Wind of change

How the transportation in our cities will look like in the late 2020s? After visiting CES 2016 event in Las Vegas, it seems quite feasible that in the next decade we will start using a convenient, environmentally friendly and free car-sharing service, based on a fleet of electric cars, which will not only drive autonomously, but also independently produce electricity from renewable resources.

At the end of 2015, the market research company IDTechEx identified three new megatrends that recently emerged in the world of new technologies: energy independent electric vehicles (EIVs), 3D printed electronics (3DPE) and structural electronics (SE).

At CES 2016 I found examples of two of the three emerging businesses. And what fired my imaginations the most, is a project that can give today’s electric cars enough power to go from current 25-312 mile range to upward of 1000 miles.

Usually, concepts of energy independent vehicles include solar panels or wind turbines for generating electricity. However, there are some doubts and difficulties about the efficiency and reliability of such resources of energy when implemented into cars. But aerospace engineer Robert Yost announced in Las Vegas that he has invented a super-efficient and compact wind turbine, which can provide enough power to extend the range of electric vehicles by 3-4 times. That is an important step toward EIVs.

MicroCube credits Trend Nomad
The creation of this design was made possible through 3D printing via 3D Systems Quickparts Solutions. Through the design and iteration process (Yost worked on more than 20 different iterations) the inventor learned to arrange his print files for maximum efficiency, getting parts and assemblies indistinguishable from injection molding in all aspects apart from timeline and cost of production. Photography by

Robert Yost claims that he has developed an incredibly efficient micro wind turbine device that is capable of generating power in wind speeds as low as one mph, and as fast as 100 mph (2,4-161 kph). Yost named his patented invention a MicroCube.

A single MicroCube can generate more power than a standard solar panel for a fraction of the size. Stacking several Cubes together in the same space it takes for one solar panel can produce 18 times as much energy.

The high efficiency comes from the unique, multiple airfoil design, which captures a high level of windflow. Yost borrowed a blade design from a jet engine. Each individual MicroCube stands at only 9x9x9 inches (around 23x23x23 cm) and weighs 9 lbs (4 kg), with a maximum output of 1 kW. While engineers have previously worked with miniature turbines and combining multiple turbines together, there has never been a generator created with the characteristics of the MicroCube.

Yost has installed four mobile versions of MicroCubes on the roof of a Ford C-Max Energi electric car, generating 2,800 watts per hour to keep its lithium-ion battery charged. The goal is to adapt air flow turbines in the lower air dam and side vent.

Before Robert Yost invented the MicroCube wind turbine, he worked for major aerospace companies such as Boeing, GE Aircraft Engines and Pratt & Whitney. His experience gave him the practical skill to follow through on the idea of a small wind turbine. He formed American Wind in February 2012 to fulfill his vision.

To learn more details about MicroCube project, watch the video interview with Robert Yost recorder at CES 2016 at 3D Systems booth.

Yost is aware of his many critics and nonbelievers. In order to demonstrate how his 3D printed MicroCubes can revolutionise the way renewable energy is generated and how people commute, he will drive across the United States in an electric vehicle powered by four MicroCubes without stopping even once to plug in the battery for a recharge.

Transport in 2030

An emergence of EIVs that can produce energy from renewable resources coincides with intense work on self-driving cars (Google and Ford belong to main players in that race). If an automotive company would apply both technologies in one vehicle, a new type of a car would be very economical to operate.

After visiting hundreds of booths at CES 2016 and talks with many representatives of various companies (including Bosch, Ford, Velodyne and American Wind), and following sensational press releases about autonomous cars, I came to the conclusion that Google’s goal for the second decade of this century is not to sell self-driving cars to end users, but to provide in many cities all over the world a mobility service based on autonomous vehicles rented on request using a smartphone (or a device that will replace smartphones by that time).

Due to the fact that self-driving and energy independent electric cars will bring very low running costs, we can guess that rides will be offered free of charge or at low price. However, Google will make a fortune on this business.

If this scenario comes true, Google will earn a lot of money by charging fees from advertisers who will provide content displayed to passengers in moving cars, as well as by selling data about their preferences and reactions. We will pay for this service with our increased vulnerability to personalized ads, accurately matched to the context and our needs.

Another source of incomes for Google may be commissions received from online and physical outlets and restaurants that will use Google Cars for deliveries. Uber and Lyft (though, it is very likely that they have similar plans for the future), cars, buses and trams manufacturers, as well as professional drivers, motorman and couriers may have reasons to start to worry.


Small turbines have more uses than electric cars. Because the MicroCube can work in the turbulent air in cities, they can be built into structures by the thousands. They also can be placed into cellular towers to produce significant power to keep these units working during disaster periods, or to increase power on busy days. Everyone can now place an order for MicroCube turbine. The net price of one piece with a wall case is 2600 dollars. First deliveries will be made late summer this year.

If you have any questions regarding MicroCube, you can send them directly to Rober Yost at

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