Robotics are quickly becoming a normal part of our everyday life.
I had a recent discussion about robotics and new trends. It seems robots are more and more embebed in our environment and not sure we really are prepared to face these technologies.
First of all, what is a robot? It is a machine that can:
- sense the environment
- think about what to do
- execute an action in the real world
Example of existing and future robots:
- humanoïds robots
- automated cars
- consumers robotocs
- pets and toys
- smart environments
- Industrial robot as defined by ISO 8373: An automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which may be either fixed in place or mobile for use in industrial automation applications.
- Service robot : a robot which operates semi- or fully autonomously to perform services useful to the well-being of humans and equipment, excluding manufacturing operations.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, the total number of professional service robots sold in 2010 rose by 4% compared to 2009 to 13,741 units. The value of sales increased by 15% to US$3.2 billion.
Smart homes and connected cities will bring on board more and more robots. You can re-read isaac asimov's "Robots" or get prepared to face these machines.
Start by watching this video :-)
What will life be like in the 2050s? How we will use and value water?
I recently read a very interesting study about water demand in the 2050s.
What interested me was the prospective approach, based on scenarios, mixing quantitative and qualitative hypothesis.
When thinking about the demand for water in the future we have to make assumptions about how people will live and work, the technology that will be available, how people will use their leisure time and how they’ll value the environment.
The study proposes four possible scenarios built around
two axes of uncertainty but extended out to the 2050s.
The simulation is based on 4 drivers :
- gouvernance : sustainability vs growth
- consumption patterns: dematerialised (services) vs products led consumption (resources)
Each scenario is supported by a narrative and a description of important areas such
as technology and the prevailing economic model. What interested me was the key issues ralated to social life and economic acceptance.
- societal inequality
- economic life increasingly challenging
- quality of service provision
Read the full study here : http://bit.ly/gEdsUk
There are a lot of debate around Shale Gas. There pros and cons. What are the arguments? See below an interesting paper from the European Union that summarise facts.
The “European Shale Gas Argument Map” containing the pros and cons of shale gas production in EU Member States was launched in the European Parliament. The map is designed to providea foundation for an open discussion and help the user make a balanced assessment. The European Shale Mind Map is a joint production of TNO and The Arguments Factory, international stakeholders from the public and private sector, government, NGOs and research institutions.
Energy in 2050: trends, scenarios and ideas.
See below my recent presentation based on recent papers and article. Key things are :
Act on Both sides : supply and demand
Focus on sober homes and sober industries
Empower energy efficiency
Anticipate impacts of any policy or economic initiative on jobs, CO2 emissions, investment capabilities, balance of trade
Need for costs and prices transparency
Work at continent level (Europe)
Establish world standards for nuclear safety
Keep the doors opened and keep an eye on any trends and technologies. Meanwhile use current technologies to remain nimble + flexible to face demand.
Talking about sustainability and adoptions of innovations is all about Behaviour.
DECC has recently published a very interesting paper about ‘Energy Behaviour’ and how this can be impacted by public policies.
There are different Theories of ‘Energy Behaviour’
- Economic Theories: Energy is a commodity and consumers will adapt usage in response to price signals
- Psychological Theories: Energy use can be affected by stimulus-response mechanisms and by engaging attention
- Sociological Theories: Energy use is largely invisible, energy systems are complex, and daily practices are significant
- Educational Theories: Energy use is a skill that is learned through experience in specific situations
These four types of theories highlight how energy behaviour can be seen through very different lenses
According to the report, 4 possible ways in which it might be helpful to discriminate between behaviours are:
- The actors of the relevant behaviour and target of any policies may range from single individuals, families and households, small social networks, wider communities and so on, up to whole sectors of society.
- The scopes of behaviour of concern might range from isolated behaviours, to behaviours which structure or circumscribe subsequent behaviours, to interrelated or co-dependent behaviours, and so on, up to lifestyles as regularised patterns of behaviour. Do the means towards emission-reduction ends entail meat-free Fridays, vegetarianism, low impact living, or complete self-sufficiency?
- The durability of the behaviour relates to whether it is a “one-off” behaviour (such as getting loft-insulation fitted), through to repeated behaviours that require sustained policy intervention (such as the need to keep financial measures e.g. a congestion charge in place), to behaviours with successively less required reinforcement (short-term provision of a free bus pass in the anticipation that a new habit may form), and so on, up to enduring behaviours (routinely turning off lights or appliances when not in use).
- The domains of relevant behaviour refers to where the core target of change is thought to reside. Is the intention to simply change the way someone thinks or makes decisions, how the physically carry out a task, what equipment or technology they use to do something. Do the changes in behaviour rely on changes to institutions or infrastructures, or at scales of social, national or global? For example, might the aim of a policy be positive attitude formation towards substitutes for air travel, improved infrastructure for long-distance trains, or much wider reassessment of fashionable clothing that would permit lower internal building temperatures.
The paper describes a number of approaches to understanding human behaviour and social practices, particularly in the context of activities that have significant environmental impacts and, especially in the context of energy usage.
None of these approaches alone can provide a full and complete account of how and why people act as they do. It is unlikely that they can do this even if used together.
The challenge for the policy-maker is to use these ideas, theories, and tools to understand the behaviours of concern, and to help develop and implement effective, efficient and legitimate policies to change the way people do things.
Examples and more details => read full report here
You may be aware that US Weather reports suggest record-breaking drought for California. An expert said that 94.2% of the state face water shortages. Reports noted that 2013 was the driest year in California's recorded history and January 2014 , normally one of the wettest months, was the third driest January.
I've recently read a paper about the way Google, Adobe and eBay innovate to save water in drought-hit California. The article details how Silicon Valley companies are employing low and high tech measures, from robotics to 'hydrozoning', to help save water.
More about how Hi-Tech giant can help here http://goo.gl/E5j2XN
But, is high-tech the answer? For me, the first point could be as simple as “how do we measure the water we use”?
Did you know that despite desperate calls for conservation, residents in more than 40 California communities can still use as much water as they wish -- without anyone knowing? From Bakersfield to Sacramento to Shasta County, 42 communities in California have not installed the most basic tool of water management -- water meters.
However, according to a law signed a decade ago by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, all urban water providers are required to install meters in all connections by 2025.
Communities have different explanations for why they’ve been slow to install meters. One thing is clear: In places where meters have gone in, water use has substantially dropped. The LA Daily News mentioned that in Folsom, where voters banned meters in 2002, the city finished putting them in by 2011 and has seen daily water use fall from 429 gallons per person to 367, a drop of 15 percent.
So, it is not about hi-tech but also simple techniques, good resource management, common sense and good behaviour.
For recent news about drought in California visit http://goo.gl/S1NnlQ
I've recently read a study titled "100 Per Cent Renewable Energy is Viable: Study
Scientists from Stanford University claims that it is feasible for the entire United States to derive all of its power from renewable energy sources.
According to the author, even if the United States only makes recourse to renewable energy methods which are available at present, it would still be “technically and economically feasible” for the nation to meet all of its power needs by 2050.
Under author’s plan, fossil fuel plants would be left to gradually go obsolete as a swath of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower, come on line to replace them.
All of the renewable energy sources outlined in the plan, with the exception of tidal energy collectors for coastal states, are now commercially available.
Can you believe it? Make you own views by reading the paper here
I was recently asked questions about the future of travels. Here are some thoughts.
What is the next thing that will change the travel experience?
I would name 3 key areas:
1/ Seamless digital experience
Travel time is sometimes seen as a wasted time.
Airports, taxis and hotels are discontinuities in my digital world.
The next think will be when the customer will experience a seamless digital experience from home to his destination.
On the other hand, there are emerging trends around "tech break" or "digital detox" in the travel experience :-)
2/ Tools to organise the travel
a) New tool will also help by bringing transparency to travel pricing,
b) at the airport: more services + Holographic airport staff
3/ faster and easier experience and ubiquitous check in process.
Personalisation essential to the future passenger experience
Passenger in any mode will require quicker process. This is where automation technologies can help. perators will have to redefine he notion of check-in = not any more an airport process. Same for baggages with home-printed bag tagging.
And you, what are your best travel experiences and expectations ?
Recently, I was invited to a local school to talk about energy and sustainability. As always, it was a very inspiring experience to face 10 year old children and their questions about nuclear, renewables, electricity, innovation, oil peak, etc.
See below the slidedeck I've used to sparkle the discussion.
Customers engagement in the nuclear space: is a 2.0 approach a good solution ?
Nuclear industry faces great stakes. Public opinions are key and acceptance is now a critical point for any government to design a energy mix strategy.
In this "post Fukushima" context, communication and engagement with end customer is crucial.
This presentation I made explore some high level aspects of the subject and points out some tools to launch innovative strategies : can internet be a suitable media? Yes, it can help.
As more and more studies show the emerging trend of new energy, I was recently thinking about HR impacts in utilities. From my past experience, it seems that energy companies are facing 3 main issues on the way to implementing the smarter energy paradigm.
- ageing workforce: In may utilities, more than 30% employees will retire in the next 8 years. Impacts go from knowledge management to talent management. These industries need to attract young people. As a consequence, a massive programme dedicated to campus and graduates is to be launch. Attractive? See here the list of the top 10 star employers in the UK. None from utilities...
- knowledge transfer and new skills: new energy, new technologies, new processes require new skills. Renewable, maintenance, IT, etc.
- health and safety: the utilities have an Accident rates are three to four times greater than the national average. The number of fatal incidents in the utilities is over five to ten times the national average.
- More stats about health and safety here.http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/index.htm
- Case study about safety at scottish Power: http://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/case-studies/case-study-scottish-power.pdf
- About ageing workforce here: The Employment Relations
Challenges of an Ageing Workforce
- Ageing workforce and consequences in general: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/nubs/assets/documents/events/new_perspectives_2.pdf
- Best place to work: survey 2012 here
Aircrafts, bridges, buildings, water networks, wind turbines, etc.
Here are some of the assets that could be affected by corrosion, leading to costly and severe damages.
- Did you know that in the US, there are 200,00 bridges built in steel and that approximately 15% are structurally deficient because of corroded steel and steel reinforcements?
- Did you know that the Navy spend billions every year just to mitigate corrosion impact on aircrafts?
- Did you know that coating techniques and maintenanceare critical in offshore wind energy projects?
I see 4 areas of investigation:
- design: how to take into account corrosion in asset lifcycle? example of Offshore Wind turbines.
- Finance: how to anticipate the cost and collateral impacts of corrosion (service disruption, pollution, accidsents, etc.)
- prevention : inspection techniques, no invasive inspections, modelling, sensors
- treatment : Coating techniques, repair planning, workforce skills
See below a short presentation about corrosion in 2 business areas: water networks and Wind turbines.
Happy to discuss and see where you see application in real life.
RTE, the French electricity transmission system operator, published today a report of electricity in France in 2012. Key findings are:
- Lower temperatures have led to higher consumptions in 2012, + 2,1% compared to 2011
- Industries have lower consumptions due to economic turndown
- SME: -1 %
- major acounts : -4%
- individuals : +2,4 %
- GEOGRAPHY: Various trends by regions. East is down to 4% and West up to 5% betwen 2006 and 2011
- PEAK date: 8 February 2012
- Renewable is around 14% of electricity generation
- Wind turbine fleet is 7 500 MW. +23%
- Solar panels: 3 500 MW +40%
- France is #1 in electricity export in west Europe
- France imports electricity from Germany, > 8 TWh
- Have you tried the mobile app that monitors energy production in France? here
Read the full presentation (in French) here
Recent crisis in Africa about food and population raises the question about sustainable agriculture.
But what is it and how innovation can help ? Quick overview.
Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals--environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.
A/ Plant Production Practices: Selection of species and varieties that are well suited to the site and to conditions on the farm; Diversification of crops (including livestock) and cultural practices to enhance the biological and economic stability of the farm; Management of the soil to enhance and protect soil quality;
B/ Efficient use of inputs. The goal is to develop efficient, biological systems which do not need high levels of material inputs.
C/ Animal Production Practices: Animal Selection, Animal nutrition. Reproduction. Grazing Management.
I recently read an article from a global packaged goods company about the way they see their contribution in tackling climate change and enenhance sustainability. The main topics were about:
- Sustainable agriculture
- Eco efficiency in manufacturing
- Workplace impact
Very good approach, indeed, and with some many transversal impacts within any company. But what about the way the goods are purchased (including supply chain and retail) and also how they are used and recycled by the end customer ?
This leads to a global lifecycle approach to really evaluate its footprint ?
I've read, for example, that the carbon footprint of ice cream (only based on milk, excluding other ingredients) is 1.2-1.8 kg CO2 equivalent per litre and energy use is 5.8-10.5 MJ per litre. But what about storage at home in the fridge ?
Analysis and numbers are easy to rpduce, but we may try to give a real meaning to those figures in order to launch innovative programs. What do you think ?
Do you know this French website (and app) where you can learn more about impacts of 50,000 products based on environment/social/health assessments. Interesting rankings...