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Sensor System Yields Landslide Warnings

New acoustic sensor can hear when a landslide is imminent

3 min read
Sensor System Yields Landslide Warnings

2 November 2010—Just after midnight on 8 August, a massive landslide sent nearly 2 million cubic meters of rock and mud hurtling through several towns in Zhouqu County, China. The natural disaster killed more than 1500 people in the county, which sits in a valley between two mountains in the Gansu Province. Nearly three months later, more than 250 people are still unaccounted for.

Though their breakthrough is too late for the Zhouqu disaster, researchers at Loughborough University, in Leicestershire, England, reported late last month that they have developed an electronic system that can warn of an impending landslide by picking up the telltale sounds of shifting earth.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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