Tesla’s Gigafactory is set to double the world’s battery production, and this week it opened its doors for the first time. Tesla is also working on an electric truck, but Mercedes-Benz beat them to punch this week by launching the world’s first all-electric big rig. In other transportation news, a sun-powered airplane completed an epic trip around the world — and we highlighted eight milestones from its record-shattering flight. Nissan announced that it will give golden Leaf EVs to medal-winning Olympic athletes. And Norway unveiled plans to build the world’s first floating underwater traffic tunnels, which will be suspended from pontoons.
Today’s batteries take a long time to charge – but that’s set to change. Researchers just developed a new graphene super battery that charges up in seconds and lasts virtually forever. Meanwhile, Ukraine announced a proposal to transform the Chernobyl nuclear wasteland into a gigantic solar farm that would produce four gigawatts of energy. In other solar news, scientists found a way to create energy-generating photographs using a printer and photovoltaic ink. And a new sun-powered machine transforms human urine into beer.
Most homes takes months or years to build, but a new bricklaying robot is able to create an entire house in just two days. In other design news, we showcased an “ice battery” that provides 24/7 cooling while using 40 percent less energy than traditional air conditioners. Elon Musk is contributing to the home of the future by developing helpful robots that may do your chores one day. Dutch designers found a way to turn cow manure into clothing (it’s not as gross as it sounds). And a newly proposed “Women of NASA” LEGO set pays homage to five female space exploration pioneers.