Netherlands Converts Iconic Ashtrays to E-Bike Chargers

Plus, footlong robotic earthworms that analyze soil, the federal government contracts with Uber and Lyft to give employees free rides and the state of presidential social media accounts amid the transition.

electric bike next to a charging port in the Netherlands

No Smoking

When the Netherlands made smoking at railways illegal last year, railroad owner ProRail removed hundreds of six-foot “smoke poles” that were used as ashtrays from stations. Now, thanks to a company called Lightwell, the smoke poles have had their ashtray centers removed, but 90 to 95 percent of the original design maintained, and have been refurbished into e-bike chargers. The chargers are free to use and can host two bikes at a time. So far, two have been installed as part of a pilot test.
Source: Fast Company

Underground

The thought of earthworms over 1 foot long is troubling, to be sure, but what if those worms were robotic? That’s the idea behind a project underway at Cornell University, which aims to make robotic “worms” that can traverse soil and analyze its density, moisture and temperature. Fiber-optic cameras built into the agriculture bots will take pictures of plants’ roots and measure microorganism activity.
Source: New Atlas

Transition Team

Twitter and Facebook both announced they will transition all official presidential accounts from the Trump administration to Biden’s on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021. As both social platforms did in early 2017 at the end of Barack Obama’s second term, relevant accounts like Twitter’s @whitehouse, @FLOTUS and @VP will have all past posts archived and access will be given to Joe Biden’s team.
Source: The Verge

$810M

In late November, the General Services Administration finalized a five-year contract worth up to $810 million with Uber and Lyft that will provide rides for 4 million federal workers for official travel.
Source:  Gizmodo

Lauren Harrison is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 10 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.