Port of Los Angeles establishes hydrogen trial for regional movement of goods

Port of Los Angeles establishes hydrogen trial for regional movement of goods

The Port of Los Angeles has taken delivery of five hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles and established two hydrogen fuelling stations under its $82.5 million Shore-to-Store project.

12-month demonstration is part of the Port’s Clean Air Action Plan designed to help California achieve climate change, air quality improvement and sustainability targets. In addition, it will assess the operational and technical feasibility of the vehicles in a heavy-duty setting, as well as expanding infrastructure to support hydrogen throughout the region.

“Transporting goods between our Port and the metropolitan area of Inland Empire is the first leg of this next journey toward a zero-emissions future,” Gene Seroka, Port of Los Angeles executive director, said. “This project is a model for developing and commercialising the next generation of clean trucks and cargo-handling equipment for the region and beyond. Just as the air we breathe extends beyond the Port’s footprint, so should the clean air and economic benefits we believe this project will yield.”

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is supporting the project with a matching grant of $41.1 million. Project partners are contributing the remaining $41.4 million in financial and in-kind support.

“For generations, neighbourhoods located next to high volume traffic corridors have experienced disproportionately high rates of air pollution and pollution-related illness, particularly in the greater Los Angeles region,” Craig Segall, CARB deputy executive officer, said. “We are working steadily to change this trajectory by helping to fund, support and promote comprehensive efforts like the Shore-to-Store Project that will run cleaner and quieter trucks that will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower smog-forming emissions as well. It’s a sizable investment in a project with the potential to radically transform how we move freight in one of the most populous regions in the US”

Partners in the project are Toyota Logistics Services (TLS), UPS, and trucking companies Total Transportation Services (TTSI) and Southern Counties Express (SCE). Gas and technology leader Air Liquide is also participating as a fuel supplier. Shell built and will operate the project’s two new high-capacity hydrogen fuelling stations.

JLR develops hydrogen Land Rover Defender prototype

JLR develops hydrogen Land Rover Defender prototype

Jaguar Land Rover is developing a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) based on the new Land Rover Defender, with testing scheduled to begin later this year.

The FCEV concept is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s aim to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by 2036, and net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039, in line with the Reimagine strategy announced in May.

Hydrogen-powered FCEVs provide high energy density and rapid refuelling, and minimal loss of range in low temperatures, making the technology ideal for larger, longer-range vehicles, or those operated in hot or cold environments.

The zero tailpipe emission prototype New Defender FCEV will begin testing towards the end of 2021 in the UK to verify key attributes such as off-road capability and fuel consumption.

Jaguar Land Rover’s advanced engineering project, known as Project Zeus, is part funded by the UK government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre, and will allow engineers to understand how a hydrogen powertrain can be optimised to deliver the performance and capability expected by its customers from range to refuelling, and towing to off-road ability.

Ralph Clague, Head of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells for Jaguar Land Rover, says, “We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world class line-up of vehicles. The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicles.”

SPAC deal sees eVTOL startup Vertical Aerospace become a unicorn

SPAC deal sees eVTOL startup Vertical Aerospace become a unicorn

UK eVTOL startup Vertical Aerospace is to merge with special-purpose acquisition company Broadstone Acquisition and become a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange later this year. The pro forma implied enterprise value of the combined company is $2.2 billion.

American Airlines, Microsoft’s M12, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce and others will take stakes in Vertical through private investment in public equity, or PIPE transactions.

One investor, Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon, has placed a $2 billion conditional order for up to 500 Vertical aircraft. Additionally Virgin Atlantic and Vertical say they will explore a joint venture to develop the launch of Virgin Atlantic branded short haul eVTOL network in the UK.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical CEO and Founder, says, “This is the most exciting time in aviation for almost a century; electrification will transform flying in the 21st century in the same way the jet engine did 70 years ago. Today’s announcement brings together some of the largest and most respected technology and aeronautical businesses in the world and together we can achieve our aim of making the VA-X4 the first zero carbon aircraft that most people will fly on.”

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, adds, “We are excited to be partnering with Vertical Aerospace to pioneer sustainable and zero emissions air travel in the UK. We pride ourselves on building enduring strategic partnerships and are thrilled to be working alongside Vertical in its mission to bring eVTOL travel to the UK. Our partnership includes an option for Virgin Atlantic to acquire up to 150 eVTOL aircraft and exploration of a Joint Venture to bring short haul, electric vehicle connectivity to cities and our UK airport hubs, starting with London Heathrow as well as Manchester and London Gatwick.”

Inflatable wing sails could improve ship fuel efficiency by a fifth

Inflatable wing sails could improve ship fuel efficiency by a fifth

French tyre manufacturer Michelin has released details of its Wing Sail Mobility (WISAMO) system that could improve a ship’s fuel efficiency by up to 20%.

The result of a joint venture between Michelin Research & Development and two Swiss inventors, the automated, telescopic, inflatable wing sail systems can be fitted on merchant vessels and pleasure craft. It is said to be particularly suitable for roll on roll off ships, bulk carriers and oil and gas tankers. It can be installed on newbuilds or retrofitted on existing ships.

The telescopic mast is retractable, making it easy for a ship to enter harbours and pass under bridges.

Michelin plans to test the system on a merchant ship next year with widespread roll out following a short trial period.

UK moves to next phase of autonomous vehicle trials on public roads

UK moves to next phase of autonomous vehicle trials on public roads

Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, is hosting the country’s next phase of autonomous vehicle trials on public roads.

The trial is part of Project Endeavour, a Government-backed mobility research project, and the UK’s first multi-city demonstration of autonomous vehicle services and capability.

The trial features four Ford Mondeo vehicles fitted with LiDAR, RADAR and stereo cameras and integrated with Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform. The fleet, capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, will operate in a five mile area around Lea Hall station, between Birmingham International Airport and the city centre. During the trials, a professionally-trained safety driver will be in the vehicle, capable of resuming control if necessary.

Trials will run throughout the day for several weeks, allowing Oxbotica’s autonomous vehicles to experience a range of traffic scenarios and weather conditions. The routes include roundabouts, traffic lights, and junctions in both industrial and residential areas – all providing their own individual scenarios and challenges for the autonomous vehicles to demonstrate capability.

Project Endeavour is designed to accelerate the deployment of autonomous vehicle services across the UK by creating a flexible, scalable model that will make the deployment process quicker, easier, and more efficient – while maintaining the highest safety standards. The trials provide project partners the opportunity to refine local deployment approaches as well as understand and model the complex and busy road network in Birmingham.

Dr Graeme Smith, Senior Vice President at Oxbotica and Director of Project Endeavour, said: “Project Endeavour is a one-of-a-kind research project that is allowing us to learn about the challenges of deploying autonomous vehicles in multiple cities across the UK – a key part of being able to deploy services safely and at scale. This stage of the mobility project is a new step for us, as Birmingham hosts our fleet of autonomous vehicles for the first time in real-life environments. So far, Project Endeavour has been a real collaborative effort, bringing everyone into the discussion from local authorities, to road safety groups, transport providers, and, most importantly, the general public.”

Birmingham City Council is keen to understand the impact that autonomous vehicle services could have on areas with limited connectivity, and how improving access to employment hubs could boost job opportunities and reduce private vehicle use.

Ford and BMW-backed solid state battery producer Solid Power to list on NASDAQ following SPAC merger

Ford and BMW-backed solid state battery producer Solid Power to list on NASDAQ following SPAC merger

Solid Power Inc, the Ford and BMW-backed US producer of all-solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, is to merge with Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corporation III. DPAC, a decarbonisation focused SPAC, describes itself as a blank check company targeting businesses that advance the objectives of global decarbonisation. The combined company will be named Solid Power, Inc, with a pro forma implied enterprise value of $1.2 billion.

Ford and BMW recently participated in previously announced $135 million Series B financing in Solid Power. Both automakers aim to use Solid Power‘s low-cost, high-energy battery technology in forthcoming electric vehicles.

Solid Power’s all-solid-state batteries could provide a near 500-mile vehicle range on a single charge, which is 50 to 75 percent greater than any commercially available lithium-ion battery today.

Doug Campbell, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Solid Power, says, “Today marks an important milestone of commercialising Solid Power’s next generation all-solid-state batteries that can alleviate the two largest passenger EV pain points: range anxiety and cost. In addition to our existing partners, Ford and BMW, we are now excited to partner with the DCRC team that shares our vision of powering a cleaner, safer and cost-effective electric future.”

Robert Tichio, Chairman of the Board of DCRC and Partner at Riverstone Holdings LLC, adds, “Solid-state batteries have long been the elusive technology breakthrough in the battery category for the better part of a decade. Countless labs, scientists, ventures and corporates have claimed progress towards scalable solid-state batteries, with an emphasis on claims. No other known company has made the type of commercialisation achievements in all-solid-state batteries that Solid Power has, and Solid Power’s technology is built around a manufacturing process that would be indistinguishable to lithium-ion batteries, putting this company in a league of its own.”

Toyota reveals plan to establish city scale hydrogen societies across Japan

Toyota reveals plan to establish city scale hydrogen societies across Japan

Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture and Toyota Motor Corporation have outlined plans to build a city scale testbed for hydrogen technologies. Similar in concept, but ultimately larger than Toyota’s already announced Woven City project, the aim at Fukushima is to establish a model for a future hydrogen society within a city of 300,000 people.

Toyota’s project partners include Hino Motors, Isuzu Motors and DENSO Corporation. The project partners believe they can create a blueprint that can be rolled out to similar-sized cities across Japan.

Fukushima Prefecture suffered a devasting nuclear reactor meltdown in the aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. It now plans to focus on hydrogen-based technologies. The new city will make use of hydrogen produced at multiple sites in the prefecture, including Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R), introduce several fuel cell trucks for deliveries, optimise operational management and hydrogen refilling schedules through the use of connected technologies, and carry out energy management that caters to the prevailing local conditions.

Toyota, and its partners will also operate fuel cell kitchen cars and medical cars, and use hydrogen at stores and plants in Fukushima Prefecture to reduce supply chain carbon emissions.

In a statement Toyota says, “Following the announcement of Japan’s 2050 Carbon Neutral Goal, there is a growing need for concrete initiatives aimed at building sustainable societies that can be passed on to future generations. Fukushima Prefecture, Toyota, and its partners share this conviction; to this end, they intend to steadily promote the realisation of one of the world’s first hydrogen societies, and of carbon neutrality, by expanding their spheres of cooperation, and taking advantage of the diverse regional characteristics of Fukushima Prefecture.”

Joby plans to build out “skyports” at car park rooftops across the US

Joby plans to build out “skyports” at car park rooftops across the US

Californian electric vertical take-off aircraft developer Joby Aviation has announced a partnership with major US parking company REEF Technology to develop takeoff and landing sites for its aerial ridesharing service, which it expects to launch in 2024.

REEF’s assets include more than 5,000 car parking sites across North America and Europe and the deal could transform what are often underutilised assets into multi-use mobility hubs.

The partnership also includes NPG, a real estate acquisition company affiliated with REEF for the targeted acquisition of mobility hubs across the United States.

Through the arrangement, Joby gains access to an unparalleled range of rooftop locations across all key metropolitan areas in the US, as well as a mechanism to fund the acquisition and development of new skyport sites. The companies will focus initially on Los Angeles, Miami, and the New York and San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan areas.

With an aircraft that is expected to be more than 100 times quieter than a conventional helicopter, Joby sees a significant opportunity to deliver its aerial ridesharing service from downtown locations, repurposing the often dormant top level of many parking garage structures.

Joby says parking garages are particularly well-suited to hosting skyports, as they:

  • Are typically located near popular destinations
  • Have adequate space to host customers, flight operations, and aircraft charging
  • Do not require structural reinforcement to support air taxi services
  • Provide obstruction-free approach and departure paths that minimize noise to the surrounding community
  • Are naturally suited to becoming mobility hubs, supporting seamless connectivity to micromobility, public transit, parking, and ridesharing

“This is a landmark deal on Joby’s path to building a transformational ridesharing service in our skies,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO at Joby Aviation. “NPG and REEF have an unbeatable network of sites across the US and we’re excited to be working with them to identify sites that will become the backbone of our future service.

“Parking structures are ideal locations for us as they allow us to deliver our customers as close to their destination as possible, while minimizing any local impact and reducing the need for building new infrastructure.”

Philippe Saint-Just, co-founder of REEF, said: “With our focus on transforming urban spaces into community hubs that enable the future of mobility, aerial ridesharing is a compelling opportunity for us to decarbonise travel and make better use of structures such as parking garages.

Under the agreement, Joby will enjoy a period of exclusivity during which it can secure long-term rooftop leases on skyport sites within NPG and REEF’s network of parking garages.

Joby intends to offer a passenger service, accessible via an app, that offers riders a faster, emissions-free way to move distances of 5-150 miles in congested metropolitan areas at an accessible price point.

In December 2020, Joby announced the acquisition of Uber Elevate, integrating the team’s data, modeling, and insight into site selection.

As part of the deal, Uber and Joby also agreed to integrate their services into each other’s apps, helping to create a seamless customer experience where an Uber car would bring riders to a skyport just in time for their flight and, if necessary, another car would complete the journey to their final destination.

India’s Medicine from the Sky project sets pathway for beyond visual line of sight drone trials

India’s Medicine from the Sky project sets pathway for beyond visual line of sight drone trials

India’s on-demand delivery platform Dunzo is to pilot the delivery of medicines via drones in the southern Indian state of Telangana. Supporting the government’s ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project, the impetus, Dunzo said, is to enable medical deliveries including COVID-19 vaccines.

“The drone delivery system will focus on an end-to-end ecosystem for drone-based logistic transportation and utilize the existing logistics network of the state,” Dunzo said in a statement. The ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project recently received conditional approval from India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Director-General of Civil Aviation to deploy drones for delivering COVID-19 vaccines. The Telangana government has permission to carry out experimental deliveries but initially only within the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) Range, or roughly 500 metres, for a period of one year. After this approval, the consortium hopes to move to Beyond Visual Line of Sight trials.

“Telangana is one of the most proactive states looking to adopt emerging technologies, and the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project using drones is in line with the same principles. This project is one of the first such programs in the country where multiple drones would fly BVLOS to establish their value proposition for the healthcare supply chain.  The vision is to ensure healthcare equity for rural areas,” said Jayesh Ranjan, IAS, Principal Secretary, ITE&C Department, Government of Telangana.

Dunzo CEO Kabeer Biswas said that with technology it can now be ensured that no matter where people live, life-saving essentials can and should reach them.” We appreciate the Government of Telangana’s recognition of the role technology can play in today’s world to build safer cities. We believe our participation in the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project will facilitate a more connected state and country, allowing people almost instantaneous access to vaccines and medicines from the most populous to most remote areas in India in the near future,” he said.

Performance 3D printed e-scooter manufacturer seeks pre-launch crowd funding

Performance 3D printed e-scooter manufacturer seeks pre-launch crowd funding

Carbon fibre extreme street bike manufacturer Superstrata has taken its 3D-printed unibody construction approach to e-scooters with the Scotsman. Superstrata says the top of the range Scotsman will have a top speed of 45mph and can travel up to 70 miles per charge.

The e-scooter’s frame, handlebar, stem and baseboard are 3D printed in carbon fibre thermoplastic composite, offering a durable ride that’s impact resistant, lightweight and can be customized to an owner’s weight, height and riding position.

“In designing the Scotsman, we wanted to elevate the scooter experience to a sophisticated alternative means of transportation that appeals to the urban professional commuting to work as much as the performance geek who wants the latest in electric mobility,” said Josh Morenstein of Branch Creative, the studio behind the e-scooter’s design. “Being able to 3D print in continuous carbon fibre composite enabled us to pursue designs not otherwise possible in other materials and fabrication techniques.”

The electric scooter is seeking crowd funding through Indiegogo, with a commitment to shift the first models by the end of the year. Superstrata is offering three variants. The Scotsman 500 has two 250-W motors and two 500-Wh batteries for a top speed of 19 mph and 17-degree gradient-climbing capabilities. The Scotsman 1000 comes with two 500-W motors and two 500-Wh batteries for up to 31 mph and 20-degree gradients. The most powerful version, the Scotsman 2000, has two 1,000-W motors for a top speed of 45 mph and 27-degree hill climbs. All models should achieve a range of 70 miles on a single charge.

Fun, they might be, but given the regulated, safety-focused, for-hire model being rolled out for e-scooters in many markets, it will be hard to find a country in which the Scotsman is legal to ride on public roads.

Superstrata says that the first two working prototypes have been tested and a pre-order campaign is now running on Indiegogo.

Chinese develop electric school bus with bi-directional charging

Chinese develop electric school bus with bi-directional charging

BYD, China’s leading electric bus maker, has introduced an 84-seat battery-electric school bus that supports bi-directional charging. Potentially, BYD says, the bus could be charged overnight when energy demand is low and then help power the classroom during school hours when the bus is parked.

The bus has a range of up to 155 miles on a single charge.

Key safety features include electronic stability control to aid handling, a collision avoidance system, and a 360-degree monitoring system to detect pedestrians and cyclists when the bus is operating at slow speeds. It also features a Predictive Stop Arm, which monitors approaching traffic and notifies students when it may not be safe to cross.

Although e-buses are still a fraction of all bus transportation globally, the sector is projected to grow significantly propelled by increasing emissions regulations and directives from governments across the globe.

Sustainable boating comes to Lake Tahoe watersports

Sustainable boating comes to Lake Tahoe watersports

Florida based electric boat manufacturer Ingenity Electric has developed what is claimed to be the first 100% electric towboat for waterskiing, with the first boat being put in operation this month at Lake Tahoe which straddles the California and Nevada border.

The Ingenity Experience is an initiative in partnership with Lake Tahoe based Homewood High & Dry Marina, Superior Boat Repair & Sales, and Tahoe Surf Company, which offers guests to the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada “an exclusive on-water outing on Ingenity’s groundbreaking fully-electric towboat”… to “experience how Ingenity uses electric propulsion technology to create an unparalleled connection to the water as they get behind the multisport Super Air Nautique GS22E on scenic Lake Tahoe.”

Sean Marrero, President of Ingenity Electric says, “We’re excited to show people just how unique and fun sustainable boating is. You won’t be able to tell the boat is electric by the wave you’re surfing, but hundreds of pounds of CO2 emissions are saved every time the boat goes out.

“It’s hard to come to a special place like Lake Tahoe and not feel an awesome responsibility for maintaining its beauty for future generations,” added Marrero. “Not only does water cover 70% of the earth, it is 60% of our bodies. When we protect water, we protect ourselves. We want people to join us, and we think they’ll be happy when they see what Ingenity is doing to make sustainability this much fun.”

Renault and Plug Power joint venture to develop commercial vehicle hydrogen ecosystem

Renault and Plug Power joint venture to develop commercial vehicle hydrogen ecosystem

Renault Group and US hydrogen and fuel cell manufacturer Plug Power Inc have formed a joint venture called HYVIA to offer a “complete ecosystem” for fuel cell powered light commercial vans with green hydrogen and refuelling stations across Europe.

HYVIA is equally owned by the two partners, the head office and R&D teams will be located at Villiers-Saint-Frédéric, in France, alongside Renault’s light commercial vehicle engineering and development centre. The process, manufacturing and logistics teams will be based in Flins, as part of the Re-Factory project, and plan to begin the assembly of fuel cells and recharging stations by end of 2021.

The first three fuel cell vehicles brought to market by HYVIA will be based on the Renault Master platform and should be available in Europe by end of 2021 and accompanied with the deployment of charging stations and the supply of green hydrogen.

Luca de Meo, CEO Renault Group, says, “As a pioneer in new energies and the European leader in electric light commercial vehicles, Renault Group is pursuing its objective of having the greenest mix on the market by 2030. This joint venture integrates the entire hydrogen mobility ecosystem in a unique way, from the vehicle to infrastructure and turnkey services for customers. The development of this cutting-edge technology will enable us to strengthen our industrial base and set up new value-generating activities in France in this promising segment.”

Andrew Marsh, CEO Plug Power, adds, “Plug Power is a leader in solutions serving the hydrogen ecosystem, with over 40,000 fuel cell systems deployed, 110 charging stations deployed capable of distributing more than 40 tonnes of hydrogen per day. Plug Power is a technological leader in green hydrogen solutions by electrolysis. With HYVIA, we are bringing hydrogen mobility to France and Europe.”

David Holderbach, CEO HYVIA, comments, “Renault has been a hydrogen pioneer since 2014 with more than a hundred light commercial vehicles on the road. We are excited to join forces with Plug Power with its integrated solutions approach towards green hydrogen. HYVIA is now opening a new path towards decarbonation with a complete offering of hydrogen solutions. HYVIA builds on the complementary skills of Renault Group and Plug Power and will target a 30% marketshare in hydrogen powered light commercial vehicles in Europe by 2030.”

Plug Power has deployed over 40,000 fuel cell systems, designed, and built 110 refueling stations that dispense more than 40 tons of hydrogen daily, and is a technology leader in green hydrogen solutions via electrolysis.

First rental e-scooters hit London’s streets for riders who pass safety test

First rental e-scooters hit London’s streets for riders who pass safety test

Lime has deployed 200 of its new Gen4 e-scooters across London, working with Transport for London (TfL) and London Councils to launch the UK’s largest for-hire e-scooter trial.

Lime, alongside TIER and DOTT, were last month announced as the winning e-scooter operators for London’s 12-month trial.

Riders will be able to locate and hire e-scooters via Lime’s app, but will need to scan their driving licence and successfully complete a virtual safety test before the vehicle can be unlocked.

Lime says the Gen4 scooter is built for safety. It includes modifications specified for the London trial including a maximum speed of 12.5 mph, nine high-visibility reflectors, puncture proof wheels, mountain-bike inspired suspension, always-on LED lights and a double kickstand for stability.

Hyper-sensitive geofencing technology will also ensure e-scooters are not used or parked outside of designated areas and parking bays, and swappable batteries, says Lime, also reduce the overall environmental impact of maintaining the fleet.

Lime also uses e-cargo bikes to make battery swaps rather than having to transport scooters to and from warehouses for charging.

Alan Clarke, Director, Policy & Government Affairs, for Northern Europe Lime said, “Lime loves London, and three years after launching our e-bikes in the capital, we’re so proud to be deploying our latest Gen4 e-scooters here too. Wherever we operate, safety is always our number one priority, which is why Lime continues to invest in industry leading software and hardware safeguards, such as highly accurate geofencing to control rider speed and behaviour, and on-vehicle technology which can detect pavement riding.”

He adds, “This tech is designed to make our scooters safer for our riders, other road users and pedestrians, helping to create a well-managed and responsibly used service that benefits riders and the cities they ride in. We’re proud to be serving London with another great transport option and can’t wait for Londoners to try it out for themselves!”

Greek island partners with VW in ambitious plan to decarbonise transport and energy

Greek island partners with VW in ambitious plan to decarbonise transport and energy

Volkswagen has supplied eight electric cars to the Greek island of Astypalea, marking an early milestone in an ambitious trial to decarbonise the island’s transport and energy systems. Through the initiative, the Greek government hopes to develop a blueprint that it expects to roll out across many of the country’s two hundred or so inhabited islands.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has made green energy a central plank of Greece’s post-pandemic recovery drive, attended the delivery ceremony along with VW Group CEO Herbert Diess.

“Astypalea will be a test bed for the green transition that is energy autonomous, and entirely powered by nature,” Mitsotakis said.

The first cars to arrive on the island will be used by the police, coast guard and at the local airport. They are the beginnings of a larger fleet aimed at replacing about 1,500 combustion-engine cars with electric models and reducing vehicles on the island, a popular tourist destination, by a third.

The island’s bus service will be replaced with a ride-sharing scheme and 200 electric cars will be available for locals and tourists to rent. There will be subsidies for the island’s 1,300 inhabitants to buy electric vehicles, bikes and chargers.

Astypalea, which extends over 100 square kilometres in the Aegean Sea, currently meets its energy demand almost entirely by diesel generators but is expected to replace a big part of that through a solar plant by 2023.

“Astypalea can become a blueprint for a rapid transformation, fostered by the close collaboration of governments and businesses,” Diess said in a statement.

Greece, which has relied on coal for decades, aims to close all but one of its coal-fired plants by 2023, as part of its drive to boost renewables and cut carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030.

The government plans to install a 3 megawatt-hour solar park and 7 mWh battery system on Astypalea by 2023 that will cover just over half of the island’s overall energy demand and be enough for all EV charging needs.

A second phase of the project could include adding wind turbines to handle more than 80 percent of power demand by 2026.

Although relatively small scale, Astypalea will serve as a test case both for VW and the Greek government, which is looking to transition energy systems on non-interconnected islands to greener power.

Of the roughly 1,500 vehicles now on the island, about a third are cars, and most of them are very old, said Maik Stephan, VW’s head of business development, who runs the Astypalea project.

The plan is to replace all of them with models such as the VW ID3 hatchback, ID4 crossver and electric Transporter vans, as well as the Seat MO eScooter.

By replacing aging fossil fuel-based generators, the government aims to cut energy costs by at least 25 percent, while reducing CO2 emissions from the island’s energy system by 50 percent in the first phase and 70 percent in the second phase.

UK construction company trials Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone flight

UK construction company trials Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone flight

UK drone technology developer sees.ai has teamed up with construction and infrastructure company Skanska in a live test of a remotely operated drone.

Last month, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted sees.ai the country’s first approval to trial routine Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations in closed industrial and urban areas.

In the first resulting flight, the drone pilot was located in a central control room fifty miles from the residential development at Midenhurst in Surrey. During the flight the drone captured video and imagery of structural details on the site.

Long term the expectation is pilots working in a central control room without the need to physically see the drones would drive down costs and allow long distance surveys.

Once the system has been proven sees.ai is looking to deploy it at scale across UK infrastructure, energy networks, roads, railways and the emergency services.

CEO, John McKenna said, “The successful trials undertaken with Skanska are a major step forward in demonstrating the value of Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone technology.

“We are excited by the results of the trial and what they signal about the acceleration towards a future where drones fly autonomously at scale inside our industrial sites, suburbs and cities.”

Peter Cater, Development Manager, Skanska added, “We were invited to carry out these trials because of our use and knowledge of drone capability and we were very excited to be the first company in the construction industry to do this.

“The trials have benefited everyone involved; sees.ai get to test their equipment and remote use of the drones and we get access to accurate, real-time data on our construction activities which benefits us and our customer.

“Projects like this – at the forefront of innovation – go to show what an exciting industry construction is to be involved in.

“We are always looking for innovative ways of working, ways to be more sustainable so we can find better solutions for our customers. These trials are just one small part of our digital transformation journey.”