Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
February 27th, 2015

Decades ago, a now-classic episode of the TV program “I Love Lucy” had a hilarious sketch involving Lucy and her best friend, Ethel, hand rolling and packaging chocolates on a conveyer belt.  This particular show is still among my favorites – not least because it involved chocolate, of which I am passionately fond!

There have been a lot of advances in assembly-line technology since then.  Here’s a look at:

The rarely-seen robots that


package what we eat


 Delta robotsThe robots actually in factories don’t have hands…they’re more unusual (SPL)

And a very interesting look at the man who ‘started it all’:  Reymond Clavel of EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne)


Robots are handling many of the tasks that used to require human dexterity.  Are you part of the advance of the machines? (Although, they probably won’t make you laugh til you cry like Lucy and Ethel did!)

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The University of Michigan Ann Arbor is taking driving to roads hitherto untraveled!  They’re testing vehicles in a ‘fake city’ constructed on their campus under the auspices of the Mobility Transformation Center, a partnership with industry and government to lay the foundations for a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated mobility.  Read the story straight from the school:

U-M’s cityscape will test driverless vehicles

UMich Mobility

Photo Credit © The Regents of the University of Michigan, Mobility Transformation Center

Called M City, the one-of-a-kind facility will include a network of roads with up to five lanes, intersections, roundabouts, roadway markings, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, bus facilities, benches, simulated buildings, streetlights, parked cars, pedestrians and obstacles like construction barriers.


The story is getting play from the UK tabloids as well…   The Fake City Helping Create Tomorrow’s Cars

While it might seem like an image out of a Hollywood movie clip, the advances that are made on this “stage set” are hoping to lead to the implementation of a connected and automated mobility system on the streets of southeastern Michigan by 2021.

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Snact is just starting to ramp up their new business using food that would otherwise be thrown away, such as apples that are deemed too small for supermarkets as well as other fruits that would otherwise be thrown away. A bit of pulping and a lot of drying later, they turn into snacts.

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GrowUP Urban Farms uses aquaponics to produce sustainable plant and fish growth to supply city businesses with nutritious food.  They lower the environmental impact of agriculture by building and operating farms that take unused urban space and use it to grow produce. Through the use of aquaponic technology and protected cropping, they can produce a year-round harvest of fresh, leafy vegetables and fish.

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Sounds like 2 very responsible businesses that are lead by young entrepreneurs who decided to take action and make a sustainable difference in the world.

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February 9th, 2015

If you are a fan of restricting your water usage and waste to help our planet, you’ll love this Shower of the Future!  Although not currently widely available on the consumer market, the OrbSys recycling shower may be the future of your cleanliness routine…  A new kind of shower, created in Sweden, that saves up to 90% of the water and 80% of the energy consumed by a normal shower!

orbital-recycling-showerThe shower head system is designed to purify and recycle the water you use in the shower, pumping freshly cleaned & filtered water back onto you – saving water normally ‘wasted’ that goes straight down the drain.  Read about it here: Save Water!  And take a look at this article as well:  Possibly the most energy efficient shower in history

There’s a complete FAQ section on the OrbSys company website – if you’re interested in owning one of these, you may find this information helpful: How can I get my Shower of the Future as soon as possible?   The only way to get the Shower of the Future before 2016 is to Pre-order it on this website.

Of course, if you normally serenade the surrounding bathroom as you shower, you may have to choose longer songs that will allow you to fully enjoy your energy saving shower system.  And you can simultaneously feel virtuous about your contribution to helping the environment!  (You may want to invest in those singing lessons you thought about, too – for the sake of anyone who is within earshot of your ‘free concerts’ Smiley face)


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February 8th, 2015

Hungry teens and young adults enjoying the parks and summer concerts in Stockholm — but short on cash — scored with this campaign for McDonald’s out of DDB Stockholm. The fast feeder decided to make life a little easier for them by accepting a new kind of currency at the chain — cans, alongside the usual cash and credit.

blog cans for burgersA local billboard announced that the Golden Arches would accept “cards, cash and cans.” Attached to it was a roll of black plastic bags, each printed with a custom price list: one recycled can is worth 1 Krona (i.e. $ 0.14), and customers with 10 cans could buy a hamburger, those with 20 could purchase a cheeseburger and big spenders with 40 cans could spring for a Big Mac.

Do you have any ingenious ideas to promote the recycling message?

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