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Google Announces First Success with Driverless Cars on Busy Streets
April 29, 2014

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A nonprofit company and a design firm in India have come up with one solution for two problems that commonly confront students in rural areas of the country. The answer is a box that fits on your back.

As the first photo shows, the Help Desk, as it's called, can take the form of a briefcase but can also strap onto a student's back. When the student gets to school, he or she manually changes the configuration of the briefcase/backpack and turns it into a writing desk. 

Many students write in books that lie on the classroom floor. Many other students balance their school books on their knees. As the second photo shows, the Help Desk makes a raised writing surface, making the experience of writing a less physically painful experience.

The design firm, DDB Mumbra, and the nonprotif, Aarambh, were careful to test their design with several students before finalizing the design. The designers were also concscious of the price. The Help Desk costs 10 rupees (20 U.S. cents). That's still a lot of money for many rural Indian families.

The Help Desk has a lifespan of about a school year, say the designers, who are working on an upgrade that includes a waterproof coating, to better help Indian students deal with the challenges of the country's variable weather.

The Help Desk is already a feature for 10,000 students at six schools in one western region.



The latest driverless car from Google lacks most features that humans would commonly think would come in a car.
The electric-powered car has no steering wheel, no accelerator pedal, and no brake pedal. The front of the car, which sports a design that resembles a smiley face, is made of two fet of foam. The windshield is made out of hard plastic.
Google unveiled the two-passenger car at a recent conference in Southern California. The idea, Google says, is to build up to 200 cars of the latest design, with an eye toward employing them in a few select cities in the next few years. 
Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, suggested that the new model of cars could be used as a sort of taxi service, perhaps even employing more than one vehicle on a trip, for parties larger than two people.
Google has been testing such human-independent motorized vehicles since 2009 and recently
passed the 500,000-mile mark in on-road testing.


A plane has taken the first step toward the world's first round-the-world journey with the Sun as the primary fuel source.
Pilot Markus Scherdel flew Solar Impulse, a single-seat aircraft, for 2 hours, 17 minutes. Pilot and plane reached a maximum altitude of 5,500 feet in their flight over Switzerland. The plane, which weighs just more than 5,000 pounds, flew at an average speed of 35 miles per hour. 
The ultimate goal of Solar Impulse 2 is a flight around the world. Onboard batteries will absorb solar energy and store it, to enable the plane to fly at night. Developers of the plane are planning for a round-the-world flight in 2015, incorporating up to five stopovers along the way. The flight path has been designed to take the plane over the Northern Hemisphere only.
The plane is the successor to Solar Impulse, which flew from California to New York in 2013. 

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