Inhabitat’s Week in Green: VW’s microbus concept, and more!
Volkswagen is still reeling from the Dieselgate emissions scandal, but it’s trying to turn over a new leaf. So far the automaker has announced plans to launch 20 electric vehicles by the year 2020, and this week we learned that the BUDD-e electric microbus will be one of them. In other transportation news, a team of MIT students took top place in Elon Musk’s Hyperloop design contest with plans for a streamlined pod that uses maglev technology. Uganda launched its first solar bus, and Google wants to bring 5G internet to off-grid areas with fleets of sun-powered drones.
The Wendelstein 7-X stellarator has been hyped as the holy grail of cheap, clean energy. This week it passed a critical hurdle in the quest for nuclear fusion. Meanwhile, Morocco flipped the switch on phase one of the world’s largest solar farm, and China unveiled plans to build the largest waste-to-energy plant on the planet. Tesla’s first Powerwall sold out in a flash, but if you missed out on the first run, you’ll be happy to hear that the company is planning to launch a new version of its home battery this July. And ThermalTech just launched a line of solar jackets that soak up sunlight to keep you toasty in freezing conditions.
Vertical farms are taking off, Japan is pushing the envelope with plans for the world’s first farm run by robots. The facility is expected to produce 11 million heads of lettuce every year while cutting energy demand by 30 percent. In other tech and design news, a new robotic exoskeleton called the Phoenix launched this week and it can restore mobility to the paralyzed for $40,000. An architecture firm unveiled plans for a futuristic “Next Tokyo” eco city with a Hyperloop and a mile-high skyscraper. And Super Bowl fans will be excited to know that this year’s game is net zero thanks to Levi’s LEED Gold stadium.