As we head towards the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, we're closely watching both candidates to see what they're doing for the environment. The Obama administration scored a major win for fuel-efficient cars this week by finalizing new standards that will increase the fuel economy of cars to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg by 2025. But what about the cars that are currently on the road? This week we test drove a 2013 Ford Focus Electric through the streets of San Francisco (we admit, we did get a bit of range anxiety). And in one of the most interesting automotive stories from the past week, the world's first 3D-printed car -- the Areion EV-- reached a top speed of 141 kph.
Cars aren't the only form of green transportation we've been tracking this week, though. Toilet maker TOTO unveiled its "Toilet Bike Neo," an amazing poo-powered tricycle that runs on biogas that's produced from livestock waste. Not to be outdone, UK-based Stealth Electric Bikes recently released the Bomber, a burly electric bike that would fit in well with the Dark Knight's fleet of stealthy vehicles. For a vehicle that's the opposite of stealthy, we checked in on the world's largest bus, a 98-foot colossus that's probably visible from space. Lego builder Eric Steenstra built a fully functional go-kart made entirely out of Lego bricks, and in an inspiring story, artist and wheelchair user Sue Austin created a self-propelled underwater wheelchair that allows her to glide through the sea.
In one of the biggest clean energy stories from the past week, a coalition of utility companies are planning to team up to construct a wind farm 12 miles off the coast of Long Island. Off the coast of Oregon, Ocean Power Technologies has received approval to begin work on the first commercial wave farm in the US. The project is expected to produce enough clean energy to power more than 1,000 homes. But one of the biggest breakthroughs in clean energy was actually in solar power, as designers at Rawlemon created a spherical, sun-tracking glass globe that's able to concentrate sunlight (and moonlight) up to 10,000 times. In another exciting development, researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a self-charging power cell that's able to directly convert mechanical energy into chemical energy, making it possible to harvest up to five times more energy from footsteps.
We've also been keeping an eye on some impressive new inventions from around the world. In New York, a class of sixth graders invented a milk pitcher that detects spoilage. Meanwhile, a design collective from France developed a garment that uses augmented-reality technology and evolves with its wearer in real time. Glass company Corning Incorporated announced the launch of "Willow Glass," a super thin, flexible new type of glass that can actually be can be wrapped around devices or products. The Canadian Space Agency is on the verge of making the Star Trek Medical Tricorder a reality with the Microflow, a medical scanner that's currently in development.
In design news, French designer Patrick Jouin unveiled his Bloom Table Lamp, a 3D-printed lamp that opens and closes like petals of a flower. In a less elegant but no less impressive effort, NEXT Architects and designer Aura Luz Melis built a lamp that's filled with vegetable fat, which constantly changes its brightness through the process of melting and re-solidifying the fat. We also shined some light on Bruce Munro's Light Shower, an ethereal cascade of LED lights that looks like sparkling raindrops. This week we also rounded up the top six examples of architecture that were inspired by music. And finally, for all the designers out there, we just launched a contest to design an HP Ultrabook bag -- the winner gets $10,000!