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Electric scooters are going worldwide

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Despite regulatory hurdles on a city-by-city basis, electric scooter companies and their respective services are continuing to make their way to markets all over the world. Earlier this week, for example, Lime announced its entrance into Madrid, launching hundreds of electric scooters in the Spanish capital. About a week before that, competitor Bird launched in Paris and laid out its intentioned to bring electric scooters to Tel Aviv.

As Bird expands to international markets, it’s worth noting that competitor Lime has operated its bikes and scooters outside of the U.S. for quite some time. Last December, Lime brought its bikes to a number of European cities and in June, Lime brought its scooters to Paris. Lime also recently raised a $335 million round and teamed up with transportation behemoth Uber.

Nationwide, Bird, Lime, Spin, Goat and Skip have collectively deployed scooters in 33 cities. Outside of the U.S., you’ll find scooters from those companies in just three cities.

Bird and Lime are by no means the only companies working in this space, but they’re the two that have raised most the capital. Bird has raised $415 million in funding while Lime has raised $467 million. Bird and Lime are also the only two U.S.-based scooter companies that have gone international.

Over in the U.S., of course, the competitive landscape is an entirely different story. California is the main hot spot for scooters in the U.S., but they have also popped up in Texas, Washington D.C., North Carolina and other states throughout the country.

Unsurprisingly, regulation has proved to be an issue for many of these companies. In San Francisco, the Municipal Transportation Agency is currently reviewing permit applications from 12 electric scooter services — including ones from Lyft, Uber and Razor — looking to operate in the city. The permit process came as a result of Bird, Lime and Spin deploying their electric scooters without permission in the city in March. Fast forward to today and electric scooters are nowhere to be found on the streets of San Francisco.

The SFMTA initially said it expected to make a decision about which five, if any, companies would receive permits by the end of June. The SFMTA expects to finalize its recommendations and documentation “in the coming weeks,” the SFMTA wrote in a blog post last month. Once that’s done, the agency says it will work with companies to finalize and clarify the terms and conditions of the permit. The goal, according to the blog post, is to issue permits sometime in August.

As part of the 24-month pilot program, electric scooter companies selected to operate in the city will need to provide user education and insurance, share its detailed trip data with the city, have a privacy policy that protects user data, offer a low-income plan and operate in a to-be-approved service area. The city will allow no more than 2,500 electric scooters on the streets at any one time.

Last month, Bird tried to launch its scooters in Boston but regulators quickly cracked down, saying it would impound any scooters it found. And let’s not forget the drama that unfolded in Santa Monica, where Bird first deployed its scooters.

In Austin, D.C. and Portland, Ore., it’s a slightly different scenario. Over in Austin, dockless electric scooter startup GOAT says it’s working with the city to ensure its service meets the criteria laid out by regulators. Moving forward, GOAT says it’s actively working with other cities to pursue additional operating permits. Skip, which is trying to differentiate itself by being more heavy-duty, worked with city officials and lawmakers to ensure it had the green light before launching. In Portland, both Skip and Bird have received permits to operate electric scooters in the city.

With the sheer volume of capital pouring into these companies, along with interest from ride-hailing giants Lyft and Uber, it’s clear these scooters are here to stay. Whether cities like them or not, scooters are going to roll up. It’s just a matter of when and how many.

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Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/_lGsRZs2zkU/

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UPS developing electric delivery trucks for testing in Los Angeles

UPS is working with Thor Trucks to develop an electric class-6 delivery truck. The planned delivery truck will have a 100-mile range made possible in part by a battery from Thor. Once completed, the companies plan to test the vehicle on routes in Los Angeles, the deployment of which is expected to happen later on this year. The announcement follows … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/ups-developing-electric-delivery-trucks-for-testing-in-los-angeles-01539787/

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Breakthrough solar panel can harvest power from raindrops — day or night

In a truly remarkable feat of innovation, scientists have figured out how to create “hybrid” solar cells that generate power not just from sunlight but also from raindrops. This means we may soon see all-weather solar panels that work when it is cloudy and even at night, if it’s raining.

Solar has soared in recent years, as panel prices have dropped so fast that solar keeps crushing its own record for the cheapest power “ever, anywhere, by any technology” — even without a subsidy.

But scientists and engineers around the world keep innovating, looking for ways to  make solar panels more efficient and less expensive. Much of this innovation is now coming from China, the world leader in both manufacturing and deployment of solar energy.

For instance, China has developed “double-sided” solar panels that can generate power from light that hits their underside. That can enable a 10 percent boost in output, especially if you put the panels on a roof or other area that is painted white to help reflect the suns rays. Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects these panels could capture a remarkable 40 percent share of the market by 2025.

In another remarkable advance, researchers at China’s Soochow University have demonstrated a solar cell that can generate electricity from falling rain. A recent article in the American Chemical Society’s nanotechnology journal Nano describes the innovation in an article titled “Integrating a Silicon Solar Cell with a Triboelectric Nanogenerator via a Mutual Electrode for Harvesting Energy from Sunlight and Raindrops.” 

<div> 
                        <img width="250" height="398" src="https://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/two-sided-solar-panel-forecast-bnef.jpg?w=250&amp;h=398&amp;crop=1" alt=""></div> 
                Two sided solar panel forecast<p>The device <span>makes use of a </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanogenerator#Triboelectric_nanogenerator">triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG)</a><span>, which converts mechanical energy — motion — into electricity. In this case, the solar cells harvest power from the movement of raindrops that fall on them.  </span></p> 

Since solar panels typically generate only one tenth of their potential output during rain, and virtually nothing at night-time, the advance could address one of the biggest problems facing solar power: its variability.

“Our device can always generate electricity in any daytime weather,” as Soochow’s Baoquan Sun told the UK Guardian. “In addition, this device even provides electricity at night if there is rain.”

Here is a video of the basic principle behind TENG from Georgia Tech Prof. Zhong Lin Wang, whose group first demonstrated this kind of nano generator in 2011:

The potential applications of TENG include generating power from walking and typing. The recent Chinese breakthrough was to figure out how to make it work in a simple and efficient manner for a solar cell.

It could be a while before the technology makes its way into a commercial product for widespread use, though. We are still 3 to 5 years from a prototype according to Sun. He told the Guardian, “the output power efficiency needs to be further improved before practical application.”

But if the technology takes off, we may actually have solar panels that work rain or shine.


Source: https://thinkprogress.org/breakthrough-solar-panel-can-harvest-power-from-raindrops-day-or-night-3a2ce74f9060/