California DMV Dings Self-driving Cars
Draft rules released by California state regulators requiring that autonomous vehicles have a licensed driver capable of taking control in an emergency may create a speed bump for manufacturers. Driverless vehicles are initially excluded from deployment, the California Department of Motor Vehicles wrote in a December 16 release that outlines draft rules regarding autonomous vehicle operation in the Golden State. Reaction was negative from Google, which has developed a range of autonomous driving technologies in recent years, including a prototype car with neither a steering wheel nor pedals. A company spokesman said Google is gravely disappointed in the rules. California's approach is being watched as the state sometimes is regarded a bellwether for how regulations are set in other states. The DMV's draft rules address issues related to autonomous vehicle safety, certification, operator responsibilities, licensing and registration, privacy and cyber-security.
IBM Picks Munich for IoT Headquarters
Munich, Germany's Highlight Towers will serve as global headquarters for IBM’s Watson Internet of Things business unit. The site will be home to an innovation lab employing as many as 1,000 developers, engineers and programmers. According to IBM, there are more than nine billion connected devices operating in the world today. Making sense of data embedded in intelligent devices is creating a market opportunity that the company says will reach $1.7 trillion by 2020.
Jordan Opens 117 MW Wind Farm
The first and largest utility scale wind power plant in Jordan entered service in mid-December. The 117-megawatt wind farm is connected to the national grid and is capable of producing 400 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually. The project is in line with Jordan’s plans to diversify energy sources and promote greater reliance on renewable energy. Jordan imports around 96 percent of its energy at a cost equivalent to 20 percent of the country's GDP. The project's foundation stone was laid in April 2014 and construction was completed in August 2015. The project includes 38 Vestas V112 wind turbines.
Pumped Hydro Plant Proposed for Chilean Desert
Chilean energy company Valhalla plans to build a hydroelectric power plant in the world's most arid desert—the Atacama—in an attempt to generate green energy. The company plans to use solar power to pump water from the Pacific Ocean into two reservoirs some 600 meters above sea level. The water then will be allowed to flow back down into a hydroelectric plant with a generating capacity of 300 megawatts. The project takes advantage of the unique geographic characteristics of the Atacama Desert region, which include high solar radiation and cliffs located close to the ocean that contain natural surface depressions suited to water storage.