Author Archives: Radwan Wiktor

How your footsteps can be turned into energy?

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Today 7.4 Billion people live on the planet earth and 55% of them already live in the cities. Those cities are getting smarter and smarter, with all the sensors and technology around us. You can be a part of this digitalisation process by simply walking on the pavement, but not just a regular one, but one produced by Pavegen.

What is Pavagen? A technology that has been introduced by a young Brit of a name of Laurence Kemball-Cook. Pavegen is basically a pavement which uses the energy of your footsteps to generate electric energy. He came up with it after leaving the largest energy company in Europe, because he could not a solution for the task they gave him (the task was to produce a street light powered from renewable energy). After he left he did not stop thinking about it, and started thinking about something smart and viable. Thanks to his studies of Industrial Design Technology, he came up with an idea of generating energy though every single footstep of millions and millions of people in the cities. He has spent 4 years developing the technology to allow it work and finally Pavegen started existing and this days is being implemented into different cities in many countries all around the globe.

Not only does it generate electricity, but also is able to store energy and analyse the walking habits of people, which in the near future will definitely be useful for many people who will be planning the cities for a growing numbers of people, shops, cars (let’s hope not) and many other things. The smarter the cities, the easier our lives.



  • Private conversations with the CEO

A rocket without negative impact on environment…

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…or maybe just a little. This is what can happen if the rocket does not use any engine for first 36 km of its travel towards the sky. The question that might have just come up in your mind is – Seriously, how can a rocket travel 36 km without engines? The answer is easier than you can imagine – it will use balloon.

Zero 2 Infinity has developed technology allowing rockets travel the most energy/oil consuming part of the travel to be done with a much lower usage of those resources. The process they have came up with looks simple, the rocket is being taken by a parachute for the latitude of 36/38km and at this point engines start working and take the rocket to its final desired destination. Thank to the process the rocket is much smaller (reasons for that are described below) and with less wait it automatically consumes less oil and is easier to be controlled.

Yet oil/energy, is the only resources saved thanks to the usage of a enormous balloon instead of engines. Many parts of the rocket are irrelevant when the rocket does not have to get through the most dense environment with its highest speed, but is going through it in a slow piece af a balloon. Vast majority of the pieces which a standard rocket composes of are protection tools, and they are not needed anymore, because frictional force of achieving the latitude of 36/38km is decreased significantly. Many other parts are there only for the sake of storing the oil, and they are irrelevant as well, as the amount of oil burned during flight is much lower than in a normal rocket. All this reasons/efficiency enhancements are leading to significant drop of the cost of travelling to space.

As many other areas of research space exploration is lacking one particularly important resource – money, and Zero 2 Infinity is one of the steps to deal with this issue. Thanks to cutting costs of putting the rocket on the orbit, there is a possibility to conduct such flights with a higher frequency, which would lead to increased number of research project conducted, eventually giving more than usually scientific results/discoveries – being a great start to reach for even more public/private funds to develop cosmos further and broader. Additionally private space travels can be made more available to regular humans (maybe those a bit better-off, but not the astronauts only), and with the scale always come more money, possibilities and solutions.

If implemented on a big enough scale, Zero 2 Infinity can be a quantum jump in the development of space travel.


You can make more money collecting plastic then working…

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…at least in some countries. This I have been told by the CTO and co-founder of Plastic Bank, Shaun Frankson.

Yet, before we talk about money, let’s have a look at something more important – our environment. “In the next 18 minutes over 600.000 (sic!) pounds of plastic will enter our ocean” as Shaun Frankson said during his TED talk. This is terrifying and founders of plastic Bank have been the people to recognise this problem and find a solution to it.

How to deal with a problem –> “Turn of the tap”

Which means to eliminate the source of the problem. It does not mean that humans should stop using using or producing plastic, but that we should stop throwing it away. That is why Plastic Bank have identified that 80% of the plastic is being frown away by the residents of developing countries. The reasons for that are very simple, firstly there is almost no implemented common waste management systems in the developing countries, secondly in many cases those people are fighting for survival, water, food, medicine, the lowest level of hygiene, maybe some very basic education for their children, and thus do not think any further than that, let alone about as sophisticated things as waste collection/segregation.

Plastic can take One out of poverty

Plastic is worth more than steel per 1kg – Plastic Bank came with a brilliant idea of monetising it in the developing countries. Plastic collectors are being paid in different ways (described later) for the collection of Plastic, sometimes (i.e. on Haiti) they are able to make 4 times what their normal day to day pay is. It is a absolute win-win situation, collectors are being paid and the environment is profiting.

All you need is Smartphone + Scale

Plastic is being collected in local Plastic Bank branches operated by trained operated, it is categorised by colour, weighted and valued. Person bringing plastic can be rewarded by variety of different things – energy, water, money, token in the application. You might now be thinking why a person in developing country would want a token in a application. Trust me they would, a community member is given a phone by Plastic Bank which people are using for the app, and by having this kind of token can securely pay for their healthcare, medicine or their kids education. Yes, you are right, this people, they are using Blockchain.

What happens with the collected plastic

It is being sold to some million and billion dollar companies, which let’s hope, after receiving enough recycled plastic will trust the supply chain enough to resign from using newly produced plastic when not technologically necessary. One of the biggest companies already partnering is Henkel ($20B revenue), they sponsor communities for plastic collection in Haiti, and obviously use recycled plastic for their own goods production.



Cars: Does autonomous mean safe?

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Driving home for Christmas (using L1/L2 autonomous driving)

I have been driving from skying today using my father’s car, I used ICC (Intelligent Cruise Control) and for the first time did I use Lane Assistant (have a look at test of this technology by eGear TV – VW Lane Assist (Passat GTE) – POV Test Drive). The tool is very practical and impressively accurate, yet during the 100 km part of my travel during which I have used Lane Assistant I felt a bit insecure. It might have been caused by a couple of different reasons: I woke up early then I skied for a couple of hours and I was just very sleepy, also the weather was quite bad – rainy and slippery, but most of all I did not trust the technology enough not to take control over the wheel when another car was to close.

My first time…

Before I have experienced “autonomy” of a car myself I would have said that we should definitely use autonomous cars, but after today’s drive I did not feel like I was willing to put the safety of myself and my passengers in hands of a bunch of LIDAR’s, cameras, sensors, computers and hyper-deeply developed maps.

Coffee, kids, call, navigation, sleep, argument, drugs, work, e-mail, hot-dog, speeding, alcohol VS 360 degrees

Yet, let’s just objectively look at it. Safety Regulators from the USA say that around 95% of road accidents are caused by human error. Those are very often a direct implication of eating, talking over the phone, looking back at one’s kids during travel, speeding, being high on alcohol or drugs and others listed above. Computer is not affected by those and unlike humans has 360 degree vision to oversee literally everything around itself.

Comparing apples and oranges

On the other hand –  If anyone is trying to compare how many accidents are caused by human-drivers and machine-drivers, it is at least uneven and might even be unfair. Human statistics are collected on much bigger scale and in all kinds of environments, roads and weather, while most of the information about the autonomous cars comes from a few Western States in America with great weather (here is one company from Finland that contradicts it, but it is hard to find another example like that) and is collected on a much smaller scale.

We fear unknown

Taking into consideration today’s drive and what I have read later, I am not really sure whether I trust autonomous cars enough yet, but so did many people when first autopilots were introduced to airplanes and today it is completely normal to trust the computer to control the flight nearly fully. The technology depends on great innovators, intelligent regulators, but most of all on the acceptance of society, we should help our future selves and trust that autonomous driving is the future of safer road transportation.


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