Courtesy MIT

A team of researchers from the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Systems Group at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory is developing artificial intelligence algorithms and using lidar (light detection and ranging) to inform emergency responders about road and infrastructure damage following natural disasters. By combining the two technologies, the team hopes to automate what can be a tedious and disjointed process of collecting data. "For a truly large-scale catastrophe, understanding the state of the transportation system as early as possible is critical," says researcher Chad Council in an MIT press release. "With our particular approach, you can determine road viability, do optimal routing, and also get quantified road damage. You fly it, you run it, you've got everything." To date, the team has mapped areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, and all of Puerto Rico. [MIT]

Courtesy Rastegar

Dallas will soon be home to North America's tallest living wall. Designed by Chicago-based vertical garden company Zauben, the wall will be fixed to a 26-story residential tower and will contain some 40,000 plants. According to a release by the developer, Austin, Texas–based Rastegar Property Co., the vertical garden will capture more than 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide and produce 1,200 pounds of oxygen annually. "We thought about how living walls can positively influence the city of Dallas," said Zauben CEO Zach Smith in the same release. "We wanted to help champion the sustainability goals of the city and create an example that other forward-thinking cities can follow." [Rastegar Property Co.]

Courtesy Silver Oak Cellars

The 113-acre Silver Oak Alexander Valley Winery in Oakville, Calif., has been certified as a Living Building by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), making it the largest certified Living Building in the world. It is the 25th project ever to achieve the ILFI’s rigorous standard, and the second winery to do so. [ARCHITECT]

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science and Monash University in Australia have developed semi-transparent solar cells that can generate electricity while filtering light, paving the way for curtain walls with solar-energy harvesting capabilities. While previous attempts at this technology have failed due to an expensive, unstable, or inefficient assembly, ARC opted to replace a common solar cell component with a organic semiconductor polymer, which greatly improved the material's conversion efficiency. "The semi-transparent cells have a conversion efficiency of 17%, while still transmitting more than 10% of the incoming light, so they are right in the zone," said researcher Jacek Jasieniak in a press release. "It’s long been a dream to have windows that generate electricity, and now that looks possible.” [ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science]

Exton, Pa.–based Bentely Systems has launched the 2020 Digital Infrastructure Student Idea Challenge, asking students from around the world to define a challenge that the infrastructure profession is facing or will soon face, and to offer potential solutions. Registration closes May 15. Winners will be announced after June 30. [Bentley Systems]