ARPA-E Wants To Create Digital Humans To Save Energy – Forbes


The U.S. Department of Energy is betting on the future of what it calls digital transportation technologies.

In March, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), a part of the Energy Department, announced that it would provide $9.5 million in funding to develop “ultra-low energy communications technologies that are preferable to today’s practice of driving or flying for the purposes of in-person communication.” ARPA-E funds research that enhances the nation’s economic and energy security by reducing energy imports and improving energy efficiency.

The objective of the “Facsimile Appearance To Create Energy Savings (FACES)” project is to fully digitize “all aspects of the animated communicative human form could yield tremendous progress towards replacing travel with digital transportation technologies.”

In other words. ARPA-E wants to create the first generation of a genuinely Digital Human (DH), or “a bandwidth-efficient, three-dimensional digital representation of a person that is nearly indistinguishable from the communication partner in real life.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, passenger transportation is responsible for 70% of all the energy consumed annually – or the equivalent of roughly 568 gigawatts of electricity – for transportation. Indeed, although the electric power sector makes up a larger share of total U.S. energy consumption than the transportation sector, CO2 emissions from transportation exceeded the emissions from the electric power sector in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Unlike freight transportation, people are transported when their presence is demanded for one reason or another in another location.

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