Google's Self-Driving Car Just Got a Whole Lot More Futuristic

The self-driving car is the future of personal transportation. Wireless charging is the future of battery-powered devices. Marrying the two technologies makes sense.

Wireless charging is the future of electric vehicles, according to Mark Harris of IEEE Spectrum, and Google's self-driving car could soon he leading the charge.


This makes sense because the self-driving car is the future of personal transportation.

Leaked documents from the FCC indicate that Google is experimenting with wireless charging systems designed by East Coast startups HEVO Power and Momentum Dynamics. Rather than transferring power via cord and plug, wireless charging relies upon magnetic induction via embedded plates on the ground interacting with receivers on a vehicle's underside. Power is beamed from one point to the other. 

This is not at all dissimilar to how wireless phone charging works. One day we're all going to look back on the '00s and '10s and wonder how we ever lived without wireless charging, just as we look back now and wonder how anyone ever lived without the Internet. 

As for the self-driving car itself, Google has spent years testing several prototypes. In that time, the company has received criticism that its cars are "too polite," which is to say they don't function as if driven by boorish, distracted humans. Results have shown that a world full of autonomous vehicles would be much safer than the status quo, potentially saving tens-of-thousands of lives per year.

The ability to power and re-power these vehicles without bulky and expensive plug-based infrastructure could be a key component to their eventual ubiquity.

Photo credit: NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images

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Robert Montenegro is a writer and dramaturg who regularly contributes to Big Think and Crooked Scoreboard. He lives in Washington DC and is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Twitter: @Monteneggroll. Website: robertmontenegro.com.

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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