” or “undetermined.” While low and high heart rates are often benign — such as during sleep (low) or exercise (high) — delivering a clear classification provides patients and their doctors more insight into their care.
Why it's important: Thanks to advances in sensor technology, machine learning, and the ubiquity of smartphones, we're witnessing an explosion in wearables that deliver health insights outside of the hospital and emergency room. (KardiaMobile retails for $100 online and via Amazon.) As FDA and other regulatory agencies continue to foster trust in the market, look for similar announcements in other conditions. Share on Facebook
Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin
What it is: Achieving a number of difficult design specs, researchers have just developed a plastic with special chemical properties that make it perfect for repetitive recycling. Most notably, the plastic has a chemical bond that allows easy separation from additives and conversion to a pure, reusable end product. A tweaked type of glass-like plastic called vitrimer, the material is held together by dynamic covalent diketoenamine bonds that require significantly less energy to break than those of traditional plastics. Yet while a solution of water and a strong acid at room temperature is all that is needed to break down the plastic into its constituent parts, the plastic is also safe from decomposition ahead of schedule, giving it the edge of biodegradable plastic without risk of easy degradation.
Why it's important: Today, a mere 10 percent of all plastic waste is recycled in the U.S., while the remaining refuse continues to populate waterways and landfills at an accelerating pace. Scientists project that a staggering 8 million metric tons of plastic pollution make their way to oceans each year, enough to place 5 grocery bags of plastic waste on every foot of every nation’s coastline. Current plastics and traditional recycling methods produce precious few materials with any value to commercial manufacturers. However, by chemically redesigning plastics to render their recycled constituent parts as good as new, we might be on the alchemist’s cusp of turning trash to treasure. Could this new material be our long-awaited miracle plastic? Share on Facebook
Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair
What it is: Alphabet subsidiary Waymo has just announced its selection of a Detroit-based facility to serve as the company’s first dedicated factory for autonomous vehicles. Aiming to move into the facility by mid-year, Waymo will partner with American Axle & Manufacturing to repurpose what was most recently used as a sequencing center for a local parts supplier. Soon to undergo a tremendous upgrade, the factory will next serve as a manufacturing site for SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicles, those driving forward Waymo’s autonomous ride-sharing fleets. Granted approval by Michigan Economic Development Corporation in January, the factory will now be able to build out thousands of self-driving cars under Waymo’s partnership with Magna, including autonomous versions of the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan.
Why it's important: Bridging the time gap between Detroit’s vehicle-sprouting heyday and the start of a self-driving era, Waymo’s soon-to-be refitted facility marks a committed first step in the scale-up of autonomous ride-sharing fleets. After the recent launch of Waymo One this past December in the Phoenix area, the limited commercial robotaxi service has already expanded at a remarkable pace, hinting at a paradigm shift in the way consumers view car ownership. And as autonomous ride-sharing launches begin to spread across the country and to urban centers abroad, Waymo will be one of many giving rise to a new age of personal transportation. Share on Facebook
Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair
What it is: GoFly, the $2M+, two-year global competition to create a safe, quiet, and ultra-compact personal flyer, just awarded prizes to five teams across the globe for their winning prototypes in the latest phase of the competition. Through partnerships with Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and 20 international aerospace organizations, GoFly is reinventing the future of transportation. GoFly’s 3,500 Innovators from 103 countries are creating their jet packs, flying motorcycles, human-carrying drones, and futuristic flyers-- all culminating in next year's Final Fly-Off when the teams gather to showcase their innovations and fly them for the world.
Why it's important: GoFly's Phase II announcement brings us one step closer to making the dream of human flight a reality. With the convergence of breakthrough technologies and recent advances in propulsion, electrics, rapid prototyping, sensors and control systems, and lightweight materials, GoFly’s engineers are leveraging these technologies and GoFly’s mentorship platform to create transformative mobility. When the GoFly Final Fly Off takes place next year, these personal flyers will have the ability to transform the way first responders provide aid in natural disasters, packages are delivered, commuters move from home to office, recreational users fly for fun, and athletes participate in all new flying sports. The Final Fly-Off is a year away, so for those interested in forming a GoFly team, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Share on Facebook
Spotted by Nidhi Chaudhary / Written by Gwen Lighter
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