The iPhone 13 Pro goes to Disneyland

This year’s iPhone review goes back to Disneyland for the first time in a couple of years for, uh, obvious reasons. I’m happy to report that the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 performed extremely well and the limited testing I was able to do on the iPhone mini and iPhone 13 Pro Max showed that for the first time you’re able to make a pretty easy choice based on size once you’ve decided you’re ok without telephoto.

One of the major reasons I keep bringing these iPhones back to Disneyland is that it’s pretty much the perfect place to test the improvements Apple claims it is making in an intense real-world setting. It’s typically hot, the network environment is atrocious, you have to use your phone for almost everything these days from pictures to ticket scanning to food ordering and you’re usually there as long as you can to get the most out of your buck. It’s the ideal stress test that doesn’t involve artificial battery rundowns or controlled photo environments. 

In my testing, most of Apple’s improvements actually had a visible impact on the quality of life of my trip, though in some cases not massive. Screen brightness, the longer telephoto and battery life were all bright spots.

Performance and battery

The battery of the iPhone 13 Pro hit just over the 13 hour mark in the parks for me running it right to the dregs. Since there was so much video testing this year, the camera app did stay on screen longer than usual at just over 1hr of active ‘on screen’ usage which does put a bit of a strain on the system. I’d say that in real-world standard use you’ll probably get a bit more than that out of it so I’m comfortable saying that Apple’s estimate of an hour or more longer video playback time from the iPhone 12 Pro is probably pretty accurate. 

Though it was hard to get the same level of stress on the iPhone 13 Pro Max during my tests, I’d say you can expect even more battery life out of it, given the surplus it still had when my iPhone 13 Pro needed charging. Bigger battery, more battery life, not a big shock.

If you’re using it in the parks and doing the rope drop I’d say I would plan on taking it off the charger at 6am or so and plan to have a charger handy by about 4pm so you don’t go dead. That’s not a bad run overall for an iPhone in challenging conditions and with heavy camera use. 

Apple’s new ProMotion display was a nice upgrade as well, and I did notice the increased screen brightness. Typically the bump in brightness was only truly noticeable side-by-side with an iPhone 12 Pro with high-key content displayed on the screen. Popping open the Disneyland app for the barcode meant a bit better consistency in scanning (though that’s pretty hard to say for sure) and a visual increase in overall brightness in direct sun. Out of the Sun I’d say you’d be hard pressed to tell.

The variable refresh rate of the ProMotion screen cranking all the way up to 120hz while scrolling Safari is a really nice quality of life improvement. I’m unfortunately a bit jaded in this department because I’ve done a ton of my computing on the iPad Pro for the past couple of years, but it’s going to be an amazing bump for iPhone users that haven’t experienced it. Because Apple’s system is not locked at 120hz, it allows them to conserve battery life by slowing down the screen’s refresh rate when viewing static content like photos or text when not scrolling. I’m happy to say that I did not see any significant ramping while scrolling, so it’s really responsive and seamless in its handling of this variability.

The new A15 chip is, yes, more powerful than last year. Here’s some numbers if that’s your sort of thing:

Impressive as hell, especially for more battery life not less. The power-per-watt performance of Apple’s devices continues to be the (relatively) un-sung victory of its chips department. It’s not just that this year’s iPhones or the M1 laptops are crazy fast, it’s that they’re also actually usable for enormous amounts of time not connected to a charger. For those curious, the iPhone 12 Pro appears to have 6GB of RAM. 

Design

The design of the iPhone continues to be driven by the camera and radio. Whatever is necessary to support the sensors and lenses of the camera package and whatever is necessary to ensure that the antennas can accommodate 5G are in control of the wheel at this point in the iPhone’s life, and that’s pretty natural. 

The camera array on the back of the iPhone 13 Pro is bigger and taller in order to accommodate the three new cameras Apple has installed here. And I do mean bigger, like 40% bigger overall with taller arrays. Apple’s new cases now have a very noticeable raised ridge that exists to protect the lenses when you’re setting the case down on a surface. 

Everything else is sort of built around the camera and the need for wireless charging and radio performance. But Apple’s frosted glass and steel rim look retains its jewel-like quality this year and they’re still really good looking phones. I doubt the vast majority of people will see them long without a case but while you do they’re nice looking phones.

The front notch has been pared down slightly due to improvements in camera packaging, which leaves a tiny bit more screen real-estate for things like videos, but we’ll have to wait to see if developers find clever ways to use the extra pixels. 

Now, on to the cameras.

Cameras

It seems impossible that Apple continues to make year-over-year improvements that genuinely improve your optionality and quality of images that are enough to matter. And yet. The camera quality and features are a very real jump from the iPhone 11 Pro across the board and still a noticeable improvement from the iPhone 12 Pro for you early adopters. Anything older and you’re going to get a blast of quality right to the face that you’re going to love. 

The camera packaging and feature set is also more uniform across the lineup than ever before with Apple’s IBIS in camera sensor shift stabilization system appearing in every model — even the iPhone 13 mini which is a crazy achievement given the overall package size of this sensor array.

In my experience in the parks this year, Apple’s improvements to cameras made for a material difference no matter which lens I chose. From low light to long zoom, there’s something to love here for every avid photographer. Oh, and that Cinematic Mode, we’ll talk about that too. 

Telephoto

Of all of the lenses I expected improvement from, the telephoto was actually not that high on my list. But I was pleasantly surprised by the increased range and utility of this lens. I am an admitted telephoto addict, with some 60% of my photos on iPhone 12 Pro taken with the tele lens over the wide. I just prefer the ability to pick and choose my framing more closely without having to crop after the fact. 

Having Night Mode on the telephoto now means that it doesn’t fall back to the wide lens with crop in dark conditions as it used to. Now you get that native telephoto optics plus the Night Mode magic. This means much better black points and great overall exposure even hand held at zoom — something that felt just completely out of reach a couple of years ago.

With the higher zoom level, portraits are cropped tighter, with better organic non-portrait-mode bokeh which is lovely. With this new lens you’re going to be able to shoot better looking images of people, period.

If you’re a camera person, the 3x reminds me a lot of my favorite 105mm fixed portrait lens. It’s got the crop, it’s got the nice background separation and the optical quality is very, very good on this lens package. Apple knocked it out of the park on the tele this time around. 

The longer optical range was also very handy in a Disneyland world where performers are often kept separate from guests — sometimes for effect but mostly because of pandemic precautions. Being able to reach out and get that shot of Kylo Ren hyping up the crowd was a fun thing to be enabled to do.

Wide

Apple’s wide lens gets the biggest overall jump in sensor technology. A larger ƒ/1.5 aperture and new 1.9µm pixels roughly doubles the light gathering — and it shows. Images at night and inside ride buildings had a marked improvement in overall quality due to deeper blacks and better dynamic range. 

With Night Mode enabled, the deeper light gathering range and improved Smart HDR 4 makes for deeper blacks and a less washed out appearance. If I had to characterize it, it would be ‘more natural’ overall — a theme I’ve seen play out across the iPhone cameras this time around. 

Without Night Mode enabled, the raw improvement in image quality due to more light being captured is immediately evident. Though I think there are few situations where you need to turn off Night Mode any more, subjects in motion in low light are one of those and you’ll get a few inches extra of wiggle room with this new sensor and lens combo in those instances. 

Having sensor shift OIS come to the wide on the iPhone 13 across the range is a huge godsend to both still shots and video. Though I’m spoiled having been able to play with the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s stabilization, if you haven’t shot with it before you’re going to be incredibly happy with the additional levels of sharpness it brings.

Ultra Wide

Apple’s ultra wide camera has been in need of some love for a while. Though it offered a nice additional perspective, it has suffered from a lack of auto-focus and sub-par light gathering ability since its release. This time around it gets both a larger ƒ/1.8 aperture and autofocus. Apple claims 92% more light gathering and my testing in pretty rough lighting conditions shows a massive improvement across the board. 

Typically at Disneyland I like to shoot the wide in one of two ways: up close to create a fisheye-type perspective for portraits or to snag a vista when the lighting or scene setting is especially good. Having auto focus available improves the first a ton and the wider aperture gives the second a big boost too. 

Check out these shots of a moonlit Trader Sam’s, a snap that you might grab because the lighting and scenery are just right. The iPhone 12 Pro isn’t bad at all here but there is an actually quite clear difference between the two in exposure. Both of these were taken with Night Mode disabled in order to compare the raw improvement in aperture.

The delta is clear, and I’m pretty impressed in general with how much Apple keeps improving this ultra wide camera, though it seems clear at this point that we’re hitting the upper limits of what a 12MP sensor at this size can bring to a lens with such a wide POV. 

The new ISP also improves Night Mode shooting here too — and with a bit more raw range to work with given the wider aperture, your night mode shots lose even more of that bright candy-like look and get a deeper and more organic feeling. 

Macro photos and video

Another new shooting possibility presented by the iPhone 13 Pro is a pretty impressive macro mode that can shoot as close as 2cm. It’s really, really well done given that it’s being implemented in a super wide lens on a smartphone. 

I was able to shoot incredibly detailed snaps very, very close-up. We’re talking ‘the surface texture of objects’ close; ‘pollen hanging off a bee’s thorax’ close; dew…well you get the idea. It’s close, and it’s a nice tool to have without having to carry a macro attachment with you. 

I found the sharpness and clarity of the macro images I captured to be excellent within the rough 40% area that comprised the center of the capture area. Due to the fact that the macro mode is on the ultra wide, there is a significant amount of comatic aberration around the edges of the image. Basically, the lens is so curved you get a bit of separation between wavelengths of light coming in at oblique angles, leading to a rainbow effect. This is only truly visible at very close distances at the minimum of the focal range. If you’re a few cm away you’ll notice and you’ll probably crop it out or live with it. If you’re further away getting a ‘medium macro’ at 10cm or whatever you’ll likely not notice it much.

This is a separate factor from the extremely slim field-of-focus that is absolutely standard with all macro lenses. You’re going to have to be precise at maximum macro, basically, but that’s nothing new.

Given how large scale Disneyland is I actually had to actively seek out ways to use the macro, though I’d imagine it would be useful in more ways in other venues. But I still got cool shots of textures in the bottles in Radiator Springs and some faux fungi at Galaxy’s Edge. 

Macro video is similarly fun but requires extremely stable hands or a tripod to really take advantage of given that the slightest movement of your hands is going to move the camera a massive amount of distance proportional to the focal area. Basically, tiny hand moves, big camera moves in this mode. But it’s a super fun tool to add to your arsenal and I had fun chasing bugs around some flower petals in the garden of the Grand Californian hotel with it.

As a way to go from world scale down to fine detail it’s a great way to mix up your shots.

One interesting quirk of the ultra wide camera being the home of macro on iPhone 13 Pro is that there is a noticeable transition between the wide and ultra-wide cameras as you move into macro range. This presents as a quick-shift image transition where you can see one camera clicking off and the other one turning on — something that was pretty much never obvious in other scenarios even though the cameras switch all the time depending on lighting conditions and imaging judgement calls made by the iPhone’s camera stack. 

Users typically never notice this at all, but given that there is now an official macro camera available when you swoop in close to an object while you’re on 1x then it’s going to flip over to the .5x mode in order to let you shoot super close. This is all totally fine, by the way, but can result in a bit of flutter if you’re moving in and out of range with the cameras continuously switching as you enter and exit ‘macro distance’ (around 10-15cm). 

When I queried about this camera switching behavior, Apple said that “a new setting will be added in a software update this fall to turn off automatic camera switching when shooting at close distances for macro photography and video.”

This should solve this relatively small quirk for people who want to work specifically at the macro range. 

Photographic Styles and Smart HDR 4

One of the constant tensions with Apple’s approach to computational photography has been its general leaning towards the conservative when it comes to highly processed images. Simply put, Apple likes its images to look ‘natural’, where other similar systems from competitors like Google or Samsung have made different choices in order to differentiate and create ‘punchier’ and sometimes just generally brighter images. 

I did some comparisons of these approaches back when Apple introduced Night Mode two years ago.  

The general idea hasn’t changed much even with Apple’s new launches this year, they’re still hewing to nature as a guiding principle. But now they’ve introduced Photographic Styles in order to give you the option of cranking two controls they’re calling Tone and Warmth. These are basically vibrance and color temperature (but only generally). You can choose from 5 presets including no adjustments or you can adjust the two settings on any of the presets on a scale of -100 to +100. 

I would assume that long term people will play with these and recommendations will get passed around on how to get a certain look. My general favorite of these is vibrant because I like the open shadows and mid-tone pop. Though I would assume a lot of folks will gravitate towards Rich Contrast because more contrast is generally more pleasing to the human eye. 

In this shot of some kid-sized speeders, you can see the effects on the shadows and midtones as well as the overall color temperature. Rather than being a situational filter, I view this as a deep ‘camera setting’ feature, much like choosing the type of film that you wanted to roll with in a film camera. For more contrast you might choose a Kodak Ektachrome, for cooler-to-neutral colors perhaps a Fuji, for warm skin tones perhaps a Kodak Portra and for boosted color maybe an Ultramax. 

This setting gives you the option to set up your camera the way you want the color to sit in a similar way. The setting is then retained when you close camera.app. This way when you open it, it’s set to shoot the way you want it to. This goes for the vast majority of camera settings now under iOS 15, which is a nice quality of life improvement over the old days when the iPhone camera reset itself every time you opened it. 

It’s worth noting that these color settings are ‘imbedded’ in the image, which means they are not adjustable afterwards like Portrait Mode’s lighting scenarios. They are also not enabled during RAW — which makes sense.

Smart HDR4 also deserves a mention here because it’s now doing an additional bit of smart segmentation based on subjects in the frame. In a situation with a backlit group of people, for instance, the new ISP is going to segment out each of those subjects individually and apply color profiles, exposure, white balance and other adjustments to them — all in real time. This makes for a marked improvement in dark-to-light scenarios like shooting out of windows and shooting into the sun. 

I would not expect much improvement out of the selfie camera this year, it’s just much the same as normal. Though you can use Cinematic Mode on it which is fun if not that useful in selfie modes.

Cinematic Mode

This is an experimental mode that has been shipped live to the public. That’s the best way to set the scene for those folks looking to dive into it. Contrary to Apple’s general marketing, this won’t yet replace any real camera rack focus setup on a film set, but it does open up a huge toolset for budding filmmakers and casual users that was previously locked behind a lot of doors made up of cameras, lenses and equipment. 

Cinematic Mode uses the camera’s depth information, the accelerometer and other signals to craft a video that injects synthetic bokeh (blur) and tracks subjects in the frame to intelligently ‘rack’ focus between them depending on what it thinks you want. There is also some impressive focus tracking features built in that allow you to lock onto a subject and follow them in a ‘tracking shot’ which can keep them in focus through obstacles like crowds, railings and water. I found all of these depth-leveraging features that did tracking to be incredibly impressive in my early testing, but they were often let down a bit by the segmentation masking that struggled to define crisp, clear borders around subjects to separate them from the background. It turns out that doing what portrait mode does with a still image is just insanely hard to do 30 times a second with complex, confusing backgrounds. 

The feature is locked to 1080p/30fps which says a lot about its intended use. This is for family shots presented on the device, AirPlayed to your TV or posted on the web. I’d imagine that this will actually get huge uptake with the TikTok filmmaker crowd who will do cool stuff with the new storytelling tools of selective focus.

I did some test shooting with my kids walking through crowds and riding on carousels that was genuinely, shockingly good. It really does provide a filmic, dreamy quality to the video that I was previously only able to get with quick and continuous focus adjustments on an SLR shooting video with a manually focused lens. 

That, I think, is the major key to understanding Cinematic Mode. Despite the marketing, this mode is intended to unlock new creative possibilities for the vast majority of iPhone users who have no idea how to set focal distances, bend their knees to stabilize and crouch-walk-rack-focus their way to these kinds of tracking shots. It really does open up a big bucket that was just inaccessible before. And in many cases I think that those willing to experiment and deal with its near-term foibles will be rewarded with some great looking shots to add to their iPhone memories widget.

I’ll be writing more about this feature later this week so stay tuned. For now, what you need to know is that an average person can whip this out in bright light and get some pretty fun and impressive results, but it is not a serious professional tool, yet. And even if you miss focus on a particular subject you are able to adjust that in post with a quick tap of the edit button and a tap on a subject — as long as it’s within the focal range of the lens.

As a filmmaking tool for the run and gun generation it’s a pretty compelling concept. The fact is that it allows people to spend less time and less technical energy on the mechanics of filmmaking and more time on the storytelling part. Moviemaking has always been an art that is intertwined with technology — and one of the true exemplars of the ideal that artists are always the first to adopt new technology and push it to its early limits.

Just as Apple’s portrait mode has improved massively over the past 6 years, I expect Cinematic Mode to keep growing and improving. The relatively sketchy performance in low light and the locked zoom are high on my list to see bumps next year, as is improved segmentation. It’s an impressive technical feat that Apple is able to deliver this kind of slicing and adjustment not only in real-time preview but also in post-shooting editing modes, and I’m looking forward to seeing it evolve. 

Assessment

This is a great update that improves user experience in every way, even during an intense day-long Disneyland outing. The improved brightness and screen refresh means easier navigation of park systems and better visibility in daylight for directions and wait times and more. The better cameras mean you’re getting improved shots in dark-to-light situations like waiting in lines or shooting from under overhangs. The nice new telephoto lets you shoot close-up shots of cast members who are now often separated from the crowds by large distances, which is cool — and as a bonus acts as a really lovely portrait lens even while not in Portrait mode.

Overall this was one of the best experiences I’ve had testing a phone at the parks, with a continuous series of ‘wow’ moments with the cameras that sort of made me question my confirmation bias. I ended up with a lot of shots like the night mode wide angle and telephoto ones I shared above that impressed me so much I ended up doing a lot of gut checking asking other people in blind tests what they thought of the two images. Each time I did so the clear winner was the iPhone 13 — it really is just a clear cut improvement in image making across the board.

The rest of the package is pretty well turned out here too, with massive performance gains in the A15 Bionic with not only no discernable impact on battery life but a good extra hour to boot. The performance chart above may give the wow factor but that performance charted on the power usage of the chip across a day is what continues to be the most impressive feat of Apple’s chip teams. 

The iPhones 13 are an impressive field this year, providing a solid moat of image quality, battery life and now, thankfully, screen improvements that should serve Apple well over the next 12 months.

#apple, #apple-inc, #computing, #disneyland, #food, #google, #imaging, #ios, #ios-11, #ipad, #iphone, #iphone-7, #isp, #kodak, #mobile-phones, #ram, #sam, #samsung, #smartphone, #steel, #tc

Volvo Cars wants to make a concept car using “fossil-free” steel

Volvo Cars wants to be climate-neutral by 2040, and it has set its sights on a major vehicle component that’s notoriously difficult to decarbonize: steel. The automaker has partnered with Swedish company SSAB, which manufactures “fossil-free” steel, for a limited amount of the material to be used in a concept car as early as 2025.

A climate-neutral car is considered by many to be a moonshot goal, not least because of the challenge in decarbonizing components like steel. The steel industry, which sits at the heart of industrialized economies, accounts for around 8% of worldwide carbon emissions. In vehicles, steel and iron production amount to around 35% of emissions in an internal combustion engine vehicle and 20% in a battery electric car.

“It’s steel, it’s aluminum and it’s factories,” Volvo’s head of procurement Kerstin Enochsson explained to TechCrunch. “If we are solving the supply chains and making those supply chains much more sustainable, we are solving the absolute vast majority of the CO2 issues with cars.”

Recent innovations in green hydrogen production mean that fossil-free steel may soon become a reality. SSAB has developed a process to make steel using hydrogen, rather than coal. The hydrogen is produced via electrolysis, a process that uses renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The steel will be produced at a pilot plant in Luleå, Sweden. The plant was started by SSAB under its HYBRIT initiative, a joint venture with Swedish utility Vattenfall and mining company LKAB. SSAB said it hopes to become a commercial-scale supplier of decarbonized steel by 2026.

Once it receives the material, Volvo will perform tests on its characteristics, such as its durability and heat resistance, Enochsson said. While Volvo declined to specify the exact amount of steel it will be receiving from SSAB, Enochsson specified it was a “project size,” rather than an amount for mass manufacture. But Volvo is also thinking long-term.

“From, say, 2025 and onwards, we can talk about, how do we industrialize? Because obviously, we want not only to have fossil-free steel and a concept car, but we want to use it very broadly. But we can’t take decisions today for industrialization, because we first need to see how this steel behaves,” she explained.

Enochsson said it was too early to say whether moving to decarbonized steel would raise the cost of a vehicle, but she expressed confidence that sustainability was an important factor to consumers. She also alluded to conversations Volvo was having with other sustainable steel manufacturers, but she declined to provide any details as to whether those conversations would yield future partnerships.

Volvo is not the only automaker that has expressed interest in sustainable supply chains. Polestar, the electric vehicle brand spun out of Volvo Car Group, said it wanted to create a climate-neutral car by 2030. EV startup Fisker has set a similar goal, for 2027.

“This is definitely a movement,” Enochsson said. “There are more and more OEMs expecting higher sustainability targets and it’s moving in the right direction. But it is a tremendous job to simply secure it all across.”

#automotive, #decarbonization, #steel, #tc, #transportation, #volvo-cars

I can’t believe it’s not meat! Mycelium meat replacement company aims for summer launch of first products

Meati, a company turning mycelium (the structural fibers of fungi) into healthier meat replacements for consumers, is prepping for a big summer rollout.

Co-founder Tyler Huggins expects to have the first samples of its whole-cut steak and chicken products in select restaurants around the country — along with their first commercial product, a jerky strip.

For Huggins, the product launch is another step on a long road toward broad commercial adoption of functional fungi foods as a better-for-you alternative to traditional meats.

“Use this as a conversation starter. About 2 ounces of this gives you 50% of your protein; 50% of your fiber; and half of your daily zinc. There really is nothing that can compare to this product in terms of nutritionals,” Huggins said. 

And moving from meat to mushrooms is a better option for the planet.

Meati expects to turn on its pilot plant this summer and is joining a movement among mushroom fans that includes milk replacements, from Perfect Day, more meat replacements from Atlast, and leather substitutes from Ecovative and MycoWorks.

“We’re definitely all in this together,” said Huggins of the other mob of mycelium-based tech companies bringing products to market.

However, not all mycelium is created equally, Huggins said. Meati has what Huggins said was a unique way of growing its funguses (not a real word) that “keep it in its most happy state.” That means peak nutritional content and peak growth efficiency, according to the company.

For Huggins, whose parents own a bison ranch and who grew up in cattle country, the goal is not to replace a t-bone or a ribeye, but the cuts of meat and chicken that find their ways into a burrito supreme or other quick serve meat cuts.

Rendering of Meati mushroom meats in a Banh Mi. Image Credit: Meati

“Head to head with that kind of cut, we win,” Huggins said. “I’d rather pick a fight there now and buy ourselves some time. I don’t think we’re going to go super high-end to start.”

That said, the company’s cap table of investors already includes some pretty heady culinary company. Acre Venture Partners (which counts Sam Kass — President Barack Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, Executive Director for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, and an Assistant Chef in the White House — among its partnership) is an investor. So is Chicago’s fine dining temple, Alinea.

But Huggins wants Meati to be an everyday type of meat replacement product. “I want to make sure that people think this is an every day protein,” Huggins said.

Meati thinks its future meat replacements will be cost competitive with conventional beef and chicken, but to whet consumers’ appetites, the company is starting with jerky.

“Meati’s delicious jerky,” said Huggins. “It provides this blank canvas. We’ll start with these beef jerky like flavors. But I want to come out of the gate and say that we’re mycelium jerky.”

The company currently has 30 people on staff led by Huggins and fo-founder Justin Whiteley. The two men initially started working on Meati as a battery replacement. Based on their research (Huggins with mycelium and Whiteley with advanced batteries) the two men received a grant for a mycelium-based electrode for lithium ion batteries.

“We were trying to tweak the chemical composition of the mycelium to make a better battery. What we found was that we were making something nutritious and edible,” said Huggins.

Also… the battery companies didn’t want it.

Now, backed by $28 million from Acre, Prelude Ventures, Congruent Ventures and Tao Capital, Meati is ready to go to market. The company also has access to debt capital to build out its vast network of mycelium growing facilities. It’s just raised a $18 million debt round from Trinity and Silicon Valley Bank.

“Two years ago … most companies in this space … there wasn’t this ability to take on debt to put steel in the ground,” said Huggins. “It’s an exciting time to be in food tech given that you can raise VC funding and there’s this ready available market for debt financing. You’ll start seeing faster and more rapid development because of it.”

Meati co-founders Tyler Huggins and Justin Whiteley. Image Credit: Meati

#acre-venture-partners, #barack-obama, #beef, #biology, #chicago, #congruent-ventures, #ecovative-design, #food-and-drink, #food-tech, #jerky, #meat, #michelle-obama, #mycelium, #mycoworks, #prelude-ventures, #president, #silicon-valley-bank, #steel, #tc, #white-house

Startups have about $1 trillion worth of reasons to love the Biden infrastructure plan

The sweeping infrastructure package put forward today by President Joe Biden comes with a price tag of roughly $2 trillion (and hefty tax hikes) but gives startups and the broader tech industry about $1 trillion worth of reasons to support it.

Tech companies have spent the past decade or more developing innovations that can be applied to old-world industries like agriculture, construction, energy, education, manufacturing and transportation and logistics. These are industries where structural impediments to technology adoption have only recently been broken down by the advent of incredibly powerful mobile devices.

Now, these industries are at the heart of the President’s plan to build back better, and the hundreds of billions of dollars that are earmarked to make America great again will, either directly or indirectly, be a huge boost to a number of startups and large tech companies whose hardware and software services will enable much of the work the Biden administration wants done.

“The climate-oriented investment in Biden’s new plan would be roughly ten times what came through ARRA,” wrote Shayle Kann, a partner with the investment firm, Energy Impact Partners. “It would present a huge opportunity for a variety of climate tech sectors, ranging from clean electricity to carbon management to vehicle electrification.”

Much of this will look and feel like a Green New Deal, but sold under a package of infrastructure modernization and service upgrades that the country desperately needs.  Indeed, it’s hard to invest in infrastructure without supporting the kind of energy efficiency and renewable development plans that are at the core of the Green New Deal, since efficiency upgrades are just a part of the new way of building and making things.

Over $700 billion of the proposed budget will go to improving resiliency against natural disasters; upgrading critical water, power, and internet infrastructure; and rehabilitating and improving public housing, federal buildings, and aging commercial and residential real estate.

Additionally there’s another roughly $400 billion in spending earmarked for boosting domestic manufacturing of critical components like semiconductors; protecting against future pandemics; and creating regional innovation hubs to promote venture capital investment and startup development intended to “support the growth of entrepreneurship in communities of color and underserved communities.”

Climate resiliency 

Given the steady drumbeat of climate disasters that hit the U.S. over the course of 2020 (and their combined estimated price tag of nearly $100 billion), it’s not surprising that the Biden plan begins with a focus on resiliency.

The first big outlay of cash outlined in the Biden plan would call for $50 billion in financing to improve, protect and invest in underserved communities most at risk from climate disasters through programs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and new initiatives from the Department of Transportation. Most relevant to startups is the push to fund initiatives and technologies that can help prevent or protect against extreme wildfires; rising sea levels and hurricanes; new agriculture resource management; and “climate-smart” technologies.

As with most of Biden’s big infrastructure initiatives, there are startups tackling these issues. Companies like Cornea, Emergency Reporting, Zonehaven are trying to solve different facets of the fire problem; while flood prediction and weather monitoring startups are floating up their services too. Big data analytics, monitoring and sensing tools, and robotics are also becoming fixtures on the farm. For the President’s water efficiency and recycling programs, companies like Epic CleanTec, which has developed wastewater recycling technologies for residential and commercial buildings.

Fables of the reconstruction

Energy efficiency and building upgrades represent by far the biggest chunk of the Biden infrastructure package — totaling a whopping $400 billion of the spending package and all devoted to upgrading homes, offices, schools, veteran’s hospitals and federal buildings.

It gives extra credence to the thesis behind new climate-focused funds from Greensoil Proptech Ventures and Fifth Wall Ventures, which is raising a $200 million investment vehicle to focus on energy efficiency and climate tech solutions.

As Fifth Wall’s newest partner Greg Smithies noted last year, there’s a massive opportunity in building retrofits and startup technologies to improve efficiency.

“What excites me about this space is that there’s so much low-hanging fruit. And there’s $260 trillion worth of buildings,” Smithies said last year. “The vast majority of those are nowhere up to modern codes. We’re going to have a much bigger opportunity by focusing on some not-so-sexy stuff.”

Decarbonizing real estate can also make a huge difference in the fight against global climate change in addition to the its ability to improve quality of life and happiness for residents. “Real estate consumes 40% of all energy. The global economy happens indoors,” said Fifth Wall co-founder Brendan Wallace, in a statement. “Real estate will be the biggest spender on climate tech for no other reason than its contribution to the carbon problem.”

The Biden plan calls on Congress to enact new grant programs that award flexible funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate barriers to produce affordable housing. Part of that will include $40 billion to improve the infrastructure of the public housing in America.

It’s a project that startups like BlocPower are already deeply involved in supporting.

“Get the superhero masks and capes out. The Biden Harris Climate announcement is literally a plan to save the American economy and save the planet. This is Avengers Endgame in real life. We can’t undo the last five years… but we can make smart, massive investments in the climate infrastructure of the future,” wrote Donnel Baird, the chief executive and founder of BlocPower. “Committing to electrify 2 million American buildings, moving them entirely off of fossil fuels is exactly that — an investment in America leading theway towards creating a new industry creating American jobs that cannot be outsourced, and beginning to reduce the 30% of greenhouse gas emissiosn that come from buildings.”

As part of the package that directly impacts startups, there’s a proposal for a $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize private investment, according to the White House. The focus will be on distributed energy resources, retrofits of residential, commercial and municipal buildings; and clean transportation. A focus there will be on disadvantaged communities that haven’t had access to clean energy investments.

Financing the future startup nation

“From the invention of the semiconductor to the creation of the Internet, new engines of economic growth have emerged due to public investments that support research, commercialization, and strong supply chains,” the White House wrote. “President Biden is calling on Congress to make smart investments in research and development, manufacturing and regional economic development, and in workforce development to give our workers and companies the tools and training they need to compete on the global stage.”

To enable that, Biden is proposing another $480 billion in spending to boost research and development — including $50 billion for the National Science Foundation to focus on semiconductors and advanced communications technologies, energ technologies and biotechnology. Another $30 billion is designed to be targeted toward rural development; and finally the $40 billion in upgrading research infrastructure.

There’s also an initiative to create ARPA-C, a climate focused Advanced Research Projects Agency modeled on the DARPA program that gave birth to the Internet. There’s $20 billion heading toward funding climate-focused research and demonstration projects for energy storage, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, advanced nuclear and rare earth  element separations, floating off shore wind, biofuel/bioproducts, quantum computing and electric vehicles.

The bulk of Biden’s efforts to pour money into manufacturing represents another $300 billion in potential government funding. That’s $30 billion tickets for biopreparedness and pandemic preparedness; another $50 billion in semiconductor manufacturing and research; $46 billion for federal buying power for new advanced nuclear reactors and fuel, cars, ports, pumps and clean materials.

Included in all of this is an emphasis on developing economies fairly and equally across the country — that means $20 billion in regional innovation hubs and a Community Revitalization Fund, which is designed to support innovative, community-led redevelopment efforts and $52 billion in investing in domestic manufacturers — promoting rural manufacturing and clean energy.

Finally for startups there’s a $31 billion available for programs that give small businesses access to credit, venture capital, and R&D dollars. Specifically, the proposal calls for funding for community-based small business incubators and innovation hubs to support growth in communities of color and underserved communites.

Water and power infrastructure 

America’s C- grade infrastructure has problems extending across the length and breadth of the country. It encompasses everything from crumbling roads and bridges to a lack of clean drinking water, failing sewage systems, inadequate recycling facilities, and increasing demands on power generation, transmission and distribution assets that the nation’s electricity grid is unable to meet.

“Across the country, pipes and treatment plants are aging and polluted drinking water is endangering public health. An estimated six to ten million homes still receive drinking water through lead pipes and service lines,” the White House wrote in a statement.

To address this issue, Biden’s calling for an infusion of $45 billion into the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act grants. While that kind of rip and replace project may not directly impact startups, another $66 billion earmarked for upgrades to drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems and monitoring and managing the presence of contaminants in water will be a huge boon for the vast array of water sensing and filtration startups that have flooded the market in the past decade or more (there’s even an entire incubator dedicated to just water technologies).

The sad fact is that water infrastructure in America has largely failed to keep up in large swaths of the country, necessitating this kind of massive capital infusion.

And what’s true for water is also true increasingly true for power. Outages cost the U.S. economy upwards of $70 billion per year, according to the White House. So when analysts compare those economic losses to a potential $100 billion outlay, the math should be clear. For startups that math equals dollar signs.

Calls to build a more resilient transmission system should be music to the ears of companies like Veir, which is developing a novel technology for improving capacity on transmission lines (a project that the Biden administration explicitly calls out in its plan).

The Biden plan also includes more than money, calling for the creation of a new Grid Deployment Authority within the Department of Energy to better leverage rights-of-way along roads and railways and will support financing tools to develop new high-voltage transmission lines, the White House said.

The administration doesn’t stop there. Energy storage and renewable technologies are going to get a boost through a clutch of tax credits designed to accelerate their deployment. That includes a ten-year extension and phase down of direct-pay investment tax credits and production tax credits. The plan aslo calls for clean energy block grants and calls for the government to purchase nothing but renewable energy all day for federal buildings.

Complimenting this push for clean power and storage will be a surge in funding for waste remediation and cleanup, which is getting a $21 billion boost under Biden.

Companies like Renewell Energy, or various non-profits that are trying to plug abandoned oil wells, can play a role here. There’s also the potential to recover other mineral deposits or reuse the wastewater that comes from these wells. And here, too, investors can find early stage businesses looking for an angle. Part of the money frm the Biden plan will aim to redevelop brownfields and turn them into more sustainable businesses.

That’s where some of the indoor agriculture companies, like Plenty, Bowery Farms, AppHarvest could find additional pots of money to turn unused factory and warehouse space into working farms. Idled factories could also be transformed into hubs for energy storage and community based power generation and distribution facilities, given their position on the grid.

“President Biden’s plan also will spur targeted sustainable, economic development efforts through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER grant program, Department of Energy retooling grants for idled factories (through the Section 132 program), and dedicated funding to support community-driven environmental justice efforts – such as capacity and project grants to address legacy pollution and the cumulative impacts experienced by frontline and fenceline communities,” the White House wrote.

Key to these redevelopment efforts will be the establishment of pioneer facilities that demonstrate carbon capture retrofits for large steel, cement, and chemical production facilities. But if the Biden Administration wanted to, its departments could go a step further to support lower emission manufacturing technologies like the kind companies including Heliogen, which is using solar power to generate energy for a massive mining operation, or Boston Metal, which is partnering with BMW on developing a lower emission manufacturing process for steel production.

Critical to ensuring that this money gets spent is a $25 billion commitment to finance pre-development activities, that could help smaller project developers, as Rob Day writes in Forbes.

“As I’ve written about elsewhere, local project developers are key to getting sustainability projects built where they will actually do the most good — in the communities hit hardest by both local pollution and climate change impacts. These smaller project developers have lots of expenses they must pay just to get to the point where private-sector infrastructure construction investments can come in,” Day wrote. “Everyone in sustainability policy talks about supporting entrepreneurs, but in reality much of the support is aimed at technology innovators and not these smaller project developers who would be the ones to actually roll out those technology innovations. Infrastructure investors are typically much more reticent to provide capital before projects are construction-ready.”

Building a better Internet

“Broadband internet is the new electricity. It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected,” the White House wrote. “Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds. Americans in rural areas and on tribal lands particularly lack adequate access. And, in part because the United States has some of the highest broadband prices among OECD countries, millions of Americans can’t use broadband internet even if the infrastructure exists where they live.”

The $100 billion that the Biden Administration is earmarking for broadband infrastructure includes goals to meet 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage and prioritizes support for networks owned, operated, or faffiliated with local governments, non-profits and cooperatives.

Attendant with the new cash is a shift in regulatory policy that would open up opportunities for municipally-owned or affiliated providers and rural electric co-ops from competing with prive providers and requiring internet providers to be more transparent about their pricing. This increased competition is good for hardware vendors and ultimately could create new businesses for entrepreneurs who want to become ISPs of their own.

Wander is one-such service providing high speed wireless internet in Los Angeles.

“Americans pay too much for the internet – much more than people in many other countries – and the President is committed to working with Congress to find a solution to reduce internet prices for all Americans, increase adoption in both rural and urban areas, hold providers accountable, and save taxpayer money,” the White House wrote.

 

#agriculture, #america, #articles, #biden-administration, #biotechnology, #blocpower, #brendan-wallace, #broadband, #co-founder, #congress, #construction, #cornea, #department-of-transportation, #education, #electricity, #energy, #energy-impact-partners, #fifth-wall-ventures, #forbes, #greg-smithies, #infrastructure, #joe-biden, #kamala-harris, #los-angeles, #manufacturing, #mobile-devices, #national-science-foundation, #oecd, #plenty, #president, #quantum-computing, #real-estate, #semiconductor, #semiconductors, #steel, #supply-chains, #tc, #united-states, #venture-capital, #venture-capital-investment, #white-house

Eying sustainability gains for its supply chain, BMW backs Boston Metal’s CO2-free iron production tech

BMW has joined the cohort of investors that are backing Boston Metal’s carbon dioxide-free production technology for steel.

The Boston-based startup had targeted a $50 million raise earlier in the year, as TechCrunch reported, and BMW’s addition closes out that round, according to a person familiar with the company.

Through a commitment from BMW iVentures, the automaker’s investment arm, Boston Metal will have an in to a company with massive demands for more sustainably manufactured metal. For instance, BMW Group press plants in Europe process more than half a million tonnes of steel per year, the company said.

“We systematically identify the raw materials and components in our supplier network with the highest CO2 emissions from production,” said Dr Andreas Wendt, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network, in a statement. “Steel is one of them, but it is vital to car production. For this reason, we have set ourselves the goal of continuously reducing CO2 emissions in the steel supply chain. By 2030, CO2 emissions should be about two million tonnes lower than today’s figure.”

Conventional steel production requires blast furnaces that generate carbon dioxide emissions, but using Boston Metal’s process, an electrolysis cell produces the pig iron that gets processed into steel, the company said.

The addition of BMW to its investor group, which already includes Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and other strategic and financial investors, caps the fundraising process with another corporate partner wielding incredible industry influence.

“Our investors span across the steel value chain, from the upstream mining and iron ore companies to the downstream end customer, and validate Boston Metal’s innovative process to produce high-quality steel, cost-competitively, and at scale,” said chief executive officer and founder, Tadeu Carneiro.

#automotive-industry, #bmw, #boston, #carbon-dioxide, #cars, #chief-executive-officer, #europe, #investor, #metal, #steel, #tc

China launched its national carbon trading market yesterday

Yesterday, China flipped the switch on a nationwide carbon trading market, in what could be one of the most significant steps taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 — if the markets can work effectively.

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and its share of the world’s emissions output continues to climb.

As the Chinese government works to curb its environmental impact, policies like a carbon trading system could spur the adoption of new technologies, increasing demand for goods and services from domestic startups and tech companies around the world.

Carbon markets, implemented in some parts of the U.S. and widely across Europe, put a price on industrial emissions and force companies to offset those emissions by investing in projects that would remove an equivalent portion of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

They’re a key component of the 2015 Paris Agreement, but they’re also a controversial one. That’s because if they’re not implemented properly and managed effectively they can be a “massive loophole” for emitters, as Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer at Carbon Markets Watch, told Time last year.

This is especially true of China. Corruption in China is endemic and the country has long sacrificed environmental policy and stewardship at the altar of economic growth. China’s not alone in making that calculus, but the decisions have happened at a scale orders of magnitude larger than almost any other nation (with the exception of the U.S.)

The efficacy of the policy is also effected by the hierarchies that exist within the bureaucracy of the Chinese Communist Party. As ChinaDialogue noted, the measures were issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, which carry lower legal authority than if they came from the NDRC, the leading governing body for macroeconomic policy across China and the overseer of the nation’s major economic initiatives.

That said, no country as large as China, which accounts for 28% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, has ever implemented a national carbon emissions trading market.

BEIJING, CHINA – MARCH 20: Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People on March 20, 2018 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

China first started testing regional emissions trading systems back in 2011 in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong, Tianjin, Hubei, Chongqing and Fujian. Using a system that instituted caps on emissions based on carbon intensity (emissions per unit of GDP) rather than an absolute emissions cap, the Chinese government began rolling out these pilots across its power sector and to other industries.

After a restructuring in 2018, the plan, which was initially drafted under the auspices of the National Development and Reform Commission was kicked down to the Ministry of Ecology and the Environment. The devolution of China’s cap and trade emissions program came as the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Agreement amid an abdication of climate regulation or initiatives under the Presidency of Donald Trump.

Initially intended to begin with trading simulations in 2020, China’s emissions schemes were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic and pushed back to the back half of the year with an implementation of actual trading starting yesterday.

For now, the emissions trading system covers China’s power industry and roughly 2,000 energy generation facilities. That alone represents 30% of the nation’s total emissions and over time the trading system will encompass heavy industry like cement, steel, aluminum, chemicals and oil and gas, according to ChinaDialogue.

Initially, the government is allocating emissions allowances for free and will begin auctioning allowances “at the appropriate time according to the situation.”

That kind of language, and concerns raised by state-owned enterprises and financial services firms flagging the effect carbon pricing could have on profitability and lending risk shows that the government in Beijing is still putting more weight on the economic benefits rather than environmental costs of much of its industrial growth.

That said, a survey of market participants cited by ChinaDialogue indicated that prices are expected to start at 41 yuan (US$6.3) per ton of CO2 and rise to 66 yuan per ton in 2025. The price of carbon in China is expected to hit 77 yuan by 2030.

Meanwhile, a commission on carbon prices formed in 2017 and helmed by the economists Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern indicated that carbon needed to be priced at somewhere between $40 and $80 by 2020 and somewhere in the $50 to $100 range by 2030 if the markets and prices were to have any impact on behavior.

No nation has actually hit those price targets, although the European Union has come the closest — and seen the most reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as a result.

Still, the plan from the Chinese government does include public reporting requirements for verified company-level emissions. And the existence of a market, if the government decides to put real prices in place and consequences for flouting the system, could be a huge boon for the monitoring and management equipment startups that are developing tech to track emissions.

As the analysts at ChinaDialogue note:

“The hardest part of carbon pricing is often getting it started. The moment that the Chinese government decides to increase ambition with the national ETS, it can. The mechanism is now in place, and it can be ramped up if the momentum and political will provided by President Xi’s climate ambition continues. In the coming years, this could see an absolute and decreasing cap, more sectors covered, more transparent data provision and more effective cross-government coordination. This is especially so with energy and industrial regulators who will need to see the ETS not as a threat to their turf, but as a measure with significant co-benefits for their own policy objectives.”

#articles, #beijing, #chemicals, #china, #chinese-communist-party, #donald-trump, #energy, #europe, #european-union, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #oil-and-gas, #president, #shanghai, #shenzhen, #steel, #tc, #united-states, #xi

Looking to decarbonize the metal industry, Bill Gates-backed Boston Metal raises $50 million

Steel production accounts for roughly 8 percent of the emissions that contribute to global climate change. It is one of the industries that sits at the foundation of the modern economy and is one of the most resistant to decarbonization.

As nations around the world race to reduce their environmental footprint and embrace more sustainable methods of production, finding a way to remove carbon from the metals business will be one of the most important contributions to that effort.

One startup that’s developing a new technology to address the issue is Boston Metal. Previously backed by the Bill Gates financed Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, the new company has just raised roughly $50 million of an approximately $60 million financing round to expand its operations, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The global steel industry may find approximately 14 percent of its potential value at risk if the business can’t reduce its environmental impact, according to studies cited by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

Boston Metal, which previously raised $20 million back in 2019, uses a process called molten oxide electrolysis (“MOE”) to make steel alloys — and eventually emissions-free steel. The first close of the funding actually came in December 2018 — two years before the most recent financing round, according to chief executive Tadeu Carneiro, the company’s chief executive.

Over the years since the company raised its last round, Boston Metal has grown from 8 employees to a staff that now numbers close to 50. The Woburn, Mass.-based company has also been able to continuously operate its three pilot lines producing metal alloys for over a month at a time.

And while the steel program remains the ultimate goal, the company is quickly approaching commercialization with its alloy program, because it isn’t as reliant on traditional infrastructure and sunk costs according to Carneiro.

Boston Metal’s technology radically reimagines an industry whose technology hasn’t changed all that much since the dawn of the Iron Age in 1200 BCE, Carneiro said.

Ultimately the goal is to serve as a technology developer licensing its technology and selling components to steel manufacturers or engineering companies who will ultimate make the steel.

For Boston Metal, the next steps on the product roadmap are clear. The company wil look to have a semi-industrial cell line operating in Woburn, Mass. by the end of 2022, and by 2024 or 2025 hopes to have its first demonstration plant up and running. “At that point we will be able to commercialize the technology,” Carneiro said.

The company’s previous investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, and the MIT-backed “hard-tech” investment firm, The Engine. All of them came back to invest in the latest infusion of cash into the company along with Devonshire Investors, the private investment firm affiliated with FMR, the parent company of financial services giant, Fidelity, which co-led the deal alongside Piva Capital and another, undisclosed investor.

As a result of its investment, Shyam Kamadolli will take a seat on the company’s board, according to the filing with the SEC.

MOE takes metals in their raw oxide form and transforms them into molten metal products. Invented at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and based on research from MIT Professor Donald Sadoway, Boston Metal makes molten oxides that are tailored for a specific feedstock and product. Electrons are used to melt the soup and selectively reduce the target oxide. The purified metal pools at the bottom of a cell and is tapped by drilling into the cell using a process adapted from a blast furnace. The tap hole is plugged and the process then continues.

One of the benefits of the technology, according to the company, is its scalability. As producers need to make more alloys, they can increase production capacity.

“Molten oxide electrolysis is a platform technology that can produce a wide array of metals and alloys, but our first industrial deployments will target the ferroalloys on the path to our ultimate goal of steel,” said Carneiro, the company’s chief executive, in a statement announcing the company’s $20 million financing back in 2019. “Steel is and will remain one of the staples of modern society, but the production of steel today produces over two gigatons of CO2. The same fundamental method for producing steel has been used for millennia, but Boston Metal is breaking that paradigm by replacing coal with electrons.”

No less a tech luminary than Bill Gates himself underlined the importance of the decarbonization of the metal business.

Boston Metal is working on a way to make steel using electricity instead of coal, and to make it just as strong and cheap,” Gates wrote in his blog, GatesNotes. Although Gates did have a caveat. “Of course, electrification only helps reduce emissions if it uses clean power, which is another reason why it’s so important to get zero-carbon electricity,” he wrote.

#bill-gates, #boston-metal, #breakthrough-energy-ventures, #electricity, #massachusetts-institute-of-technology, #mckinsey-co, #metal, #recent-funding, #securities-and-exchange-commission, #startups, #steel, #tc

Skyroot successfully test fires India’s first privately-made solid rocket stage

Rocket launch startup Skyroot is closing out 2020 with a key milestone in the development program for their Vikram-I launch vehicle: A successful test firing of a solid rocket propulsion stage that serves as a demonstrator of the same tech to be used in the production Vikram. This is the first time that a private Indian company has designed, built and tested a solid rocket propulsion stage in its entirety, and follows a successful engine burn test of an upper stage prototype earlier this year.

Skyroot also created its solid rocket stage using a carbon composite structure whose manufacturing process is entirely automated, the company says. That allows it to realize weight savings of up to five times vs. use of steel, a material typically used to house solid rocket propellant stages. The goal is to use the same process in the production of the final version of Vikram-I, which will help the small launch vehicle realize big benefits in terms of cost, in addition to the reliability benefits that come with the relatively uncomplicated fundamental design of solid rockets, which have no moving parts and therefore less opportunity for failure.

The final third-stage Vikram-1 engine will be 4x the size of this demonstrator, and Skyroot is also in the process of manufacturing four other test solid rocket motors which have a carrying range of thrust, and which will be tested throughout the course of next years as work finishes on their construction.

Skyroot aims to perform its first Vikram-I launch by next December, supported in part by the Indian Space Research Organization. The company has raised $4.3 million to date, and says it’s currently in the process of raising another $15 million round which it’ll aim to close next year. It’s set to become the first private Indian company to build and operate private launch vehicles, with the regulatory framework now in place to allow that to happen since India opened up private launcher operations earlier this year.

#aerospace, #commercial-spaceflight, #india, #indian-space-research-organization, #rocket-launch-startup, #rocket-propulsion, #science-and-technology, #skyroot, #space, #startups, #steel, #tc

New stimulus bill includes $35.2 billion for new energy initiatives

The new economic stimulus proposal that has been approved by Congress includes roughly $35.2 billion for energy initiatives, according to summary documents seen by TechCrunch.

“This is probably the biggest energy bill we’ve seen in a decade,” said policy analyst Dr. Leah Stokes, an Assistant Professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  

The spending is split between the Energy Act of 2020 and the Energy for the Environment Act, and both include new money for big technology initiatives.

“[The Energy Act of 2020] is a bipartisan, bicameral energy innovation package that authorizes over $35 billion in RD&D activities across DOE’s portfolio and strengthens or creates programs crucial to advancing new technologies into the market,” a summary document for the legislation reads.

Included in the spending package is over $4.1 billion for new technology initiatives.

The biggest winners are photovoltaics, new transportation technologies, and energy efficiency technologies.

There’s a $1.5 billion for new solar technologies including modules, concentrating solar technology, new photovoltaic technologies and initiatives to expand solar manufacturing and recycling technologies. And $2.6 billion set aside for transportation technologies. Finally, energy efficiency and weatherization programs are continuing to be supported through a $1.7 billion reauthorization of the Weatherization Assistance Program. 

Energy grid technologies get a $3.44 billion boost through $1.08 billion in support for short-term, long-term, seasonal and transportation energy storage technologies and $2.36 billion for smart utility and energy distribution technologies. 

Another $625 million is dedicated to new research, development and commercialization for both onshore and offshore wind technologies. While $850 million is being set aside for geothermal technology development and $933 million for marine energy and hydropower tech. finally, there’s $160 million earmarked for hydropower generator upgrades, and upgrades to existing federal infrastructure through $180 million earmarked to the Federal Energy Management Program. 

In an attempt to ensure that the money and innovation is used in the industries where decarbonization is the most technically challenging, there’s a $500 million pot for stakeholders in industries like iron, steel, aluminum, cement and chemicals as well as transportation businesses like shipping, avaiation, and long-distance transport that are looking to decarbonize.

By making these critical investments now, the Energy Act of 2020 will to help reduce our  nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, bring good paying jobs back to the United States, and allow us to export these technologies to growing markets abroad for years to come,” the summary report reads. 

If the next generation of technologies that already have broad commercial support is one area getting a boost, then another big pool of money is going to support the commercialization of technologies whose viability has yet to be demonstrated at commercial scale.

These include carbon capture utilization and storage technologies that are getting a $6.2 billion boost for roll out at industrial and energy sites. Congress is also approving a $447 milion research and development program for large-scale commercial carbon dioxide removal projects — with a $100 million carve out grant for direct air capture competition at facilities that capture at least 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Nuclear technologies are also getting their day in the sun thanks to $6.6 billion in funding for the modernization of existing nuclear power plants and the development of advanced reactors. And, the nascent fusion industry can add another $4.7 billion to their calculus for available capital thanks to a carve out for basic and applied research investments.

All of this spending also comes with money to ensure that emerging technologies aren’t left out. Theres a $2.9 billion allocation to ARPA-E, the energy advanced research arm of the government whose structure is similar to the DARPA program that was responsible for the development of the Internet. And, taking a page from the NASA playbook that commercialized a number of technologies, the Office of Technology Transitions, which promotes national lab partnerships, is being codified and supporting the kind of milestone-based projects that have been effectively used by the Air Force and the Department of Defense broadly.

To cap it off, the new energy bill includes a directive to the Department of the Interior to target the generation of 25 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal production on public lands by 2025.

“My understanding of it is that they’re trying to look at what the federal government has done for solar and wind and see how we can do that for other technologies,” Stokes said. 

For her, what’s in other portions of the stimulus are equally important from a climate perspective. There’s a commitment to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, a huge contributor to global warming and climate change by 2035. Phasing out the use of these chemicals globally in refrigeration and other applications could reduce warming by half a degree centigrade (which is a big deal).

Stokes took issue with the duration of some of the tax credits, whose extensions were relatively short, and the absence of a tax credit for electric vehicles. “The tax credits for EVs are a consumer-facing benefit that are absolutely critical to adoption,” Stokes said. “That was a massive equalizer between EVs and combustion engine cars.”

For all of the good news for climate activists baked into this portion of the stimulus, Stokes warns that no one concerned about global climate change should break out the bubbly.

“This package is not going to solve the climate crisis full-stop,” Stokes said. “Next year if the republicans are in control there’s going to be a new chairman and he’s not going to be as generous… We have to learn to celebrate the wins and give credit but recognize what’s missing. Which is a lot.”

#air-force, #aluminum, #arpa-e, #articles, #california, #chairman, #chemicals, #congress, #department-of-defense, #energy, #energy-efficiency, #federal-government, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #iron, #solar-manufacturing, #steel, #tc, #united-states, #university-of-california

Asmoke’s portable pellet grill is super affordable and great for small spaces

Smokers and pellet grills are growing in popularity, likely because a lot more people are cooking at home – and looking for other ways to up their home chef game. The Asmoke Pellet Grill, which is currently in the final stretch of a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, has a price point that’s far below most other options out there – but don’t let the price tag fool you, the grill packs more punch than its cost and portable size might suggest.

Basics

If you’re not familiar with pellet grills, they’re a combination of smoker and BBQ that burn condensed hardwood pellets feed by an auger to create smoke and heat. The most popular options out there include Traeger’s grills, as well as Camp Chef, Pit Boss, and others. The Smoke Pellet Grill is a new, portable pellet grill that features a lot of the same features you’d see in higher-priced brand name options, but at a much lower cost when you factor in their accessories – particularly now, during the tail end of their crowdfunding campaign.

Asmoke’s $176 USD backer price includes one grill, a meat injector, a thermometer, grill gloves, shredding tools for breaking down smoked meat, tongs and a 5lb bag of their applewood pellets to get you started cooking right away. That’s over half-off their estimated retail price once the campaign ends. Even at the full final price you’re still going to come out cheaper than the closest brand name competitor – the Traeger Ranger – once you factor in all the included accessories.

The Asmoke is electrically-powered, so you can use it outside anywhere you have access to an outlet. It includes a larger cooking surface that can fit up to 8 burgers at once, or one full rack of ribs. As mentioned, there’s a temperature probe included that plugs into the front and displays the internal temp of any meat you insert it into within the grill itself while cooking. A dial on the front provides the only control you need, enabling setting temp from 180 all the way up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Design

The Asmoke Pellet Grill is designed to be portable, at just over 2 feet by around 1.5 feet, and 14.45 inches tall. It weights around 45 lbs, which is heavy, but that’s still portable compared to most pellet smokers, which tend to be very large and essentially designed to sit in a fixed location. The Asmoke is also made from steel and stainless steel primarily, so that weight represents durability, which is good for an appliance designed to be used exclusively outside.

Construction of the grill feels very sturdy and high-quality, with good fittings and finishes across the board. The heat resistant paint comes in four different colors, including the red and blue shown below, as well as an aquamarine green and black. Latches secure the lid while cooking, and there’s an insulating gasket that runs the length and width of the edge to keep the heat in while giving you a secure closure. A large handle opens and closes the lid, and four feet elevate the grill off whatever surface you’re resting it on.

Inside, there’s a hopper where you put the pellets on the left which is separated from the cooking area on the right. The cooking area includes a large grill surface, and an optional raised rack for a small second level cooking area. A stainless steel grease slide installs over the cup where pellets are driven by the auger to burn and smoke, and a second slide goes over that – giving you the ability to keep it closed for smoking and grilling, or opening it up to allow flame through for char-broiling.

On the front, you can see the control unit, which includes a large, readable display that uses a few different colors to clearly present information including the set temperature of the drill, auger speed, and sensor temperature when cooking with the probe. The large, single dial is your only control mechanism, providing temperature setting and letting you turn the grill on and off.

Some assembly is required to get the Asmoke ready to cook, but it’s actually super easy to do. Basically you just install the legs and front handle, and then remove all the internal components from their packaging and put them back in the grill. It took me about 20 minutes start to finish. The grill needs to be primed upon first use (and any time you run out of pellets), but that’s only a few more minutes. And the first time you ever use it, there’s a burn-off procedure that involves running the grill at higher temps for around 30 to 40 minutes, but it’s very easy to do.

Performance

The Asmoke punches above its weight class. In testing, I did an extended, 7-hour smoke of a pork shoulder blade roast using the provided Applewood pellets, and the results were fantastic. I’ve smoked a lot of meat using a Traeger Pro 575, and this was easily on par with the best results I’ve had out of that cooker in terms of the quality and flavor of the finished product.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

Best of all, the Asmoke is small enough to work on my condo deck, which is not somewhere I’ve typically been able to consider using a smoker cooker. The grill does put off a lot of smoke through its exhaust, particularly when it’s first heating up to reach temperature, but it also dissipates rather quickly, especially if you’re on a higher floor. Just be aware that especially in close proximity, the smoke produced from cookers like these will be powerful and strong-smelling – which is a benefit for me, but which might not be what you’re after if you’re living in a dense city environment.

Actually using the Asmoke is very simple. You can find smoker cooker recipes available readily on the internet, and then it’s a matter of just following those instructions. The Asmoke gets up to target temperature quickly, and is good at maintaining a constant temp throughout a cook once it reaches those levels. If you need to refill the hopper mid-cook, it’s simple enough to open the box and do so, and you won’t lose all that much temperature so long as you do it quickly. And since the hopper compartment is insulated separately from the cooking area, you can do it without fear of burning yourself, too.

Because the Asmoke offers such a wide temperature range, it’s also good or grilling, and even baking. I also made burgers on it at a much higher temp, and those results were fantastic, too – far exceeding standard BBQs in terms of retaining juices and adding subtle smoke flavor.

One thing to consider is that post-cook, especially after long ones like the pork roast I did, there’s a fair amount of cleaning up involved. It’s not difficult, but it is time consuming, and includes scraping the grease tray, cleaning the cooking grate, and vacuuming out the leftover ash from the pellet pot and the bottom of the cooking box. This isn’t specific to Asmoke: It’s part and parcel of operation any pellet cooker, and I found that Asmoke’s high quality materials ensured it was relatively easy to clean.

Bottom line

If you’re looking to bump up your outdoor cooking game, the Asmoke Portable Pellet Grill is a remarkably affordable way to do so, especially during this crowdfunding effort. Normally, I’d advise caution in any crowdfunding scenario, but in this case, grills are already in the process of shipping to customers, and they work exactly as advertised, providing high-quality results.

This is a category where top-brand incumbents rightly earn a lot of respect and customer loyalty for their long history of delivery reliable products, so it’s hard for a newcomer to break in. But Asmoke’s product and results far exceed their newcomer status.

#barbecue, #chef, #cooking, #food-and-drink, #gadgets, #grilling, #hardware, #hobbies, #indiegogo, #reviews, #stainless-steel, #steel, #tc

More new space consolidation as Voyager Space Holdings acquires Pioneer Astronautics

It’s beginning to be a sign of the times: smaller or younger space companies getting acquired by larger entities. Today, the company being acquired is Pioneer Astronautics, which has been bought by Voyager Space Holdings in a combined cash and stock deal. Voyager, which bills itself as the “first space-focused holding company,” now has a portfolio that includes both Pioneer and Altius Space Machines, which it acquired last year.

Pioneer Astronautics was founded in 1996, and focuses on R&D of new technologies related to space exploration. The company’s focus of late has been on sustainable human space exploration, including leveraging materials found on deep-space destinations, including the Moon, and turning them into resources that are required for sustained human presence in those places. Pioneer was actually selected by NASA recently to research materials systems for use under the Artemis program, for instance, and it plans to demonstrate how it’s possible to create oxygen for breathable air, and steel for construction, from lunar regolith – essentially the soil analog found on the Moon’s surface.

Voyager Space Holdings, which is led by co-founders Dylan Taylor and Matthew Kuta, aims to bring together a number of different smaller new space companies to “increase vertical integration and mission capability,” the company said in a press release announcing this news. There’s definitely an opportunity in the current climate to bundle a number of different more niche and specific services together for the larger players in the commercial space sector, as well as for government and defense clients.

Others appear to be pursuing a similar strategy, with Redwire, a PE firm-created holding company, having recently acquired Adcole Space and Deep Space Systems, along with in-space manufacturing pioneer startup Made in Space. All those acquisitions happened this year, with the Made in Space deal announced in June.

There are a number of factors that point to this being a trend that’s likely to accelerate. First, the current global economic climate is making it difficult for many small businesses to continue to operate independently, particularly in high-cost, long-term return areas like pioneering new technology development. And while that is probably driving down acquisition costs for the holding companies, long-term, the commercial space sector seems poised for growth, driven especially by the renewed global interesting space exploration and science, fuelled by public-private partnerships.

For the smaller space companies, this consolidation represents a steady source of funding for ongoing work that’s not dependent on a VC or other capital raise effort. Space is expensive – particularly when you’re trying to do something no one’s ever done before – so it’s logical that they’d look to these kinds of tie-ups as a means to continue their ambitious work.

#aerospace, #commercial-spaceflight, #ma, #nasa, #outer-space, #space, #space-exploration, #spaceflight, #steel, #tc, #technology-development, #voyager-space-holdings

BTS label Big Hit Entertainment inks broad partnership with streaming tech company Kiswe

The town of New Providence, N.J. may seem like an unlikely home for a company that’s just inked a new deal with Big Hit Entertainment (the label behind the global K-pop supergroup BTS) and raised tens of millions of dollars from some of the largest venture capital firms in the United States, but Kiswe Mobile is proof that valuable startups can come from anywhere.

Founded in 2013 and led by chief executive, Mike Schabel, Kiswe Mobile is now extending its relationship with Big Hit from a one-time show in early December to an agreement that will extend well beyond the next BTS gig in what the two companies described as a “global partnership”.

Schabel declined to disclose any terms of the partnership agreement but said that it was more than a simple business contract between the two entities.

For the past seven years Kiswe has worked with some of the biggest sports and entertainment leagues in the U.S., including the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and the Professional Golf Association on streaming live events. In recent years the company has added eSports  to its roster — and live events including that December BTS show.

Founded by former President of Bell Labs, Jeong Kim, along with Wim Sweldens and Jimmy Lynn back in 2013, Kiswe Mobile offers a streaming service that has four different components that live entertainment needs to get back on track in the post-COVID era of social distancing.

The company’s technology offers a central production system for concert producers to process video and audio,  multi-camera and interactive viewing options for fans watching the show to communicate with the live performers and each other, and presenting it exclusively by either geo-location or through ticketing.

“This MOU opens the possibility for diversified innovation in the global market by combining Big Hit’s content planning know-how and Kiswe’s technology, said Big Hit chief executive Lenzo Yoon, in a statement.

Behind all of this technology are a number of high profile investors including New Enterprise Associates, the multi-billion venture capital firm based outside of Balitmore. Other investors include Revolution, the Washington, DC-based investment firm founded by Steve Case; Ted Leonsis, a co-founder of Revolution and the founder of Monumental Sports Group, and company founder Jeong Kim.

The company has raised well over $20 million in financing since its launch in 2013, but Schabel declined to disclose the total amount the company raised.

The Big Hit deal is meant to serve a precursor to the launch of a new BTS Concert and convention called “BANG BANG CON The Live” later this month.

That show is, itself, a prelude to more interactive events from Big Hit’s roster of talent powered by Kiswe Mobile.

Technologies like Kiswe’s are arriving at a time when live events need them the most. The recent Travis Scott Fortnite experience, and Marshmello’s earlier turn behind the virtual wheels of steel in Epic Games’ breakout hit are among a number of new technologies that are looking to bring at least some of the magic of shared experiences and entertainment to fans that are hungry for it.

Several startups are taking this moment to push interactive live experiences for audiences. They include the virtual concert design and distribution platform, WaveXR; the interactive streaming service, Caffeine, and development firms like Zoan, which created a virtual concert experience for Helsinki’s May Day celebrations that brought a crowd of 1 million.

Kiswe’s deal with Big Hit arguably taps into the biggest, and most rabid fo the music industry’s fanbases by reaching the members of the BTS Army.

As Schabel acknowledged in a statement, “Kiswe’s relationship with Big Hit Entertainment expands our huge global sports and media footprint into the music sector and allows Kiswe and Big Hit to explore new ventures in the industry.”

#bell-labs, #bts, #epic-games, #major-league-soccer, #marshmello, #national-basketball-association, #new-enterprise-associates, #revolution-ventures, #steel, #tc, #ted-leonsis, #travis-scott, #v

The missing links to grading Harley Davidson’s EV pivot

As Harley Davidson rounds year one on its electric debut, we’re still riding in the fog on how to evaluate the company’s EV pivot.

The American symbol of gas, chrome, and steel released its first production electric motorcycle, the LiveWire last fall. The $29,799 machine is the first in a future line-up of EVs planned by Harley-Davidson — spanning motorcycles, bicycles and scooters.

The LiveWire started shipping to dealers September 27. It’s meant to complement, not replace, Harley-Davidson’s premium internal-combustion cruiser motorcycles.

The LiveWire has received mostly positive reviews from motorcycle stalwarts on design, features and performance. Two things are missing, however, to offer an initial grade on Harley Davidson’s first  production e-moto and overall commitment to electric.

The company needs to release EV specific sales data and tell us what’s next in its voltage powered lineup.

Stats

Seven months out from the LiveWire debut, there’s been plenty of speculation on how the motorcycle’s fared in the marketplace, particularly with pricing just short of Tesla Model 3.

As a publicly traded company, I was hoping Harley would offer EV data in its end of year and first quarter 2020 financials.

Harley Davidson’s Softail Slim, Image Credits: Harley Davidson

We didn’t see that. HD’s reporting on motorcycle sales doesn’t include a separate line for electric. Instead, LiveWire units sold are folded into Harley’s “Cruiser” stats that include some 16 different motorcycle models across HD’s Softtail and CVO lines. From the numbers, it’s evident sales in that category fell for Harley Davidson over 2019, but it’s not possible to know how Harley’s EV debut performed on sales floors.

I checked with a Harley Davidson spokesperson, who confirmed the company hasn’t released any LiveWire specific sales data in any form.

Source: Harley Davidson’s fourth quarter and full year 2019 financial results

Without this info, we’re left to speculate from incomplete dealer feedback that’s made its way to press, including an October Reuters piece pinning LiveWire as a “flop” with buyers. To be fair, its difficult to find reliable e-motorcycle sales statistics anywhere, as the main source of data in the U.S. — the Motorcycle Industry Council — doesn’t compile or release them.

But Harley Davidson could and should give the public a better benchmark on the progress of its electric products by releasing EV specific sales numbers.

The market

The move to create an electric mobility line has been a bold one for the Milwaukee based company —which is steeped in tradition of creating distinctly loud, powerful, internal combustion two-wheelers since 1903.

With the LiveWire debut, Harley Davidson became the first of the big gas manufacturers to offer a street-legal e-motorcycle for sale in the U.S.

The move is something of a necessity for the company, which like most of the motorcycle industry in the U.S., has been bleeding revenue and younger buyers for years.

The U.S. motorcycle market has been in pretty bad shape since the last recession. New sales dropped by roughly 50% since 2008 — with sharp declines in ownership by everyone under 40 — and have never recovered.

Harley Davidson electric concept display in 2019, Image Credits: Jake Bright/TechCrunch

Execs at Harley Davidson have spoken about the LiveWire, and the company’s planned EV product line, as something to reboot HD with a younger generation in the on-demand mobility age.

While Harley got the jump on traditional motorcycle manufacturers, such as Honda and Kawasaki, it’s definitely not alone in the two wheeled electric space.

HD entered the EV arena with competition from several e-moto startups that are attempting to convert gas riders to electric and attract a younger generation to motorcycling.

One of the leaders is California startup Zero Motorcycles, with 200 dealers worldwide. Zero introduced a LiveWire competitor last year, the $19K SR/F, with a 161-mile city range, one-hour charge capability and a top speed of 124 mph. Italy’s Energica is expanding distribution of its high-performance e-motos in the U.S.

And Canadian startup, Damon Motors, debuted its 200 mph, $24K Hypersport this year, which offers proprietary safety and ergonomics tech for adjustable riding positions and blind-spot detection.

Harley Davidson, e-moto startups, and all the big manufacturers now face growing uncertainty on the buying appetite for motorcycles that could persist into 2020 — and beyond — given the economic environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This month Harley Davidson appointed a new CEO, Jochen Zeitz, to lead the company into the future.  On last month’s first quarter earnings call, Zeitz didn’t offer much insight on HD’s EV sales or future, except to say, “We also remain committed to…advancing our efforts in electric.”

Scorecard so far

Without knowing how the LiveWire did in the ultimate product test — getting folks to give up money and buy one — there is some scorecard feedback to register on Harley’s electric debut.

To start with the negative, the company really missed the mark on the $29K price. The messaging on the price and product placement has shifted a bit since I first started talking to HD on LiveWire. In July 2019, Harley execs gave the “premium product” jingle on how the $30K price was justifiable over comparable e-moto offerings, such as Zero’s SR/F, priced $10,000 less.

More recently a Harley Davidson spokesperson commenting on background, described the LiveWire as a halo product  — more of an attention getting model, and not priced for mass-market. Whatever actually went into the EV’s pricing, the consensus of just about everyone I’ve spoken to on the LiveWire is that it was priced too damn high.

On the thumbs up side, Harley Davidson did nail a lot of important factors on its electric debut. The company had a difficult task of creating something that bridged two worlds, at least in attributes and public response. The bike had to check out in features and performance as a legitimate e-motorcycle entrant. The LiveWire also had to pass the sniff test with Harley’s existing clientele, who are loyal to chrome and steel cruisers and aren’t exactly Tesla, EV types.

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Price and unknown sales numbers aside, I’d say Harley Davidson achieved both. I spent a day testing the 105 horsepower LiveWire on a track and pestering HD’s engineers on all the bike’s features, including its range and charge time. Overall, I found it to be a solid package across performance, design and key specs. Most of the motorcycle press has agreed.

HD also succeeded in engineering an e-motorcycle in a Harley Davidson way, including styling and creating a distinct, yet subtle, sound for its EV. I showed some LiveWire photos it to my grandpa — a loyal loud-pipes Harley rider since the 50s — and he responded favorably, saying he’d love to try one out. So HD’s electric debut did arouse the right kind of response and enthusiasm with the right crowds. That’s something to build on.

What’s next?

What HD has to do now with its electric program is show us what’s next.  And whatever the company releases, it must appeal to and sell to a wider audience, including millennials.

I could envision the company’s next EV product release including a scooter offering — registering Harley in the urban mobility space — and an affordable e-motorcycle with wider market appeal.

Harley Davidson EV concepts, Image Credits: Harley Davidson

And what could Harley’s next e-motorcycle be? I see it as something priced around $10K, lighter and more accessible to beginner riders than the 549 pound LiveWire, cloud and app connected with at least 100 miles of range and a charge time of 30 to 40 minutes. A tracker styled EV channeling Harley’s flat track racers — with some off-road capability — could also help HD hit the mark. Harley released a mockup to this effect, in its EV concepts last year.

Of course, getting it all right on specs, style, and price point will be even more critical for Harley Davidson in COVID-19 economic environment, where spending appetites for things like motorcycles will be more conservative for the foreseeable future.

Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire gave the company’s commitment to electric credibility, Harley’s next round of two-wheeled EVs — and the market response — will tell us more about HD’s relevance in the 21st century mobility world.

#california, #ceo, #damon-motorcycles, #e-moto, #e-motorcycle, #electric-motorcycles, #energica-motor-company, #ev, #harley, #harley-davidson, #harley-davidson-livewire, #honda, #italy, #kawasaki, #livewire, #mission-motors, #motorcycles, #spokesperson, #steel, #tc, #tesla, #united-states, #zero-motorcycles