CleanTechnica is going on a cross-country technology tour of Germany this week, kicking off Monday in Stuttgart and hopping from one laboratory to another before finally winding up on Saturday in Berlin, where the latest installment of the FIA Formula E all-electric world racing series is being staged. Along the way we’ll be checking into some of the latest news to come out of Germany’s world famous technology centers, and since we can’t wait, we’re going to give you a sneak peek right now.
We’re especially excited because here at CleanTechnica we spill a lot of ink on cleantech’s Big Three — solar, wind, and electric vehicles — and this tour is going to take us off the beaten path, at least until we get to Formula E.
Affordable Clean Technology For Everybody
Our bad for not paying much attention to robotics lately, but we’re sure going to make up for it now. Our first stop takes us to the industrial education experts at FESTO Didactic, where we’re going to get a quick immersive in cyber-physical systems.
Cyber-physical systems is fancyspeak for people interacting with robots on the job (check out FESTO on Vimeo for more), and we’re especially interested to know how progress in that field will help drive cleantech affordability.
If you recall the state of the automotive industry just before the introduction of Ford’s Model T, then you’re really, really old, but anyways, the point is that gas-powered personal mobility was once considered an expensive, high-maintenance plaything for the rich. A transformative approach to manufacturing — and good pay for a good day’s work — rolled that technology right into the garages of the masses. The same thing could (and should) happen to clean technology.
We’ll also get a look at how cleantech can wedge itself into the affordable home of the future when we drop in on Aktivhaus B10, the “self-learning” combination domicile and electromobility launch pad that can generate more energy than it needs.
From Augmented Reality To The Farm Of The Future
If you were really annoyed by people wearing Google Glass at your neighborhood bar, you’re probably not alone, but the foundational technology — augmented reality — is already seeping into the mainstream and it’s going to play a key role in cleantech.
Augmented reality is already popping up in the solar industry, where the idea is to save time and contribute to on-the-job safety. In the consumer sector, electric vehicles (Tesla, natch) provide a good example. Then, of course you have your military applications, but we’ll save that for another time.
We’ll find out more about applications for augmented reality when we hobnob with the folks at the IOXP. We’re expecting them to give us an earful about the interplay between robotics and augmented reality.
That brings us right over to the field of automated agriculture, and for that topic we’re booking into the John Deere European Technology Center.
We Haven’t Even Warmed Up Yet…
We’re already running out of space and that’s just a sampling of what we’ll be covering on the first two days of the tour.
On Wednesday, we’ll be bringing you the latest news from Fraunhofer ICT-MM, which specializes in some of our favorite topics, including decentralized and mobile energy technology.
Thursday and Friday we’ll give you the inside dope on the Metropolitan Solutions trade fair, we’ll be all over Berlin’s recycling programs, and we’ll take a quick dip into one of our absolute most favorite subjects, smart microgrids.
No, we didn’t forget about Formula E. Along with our sister site Gas2.org, we’ve been following the launch of this all-electric version of world championship FIA Formula 1 racing since it launched back in 2013. Adding to the interest is the Venturi team cofounded by our fellow US citizen and environmental activist (and actor), Leonardo DiCaprio.
In its inaugural season, Formula E is hitting major cities around the globe partly to hammer home the point that electricity is the urban mobility fuel of the future, and on Saturday it’s coming to Berlin.
If you’re wondering about battery range, the thinkers and doers behind Formula E wanted to make the races long enough to be interesting, which complicates things in terms of refueling. For the first season, rather than slowing things down to a crawl by stopping for a recharge, the Formula E teams are switching entire cars (an earlier idea was to switch out the battery, but that was dropped due to safety considerations).
When we heard from Formula E Holdings CEO Alejandro Agag at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit in New York last year, he was looking forward to future energy storage innovations from the Formula E teams that would enable the race to run more seamlessly — and trickle down to the urban mobility market:
The name of the game is still the battery, or maybe fuel cells, or supercapacitors. We are waiting for that breakthrough in storage.
Hey, did you catch that thing about fuel cells? Sometimes it’s easy to forget, but fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles, too.
We’re going to try and catch up with Mr. Agag on Saturday and see if he can drop some hints about what breakthrough in energy storage we might anticipate as Formula E heads into its second season.
We’ll be covering all this and more on the tour, so stay tuned for more German cleantech than you can shake a stick at.
Photo Credit (photo cropped): FIA Formula E.
*This CleanTechnica technology tour was sponsored by GTAI (Germany Trade and Invest) in partnership with Baden-Württemberg International GmbH in Baden-Württemberg (Stuttgart, Karlsruhe), Investitions und Strukturbank Rheinland-Pfalz in Rheinland-Pfalz (Kaiserslautern, Mainz), and Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie GmbH in Berlin.
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